Call me crazy, but I doubt it's the Vee Tire name that pops into your head when you need new rubber for your all-mountain or downhill bike. And even if it is, you likely know the company as a value brand, not one that offers a small lineup of all-mountain and downhill tires meant to compete for your bucks against the best from Maxxis, Schwalbe, et al. But that's exactly what the $65 USD Flow Snap is meant to do, with the brief saying that it's ''a universal and polyvalent gravity tire created for a variety of different conditions from mud, to dry or loose terrain.'' Nothing like a good polyvalent tire, right?
Flow Snap Details
• Intended use: downhill, all-mountain
• Sizes: 27.5'' and 29'' x 2.6'', 29'' x 2.3'', 27.5'' x 2.35'' (tested)
• 'Tackee' compound
• Folding bead
• 72 TPI
• Durometer: 48±2, 54±2
• Weight: 951 grams (27.5'' x 2.35'' w/ 'Enduro Core' casing)
• MSRP: $55.90 - $65.00 USD
The questionably-named Flow Snap can be had in a handful of variants: a 29'' x 2.3'' model with the mid-weight 'Enduro Core' casing, the 27.5'' x 2.35'' version that's tested here with the same casing, and a 27.5'' x 2.35'' Flow Snap with Vee Tire's burlier, three-layer Gravity Core casing. Weight watchers should take note that this is not a lightweight tire; the 27.5'' x 2.35'' Flow Snap with the Enduro Core casing comes in at 951-grams but, to be fair, its Enduro Core construction feels sturdier than what's used on other mid-weight tires of the same intention. If you need more volume, Vee Tire was also showing off a 2.6'' wide version
for both 27.5'' and 29'' wheels at the Taipei and Eurobike tradeshows, making for five versions of the Flow Snap. Design
There are only so many effective tire designs these days, and most seem to be converging on a basic lug layout with a few variations thrown in for good measure. With the Flow Snap, however, I can see a couple of inspirations beyond the tired "it's a Minion but not" layout, and it also turns out that the design delivers some unique performance.
The Flow Snap's lug layout features an uninterrupted middle channel that's flanked by crown lugs alternating between being closely spaced and spread apart. A relatively open (for an all-around tire design) center section is the result, which is often associated with comparatively slow rolling speed. Those crown lugs are ramped on their leading edges to help that cause, and every lug has a sipe through it to encourage it to conform to the ground as well as possible. There are no transition lugs, but the widely spaced crown lugs bridge the gap between the center of the tire and the pronounced cornering lugs that all sit at an angle.
Vee Tire has used their 'Tackee' dual-compound rubber on the Flow Snap that combines 48a and 54a durometer rubber. ''Tackee compound offers the smallest rebound for more control on downhills,'' their website explains. ''This compound features a low hardness of 48a.''Performance
The Flow Snap tires were installed on a set of Stan's Arch MK3 rims that have an internal width of 26mm (29.3mm external), and they were tested on Production Privée's steel-framed Shan N°5. The 140mm-travel 'Steel Banana' has to be one of the best and easiest cornering machines on the market right now, a fact that makes it a fitting steed to use as a tire-review sled. Unlike the speedy but slippery Trail Taker tire that I reviewed back in May, the Flow Snap seated up instantly and didn't bleed any air or sealant through their sidewalls.
Conditions were, predictably, wet and wetter given that it's late-fall in southwestern British Columbia, although a few dry days were snuck in as well.
The Flow Snap's mid-weight Enduro Core casing is quite stiff and sturdy, more so than what you'll find on tires in the 800-gram range (a common weight for this size of tire), and that allows for some relatively low pressures for a 2.35'' wide tire on a 26mm (internal) rim width. In the wet, a low 18 psi was required to get enough forgiveness out of the casing and also provide some added traction, but a few more psi was needed when things dried out and the speed picked up. Support is adequate, with no excessive casing flex at those pressures, although they could feel a bit unforgiving if you went a bit too high in the opposite direction; the ideal pressure window for the Flow Snap might be a bit tighter than other "polyvalent" tires.
Despite the open central channel, the tire actually rolls relatively well given its intentions, something that's probably down to the ramped leading edges on the lugs and a weirdly hard feeling compound down the middle of the Flow Snap. The 54a durometer rubber feels like it's actually a pencil eraser that's been left in the freezer, and while that does contribute to decent trail speed, it doesn't exactly inspire confidence, or forward motion, when crossing over slimy roots. While fine in the dry, the rear tire constantly spun on anything shiny and wet, although they do a decent job of clearing mud out from between the lugs. Braking, both when upright and leaned over, is on par with a tire of the Snap's intention.
There are a ton of tires out there with a dual compound make-up, but the difference between the two rubber compounds used to build the Flow Snap is the most pronounced that I've ever seen. It also might be why these things perform so well in the corners. Leaning the bike over, the front and rear tires grab ahold of the ground like me grabbing the last Halloween candy bar, and both ends hold on well and without surprises. The interesting thing here is that the Flow Snap doesn't seem to give a damn what condition the dirt is in, just so long as it's dirt and not wood of any kind. The transition from upright to leaned over is also without surprise, and the angled cornering lugs seem to let go gently when the time does come rather than smacking you upside the head with a drift when you're not expecting it.
If you use your fingernail to push into the outer and inner edges of a cornering lug, you'll notice that the former feels quite soft and slow, while the latter is much stiffer; this likely provides support while also letting the leg conform to whatever it's touching.
As well as the Flow Snap tire does in the corners, its longevity matches its wet-weather performance, which is to say that neither are great. After just eight or nine rides, most in muddy, slow dirt, the Flow Snap is showing a surprising amount of wear. It's not along the crown where you'd expect it, however, with the hard rubber compound clearly doing its job there. Instead, many of the cornering lugs are missing their tops, at least where the softer rubber compound has been used. Given that it's wetter than the inside of an otter's pocket, I'm surprised at the amount of wear that's present after less than ten rides. They've been reliable, however, with not a single flat tire to report. Pinkbike's Take: