Inside Look: Vittoria's New Graphene 2.0 Tire Technology

Mar 16, 2019 at 17:24
by Mike Levy  


Little known fact: There are other tire brands to choose from besides Maxxis and Schwalbe, and multiple high quality options have emerged from a host of lesser-known names aiming to upset the stranglehold that the two biggest players have on the high-end rubber market. The thing is, those two have been making some mostly-good (there were some hiccups) tires for many years now, and if there's one component that us mountain bikers can be basketcases about, it's our tires.

"I have to use this tire because it's the best,'' my buddy replied when I asked him why he felt that he couldn't try something a bit less common. He was used to them, he said before admitting to me in a low voice that it's probably all in his head. Vittoria is hoping that sort of self-reflection will catch on, and they're pouring tens of millions of dollars towards the development of their off-road rubber with that in mind.

I traveled to Bangkok, Thailand, a few weeks ago for a no-holds-barred look around inside of three of Vittoria's six tire factories.
Staff Rides - Mike Levy s Rocky Mountain Element
I had great luck with Vittoria's Mota tire with graphene 1.0.

Vittoria's operation is impressive. Cleaner than your kitchen counters, smiling employees everywhere, and a bunch of one-off, house-sized machines whirring and squishing stuff. Watch the fingers, though. There are also a few different testing facilities that evaluate not just Vittoria's own tires, but the competition's as well, with wet weather traction, durability, and other parameters being measured.


Vittoria Tire Factory
Is it weird that this tire factory is cleaner than my house? Vittoria has to keep the place spotless to avoid any contaminants getting into the rubber or damaging the very expensive machines.

Vittoria Tire Factory
Vittoria Tire Factory
Here's where it all begins: The additives are, er, added, to a degradable bag that's fed into a huge mixing machine. And no, that's not cheese.

Vittoria Tire Factory
Vittoria Tire Factory
Massive twin-screw rollers force out any air bubbles that make a loud 'crack' noise when they pop.

Vittoria Tire Factory
Vittoria Tire Factory
Vittoria has multiple research and development facilities that test things like wet weather traction, cold weather traction (remember, the rubber gets firmer), and durability.


You'll be able to take the same tour I did via an upcoming video where I run through the entire tire manufacturing process, but first, we're going to take a closer look at something else: graphene. It's not new stuff - you can even buy graphene-infused frames - but Vittoria is onto the second iteration of this sci-fi material, called Graphene 2.0, and they're making some bold claims about it.




What the Heck is Graphene?

Graphene sounds like some sort of space-age material that shows up in a corny Iron Man movie, but the truth is that we've all had plenty of experience with this black stuff without even knowing it. Ever used a pencil? What's often referred to as pencil lead is actually a mix of graphite and clay, and at a very basic level, graphene is essentially a single layer of graphite.

Zoom in even more and you'll be looking at an incredibly thin layer of bonded carbon atoms sitting in a weird 2D lattice arrangement (see below) that also happens to be incredibly strong.


Vittoria Tire Factory
Above is a rendition of how graphene is a thin layer of bonded carbon atoms sitting in a 2D lattice arrangement. I might have passed chemistry 11 if we talked about mountain bike tires.


Graphite, that stuff inside of pencils, is soft - it leaves marks behind when you drag it across paper - but the building blocks are graphene, and this stuff, well, it's among the strongest, lightest, and thinnest materials around, not to mention that it's really good at conducting heat and energy to boot. How the heck can graphite be soft but one of its ingredients - graphene - be so damn strong?

Now, before we get into this, I distinctly remember my school principal "asking" me to sign up for an extra gym class instead of having a third try at passing chemistry twenty years ago, so we're going to keep it relatively basic instead of pretending that we all have PhDs in microscoping things. I gotchu if dodgeball is your game, though.

I bet that the computer or phone you're reading this on feels pretty solid, right?

Of course, and so does a pencil, but if you put anything under a very powerful microscope that costs more than a truckload of Di2 and Enve-equipped Unno DH bikes, you'll see that these so-called solid objects are actually kinda porous.

They're all made of atoms that sit in a sort of 3D lattice arrangement and are held near together by an invisible force. It sounds wild, I know, but I'm told that this is pretty basic science stuff. It's relevant to where we're going with graphene, too. Zooming back out to graphite for a second, its atoms hold together tightly, but each layer is tied to the layers above and below it relatively weakly. Because this bond is somewhat brittle, those layers sheer apart easily and leave a mark behind on paper when you drag the tip of the pencil (the graphite) across it.
Vittoria
Vittoria has made a large investment in testing and research over the last few years.

But graphene, which is just a single layer of graphite, behaves much differently because its atoms sit in a comparatively strange two-dimensional arrangement that sees them lay out flat. At just a single atom high, it's said that you'd need around one million layers to come up with a sheet that's as thick as a human hair.

So yeah, the stuff is really thin despite being able to brag about things like being two hundred times stronger than steel, but what's it doing in Vittoria's tires?


Vittoria Tire Factory
You'll find Graphene 2.0 used on Vittoria's high-end rubber in their cross-country, enduro, and downhill tires.



What Does Graphene Do?

All that sounds promising for something that's nearly invisible to us peasants who can't justify our own transmission electron microscope, but a quick Google search brings up all sorts of headlines describing this graphene stuff as being a world-changing material.

The long list of attributes and superpowers includes that whole two hundred times stronger than steel thing, and that a single gram can cover 2,600 square meters while also weighing just 0.77 milligrams for each of those square meters. So yeah, it's light AF, too. It's able to move electricity at 100-percent efficiency as well, making it the quickest and most efficient conductor out there, and it offers extremely high thermal conductivity.

I bet that I could find something online about graphene that says it's going to put an end to puppy mills and climate change, too. The list of stuff that could benefit from a graphene injection includes computer chips, medical equipment, solar panels, bullet-proof vests, and about a zillion other things, although graphene production isn't exactly the simplest thing to do.

That's neat, but this isn't the Discovery Channel, so what happens when you put it in bike tires?

Vittoria has been using graphene in their tires for a few years now, and they cite improved cut and abrasion resistance, a higher tensile strength, less air seepage, and something that's especially important for those who spend time in the rain and mud, improved grip in wet conditions.

They're also saying that with their latest version, Graphene 2.0, they've been able to target very specific metrics to improve on by using the latest materials. For a tire with a road or cross-country focus, they can use an amount of graphene that not only helps to lower the tire's weight but also lower the rolling resistance. Mountain bike tires intended to see some real abuse get a different amount of graphene that's said to up flat protection, traction, and lifespan.
The history of graphene

This material might be incredibly cool, but it turns out that it's also been around for a while. With old writing instruments, humans had been accidentally making graphene for hundreds of years without knowing it, and it wasn't until 1947 that scientists even began to theorize about graphene's existence. It took fifteen more years and an electron microscope for them to actually see the stuff, but producing the ultra-strong, single-atom-thick material on purpose? That turned out to be pretty damn difficult - it wasn't until 2004 that a group managed to pull single-atom-thick crystallites from a nugget of graphite... With a piece of Scotch Tape. Seriously.

Large-scale graphene production is a much more recent development, with exfoliation, sonication combined with centrifugation, and a few other methods used to produce graphene for the aerospace, medical, and computer fields, but the material also sees use in many less demanding settings. Like pencils.

The Graphene Flagship, a research project funded by the European Commission, was born in 2013 with a whopping €1 billion budget, 150 partner organizations, and the goal to bring graphene out of the lab. Vittoria says that they're the top "consumer of graphene by volume in the tire industry," so it's no surprise to see them join this rather exclusive club.


The graphene 2.0 presentation was full of words like "nano-intermediaries," "Homogenous Dispersions," "in situ polymerization," and my favorite one, ''empathetic matrix selective functionalization.'' It just rolls right off the tongue, right? Backing away from the big words a bit, graphene is said to interact with the rubber by partly filling the space between the rubber molecules. Vittoria says that how the graphene is oriented in the rubber, processing methods, and the quality of dispersion will all have an effect, which brings us to their latest version, Graphene 2.0.


Vittoria Tire Factory
Are you a visual learner? Science is easier to understand when there are photos and diagrams.


When graphene was first introduced in Vittoria's tires back in early 2016, they were putting the stuff into their rubber and seeing results, but they also knew that a more targeted approach would deliver more performance. Now, instead of straight-up mixing graphene in with the rubber compounds, they're using very specific - and very different - amounts of graphene in each of the tire's different compounds.

And speaking of compounds, Vittoria is also the only tire manufacturer doing four-compound road and mountain bike tires (stay tuned for a video tour of their impressive 4C compound machine) which, when you take into account G2.0, adds up to a whole lot of impressive technology.


Vittoria
Vittoria is the only tire manufacturer who have the ability to create a tire using four different compounds. You'll learn more about this impressive (and expensive) machine in an upcoming video.




One of my favorite memories dates back to grade three, making me about nine-years-old, when Alana, another student, stabbed me in the hand with a pencil. Truth be told, I likely deserved it, and thirty-odd years later I'm still looking at a tiny piece of graphite that broke off in the palm of my right hand as I type this. True story, and it means that I've had a small amount of graphene, that super-material that could change the world, embedded in my hand for all these years.

The world and my right hand aside, should this graphene stuff actually mean anything to us mountain bikers? It's still very early days, but I suspect so, and especially because we see so many demanding, high-tech industries embrace graphene for many of the same reasons that Vittoria is citing. Are you going to be able to tell the difference between a normal tire and one with graphene? Or Graphene 1.0 and Graphene 2.0? Honestly, I'm not sure at this point, but I've spent a ton of time on Vittoria's earlier graphene-equipped rubber and I've been impressed, especially with their wet weather performance, even if I can't pinpoint it on graphene itself. I suspect that the increased reliability and tread life - if it performs as promised - will be the biggest boon to most of us.

There's a set of Graphene 2.0-equipped Martello enduro tires on their way to Pinkbike for testing, and you'll be able to read all about how they perform and, just as importantly, how long they last, in a few months.


119 Comments

  • + 39
 Early days for Graphene yet, as it’s still under scrutiny as it potentially is very similar to asbestos. It’s so small and strong it can enter a cell. Will likely be years before we know for sure what etffects it has.
  • + 18
 I bet the author has some anxiety issues after reading this!
  • + 67
 @Loki87: Shiiiiiiit
  • + 13
 Also years before any ground breaking novelty that graphene scientists promised: When it was discovered everyone was saying it will change the world, 15 years later this is one of the few real life applications and we can pretty much agree it will probably not even change the bike tyre industry...

@mikelevy I have to applaud you on your graphene introduction (coming from an almost material physics graduate), pretty much everyone should be able to understand basics. It is also very clear that you have dedicated a lot of time into research.
  • + 4
 This is a pure marketing BS from Vittoria where they refer to a super light and super strong nanofabric, while it has nothing to do with it. Check prices of of things made of actual graphene and it become apparent that those tyres are pure BS, just like everything graphene in outdoor clothing industry

nanografi.com/graphene/?gclid=CjwKCAjwvuzkBRAhEiwA9E3FUic9RiEPs2y3oOWbazEAR3cKgO0eLwJPWAWUZAvQ1vJNA2fqYOpqTRoCRfEQAvD_BwE

You may as well pulverize a pencil, sprinkle it on top of your tyre and see how much faster you are.
  • + 4
 Good point. However, wearing gloves around rotating equipment can be fatal today...
  • + 0
 Best source on use of graphene in cycling world, as usual Luescher Teknik delivers:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZ47xrSO9l0&list=PLiVYpOT8z4_Fz-0n1J16ywCWH-bxfHdTr
  • + 5
 @WAKIdesigns: Thanks I just spent an hour watching this guy's videos instead of doing any work
  • - 1
 @simooo: I listen to them while working...
  • + 4
 Interesting, a quick google and a few research paper abstracts is enough to raise some questions about whether we want this stuff sloughing off tires or dumped as waste. Carbon that is cell-penetrating, easily dispersing, high longevity and possibly toxic once oxidized. Sounds perfectly safe.
  • + 5
 @robwhynot: I don't care I have left so much information on this site that future generations of cyberhumans will be able to extract DNA from my Pinkbike posts in order to create my clone. This is how a sequel of Ghost in the Shell starts where robotic bike industry gets destroyed by a sentient virus...
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: Spiderman got his start with a spider bite. Perhaps you have superhuman writing skills thanks to that pencil lead oozing thru your veins.
  • + 12
 @WAKIdesigns: You work?!
  • + 1
 First comment with the best info on PB for a long time
I’ll give it a miss
  • + 1
 @winko: The new Vittoria tires are really good, on par with Maxxis or Schwalbe. But that probably has nothing to do with Graphene and everything to do with finally giving a damn about rubber compounds and using the 4C machine.

@robwhynot Someone in the know might chime in about the properties of Graphene once it is bound within a rubber compound. We also don't know if Vittoria uses meaningful quantities of actual single-layer graphene in their tires.This might just be a marketing stunt or be a fancy marketing misnomer for the fine carbon particles which are used in every performance tire.
  • + 6
 @winko: Maybe the bike-tire application is a waste of time (I think most "bulk" uses likely are) but graphene and other 2D materials will play a huge role in science and technology in the coming decades. The reality is that 15 years is pretty insignificant when talking about integrating new materials into consumer products. Look at LEDs: the viability of GaN was pretty much established by the early 90s but only in the last few years have LEDs become competitive with other technologies. Also, unlike GaN, engineering the process technologies for scaling graphene requires completely different approaches to what's been long established by the silicon industry.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: I'm with ya. Real graphene ain't cheap. I doubt there's much in there. But there's no regulation in like, say, the food and supplement biz...all Vitt needs is the tiniest amount in there to make the claim.
Having said that...I do believe the tire is worthy of a whirl....especially if tiring of the day in day out Maxxis.
Ba dum...tish.
  • + 2
 @dobermon: yeah and I like turtles.
  • + 3
 @WAKIdesigns: BS or not, I've been running Rubino Pro G+ on the road bike since they came out (I was already a fan of the previous Rubino Pro). They are phenomenal tyres that manage the same balance as the Conti GP4k. Great grip in wet or dry, light, fast rolling and good puncture/wear resistance.

The marketing dept may be having a field day, but the engineers (on the road side at least) are doing a brilliant job.
  • + 3
 @chriscowleyunix: I am not saying their tyres are bad, just the graphene part is an unnecessary bullshit.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns:
www.rubbernews.com/article/20190225/NEWS/190229954/linglong-touts-promising-results-of-graphene-tire-development

"The graphene tires, Linglong said, showed promising results in several areas including fuel-efficiency, safety and anti-static, and energy-saving."

www.bicyclerollingresistance.com/mtb-reviews/compare/vittoria-mezcal-2017-vs-vittoria-mezcal-tnt-2017

Cannot be complete BS there. They are starting to use it in car tires and the comparison of the Mezcal with and without graphene, shows the graphene compound with quite a bit lower rolling resistance.
  • + 1
 @in2falling: It is an interesting read on car tyres, however the bicycle bit is highly questionable. First off, the test is done ov even surface having nothing to do with fire road, not to mention a trail. Which at least to me seems to negate the rolling resistance bit. Tread pattern will have more impact. Second: there are just as big of not bigger differences between different compounds from different brand like if you tested all Addix tyres. O don’t really care...
  • + 2
 @in2falling: Fair enough, but the new Vittoria tires with the "magic" graphene compound are just about on par with what Schwalbe and Conti have been offering for years without graphene.
  • + 1
 So then drilling into skis built with graphene might not be a geat idea? Well, I’m screwed.
  • + 23
 Levy writes good
  • + 16
 Levy writes well
  • + 8
 @trippleacht: that is what his school "principle" told him!
  • + 3
 Hail to Levy!
  • + 4
 Levy writes like a liberal arts student who popped 40mg of Adderrall a few hours ago
  • + 1
 @mnorris122: Accurate on the Adderall for sure but waaaay off on the liberal art student guess Smile
  • + 1
 Yes, Levy writes good using bigly words. Wait for his book "50 Shades of Graphene."
  • + 18
 Straddling the line between "Inside Look" and "Sponsored Content" better than you straddle your bike saddle.
  • + 3
 ‘All employees all smiles’
  • + 29
 Meh, it's just a look at some really neat stuff, not a test or anything deep Smile
  • + 14
 "...that costs more than a truckload of Di2 and Enve-equipped Unno DH bikes..."

Analogy relevance level: Expert
  • + 2
 But not more than a truckload of Eagle AXS and Syncros Silverton-equipped Alchemy bikes!
  • + 13
 I had a girlfriend who suffered from "empathetic matrix selective functionalization" but she refused to go to a psychiatrist for an official diagnosis.
  • + 7
 "single gram can cover 2,600 square meters while also weighing just 0.77 milligrams for each of those square meters"
This seems wrong, shouldn't the weight just be 1/2600th of a gram? I.e. 0.385 mg, i.e. half of the 0.77 mg figure?
  • + 7
 Too much meth for this early in the morning...
  • + 1
 Yes.
  • + 1
 @ReformedRoadie: You're goddamn right.
  • + 7
 I switched from exclusively running Schwalbe EVO XC tires (Rocket Ron / Racing Ralph) to the Vittoria Graphene (1.0) Barzo/Mezcal's...couldn't be happier. The tires are faster, grippier and less expensive. Wear has been EXCELLENT. Schwalbe side knobs would always start to tear quickly. The Vittoria's still almost look new. But they give up about 100G per tire to the similar Schwalbe (Rocket Ron / Racing Ralph). I typically change my tires at the beginning of the season and once half way through. With the Vittoria's, I had them on for the entire season and they still look new enough that I'll start this season on them.

I've had 2 or 3 sidewall cuts on the Schwalbes over the past 6-7 years (not many)...but none on the Vittoria's in 1 season. Not enough of a test to know if the Vittoria's are any better in sidewall cuts. But I've sold off all my Schwalbes and have a set of Vittoria (G1.0) as backups...I might have to sell those and get some 2.0's.
  • + 5
 I decided to stock the Vittoria Morsa Tires last summer and fall....Every customer turned their nose at it. I think they are fine looking and riding tires, but C'mon guys 2.3 is too small for todays standards. If you want to break into Maxxis sales numbers, wider tires with more tread options. Sincerely, The Bike Shop.
  • + 3
 Morsa is a 2.4 in reality though. They're my favorite dry conditions tire. Little heavy; last foreeever. Great grip. Agree that Vittoria needs a DHF clone. Bontrager brazenly copied the DHR and is doing well while Vittoria cancels the Goma. Bizzare.
  • + 6
 I’m running the old version Motas at the moment, very impressed with them. Almost the same mud ability as a shorty but handles dry hardpack very well too. All year round front tyre for sure.
  • + 10
 Yup, great all-arounder that's under the radar.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: @bacondoublechee running MOTA up front too. get a lot of strange looks from people
  • + 2
 I ran a set of Motas all of last season, and they held up AMAZING. Def the most durable tire I've had in ages.
  • + 2
 They were on my shortlist...I thought they'd be worthy of a try. I always try to run against the grain...so as awesome as Maxxis's's are..I wanted something different. Ended up with the new Michi Wild's...first ride today Smile
  • + 2
 I use all kind of Vittoria Graphen tires but stayed away from the Mota because of the 57mm size. I'll take a 60-65mm for sure.
  • + 5
 This is a pretty cool article and I actually learned what Graphine was, lol! I've been secretly riding these tires for a few months and wondered myself. I'm using the Martello and I honestly love it, definitely a noticable difference and worth checking out in my opinion.
  • + 4
 (Formerly) theoretical physics meets Mtb tyre production, interesting idea. Not sure how readily you could tell any improvement in performance for Joe public, but the same could be said other MTB advances of late.
  • + 3
 “Our extensive studies of graphene production worldwide indicate that there is almost no high-quality graphene, as defined by the [International Organization for Standardization] in the market yet,” they write.

gizmodo.com/most-commercial-graphene-is-just-expensive-pencil-lead-1829625572
  • + 2
 Bulk synthesis of graphene is currently a pipe-dream. Even in the academic papers people often prepare few-layer material instead of monolayers when using an automated synthesis approach. The current best method is still micromechanical exfoliation (peeling off layers from graphite with tape), which is obviously not scalable.
  • + 2
 "Graphene can self-repair holes in its sheets when exposed to molecules containing carbon, such as hydrocarbons. Bombarded with pure carbon atoms, the atoms perfectly align into hexagons, completely filling the holes."

Can this property be exploited to eliminate or reduce sealant?

This would save weight, not to mention the "sloshing' that some sensitive people (not me) claim to feel. I read a quote from Lopes to that affect, but he does A LOT of things I can't do on a mountain bike.
  • + 4
 No... Length scales are all wrong. A carbon vacancy in a graphene lattice is on the order of billion times smaller than the hole in your tire (smaller than the oxygen and nitrogen molecules too).
  • + 2
 I too have memories from a few years back when i was stabbed in my right nipple with a pencil and im still looking at a piece of lead in there, if you need photo evidence id be more than happy to show anyone for proof., i also run Vittoria martellos with the 2.0, i got them last year and they had the 2.0. kinda weird.
  • + 2
 If you don't like Vittoria and their tires, don't run them. Pretty simple. I've been running Vittoria Morsa and Martello's as they've been great for all trails that I ride. They're great a it's nice for the market to have competition, not everything has to be a monopoly in the Bike industry.
  • + 1
 I ran the same set of Martellos for an entire season last year. They had great wet grip, rolled fast, and tread life is AMAZING. Graphene is real. I live in the Northeast where we have rocks and roots galore, and never tore a sidewall or ripped off any side knobs. I could still run these to start riding season this spring...but I'm itching to try out the new version with Graphene 2.0 so I'll prob upgrade Smile
  • + 1
 Been running the old Barzo and Mezcal for the last couple seasons in TNT and with or without G+ graphene. No complaints other than the weight. Roll fast, great grip, don't tear off knobs, puncture resistant, durable, seat up nice, don't warp/bubble, and feel pretty supple. Worked well in AZ/AR/NC/CO/CA/SC/GA and my home state of sunny south FL with all our sand and coral rock trails.

I ran them for a week in Bentonville leading up to the Oz Trails 50. I gained probably 20 positions passing people with Maxxis EXO's with flats. I had 19 slices in the front and 39 in the rear, ZERO went all the way through and I lost no pressure . Yeah it sucks running 750g XC tires but it looked like those fixing flats in the middle of the race were having a worse time than me.
blog.bikeminded.com/epic-rides-oz-trails-off-road-50-race-recap

Since then I've become a member of their testing program, just got a set of the new Mezcal 2.25's in skinwall. Haven't mounted them up yet but they're about 60g lighter than the old 2.25 Mezcal G+. I'll be running them this year so we'll see how it goes, but as long as they haven't screwed it up I'm pretty sure they'll be rad.
  • + 2
 The image of @mikelevy looking at his right hand while typing with one finger of his left hand and thinking about Graphene is like a journey onto the deepest abyss of mtb philosophy.
  • + 3
 I can say I was running the Morsa's 4C all last year and thought they were amazing. I love my Maxxis tires, but I'm leaving the Morsa's on the trail bike.
  • + 1
 How much does graphene cost by weight? Is there enough graphene in the tire to actually make a difference? They have been using it in other sporting goods, implying that it is a structural element in the composite, for years, and I assure you in those products it doesn't matter a lick. I would accept that a smaller amount could make a larger difference in a tire compound, just because I don't know how tire compounds work.

Or are they using graphene oxide? Which while a cool additive, is not "graphene" and doesn't have all of the amazeballs mechanical properties of pure graphene.
  • + 1
 I'm eyeing the Morsas since they look to be like HR2 clones, which coincidentally, is my favorite Maxxis tire. Thinking of putting them front and rear on my SB100. 1050 grams for a 2 ply? Hell yes! I need all the slash protection I can get!
  • + 1
 Have a look at Continental Der Kaiser Projekt 2.4. Same weight, similar HR2 knock off and 4 ply.
  • + 4
 The Morsa uses shorter lugs than the High Roller, especially down the middle. The good news is the side lugs won't fold on hardpack, unlike the HR2; the bad news is less traction on loose ground.
  • + 1
 I'm still not entirely convinced on the actual benefits of graphite infused rubber but....I've been using Head and now Vittoria tyres in both the Saguaro, AKA and Mezcal profiles for quite a few years. The latest set of Mezcal tyres were the Graphene 1.0 versions and the seat of the short liner test says they have less roll resistance and more resistance to wear than the previous versions. However, what kills these tyres here in my riding environment is repeated fast cornering at low pressures...and the sidewalls flex themselves to structural death within a season or two. Graphene hasn't changed that.
  • + 2
 Really looking forward to these being available in 2.6. They may be the first 2.6" that don't puncture when you role past a stone...
  • + 2
 I've been running the 29" x 2.6" Martello since late last year. Mostly on less demanding trails, though, as the high altitude terrain is under snow. Traction is on par with other high-end tires, rolling resistance seems to be as good or better, and they feel particularly supple.

The only concern is the tread isn't very wrapped, so it's not a great choice for wide rims.
  • + 0
 This. This. A thousand times this. Wish someone had told me how shit 2.6” when I specced my Bronson. ????
  • + 2
 @OrangeGoblin: There's nothing inherently shit about 2.6" tires, they're just 2.54 mm wider than 2.5".

Your poor experience could have been because the casing was too light for your application and/or you mounted them on a rim with inappropriate width - either too wide, altering the tread profile and exposing the sidewall to hazards, or too narrow, providing insufficient lateral support.
  • + 1
 @R-M-R: not shit just unneeded especially on f/s bikes.
Was running 2.6 addix magic Mary/rock razor after 2.8 experiment.

Decided to try the same combo in 2.35 as it would knock 1/2lb off rotational weight.

Realized Imediately the 2.3 do everything better and are quicker.

And if I want could go with gravity casing and still be the same weight as 2.6 Apex.
  • + 3
 @reverend27: Weight has very little impact on speed. Wide tires are, to a point, faster:

www.bikeradar.com/mtb/gear/article/are-275-wheels-and-tyres-better-than-29ers-47047
www.bikeradar.com/mtb/gear/article/whats-the-fastest-tyre-size-for-mountain-biking-53304

Rolling resistance, however, has a big impact. 2.35" Super Gravity tires are a lot slower than 2.6" Apex.

You're right that 2.6" tires are unneeded. Mountain bikes are also unneeded. There is no element of our sport that involves "need". My terrain in western Canada is probably different from yours in Oklahoma. We probably also have different riding styles and preferences. My limited experience with 2.6" has, so far, definitely made me happier than 2.4" and probably made me happier than 2.5".

We don't have to agree on tire widths any more than we have to agree on flavours of ice cream. That's why different versions exist.
  • - 1
 @R-M-R: old articles trying to sell us on plus tires.

At speed maybe you have a point but Everytime you have to pedal after slowing down rotational weight comes into play.

And please don't try to downplay rotational weight.
The only kind of weight that would be of comparative importance would be unsprung weight which tires once again contribute to.

As far as needed yes I said not needed because they aren't they have no real advantages. Just bigger. The traction advantage isn't real the 2.6 are always compromised versions of their 2.3.

Same lug pattern just spread out more.

2.4/2.5 maxxis was invented to be the same size as a 2.3 mm.

We might live in different places but I have 60 mile of trail 15 minutes away.

I have rocks rock climbs drops loamy forest Sandy forest loose over hard pack flat corners. I can lean my bike over and know I have more traction precision and support on the 2.35.

I like ice cream but I know a proper serving is better then eating the entire gallon.

Also don't be mad bro..me I'm about to go ride 75 mile round trip of all my local trail cause it's a beautiful sunny 72f outside.
  • + 2
 @reverend27: Aren't you a little old to be saying "don't be mad bro"?

Anyway, no one is trying to "sell us on" anything. The world isn't a conspiracy to trick you into changing. Companies are trying to improve products and you're free to keep using what you currently use.

Years ago, your 2.35" tires would've been seen as huge. Now, we see them as average - maybe even a little small. Products improve, times change, and some people change faster than others.

Yes, weight matters ... just not much. When climbing, total mass is around 200 lbs, so the difference between 2.35" and 2.6" tires (0.73 lbs for a pair: Magic Mary Snakeskin) is 0.36%. Assuming a linear relationship between mass and climbing speed, this is the upper bound for the speed difference. When accelerating, rotational inertia roughly doubles the required input, but it's still under 1% and you recover that extra energy any time you decelerate without braking (ex. undulating terrain).

Sprung to unsprung mass ratio is also important, though not as much for energy usage as suspension function.

If you use Super Gravity 2.35", as you suggested, that's 0.44 lbs heavier than 2.6" tires.

If 2.35" tires work better for your trails and your riding style, that's great. For me, 2.6" rolls about the same, offers a little more traction, and is a lot smoother. Not a conspiracy or marketing trick, just a slightly superior product. For me. On my trails.
  • + 1
 @R-M-R: not a conspiracy it's fact.
Companies look for new things to sell people when markets become saturated.
Marketing spins into action tells you an egg shaped contact patch on the plus tire will roll faster because blah blah blah. I know I I like koolaid too.

The new thing is always better that's what they tell you

I buy into it too you checked my profile to see where I live did you look at my photos? Clearly you see the 2.6 setup did you see the di2? Hope oval chainring?

You can ride whatever you want that's fine but when someone says 2.6 are shit you also don't have to get offended and or try to prove their opinion wrong.

To me they are shit and here's why
1 heavier
2 inferior lug pattern to the real tire they are copied from.
3 more squirm and this is the one that killed me on plus tires. By the time you get them firm enough not to fold over during aggressive riding they are bouncy as ****.
4 if you approach an obstacle at low speed such as a rock the tire will absorb the shape and give and then you lose all your roll over advantage. They will actually slow you down and catch in the rock.
I know I rode them.
  • + 1
 @reverend27: "I know I rode them." ... Me too, and I got a different result. Now what?

"You [ ... ] don't have to get offended and or try to prove their opinion wrong."

[ continues to attempt to prove the other guy wrong ]

Weren't you going to go for a 75 mile ride? Better hurry!
  • + 1
 @R-M-R: Where did you get a 2.6 Martello last year?
  • + 1
 @reverend27: 2.6 have a bigger safety factor in loose over hard. The distance between the knobs allows the tire to get traction around pebbles. Yes, the traction advantage is real, but only in certain terrain. There is less pressure at the ground so they behave differently than the 2.3.
  • + 1
 @JohanG: I work in the bike industry.

My experience with wider tires is that the contact patch is more likely to spread beyond a slippery patch and encompass enough area of better traction to maintain traction. For example, if a surface is 50% loose rock and 50% dirt or attached rock, a narrow tire will more frequently be on loose, while a large tire will probably span onto something solid.

Even in mud, wide tires can work well if the lug height is sufficient. Traction lost due to reduced lug penetration depth, which don't think is likely, is compensated by increased compliance from reduced pressure. I'd like to test a wide *proper* mud tire, but there are a few problems:

1. No such thing exists. A 2.5" Shorty is about as close as it gets; other models (ex. Hillbilly 2.8") use reduced lug height.
2. Few bikes have clearance for a wide tire with tall lugs that's loaded with mud.
3. The rolling resistance might be rather high and it would pick up a lot of weight in mud.
4. I hate mud, so someone else would have to test it! : )
  • + 1
 @R-M-R: My Maxxis DHF 2.6" tyre is actually over 7mm wider than my 2.5" DHF according to my callipers, on the same rim. They're on SC Reserve 37mm rims as specced on the Bronson from the Factory.

The issue is that the tyres are different in almost every respect:
The tread is shorter - the shoulders are especially shorter so less bite on cornering.
It's also spread over a much larger (More circumference) carcass but without more tread pattern so is more spaced out.
In order to keep weight to a similar spec the casing is much flimsier, meaning you have to put more air in to avoid squirm meaning the wrap isn't as good on roots etc.

In the dry they're great, but then I tore through the rear on the 2nd ride. I changed to the 2.5" DD and immediately it's a better ride in every respect.
I still have the 2.6" on the front, but it's awful in the wet, so will be doing the same with 2.5".

You can say all you like about it just being numbers, but it's a totally different animal.
  • + 1
 @OrangeGoblin: thank you. Exactly what I was saying.
Inferior lugs and lug pattern.

Its like a balloon with a picture on it and then you over inflate balloon the picture is stretched. This is how the 2.6/2.8 tires look to me.

And too much shoulder height. If they make an effort to make a 2.6 with it's tread pattern designed for a 2.6/2.8 and the same shoulder height as a 2.3 I'll be all over it.
  • + 1
 @OrangeGoblin: by shoulder height I'm talking about the carcass.
They are too tall raising the bb and my recluse is a bad canadate for a.higher bb.
Is it impossible to make a wider tire without making it like a ?????
  • + 1
 @OrangeGoblin: ???? = Balloon.
  • + 1
 @reverend27: It looks like we might agree on something after all ...

I've been trying for a while to get a tire vendor to make an experimental set-up with a wide tread on a moderate casing, which I'll mount on a wide rim. For example, the tread from a 3" tire on a light 2.5" casing, which I'll mount on a 50 mm rim.

The idea is to enlarge the contact patch, maintain lateral stiffness, and minimize undamped rebound. It's true that wide treads usually have reduced lug height, relative to nominally equivalent models with narrower treads, and often have a less dense lug pattern. These issues could be addressed later, if necessary.

These may not be the optimum dimensions, but I think the concept has potential - or at least it will be an interesting experiment.
  • + 1
 @R-M-R: yes definitely agree with all those things. Those things are what I need to see before I try 2.6/2.8 tires again.
  • + 1
 @OrangeGoblin: Yes, it's a different animal. As you said, not solely due to a little extra width. As you noted:

- Nominal widths are often lies, so the difference between a "2.5" and "2.6" can be a lot more than 2.54 mm.
- Tread patterns can differ. Many tires use a different tread pattern for "plus" tires and "normal" tires. The division between categories is often made between 2.5" and 2.6".
- Casing construction can differ. A light, single-ply casing is very different from a double-ply.

When you consider these factors, a difference of 2.54 mm isn't at all what we're arguing about.
  • + 1
 @R-M-R: yeah I hate when they mess with the tread. Vittoria reduced the knob height on the 2.6 Barzo - LAME!
  • + 1
 @JohanG: Bummer. For what it's worth, I haven't confirmed, but my 2.6" Kenda and IRC samples appear to have the same lug height as narrower models. The Kenda Hellkat and IRC Tanken, in particular, are a whole lotta tire.
  • + 1
 @R-M-R: totally. Never said it was the width that was the problem from a purely technical standpoint. Itsvthatbthe 2.6” tyres are just much worse than 2.5” for aggressive trail/Enduro/DH riding.

You kinda think, more width = more grip = faster. But it’s totally the inverse. I’m really disappointed. There needs to either more education on the designed purpose and implications of the larger tyres or they need to design them for the same end effect.

My Minion DHF 2.5” is nothing like my Minion DHF 2.6” in any way other than to look at.

The 2.5” is great. The 2.6 is awful.
  • + 1
 @OrangeGoblin: I now get what you're saying, it's just the way you're saying it obscures the point. The 2.6" width is fine - possible even superior; the problem is the design of current 2.6" tires.

Some potentially good 2.6" options:

- Kenda Hellkat: Lugs appear to be full size and there are plenty of them. Light casing, if that works for you. Lots of tread wrap to work well with wide rims.
- IRC Tanken: Large lugs and plenty of them. Single compound only, but at least it's a decent single compound.
- Schwalbe Eddy Current: Proper lugs, almost DH casings, almost DH compounds. Haven't tried it, but looks like a good choice for a big, burly tire.
  • + 0
 Gotta say the Morsa graphene trail tires I tried were absolutely horrible for traction. Sure, they appeared like they would last a million miles, but these are knobby trail tires....we need traction. Remember the Conti x-king....same feeling, might as well have had the street/park tires on.

I read a whole lot of dumbed-down science up above, but not really anything that suggests the tires will perform any better.

That's kinda what we need here Vittoria.......traction. I would rather pay for traction that a f*cking story.
  • + 3
 Ima be charging my tires like it's 2050.
  • + 3
 Big shock that Waki has a negative opinion on something on Pinkbike......
  • + 0
 Not impressed with the Graphene 2.0... Rushed out and bought a set of Barzo's. Had to plug both tires on the first ride... Thought it was a fluke. Second ride saw another plug. Back to maxxis....
  • + 2
 Which version of the tire were you riding? Which Maxxis were you comparing it to? I'm curious to see if the apples to apples comparison is different.
  • + 1
 @skills25: Specifically, which casing types? The Barzo uses Vittoria's lightest casing variant; it's light and fast, but fragile. I don't think this had anything to do with the rubber compound.
  • + 3
 @skills25: I used the Barzo 2.35's TNT... They weigh 745g each. Comparing the Maxxis Forekaster in 2.35 EXO casing (735g) the Barzo's have a similar ride quality, but roll faster. They also get torn to shreds faster. I've put around 2000 miles on forekasters on various bikes. Had maybe 2 plugs. Plugged the barzo's 3 times in 30 miles...
  • + 1
 @skills25: if you want the FULL backstory.... In February I ordered a set of Barzo 2.35s with the tnt/graphene option. Rode them once on a short shake down ride. Took them on a 24 mile loop, slashed one of them to where I had to put a tire boot in so I could tube, and then punctured the front and it needed 3 plugs to seal.

The day after that, I see vittoria released the new graphene 2.0, and because I like the way they ride, I ordered another set because I thought maybe it was just bad luck and now they're supposed to be tougher. Mounted them up, and in that same 24 mile loop they had to be plugged 3 times (2 rear, 1 front) and I heard the front spew sealant once but it sealed. The casing is without a doubt not equivalent to the Maxxis EXO casing. The Barzo rides fantastically though, fast and confident.
  • + 1
 @gooutsidetoday: The Barzo has no additional sidewall protection, while EXO adds a cut-resistant layer, which would seem to explain the difference rolling speed and durability. Tires with 120 tpi nylon casings and no sidewall protection should be marketed as "race day only". Sorry you had to deal with that.

My experience with Vittoria is also that they're a little heavier than Maxxis for an equivalent tire (i.e. your tires were the same weight, but the Vittoria lacked sidewall protection, so we can infer it would be heavier with the protection). Rolling resistance, durability, and traction seem good, though, which are bigger concerns to me than weight. Here's hoping mine, with sidewall reinforcement and a bead bumper, are more durable than yours.
  • + 1
 @R-M-R: FWIW none of the punctures were in the sidewalls, only the tops
  • + 1
 @gooutsidetoday: Interesting. Both use three layers of 120 TPI nylon casing under the tread, so it's not clear what would cause such a difference. Thoughts and prayers for my tires!
  • + 1
 @gooutsidetoday: That sucks. Vittoria said the 2.0 durability was less than the 1.0. Get the 1.0 while you can!
  • + 1
 @JohanG: They're referring to the wear rate of the lugs, not the strength of the casing.
  • + 1
 graphene 1.0 turns wet roots into ICE. vittoria tires are great but seriously for dry weather only.

hopefully 2.0 addresses this? probably just marketing tho.
  • + 3
 I run Vittoria tires for the simple fact they have a tire called "Mezcal."
  • + 1
 I guess when Maxxis (and Specialized) stop making excellent, affordable tires I'll run out and buy some graphene.
  • + 0
 What about CNT's at Mittas / WTB tires? That's already the next level of carbon infected rubber....
  • + 1
 so pretty much we don't get to try out new tires every week?
  • + 1
 Short version: They put graphite in their tires.
  • + 1
 carbon reinforced tires? bam!
  • - 1
 marketing [insert acronym here]
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