Mountain Bike - June 00
(Question on mixed road and off-road). The trick is that rubber compound is
just as important – or maybe more important – on rock and roots than tread
pattern. Knobs can actually get you into trouble. For instance, hit a wet,
diagonal root that fits in between two center knobs, and the tire can go flying
off down the root like a runaway trolley on a trolley track. I ride similar
rocky and rooty trails, and I often run pretty racy, semi-slick tires with very
good luck as long as they have a good rubber compound, which, so far, means
they’re from Europe. Specifically, I’ve run Michelin WildGripper Sprints,
Continental Double Fighters and Hutchinson Mosquitoes (www.hutchinson.fr/tires
or 1.888.66hutch) on rocks and roots with happy results. I’ve been running a
WildGripper Sprint on the front of my extreme technical bike, because I’m so
jazzed with its grip on wet rock faces. These tires are all fast as snot on the
street or hardpack, do surprisingly well in level mud and climb well if you’re
in the saddle and keeping them well loaded. On the other hand, they’re pretty
nasty in loose, dry dirt, they require great finesse when you have to stand up
on a steep muddy climb, and you’ll lose the front end now and then. One of my
favorite combos is to run a moderately knobbed tire like a Conti Explorer Pro on
the back, and a “slick with side knobs” up front. The safest bet might be
Explorer Pro’s front and rear – fast, yet grippy.
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Last Modified: March 9, 2008