Ask Pinkbike: Bears, Semi-Slicks, and Brakes

Jun 12, 2017 at 9:00
by Pinkbike Staff  
Ask Pinkbike Header

Here at Pinkbike we get inundated with all kinds of questions, ranging from the basic "Can I have stickers" to more in-depth, soul-searching types of queries like if you should pop the question or what to name your first child. Ask Pinkbike is an occasional column where we'll be hand-picking and answering questions that have been keeping readers up at night, although we'll likely steer clear of those last two and keep it more tech oriented.






Protection from Wildlife

Question: Pinkbike user munney asked this question in the All-Mountain, Enduro, and Cross-Country forum:
I'm just wondering what, if any, type of protection against a bear or mountain lion attack people bring with them during a ride. I don't feel comfortable carrying a gun in my pack while flying down a mountain, but maybe some bear spray. What do you carry out there?

bigquotesI don't ride or hike with a gun, either, but I've certainly heard of people doing exactly that. Thankfully, the black bears that live in my neck of the woods are the kind that will usually run away if you ask them to, whereas a grizzly bear will eat you regardless of what you do or say. I ride alone quite often because I have no friends, and the only thing that really worries me out there are cougars... by the time you've spotted the cougar, it's been following you since you walked out your front door and is already gnawing on your neck. Talk about a shitty ride.

I'm not a big fan of bear spray because, from what I've read, you need to be fairly close to the animal, and not be having a panic attack and spray it up wind where you need to go, or in your own face by accident. I carry two things with me for possible animal-related situations when I'm way out in the backcountry: a big ass knife that will probably not do much good but makes me feel better, as well as a bear banger with a few spare shells. Using a bear banger is a lot like shooting a blank; it makes ton of noise (mine will bang when it goes off, and again about fifty feet away), and it's about the size of a thick pen and can slip into a pocket or clip onto a bag's strap. The loud noise and flash should scare or at least confuse the wildlife long enough for you to retreat. Don't shoot it indoors for fun, though. Easier than all that is just to make a bunch of noise while riding, be it singing or from a sometimes annoying bell attached to your handlebar. Be safe out there, munney.
- Mike Levy

n a




Climbing on Semi-Slick Tires

Question: lyfcycles says in the All Mountain, Enduro & Cross-Country forum: Just wondering about the climbing ability of tires like the Rock Razor and Minion SS. Been thinking about putting one on the back end for that rolling speed, but I'm primarily on hilly cross-country type trails and wasn't sure about their climbing ability on dusty hard-pack trails.


bigquotesBoth of your choices are excellent for fast-paced aggressive trail riding in dry conditions and both are terrible in the wet or where there is sticky mud. My favorite semi-slick is the Schwalbe Rock Razor, because it has the same edging blocks as the Magic Mary, which many of us use as a front tire in dusty Southern California. I also like the latest Maxxis Minion SS, which I also have been riding for much of the early season. It also has pronounced edging blocks. You'd never know you were using semi slicks in a cornering situation on either tire, and both hook up well climbing on loose dirt, as long as you get the tire pressures low enough to keep all of those tiny tread points working across the top of the tire. You will be giving up a measure of climbing traction over a full fledged knobby tread, but they still grip well.

Both both fall short, however, on steep, dusty rock faces (braking or climbing), where I often have to concentrate harder than I wish to weight the rear tire and maintain grip. I think that longer, wider-spaced tread blocks put more point-pressure on the rock, so they grip better when the slabs are iffy. Same goes for gravelly soil on top of hard-pack, where the tread needs to push through to the hard surface to find grip. That said, Minion SS and Rock Razor tires grip surprisingly well up dusty climbs, perhaps because the wide crown compacts the soil a bit and the tiny tread doesn't churn it up. The bottom line is that semi-slicks roll and corner so well in dry conditions that the free speed they give you should be worth the few moments you may find yourself flailing up a steep grade searching for grip.
RC

Maxxis Minion SS review
The first generation Maxxis Minion SS tire (shown) has been upgraded with closer-spaced and grippier side blocks. I think it's the faster rolling of the two.
n a
Schwalbe's Rock Razor has a more aggressive crown and edging tread pattern than the Minion SS - no surprise that it produces more traction everywhere.




Improving Brake Modulation?

Question: Pinkbike user @lcpcan asked this question in the Mechanic's Lounge forum: I have a sweet set up on my Ibis with the SRAM Guide RSC, but I weigh 115lb and I am struggling with overly aggressive stopping/ jerking especially at high speed. I cannot figure out how to modulate the brake.

While I realize this is not its primary function, I have played with the contact point adjustment in hopes that it would help with modulation. But while it is great for optimal hand positioning, I haven't found it has much impact on modulation.I would love to be able to have a bit of a range in my brake. I know these brakes are top of the line and are sought after for their stopping power... For sure I could be better on my bike and more precise, but is there a way to increase the modulation of the brake?



bigquotesSRAM's Guide brakes have a well deserved reputation for having excellent modulation, rather than being overly grabby, so your questions is a little surprising, but I do think there are some steps you can take to solve this issue.

First, I'd revisit your pad contact and reach adjustments. The reach adjustment is the knob that protrudes from the lever blade, and the pad contact adjustment is the dial found on the lever body. Start by getting the lever position exactly where you want it – you may want to experiment with running them set a little closer to your grips. This way your fingers won't be as extended when the pads hit the rotors, and you'll be less likely to apply more force than necessary.

After the actual lever blade position is set you can then turn that pad contact adjustment dial. This will let you choose the point at which the pads engage – some riders like there to be minimal lever throw before they start biting, while others like to have a more room to play with. I'd recommend turning the pad contact dial inwards, which should give the brakes a little less of an on/off feeling.

If all of that still doesn't work, you could try switching to a different pad compound – metallic pads tend to be a little less 'grabby' than the stock organic pads, and as a bonus they work better in the wet – it's worth seeing if they make a difference, and if not, it's still a worthwhile upgrade. As a very last resort you could consider switching to smaller rotors, but that will lead to more of a braking power reduction rather more than improving the modulation, so it's not something I fully recommend.

Oh, and one more thing - you're only using one finger to brake, right? If not, that could be the source of the problem - slide your levers inboard so that only one finger reaches the curved portion of the lever, and you should find that there's plenty of easily controlled power on hand. 
Mike Kazimer

SRAM Guide RSC Trail Brake 2014
SRAM's Guide RSC brakes have both a lever reach and a pad contact adjustment for getting them dialed into the perfect position.




Have some unresolved tech questions? Jump in the Pinkbike Forum and we'll look to answer it for next time.


198 Comments

  • + 245
 I use Bear Bangers on hikers. Stuns them just long enough for me to ride by without incident.
  • + 50
 works on awkward social interactions too!
  • + 21
 Colorado is the new Florida.
  • + 2
 Hahaha best comment ever; made my day for sure
  • + 9
 @ryanandrewrogers: Personally, I find them great at family Thanksgiving/Christmas events, you can avoid those awkward conversations with your 3rd cousin twice removed with a simple flash and a bang and a low key house fire.
  • + 148
 Unfortunately where I live, all the cougars want is a big bang
  • + 11
 Top marks all! I carry a machete, hoping the cougar will die laughing when I pull it out.
  • + 1
 nah dude, sharpened popsicle stick taped to your wrist so it sticks out past your hand like the predator.
  • - 4
flag St1234 (Jun 21, 2017 at 6:00) (Below Threshold)
 but a pic of trump on your bike, bear will run away.
  • - 1
 @manuni88: why's that?
  • + 0
 @COnovicerider: cause is scary !
  • + 154
 As a former Parks wildlife management professional, please go buy bear spray. Before taking it out, learn to use it - this means either buying an "inert" can which has spray but no burn, or using a full can in an area with no wind and no people so you know how it works. Yes it has a minimal range (only about 15 feet/3m) but it is effective at that range (works on mountain lions too - if you see/hear them coming). I highly recommend mounting it in a water bottle holster or using a Backcountry Research Super8 strap to put it on your top tube so it is quickly accessible when necessary - if it's buried in your pack it may take too long to get out.
Don't go buy bear bangers. People usually use them wrong (partly because you're scared because theres a freaking bear following you) and end up scaring the bear TOWARDS you rather than away from you. If you do decide to buy one, buy tons of extra shots and make sure you are extremely proficient and accurate at using it. Keep in mind that these are explosives and have also been known to start forest fires...
Also, just make sure to make lots of noise going down trails so animals know you're coming. A few studies seem to suggest that bear bells actually have the opposite intended effect, and may in fact attract bears to you due to their unusual and regular sound - speaking, yelling and music don't have that same effect.
  • + 8
 Good response. Making noise is important. A friend of mine got lucky a while ago and nearly collided with a bear at high speed. This guy wasn't so lucky:
www.spokesman.com/blogs/outdoors/2017/mar/08/mauled-mountain-biker-was-going-fast-grizzly-bear-attack
  • + 2
 Any advice on where to find bear spray for a reasonable price?
  • + 5
 @skelldify: I'm afraid I don't know in the USA. In Canada I get my inert canisters for practice from Kodiak Wildlife Products.
In terms of other products worth looking at, some brands make a chest holster for your spray, while many riders in my area who go without a pack use a "Scat Belt". Bear spray canisters on their own are too small to fit in a standard water bottle holster and need a sleeve to go with them - I buy mine from my LBS.
If you're in bear habitat, there should be nearby retailers who also offer bear safety courses where they will have classes on how to use your spray, and other good bear country safety practices.
  • + 39
 When a sentence starts with "From what I've read" you can pretty much ignore the rest.

I live in an area where you do not go into the woods without spray: The Tetons. We have hundreds of Grizzly and Black bears in our backyard. Bear spray is the preferred defense. I have tested bear spray in my yard. It sprays out forcefully, and definitely further then 15 feet (although the closer you are, the more effective the stream). The trick is to get it out and ready when you see a bear. You don't use it unless you are literally getting charged. Spray towards the ground in front of the bear so it will run through the spray as it charges you. Back up slowly as you spray. Depending on wind, there is a good chance you will get some in your eyes, but I'd rather spend 15 minutes washing out my eyes than be mauled by a bear.

I yell out "Rider" every minute or so when I ride solo. Helps warn pesky hikers and bears. I've seen many bears in the back country and they've seen me: Never had an issue. Bear Spray is the best option if you find yourself in a confrontation. There is no cheap bear spray. Get a full size can, or you're wasting your time. The "Bear Banger" sounds like a horrible solution.
  • + 3
 @skelldify: Cabelas and places like Bass Pro Shops sell them "fairly" cheap, still about $20-25 each. Just be sure you're buying ACTUAL bear spray and not inert stuff. We stopped at a Cabelas a couple weeks ago on our way to Glacier National Park which has a ton of bears (saw three up close, two of which were grizzlies) and the sales guy handed us inert spray when we asked where the bear spray was. Didn't realize this until we were heading out on our first hike, and had to drive into a local town and pay three times as much for proper spray.

Some touristy areas will have shops that actually rent you cannisters too.
  • + 27
 Well said. I was a bit surprised by the bear banger advice. As I understand it, bear bangers are a long range deterrent and not an effective rapid short range deterrent. In addition I would say, know your area and patterns of animal behaviour in that area. In my region (South West Kootenays), there are only a few spots with the rare Griz activity, but we see a lot of black bears (it would be a weird week without having one in my yard). I've only been charged once while biking and that was last week. It was my fault for riding alone at dusk and not making enough noise. I didn't see the bear until I was about 10 feet away and by the time I could stop was about 5 feet away. It just wanted me away from the cub so when it saw I was backing up and talking calmly to it, it tended to it's cub and left me alone. I wouldn't even consider it an aggressive bear incident as the bear didn't seem to want anything to do with me other than it's space.

The other thing to remember is that animal attacks, including bears and especially cougars, are SO RARE! It would be strange irony to ride with a load of weaponry and resources to protect yourself from a bear attack but not have a solid first aid kit. The likelihood of you impaling yourself on a twig, breaking a bone, or damaging yourself significantly from a crash is likely more than 100 times more probable and what precautions do most of us take to avoid that?

Here are some notes on Black Bears:

There is some interesting research on black bear/human interactions that sheds a bit of light on the situation. Hererro found 63 human deaths from Black bears between 1900 and 2009. That really isn't that many when you consider how vast a region these things cover with 44 of those attacks happening in Canada. Only 8% were attributed to mother bears and over 90% occurred while the person was alone or with one other person. Bear attacks almost never happen to groups (something to consider when cruising out into the woods). 38% were associated with black bears accessing attractants or food (food habituated bears). Trails around town with habituated bears could be a particular problem for this, as was the case for the "Black Bear of Whiskey Creek" incident in Banff.

No evidence of attacks from black bears related to guarding a carcass and lots of evidence that most attacks by black bears were predatory and not due to surprise encounter. So the advice is, if a Black Bear does show predatory behaviour, fight back and do not play dead (unless it is a rare case of a mother protecting cubs in which case playing dead may work).But again...so rare! Pack a first aid kit and extra water before the giant blade and bear bangers IMO
  • + 40
 "make lots of noise going down trails" Get yourself an I9 Torch rear hub and call it a day, it will even drive away your friends... if you have any. (Sorry Levy, but I'll be your friend)
  • + 12
 I got the sound down- I haven't cleaned my discs in ages the whole forrest can probably hear em.
  • + 13
 just run an orange five with avid brakes, everyone with in 5k square will be able to hear you
  • + 1
 @skelldify: there are no really "reasonable" upfront costs but refills are fairly cheap
www.udap.com just look for distributors from this company. it was founded by a grizzly attack survivor.
  • + 5
 @skelldify & anyone who wants chemical defense sprays to actually work: you must buy "pepper gel" not easily-dispersed pepper spray. Even in bear canister size, the standard aerosol sprays that deploy a fine mist have a *maximum* range of about 10-12ft, and that's if the wind is dead calm. As soon as there's the slightest breeze, you'll have a couple feet of mist in front of your hand, and the rest will drift wherever the wind goes. Gel pepper sprays, on the other hand, perform as advertised. Gels produce a nice, concentrated stream that spreads to form an effective & visible "cone" of coverage at their intended range. My favorite 50g gel canister offers a 3ft cone at a range of 20ft, & permits accurate targeting at range even in mild wind. I've purchased over a dozen brands on Amazon (excellent selection, competitive prices) in a number of different sizes and results were consistent: gels work, aerosol misting sprays do not.
  • + 8
 @tetonlarry: yelling "rider" doesn't work on half the people on my trails, let alone the bears
  • + 1
 What about a pepper spray gun? How effective are those on animals and are they easier and faster to use than regular spray?
  • + 6
 I use bangers nearly every ride in bear country. They work great and at a range where you and the bear can avoid a conflict. Sure you need to learn how to use bangers, but if you can't figure out how to use a banger I wouldn't trust you with bear spray either since it takes far more nerve to calmly wait until the bear is in range and fire when it's actually effective. If I am in grizzly country I'll carry both spray and bangers. I'd never had to use the spray on a bear, but I have used bangers to get a grizzly to move off.
  • + 30
 The only bears near me wear jean shorts.
  • + 8
 I find a good, loud "BBRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPPPPPP!!!" in the corners gives them warning and also helps me go faster. I also carry bear spray in a UDAP bottle mount holder. Gotta carry something when you're not at the top of the food chain.
  • - 1
 @billfingmurray: ALL the up-votes for your name dude!!
  • + 23
 riding second or third in the group has always worked for me.
  • + 6
 @billfingmurray: I just got some I9s. Definitey loud, but something unexpected happened: I started pedaling more to keep them quiet and now I'm literally faster
  • + 2
 Bear spray on bike, preferably mounted in a bottle cage. Best way to roll in bear country.
  • + 1
 @sledMXer:
Awesome funny,thanks
  • + 1
 @RollinFoSho: Where does the water go?
  • + 8
 @WolfStoneD: In a CamelBak, where it's supposed to go.
  • + 2
 Having spoken to bikers involved in Bear incidents some things I have taken away is how unbelievably fast they can move, don't let the lumbering slow looking bruin fool you and noise is best, no surprises please I'm still not going to put a speaker on my bike, although noisy freehubs are a curse on long hike a bikes, a quick back pedal on a blind corner is kinda reassuring
  • + 1
 @skelldify: Homemade: Water and kitchen pepper in a squirt gun. should do the trick.. Good luck.
  • + 1
 My bike has Tanker Tech, water chamber in bike frame Smile

...Camelbak
  • + 1
 @billfingmurray: I have to agree with this. The I9 hub works well for this, no bike bell needed. Around where I live it drives the rattlesnakes crazy too. I can hear them rattling in the bushes as I rip past.
  • + 1
 @tsn73: Um, I think those are grasshoppers that you are hearing. We were going on a hike, and some Europeans showed up to hike too. They started before us and saw the sign warning of rattlesnake possibility, they went a few hundred yards up the trail and came back. I asked if they forgot something or needed help, they "were leaving because they could hear the rattlesnakes." When we started hiking, I figured out it was the grasshopper wings flapping that was making the sound they heard. I can't blame them, if I thought there were that many snakes, I would go home too!
  • + 1
 @sledMXer: I wish man. These are LOUD rattlesnakes. This year down in SoCal it has been crazy the number of them out on the trails.
  • + 1
 Another bear attack in Alaska this weekend. The bear chased down cyclists from behind and bear spray was used to scare off the bear. The rules of bear spray sound a lot like avalanche beacons according to this attack. Travel with friends, keep a little distance between each other and make sure everybody is trained and equipped. You might need to save your buddy's ass!
www.adn.com/alaska-news/2017/06/25/two-injured-in-separate-brown-bear-attacks-in-southcentral-alaska-saturday
  • + 1
 Bear Cozy (or similar), in your bottle cage !
  • + 37
 I wish there was any "exotic" wildlife over here. The biggest risk is probably to hit a blind old deer, or to be shot by a drunk hunter confusing you for the old blind deer
  • + 26
 drunk hunters and subsidized angry farmers. true dangerous wildlife
  • + 5
 @Benito-Camelas: sounds like Texas.
  • + 4
 @Benito-Camelas: That's Swiss life.
  • + 2
 This winter a hunter, his breath smelled of alcohol, approached us driving an suv agressively, blocking our way, saying we couldnt get through there.
what? who are you?
The guy steps out the car with his rifle on his shoulder. yeah, we're hunting wildboars and the way is blocked, so beat it.
what? you cant do that, you're not allowed. If you don't move out of the way we'll call the police.
The idiot pulled away at the end, warning us that some bullet might let out.

Same for farmers. they block public and private tracks (there's a thing called right of way) in such a way that there's no choice but to cut the barbedwire.
  • + 4
 @Boardlife69: Oh don't be like that! They're not drunk all the time.
  • + 5
 @pakleni: Only after 08.30 am
  • + 31
 What's a bear banger, some kind of Canadian sausage?
  • + 2
 Well I would consider banging a bear rather dangerous, obsurd and in fact next to impossible. "Make love not war" might not always be the smartest solution Wink
  • + 25
 Buy a Hope pro series hub. Makes plenty of noise. I've never seen bear riding, so the hub must work.
  • + 37
 There it is folks, he proved it with science
  • + 10
 Not even a koala bear?
  • + 5
 It even scares away drop bears?
  • + 4
 @Zerozerozero: those dropbears, scarey beasts
  • + 20
 Research by wildlife biologists studying bear crap found out that Grizzly bear turds contain little pieces of bear bangers, some little bells (the kind sold for trail hikers in outdoor stores and park visitor centers), Maxxis Minion remains and smell a lot like Mexican food (like the pepper used in bear spray!) Smile
  • + 2
 The minion thing is new for me..
  • + 22
 "bear banger, do you NEED assistance?"
  • + 6
 Well it's illegal Burton, I know that!
  • + 13
 Some of the biggest misconceptions about bears is their type & behaviors. Most grizzly attacks are caused by either a mother with cubs or surprising the bear. Black bears however are known to actively stalk people & will sek higher ground for a vantage point, especially youn male blacks. Unless you are hunting bears, bear spray is your best defence along with a calm manner & a clear head. A gun in the hands of a panicked person in the face of a charging bear is a recipe for disaster.
With black bears if encountered, make lots of noise, do not be aggressive but do not back down, if the bear continues to advance, get your spray ready. If the bear is merely trying to figure out what you are (getting a scent), make your precence known.
Grizzlies are another matter. If encountered, stay calm, do dot make eye contact, do not make loud or sudden noises, do not be aggressive & do back away slowly, talk in a low calm voice to let it know you are there & do not run (you will never outrun any bear...ever). If attacked, fight back as hard as you can or lie on your stomack & cover your neck with your hands.
Overwhelming evidence shows that most bears of any type want nothing to do with us & will actively go out of their way to avoid us. You have a better chance of being struck & killed by lightning than being attacked by a bear. Pay attention to your surroundings, make lots of noise. The animals I am most concerned with after all my years of climbing, hiking & riding are moose & cougars. Be safe out there.
  • + 48
 way to maliciously single out black bears, racist.
  • + 28
 #blackbearsmatter
  • + 3
 What deterrence for gilfs?
  • + 1
 @Earthmotherfu: Chocolate...
  • + 0
 @wideload46: "You have a better chance of being struck & killed by lightning than being attacked by a bear." Aaah, two people killed by black bears in Alaska in the last two days.

www.foxnews.com/us/2017/06/20/black-bears-kill-2-in-alaska-including-teen-in-extreme-race.html
  • + 11
 Wow. You seem to know lots of info on this subject! Any advice on defense against vegans?
  • + 6
 @powderturns: Wow. Imagine what the deathtoll would be like if they had bears as well!!
  • + 1
 @iamamodel: And your point is...? Bear encounters in the States & Canada probably number in the tens of thousands yearly, yet there are relatively few attacks & even fewer deaths. Death caused by or being struck by lightning? Thousands yearly. Very sad that two young people were killed though, thoughts & condolences to their families.
  • + 1
 @ibishreddin: Cheeseburgers?
  • + 5
 This is how you handle a Grizzly in a calm manner.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lJ2GM17TmA&t=6s
  • + 1
 @wideload46: if you do a little research you'll see gat there is less than one death per year from bear atracks in the US and like 25-40 deaths per year from lightning strikes in the US. Neither are statistically significant.
  • + 2
 @thisspock: While neither is statistically significant from a general point of view, if you are an outdoors enthusiast, both stats are extremely significant. As a climber & among those who get to some significant elevation on my bike, lightning is (& should) be a very real concern as is the very real concern of wildlife encounters. The reality is that if you spend any real time outdoors & especially in the mountains, you have a much higher chance of being struck &/or killed by lightning than attacked &/or killed by a bear. Sorry, but those are the realities that I live with when I venture out, my "research" is some very real first hand experience. I've encountered dozens of bears of both species...I've also been caught in a thunder storm at 9000ft, I'll take a bear encounter over that any day.
  • + 1
 @wideload46: cool, good for you. How many people each year traverse bear habitat and how many are caught out in a storm or at a time they could be struck by lightning. You don't know, you have no idea, and so you can't say which is more likely to happen. An educated guess is that both numbers are quite high, deaths are very few and so it's pretty insignificant, perhaps statistically so. Like worrying about a shark at a beach.

Also, your first hand experience from being outside is not actual research about bear or ligtning attacks. It's just your stories. Just go to Wikipedia at least, yeesh or is that not a reality you live with.
  • + 13
 In before all the gun nuts on here start discussing their favorite brand of enduro-specific holster.

"You're an idiot if you think 9mm is enough to stop a grizzly, .45 is the only way to go" Rolleyes
  • + 13
 Our education secretary over here in the US thinks that you should have armed guards with assault rifles in schools to prevent "potential grizzly attacks"
  • + 5
 Naw, .454 or.500 Smith. Don't play games, and be prepared for the recoil to leave a mark.
  • + 4
 45? Never heard of her. you're going to want a 10mm. Its a crazy round. Smile
  • + 18
 @jumpman2334: I prefer a 10.054mm boost round. Makes such a huge difference, it's crazy!
  • + 5
 Nah, Super Boost Plus .45 is the only way to stop #26forlife I mean grizzly bears
  • + 0
 @jumpman2334: I was going to say the same actually. 10mm is the preferred round for backup sidearms when hunting in the wilderness. Though now that I think about it, .50 GI might also be adequate.
  • + 1
 @YouHadMeAtDrugs: you got me, you are right!
  • + 0
 @seraph: I only said 10mm cause I assumed we were limiting to popular commercially loaded rounds.

either 50gi or 50ae would work as well, the ammo can hard to find and isn't as readily available.
  • + 9
 Fully concur with RC's semi-slick assessment. Thanks!
I drank up the Rock Razor Kool-Aid and stuck it as my rear. Bad move for the likes of Vancouver Island and perpetual wet/moist and my "just goon it" level of skill. Lots of drifting that I never intended on doing and spin outs on relatively mild climbs. Back to Magic Mary or DHF for the backside and time for me to stop chasing trends....
  • + 3
 I currently have a specialized slaughter grid compound, and I can fully say that they work just as well at low pressure as any other more expensive tire.
  • + 11
 The ratio is 1:1 rock razor per day in moab.
  • + 1
 The Specialized Slaughter is an awesome semi-slick in the wet. Surprising amount of traction. And I have ridden it on the island a lot.
  • + 1
 @whitebirdfeathers: I totally recommend the slaughter. Really surprising grip and lasts ages.
  • + 2
 RC is wrong on the side knobs. The RR's knobs are very different to those on the MM. They are smaller and and far more flexible as they lack the extra rubber support on the outside that the MM has. This is perhaps a good thing because I'd rather it let go before the front tyre. RR is perfect for drier climates like ours. As the review on PB says, run a beefy front tyre like a MM to provide the extra control and braking you may need on steeper looser trails.
  • + 1
 Yeah really depends on ground and weather, here in mid Germany the rr (haven't tried other brands) works very well, if the mud is not too thick / the uphill too steep. The middle part wears extremely quick tho especially on hard ground.
  • + 11
 Bears, cougars, this why "I only ride Park"
  • + 7
 The bike parks are loaded with bears in Canada. Whistler is black bear central. I've had them run along beside me at silver star. And see plenty just chillin the day away in the grass. Black bears at kicking horse and have even scared the crap out of a huge momma grizzly and her 3 older cubs, each of which was bigger than most black bears I've seen. I've been fortunate and the hundred or so bears I've seen have all been chill
  • + 2
 @WolfStoneD: you've much more likely to attacked on a wilderness trail than a bike park with hundreds of riders. The bears at Whistler are use to people. Some rogue monster out in the middle of nowhere is what I'm talking about
  • + 3
 @Beez177: I've had a bear swat at me in Whistler Wink . They still have teeth and claws those little furry buggers.
  • + 1
 I nearly ran into a bear in a berm, and got between to treed Cubs and a mother on some xc trails at silver star bike park, last year alone.
  • + 3
 Yeah right, there was a bear chilling and eating 2 feet away from the trail in whistler last weekend. (Creekside, Dustys Downhill)

I waited 10 minutes and tried screaming at him, I could see his ears move but the f*cker couldn't care less.

I ended up having to ride right by him, (on a flattish section). Highest adrenaline rush of the day by far!

There was also a bear at the GLC jump at the bottom he was chilling in the landing hahaha and looking at the riders jumping, eventually climbing in the tree right next to the jump and he kept watching the show. Couldn't help but think that he thought downhill was cool.

I saw a bear at least 10 different times over the weekend. So yeah your statement makes no sense at all
  • + 1
 @mollow: I've seen plenty of beers right above the GLC drop, no doubt.
  • + 6
 "Both both fall short, however, on steep, dusty rock faces"

That's counter to a lot of what I've heard from people running these here in Squamish. Most feedback is that they're great on slab - possibly because of the increased amount of rubber in contact with the rock, and the lack of squirm on the tall treads - but pretty much terrible in any other steep terrain where you might occasionally need to scrub speed.
  • + 2
 Maybe Squamish granite versus other types of rock faces in other climates? And the dust factor doesn't seem as common in Squamish?
  • + 3
 Can confirm, have run rock razor in 27.5 and am running it right now in 29 form... Excellent grip on rock, excellent grip everywhere really...except braking in loose and/or dry dirt. Basically pretend you only have a front brake in those conditions.
  • + 2
 I'm in Squamish btw and yes the coarse grained granite here is a special beast hence the rock climbing.
  • + 1
 @gramboh: Fair point. I guess I'd just presumed that more rubber in contact & less squirming would be better on all rock, but that's a pretty big presumption.
  • + 3
 Squamish is unique and magical. I swear those rocks could be covered in a layer of motor oil and you'd still stick to them.
  • + 2
 Squamish slabs are not dusty.. they get washed frequently...
  • + 1
 Used both tires in the past year, primarily in the desert SW. I prefer the rock razor due to the weight and grip, however it wore out too fast. The Minion SS doesn't do well in dry limestone. The rear tire slips like crazy. However on the other side of the mountains with rotten granite, it does great. Only issue, the Minion SS throws rocks and sand like crazy. None of my friends want to follow me.
  • + 5
 The wildlife on the trails here wouldn't bat an eyelid at bear bangers either no doubt..

road.cc/content/news/224205-video-cyclists-stumble-across-couple-going-it-hammer-and-tongs
  • + 3
 I agree on semi-slick tires on the rear. It's a love and hate relationship when I'm using them on my normal trails. Currently they are on my rear wheel since I blew a huge hole in the tire. I'm waiting to glue a patch when one of my tires wears out. They are fast rolling for sure. Great in cornering. However, climbing on slick flat rock surfaces to steep dusty climbs you may end up slipping a few times depending on how hard you're putting out in the drive train. I bought the Rock Razor for the sole purpose of using them at the DH bike park where I believe that's where they shine the most. Especially in dry conditions. If you want fast rolling then go with a light weight XC in the rear like the Rocket Rons or even go a little heavier with the Nobby Nics which make a great rear tire as well.
  • + 3
 I've had quite a few black bear encounters in my time, while riding. As long as they hear you coming they leave the trail and you hardly see more than their butt shuffling off into the bushes. When I've startled or surprised them, they've still run. This includes a mom and cubs on several occasions. But that scenario spooks the hell out of me. I've been lucky enough not to startle a bear in an area where they felt cornered. I've always read if a black bear attacks you, you fight for your life because they feel threatened and are going to kill you. If a grizzly attacks you, play dead because they are more annoyed and want to scare you off. If a cougar attacks you, protect your neck, stay off the ground, and fight for your life. I personally dont think theres anything you can carry in any way on bike that will help you in that moment. Unless its strapped to your hand already. I feel making noise and be smart is your best option. I have noticed I see much fewer animals of all kinds with a noisy rear hub... works for me. NEVER run from a bear or cougar. Slowly back away from bears while facing them. Stand your ground and look big and noisy with cougars, dont turn your back. There' soon to be a new threat in my area too, Wolves. While there doesn't seem to be many cases of wolf attacks on humans. This scares me more than the others. Pack hunters are no joke. The first time I see a wolf while riding I will probably soil my pants and immediately be looking for the other wolves. they're seldom alone.
  • + 3
 Black Bears are basically ownerless dogs. They are curious, skiddish, and some of them are downright sweet. BUT, you shouldn't f*ck with strange dogs (or black bears), because they still have the capacity to maul the life out of you, especially when their babies are around.
  • + 1
 Every now and again in Taiwan, you can read about how someone has been mauled or killed by a pack of street dogs. Got to be careful where you ride some times, usually in town, not in the sticks.
  • + 6
 You don't have to faster than a bear or a cougar,
You only have to be faster than the buddy you are riding with. Smile
  • + 5
 My trusty wolf/malamute is great on hikes and bike rides. He has treed about 15 black bears for me. The bears cannot find a tree quick enough.
  • + 12
 eh, eventually it will go the other way. What you really need is a trained trail-bear to keep away wildlife.
  • + 2
 @YouHadMeAtDrugs: "trail-bear", LOL Big Grin only in Canada. Possibly Russia, too.
  • + 3
 Mr. Levy - "the only thing that really worries me out there are cougars... by the time you've spotted the cougar, it's been following you since you walked out the bar door and is already gnawing on your neck. Talk about a shitty ride."
  • + 7
 Sounds like a job for some Tri-Flow rotor lube
  • + 4
 Sell the Sram and buy some Hopes. I have Tech 3 V4's and hands down the best brakes I have ever had. I've had Guides, Codes, XO's, X9's, XT's and Saints. So tried a good few.
  • + 2
 I had to cut the shoulder knobs down on my minion ss. They were in contact even when rolling straight. Virtually square profile. Didn't roll as fast as I thought and those knobs are squirmy cornering on hard pack. It's much better cut down, but I'm surprised this tire gets so much good press...
  • + 1
 Minion SS with the DD casing-favorite dry (Western U.S.) rear tire I've used. It grip and wears far better than something with such minimal tread ought to, and hooks up with a vengeance on the shoulder knobs.

That said, I've ridden them in damp conditions and it's downright scary (on rock slabs).

One other good option is the WTB Riddler. I felt like it rolled faster but had a little less absolute grip (both in a straight line and laid over) than a Minion SS, but I got good wear out of one and it's available with a stout (2-ply) casing.
  • + 1
 I always carry bear spray on longer remote rides and hikes but I also carry bear bangers. I carry bear bangers because i don't want things to escalate to where I need bear spray. Believe me, bear bangers have worked for me more times than I can remember with grizzly bears, as long as used properly, like straight up in the air. I should note I have never felt the need for anything with my many black bear encounters as they just poop and run! Never point it at the bear or at any trajectory other than straight up. Yes forest fires are a concern, thinking of trying out a compact air horn. As for cougars, where are you folks getting your info? With only two confirmed attacks of adults in all of NA, both of which were on Vancouver Island, I dare say it's a little overblown. Children and small dogs on the other hand....

There seems to me this weird reluctance to promote the use for them. Apart from kids mucking around, potential fires and dangerous misuse (all real concerns) they F'ing work!
  • + 1
 A buddy of mine was attacked by a cougar while on a ride on the Olympic Peninsula in WA in the '90s. He is a very strong dude with fighting skills and basically ended up in a wrestling match with the 80lb young cat. The incident earned him the nicknames Cougar Boy/Cougar Phil and the story heard directly from him is nothing short of impressive. I guess this was the cougar's way of sending a message regarding poaching off limit hiking trails within the park. The Ranger ended up giving my buddy a warning.

Worthwhile read:
community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19960527&slug=2331443
  • + 1
 Sorry, you are mistaken about cougar attacks. Within the last 15 years, a person was killed in southern California by a mountain lion, and a man was nearly killed by one in northern California. Great story. His 70-something year old wife drove it off with a tree branch and a ball point pen, proving that the pen is mightier than...
  • + 2
 I've worked in the bush surveying for 15 years and while many people carry both bear spray and bangers, most people I've worked with over the years prefer the bangers and also carry a small air horn (useful in several ways). I've worked with many very knowledgeable Native peeps over the years (often local to the region of work) and very few would carry bear spray, seemed to overwhelmingly prefer bangers.
Making noise is definitely your best bet.
I live and ride in grizzly country and it blows my mind how many solo trail runners wearing headphones I encounter on many of the trails. It's also good to smell as human as possible, hang up your jersey after your ride and give it another wear lol, bears have an incredible sense of smell.
  • + 4
 you guys think bears are scary.... Try an encounter with a pissed off wombat and see how you go
  • + 2
 I don't know why North Americans think Australian wildlife is dangerous. There's nothing here that is going to kill and eat you, apart from a croc and you won't see one on a trail.
  • + 3
 The Kangaroos here at Stromlo are more dangerous. Not because they attack but because of always crossing the trail at the very last moment (they see you coming and go like, wait for it, wait for it, NOW!)
  • + 2
 @kusanagi72: Yep. Old Duffy Descent at night is terrible. And I gotta go tonight. I'll have to wear my bibs back-to-front to ward off the jinx.
  • + 3
 @iamamodel: how many snakes and spiders there can kill you, and what's up with that waitawhile vine, might as well make a curtain out of fish hooks
  • + 2
 @brownstone: haha I came screaming round a corner straight into a fallen wait-a-while a few months ago, 15 mins of fluffing around and a shredded shirt and torn arms later I managed to free myself, those suckers hurt but don't have a scratch on New Zealands matagouri or English Gorse bushes if you crash into them :-@ Try pulling 2" long thorns out of your entire body for the next few months!

Snakes are a possible threat here in queensland but generally just scurry off, in the last couple of years I have seen 2 brown snakes, a coastal Taipan, a tiger snake, red belly black and a few tree snakes for good measure. Also scared a wombat off the other day but they're no issue.

The real threat in Oz, amusingly enough is gum/eucalyptus trees, they are notorious for dropping very large tree sized limbs after its rained or if its windy, I never go out riding the day after a heavy rainfall as I've had 2 big branches land worryingly close to me [they fill with water, get too heavy and snap off] - I've also nearly hit big 5ft+ grey kangaroo's a couple of times but again they're not hostile, just big!
  • + 2
 Just wear a bandolier and keep the shotgun butt sticking out of the top of your pack. Then pray to God you don't make a mistake that launches you into the trees so you tumble ass over kettle covered in live ammo.
  • + 1
 "Don't shoot it indoors though." You speakin' from experience? Also he's right about a mountain attack. Pretty much by the time you realize what's happening you're already dead. They're ambush predators and like to go for the back of the neck. Mountain lions bite and crush the spinal cord so as to immobilize their prey and then the prey either suffocates or dies with the initial spinal injury.
  • + 1
 I've met a few black bears on the trails around Revelstoke, they've never been aggressive, usually run away. I was much more worried when I met a moose on the Frisby Ridge trail, thing was huge and I had nowhere to go - thankfully he just got off the trail and watched me ride by.
  • + 1
 Loved the Rock Razor , and now that I am going to a 29er the choice for a semi slick is more than my current 26er . So definitely looking forward to trying more SS type rear tires down the road . Guide brakes , I prefer them over Shimano , found way better modulation with them in steep techy stuff .
  • + 1
 The Guide RSC's have never been considered a grabby or even overly powerful brake and why Sram brought out the Code's but I guess if you're 115lbs then they would be pretty strong.

Guides do offer a lot of modulation when compared to Saint's, XT's, MT7's etc but then they don't offer the same outright power.

I'm going to make a big assumption here but I'm guessing from your weight your hands are small to medium. Ergonomics plays a big role in braking so getting them setup right is key. My advice would be to wind the reach and contact point all the way in. The contact dial never quite reaches the desired point so I'd suggest advancing the pistons carefully by removing the wheel and disc and pulling on the lever a small amount to move the pistons out. Replace the wheel, test and do again until you've found your desired sweet spot. It shouldn't take much.

Finally, work on your braking by learning/practising some trials techniques. You can learn to modulate even the most powerful brakes (see brakes above). Perhaps you feel your brakes are too grabby because of the current setup? You may be making erratic movements because of the position they are in. Braking is a combination of ergonomics and technique. Get your brakes comfortable on you and work on those skills.

Good luck.
  • + 1
 That bear banger seems pretty cool. I'm moving out to Colorado in a couple of weeks and have been looking for something to help me out in case I get in a bad situation. I also have an annoying bell and some loud ass hubs. Anyone else have any suggestions?
  • + 9
 You're American, a gun is the ultimate solution to worries about wildlife.
  • + 1
 Bear bangers have been proved to as ineffective as bells. Read the first comment.
  • + 3
 @mnorris122: Because nobody in Canada owns a firearm...
  • + 1
 As mentioned, bells don't really work, they just annoy other hikers. Best thing you can do is call out now and then to let them know you're coming, especially coming up on any blind corners.
  • + 4
 @mnorris122: Ah stereotypes, eh hoser? Smile Well there is some truth to that, I suppose, but if you must carry, please shoot into the air or ground first before puncturing apex predators and dooming them to a slow painful death. Most of the time shots fired will scare them off. Mountain lions generally hunt at dusk and aren't looking to jump on a strange-looking biomechanoids unless threatened. There are plenty of delicious deer out there, especially this year (norcal). I carry a fixed blade but that's mainy for tweekers and hill-jackers.
  • + 6
 On the descent, I am constantly shouting things like "BRAAAAAPPPPP" "HOOOOOTIE HOOOO" and "F*ckn' Giv'er Boys!" Between that and DT 240 hub with nearly all the grease taken out, I'd be hard pressed to think that I am not heard on the trails. Except for one time during rutting season where we rode up on two bulls that were sparing....

During climbs, crank up the bar mounted blue tooth radio.
  • + 11
 I'm yelling out "STRAVA" constantly while I'm cranking out the watts maintaining my KOM's.
  • + 1
 @mnorris122: Swords are so 17th century!
  • + 1
 @WhatToBuy: I realize the point you're trying to make, but there are 89 firearms per 100 people in the US, vs 30 per hundred in Canada. Also, buying a gun in the states is REALLY easy.
  • + 1
 I've lived and ridden my bike in eastern BC for nearly 30 years, riding in a group is best, very few encounters with a few people. But I also ride with my dogs, both are very well trained and come back on command, I've also trained them to bark on command. I have a Dutch Shepherd that I've put a jingly collar on and I let her lead on climbs and she knows to follow on down hills. if you end up between a mother bear and cubs, my money is on the bear but otherwise I've always been able to get out of the bears territory safely by making noise and just backing away with my dogs. As for cougars, they see you, you don't see them but there are very few cougar attacks so humans don't seem to be on the menu.
  • + 2
 @brownstone: Don't worry about bears, its the moose, bulls, steers, and rattlesnakes you need to watch out for.
  • + 1
 You literally don't need to worry about it. Just make noise.
  • + 2
 I can't imagine weighing 115lbs and don't think i have since i exited the womb. Funny to think of the hell brakes go through considering i am 2x that weight and asking the same brake to do the same thing.
  • + 4
 "my brakes work too good wat should I do?"
Tri-flow on the rotors takes the grabbiness right out.
  • + 1
 I owned Minion SS, Spec Slaughter and Rock Razor and I would say that they all have comparable grip of all sorts, on climbs, descents and when cornering. They all suck in deep mud though. They just spin out like slicks on muddy climbs. Slaughter GRID is my favorite for grip/durability/weight. Minion is nice, nothing to complain about, nothing to write home about. Rock Razor on the other hand is fkng garbage. No no, the grip is best, yes, but I punctured that sht on climbs TWICE. I torn two knobs off while climbing, once in dry, once in wet. WTF honestly... Theeen I torn off some more, on descends as it happens with ALL Schwalbes with EVO and Super Gravity sidewalls. Ja Schwalbes, nice grip, filen dank Ja! Bettah ghrip than zie Maxxisen Ja. But du musen remember not zu slide with ze locked wheel in dry conditions. Or you get vat vi call ein "ZONK"
  • + 1
 Check pad material on those Guides, too. Organic is grabbier than metallic, but less power overall. I found the lack of power with organics leads to subconsciously/instinctively pulling harder all the time, thus accentuating the grabbiness and reducing modulation even more. If you're running organics, try at least semi metallic/sintered; if already on semis, try full metallic/sintered pads.
  • + 1
 For the Semi Slick Tires, I'm running a Specialized Butcher/Slaughter combo and it is very similar to the MM/RR combo, amazing in the dry through loamy trails, but long granite rock rolls, wet dirt/roots are when the tire starts dancing from side knob to side knob for traction and can be quite challenging. I haven't found that the tire gives up too bad on steep climbs for me.
  • + 1
 all our bears were eradicated in the 16th century by the barons and lords ,save's us a fortune in sprays though to the guy with the brake problem ,get some formula brakes and some good protection
  • + 2
 Not true - there are quite a few Bears on Kennington Lane, Vauxhall.
  • + 2
 None of the methods mentioned work on avoidance of the Scottish Midge . One of the meanest creatures you will ever meet while out riding .
  • + 1
 riding in canada seems alot like going into the alien queens nest. id want a motion sensor on the bars, trail of flares, load of bear sprays taped together and a load more in my enduro sash
  • + 4
 I just draw my anti sea bear circle. Works every time.
  • + 1
 I hope you are also sure to always wear your anti-sea-rhinoceros underwear.
  • + 1
 I use loud hubs to warn wildlife haha... and I run a bell on my bars. The bell has saved me from slamming into bears, horseback riders, and hikers. Plus it usually leaves folks smiling as I pass... Ding Ding!
  • + 2
 I ride alone because I have no friends lol, some times riding alone is the best!
  • + 1
 I cosign that.
  • + 2
 You said bear banger and I thought you meant this from Super Troopers www.youtube.com/watch?v=HL-Dj-rk-v4
  • + 3
 Cougars usually follow me home, not the other way around.
  • + 2
 I live in an area similar to what lyfcycles has and my HRII/Minion SS combo works fine.
  • + 3
 bears have been asking the same question for ages
  • + 1
 Bear spray and a bell. I've seen two bears in one week this month... The young grizzly heard me before I saw it. Thankfully the bear was on its own.
  • + 1
 Saw a black bear going up my trail the other day, I just put on some bangin tunes and screamed all the way up. Seems to have worked.
  • + 2
 Mr Levy I'll gladly join you on a ride if you have no friend
  • + 1
 If you carry a big knife, what if you fall on it, this can lead to self-liquidation
  • + 1
 machete is a scabbard in my hydration pack. I've proof tested it by falling a hundred or so times while carrying it.
  • + 1
 I feel like the 'Don't shoot it indoors for fun, though' comment comes from a bad experience of doing so.
  • + 1
 I carry slug pellets , those little blighters can take your front wheel right from under you!
  • + 1
 Prefer the Razor. Yet to try to Specialized version, but I prefer the volume of the RR to the Minion SS.
  • + 2
 Razor Rock on the back all day long. So fast
  • + 7
 ...and a new rock razor for the next day!
  • + 1
 The deeper in the woods I go, the bigger my gun gets, weight and convenience be damned.
  • + 2
 That doesn't seem like a logical way to select a firearm.
  • + 1
 @Session603: my logic is the for the further from civilization the bigger in the wilder the creatures are
  • + 1
 yeeeehawwww!!!!! AMERICA!
  • + 1
 Glad I only have to be worried about dogs in the woods (and the occasional common buzzard).
  • + 1
 "Attention! Bear Banger"

Supertroopers anyone?
  • + 1
 Why do people keep asking questions about brakes? The answer is shimano.
  • + 1
 Vittoria Morsa, all the benefits of a semi slick, none of the cons.
  • + 1
 *bite point- not bike point
  • + 1
 '...You're not in this for the hunting, are you?'''
  • + 0
 There's a second generation Minion SS? That's news to me.
  • + 1
 Well, here's the answer:

blistergearreview.com/gear-reviews/maxxis-minion-ss-tire

I've never seen any mention of this running change to the Minion SS anywhere before today. I surely can't be the only one.
  • - 3
 Mike Kazimer is assuming that the Contact dial does something. it is a mystery adjuster on both Shimano and SRAM brakes.
  • + 9
 It may be a mystery screw on Shimano brakes, but it most definitely works on SRAM brakes.
  • - 2
 The contact adj on Sram and Shimano "mystery dial" allows the manufacturer to pretend, the user must pretend and everybody lives in harmony.The only contact pad adjustment that works is on Hope brakes.....END OF
  • + 2
 I second that. also perfect for adjusting the contact after changing pads.
  • + 3
 @mikekazimer: +1 works great on my sram trail 9.
  • + 0
 Take a look at a Guide RSC, buddy.

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