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  1. #1
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    Rear tire for loose riding in the desert

    I just picked up a used '11 Mamba, it's my first Mountain bike. Most my riding is either singletrack or four-wheeler trails in the desert southwest - sandy, shaley, extremely loose, and/or loose over hardpack. I've found that I have alot of trouble on steep climbs losing traction on the back wheel in the loose stuff. I'm sure most of it is my pedaling technique, which will improve, but my rear tire is also to blame as its the crappy original bonty that came with the bike and the center lugs are almost gone. As a noob I'm not worried about speed, weight, or rolling resistance - just floatation and traction in loose and soft stuff, and maybe something that won't skid too easily when cornering and braking. I will be experimenting with getting my tire pressure as low as I can, but I will not be going tubeless anytime soon.

    So who makes some good diggers?

  2. #2
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    I am going to say Hans Dampf, in the harder compound. Has everything I look for in a desert tire, except low cost. It's huge, has lots of knobs with no ramps, sidewall is tough.

    Cheapest good tire would be a tioga psycho, run backwards. It's main drawback is that it's not truly high-volume. Real knobs that dig, which makes it noisy and "slow" feeling.

    Rampage is pretty good, maybe I will try one backwards and it will probably climb better.

    I bet a nevegal would be good, but I haven't gotten around to trying one.

    Geax and specialized I have no idea. Gato?

  3. #3
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    I run a Geax Sagauro as my back tire and 90% of my of my riding in on dry, dusty, loose Southern California trails or desert riding in SW Utah. As a matter of fact, this tire was recommended to me by another board member here who lives at the foot of Gooseberry Mesa.

    That being said, that Haqs Dampf is getting tons of great reviews. I have (1) friend who rides them front and rear. He says they are the best tire he has ever used. I just wish they made a lighter, 2.2 version.

  4. #4
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    Maxxis Ardent 2.4's make me happy.

  5. #5
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    Check out the Panaracer Cedric Gracia XC. Originally looking for an aggressive tire that did not feel like I was dragging a cinder block when on stretches of hard pack, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it would also dig and track through deep sand.

  6. #6
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    Kenda Nevegals have been treating me good out here in southern California for the past 5 or so years.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by gaba View Post
    Maxxis Ardent 2.4's make me happy.
    +1 on that.

    Also, maybe run lower pressure? Setting up tubeless and being able to run 27-28 psi made a HUGE difference for me in getting up the loose climbs.

  8. #8
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    Spesh the captain 2.2 works great in the stuff.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by gaba View Post
    Maxxis Ardent 2.4's make me happy.
    They are good, but not great desert climbers, IMO. Volume is crazy good. I don't like how they skid turn in kitty litter type conditions either. It's one of my favorite front tires though.

    When I think of a tire that climbs well in the desert, I think of a tire that will get you up a hill while spinning out in loose garbage. The low knobs and ramps on the ardent aren't great at that. I flipped it backwards and it climbed better, but was sketchier when skidding sideways.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for all the suggestions. I think I'm going to go with the Saguaro based on price, and when I'm ready to go tubeless, drop the cash on the Hans Dampf.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gilarider View Post
    They are good, but not great desert climbers, IMO. Volume is crazy good. I don't like how they skid turn in kitty litter type conditions either. It's one of my favorite front tires though.

    When I think of a tire that climbs well in the desert, I think of a tire that will get you up a hill while spinning out in loose garbage. The low knobs and ramps on the ardent aren't great at that. I flipped it backwards and it climbed better, but was sketchier when skidding sideways.

    Are you running them tubeless? I run my Ardent 2.4 on the front of my rigid SS at 18 psi and it has tons of grip. I will say I haven't run it in back as I still have an old style WW 2.55 back there. Run it at 22 psi tubeless. All I ride are rocks and sand / kitty litter in AZ.
    If you're lucky enough to be in the mountains,
    you're lucky enough.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by azjonboy View Post
    Are you running them tubeless? I run my Ardent 2.4 on the front of my rigid SS at 18 psi and it has tons of grip. I will say I haven't run it in back as I still have an old style WW 2.55 back there. Run it at 22 psi tubeless. All I ride are rocks and sand / kitty litter in AZ.
    I like it as a front, I said. I like it as a back tire, too. It turns my hardtail into almost a softtail. But I don't think it is the absolute best when it comes to climbing traction.

  13. #13
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    I can't say enough good things about the fr3. The ardent was as good but I only got 600 miles out of it before I need a new tire. My first fr3 has about 1500 miles and is going strong. I ride in NM at about 6000-7500 ft. I have fr3's on three wheels. I have a saguaro on the rear of my ss, pretty good unless wet.

  14. #14
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    Personally, I hated the nevegals and wouldn't even recommend them. They have good traction but are extremely slow. The Hans is definitely a much better tire if you like that tread pattern, but still slow when used in the rear. Worked great up front for me but still opted for something different. Personally, I've had good luck with the ignitor tires and have always went back to them.

    When I first started riding I felt I needed an aggressive tread in the back for loose climbs...but after I improved my technique I have no issues getting up tough climbs with just a crossmark in the rear. Even a sb8 with low pressures has enough bite.

    Lots of choices available...and I'd suggest trying out several tires yourself. What works for rider "Y" may not work for rider "Z". You can find good deals on used rubber with decent tread left...and if you like it you can invest the money for a new long term tire.

  15. #15
    rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianU View Post
    Check out the Panaracer Cedric Gracia XC. Originally looking for an aggressive tire that did not feel like I was dragging a cinder block when on stretches of hard pack, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it would also dig and track through deep sand.
    Agreed. Very good on gravel and loose over hard also.
    Abandoned the 26" wheel in May '03

  16. #16
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    Have to agree with the GEAX Saguaro recommendation. I ride in Northern NV and experience much of what you ride. This tire has yet to let me down no matter the situation (unless its wet rocks) and continually impresses. For the money (which I have found them at HnR for $35 shipped) you can't go wrong.
    Inbred 29r (Purple People Eater)
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianU View Post
    Check out the Panaracer Cedric Gracia XC. Originally looking for an aggressive tire that did not feel like I was dragging a cinder block when on stretches of hard pack, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it would also dig and track through deep sand.
    +1 on the CG. This is awesome as a rear tire. High Volume & hooks up well in the loose sand. Lasts forever too.
    "Prollyisnotprobably"

  18. #18
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    My southwest desert riding consists of Joshua Tree & Palm Springs. I've been very happy in using the Specialized Ground Control (Controls) in 2.1 & Ground Control Grid in 2.3. I've also used Captains & Fast Trak & I wasn't pleased at all with them in the desert. Using the GC in the rear I was able to roll over sand traps instead on sinking & able to finally climb hills that I would spin out on.

  19. #19
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    I have a Mamba as well, and have to agree the stock 29-3 tires suck. I was constantly loosing the front end in the soft corners.

    Today I mounted a set of the Geax Saguaro's, front set up for traction and rear for speed and took them out for a nice 10 mile ride tonight and never once had any issues with them. I had one little spot in a corner that was all sand that they slid out a little but it seemed really controllable even though I instinctively unclipped that shoe.

    So they get my vote as well.

  20. #20
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    +1 On the Nevs, run them on my SS where I have to sand and mash up loose stuff, only break loose when my form goes to ****. Don't notice the knobbies unless I'm on pavement.

    Run WTB Dissents on the RIP9, will handle anything but they are discontinued. Still pop up here and there on ebay tho.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tillers_Rule View Post
    Kenda Nevegals have been treating me good out here in southern California for the past 5 or so years.

  21. #21
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    I got a good deal on a Saguaro from Brackcountry and it finally came in today. Mounted it up for traction in the rear and dropped my pressure a little. All my problems are over (for now). Never lost traction once in the loose stuff in the sandy washes or the steep uphills. If I ever get to the point where I care about speed, I might flip it around cause I think I have more traction than I could ever need.

  22. #22
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    I'm on Hans D on the front and Spesh Captain Control on the rear. I really like this set up running tubeless and 23/25 psi (180 lb. wt.). You can just feel the slight drift over loose, then a nice controlled grab as you push it into the corners. They both have pretty large edge knobs on a round profile....sweet!

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by hitechredneck View Post
    Spesh the captain 2.2 works great in the stuff.
    ya this or the specialized Purgatory Armadilo Elite

    gnewcomer aka OldMtnGoat

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