Vee Tire describes the $55 USD Trail Taker as follows: ''This tire was made to get you through the thick stuff. The aggressive tread depth allows for excellent traction with low rolling resistance, giving you the ability to power through whatever you run into.'' That makes the Trail Taker sound like a pretty burly tire, and those words are accurate of the high-volume models that I've seen… but certainly not my set of cross-country focused, 715-gram 29 x 2.20'' Trail Takers that look speedy but aren't exactly sporting ''aggressive tread depth.''
Trail Taker Details
• Intended use: cross-country / trail
• Sizes: 27.5 x 2.25'', 27.5 x 2.40'', 29 x 2.2'' (tested)
• Compounds: Tackee, DCC (tested)
• Tubeless ready
• 'Synthesis' casing
• Folding bead
• Weight: 715 grams (29 x 2.20'')
• MSRP: $55 USD
The tire's crown is home to alternating single and dual lugs that all feature ramped leading edges and small, perpendicular sipes intended to allow the each lug to flex and act as if the rubber compound is softer than it actually is. The spacing is fairly open across the top of the Trail Taker, with a channel between the dual lugs and a lowered center section to the single lugs. Small transition lugs, also with shallow sips, are used between the tire's crown and corning knobs, the latter of which are fairly low and all feature the same shape but an alternating forward and reverse layout.
Vee Tire offers the Trail Taker in two different compound makeups. The 'Tackee' compound sees them use a soft, slow rebounding 48A durometer that is more about all-out traction than rubber longevity or minimizing rolling resistance, and this option is only available on the 27.5 x 2.40'' Trail Taker. The other choice is 'DCC,' an acronym for 'Dual Control Compound' that see a 48A compound put to use on the tire's sides and a stiffer, fast rolling and longer wearing 56A down the center. The DCC construction can be found on the 27.5 x 2.25'' and the 29 x 2.2'' (reviewed below) but not the high-volume 27.5 x 2.40'' model. All of that is laid on top of a 185 TPI, tubeless 'Synthesis' casing that's said to be cut resistant and sports a relatively round cross-section.
I mounted the 29 x 2.20'' Trail Taker tires onto a set of Stan's Arch MK3 rims that have an internal width of 26mm (29.3mm external), and while it wasn't the most frustrating tubeless install that I've done, it also wasn't the most painless. Or driest. The Trail Takers fit a bit loose on the new Arch rims, even with two full wraps of Gorilla Tape around their circumference, but both did eventually seal up with the help of a lot of soapy spray and removable valve cores that let me get the air in as quick as possible.
Once seated, there were a lot of bubbles and soap on the ground, but none coming from the tires' sidewalls—both Trail Takers held air instantly, although I should admit that I somehow managed to damage the tape which caused a slow leak during my first ride on them. My bad. Casing width is a true 2.20'' on the Arch MK3 rims, with the widest cornering lugs measuring in at 2.10'' wide, two numbers that make the 29er version of the Trail Taker more of a, er, trail tire than anything that would fall into the all-mountain category. I tested them on 100mm-travel Rocky Mountain Element cross-country bike, which is a fitting steed for the skinny Trail Takers.
The 29'' Trail Taker looks like it would roll quickly and it most certainly does, with it being noticeably faster on smooth, hard ground than a more substantial, aggressive tire. That's not a surprise, but I wasn't expecting the Trail Taker to offer as much braking bite as it does—there's a decent amount grip available when it's time to drop anchor. The smallish volume means that they're not as forgiving as a larger tire, of course, but they also don't feel as harsh as a pure cross-country tire that you'd need to run at higher pressures. I settled on 22 psi up front and 24 psi in the rear tire.
Unfortunately, the braking bite isn't equaled by the tire's forward traction, and I found that the rear tire would often spin and search for grip anytime it was tasked with getting me up a steep pitch that wasn't paved in hero dirt. Roots seemed especially challenging, with the Trail Taker often deciding that it should take a break from moving me up the hill, even when the ground was bone dry. Dropping a few psi helped, as you'd expect, but anything less the 22 and 24 psi resulted in too much casing roll for my liking. Throw in some rain and mud and forward traction could be so on/off that it felt like it was controlled by a light switch. Mud and wet conditions are the Trail Taker's worst enemy.
In dry, forgiving conditions—aka the kind of stuff that most all-around tires can do well in—the Trail Takers do offer consistent cornering traction that's on par with their size and intentions. That's to say that no, they're not meaty all-mountain tires, but they are well suited to short-travel bikes being ridden somewhere that isn't in the middle of British Columbia's mega-wet spring riding season.