May 8, 2012

SS Review Update and NEW tires

I’m giving up on my previous favorite mtn bike tires. They were Kenda Slant Six’s mounted tubeless front and rear which I reviewed here: SS review..  It’s not that they were all that bad, I’m just convinced there is something better.   

If you read my race report from Carnage at the Creek here: CAC .  You already know I cut the sidewall of my front tire on some rocky singletrack.  I was able to boot the tire with a Gu pack, stuff it with a tube, and finish the race.

 I have a full year of riding on this tire set, and they are showing some significant wear maybe I expect too much?).  The rear tire is the worst and definitely needs to be replaced.  I have been sliding around and loosing traction in all terrains recently, but after a recent wet gravel ride had me squirming all over I decided it was time to change the rear.

They were my first set of tubeless tires, so I’ve been wondering how much of the improvement I noted while first riding them was because of the change to tubeless and how much was the tire design.  Another thing that bugged me, but never turned into an issue was the fact that Kenda would not warranty tires that had been used with sealants.  wtf?  Everyone rides tubeless with sealant.  What a cop-out.
Late last fall I built up a Niner Air 9 for Jacob (ROCK Racing’s youngest member) and used Rocket Ron 29er tires on it.  He has been training and racing on them ever since and they have given flawless performance.    He even has an AG win at Tracks-n-Treads offroad biathlon on them.

So seeing the success he has had, I was predisposed to using the same tires on my Superfly.  I like the big square lugs with tight spacing on the Racing Ralph’s.  It is available for 29er wheels and in several different widths.   It has smaller tighter lugs down the center to roll smoother and faster, with larger further spaced lugs on the edges for grip during turns.

The Schwalbe tires are also available with Snakeskin sidewalls.  I definitely wanted more protection after cutting that sidewall in the race.  (Now that I think about it, I also cut a sidewall on a Maxxis Ignitor at the Castlewood 8hr).  From Schwalbe’s website:  “The Snakeskin protection is a layer of abrasion resistant fabric mesh that's embedded into the outer layer of the casing on the sidewall. It adds yet another facet of durability, making these tires prime for tough terrain.”   Sounds like just what I need.
Another feature I like that most tire mfg’s do on their high-end tires is multiple rubber compounds in different tire locations.  Schwalbe calls theirs the Pacestar Triple Compound.  And their description of it is “rubber to optimize the tire's performance wherever possible with regards to grip, durability, and rolling resistance…. cornering is outstanding thanks in part to the soft rubber compound”

So that’s it.  I decided on the Racing Ralph’s with SnakeSkin, TL-Ready, Folding, 29 x 2.25in. 
I mounted them on my Stan’s ZTR Crest wheels.  They have been the easiest tires I’ve set up tubeless to date.  I used my compressor to seat the beads, but I bet it could be done with a hand pump.  I used two cups of Stan’s sealant in each one.  They sealed instantly and I haven’t had to do any of the old PITA shake-to-seal method or leaving them on a bucket each night for a week refilling with air each morning.  Seriously, I just put them on and they were ready to go.  Simple.  Awesome.

Now I have to get some ride time on these new tires and let you know what I think.

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