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  1. #1
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    Seeking great climbing traction

    I finally made the switch to 29 but I really miss the incredible traction of my all time favorite 26" tires the WTB Velociraptor (especially the rear). Any suggestions for some 2.30 ish tires that will not spin out when I get out of the saddle on steep loose Southern California climbs? I'm more XC than DH and value light weight and durability but require serious knobs. Thanks for the suggestions.

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    What inner rim width do you have?

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    just to be clear, if you are experiencing a lack in climbing traction because of the tire tread or might it be riding technique? I have not ridden the trails in your area, but I find that most of a rider's ability to maintain traction is a result of skill, combined with a good fit that allows the rider to balance weigh on the front/ rear tires, plus some help from the tire tread.

    in other words, I strongly doubt that your traction issues have anything to do with the switch to a new wheel size. if anything, a 29er should afford you more traction on any similar-size tire because the bigger wheels inherently put more rubber on the ground.

    it's very likely, in fact, that you should ignore tire tread for now and focus on getting the handlebar position optimized for your body so you can drive more power into the rear wheel.

    since most of the tires you are looking at are available in a variety of wheel sizes these days, I would go check the wheels and tires subforum for a better range of advice.

    what tires are you riding at present?
    Last edited by mack_turtle; 10-29-2017 at 07:31 AM.
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  4. #4
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    Velociraptors are a very nice paddle tread.
    The new Bontrager XR4 is excellent in the rear i find!

  5. #5
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    19mm

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    Skill is not the issue as I've been riding since 1992. The tires that came with my bike are Continental Mountain King Protection 2.2 tubeless @ 30 psi and are a bit worn. No traction compared to the good ol' Velociraptors.

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    Quote Originally Posted by just4thefunofit View Post
    Skill is not the issue as I've been riding since 1992. The tires that came with my bike are Continental Mountain King Protection 2.2 tubeless @ 30 psi and are a bit worn. No traction compared to the good ol' Velociraptors.
    I think what mack_turtle might be referring to is body position while standing, not necessarily your overall skill. You likely ended up with a new bike that has longer stays than your 26er. What feels like a natural climbing position relative to your current bar position might not be weighting your rear tire the same as your old bike. Are you fighting to keep the front tire on the ground equally as much as rear traction?

    As for tires, I'm a Maxxis fanboy so here's what I run:

    XC: Ikon, 3C/EXO/TR, 2.2
    Tweener: Forekaster 2.35
    Rock crawling: Minion DHR2 EXO/TR 2.3

  8. #8
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    A modern day version of the Velociraptor, that climbs great...

    Maxxis Minion, DHR2, dual compound, 2.3"

    Should play well with a narrow i17 rim.

    Not a xc tire at all, but if you are use to running a Velociraptor...

    All else being equal run tire pressure about 3 psi lower on the 29 vs 26.

  9. #9
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    I'm going to say a couple of things here:

    1) There's almost certainly some adjustment to be made in technique/position of your body based on the switch from 26 to 29. I've been riding since 1986, and trust me, switching to 29 was a revelation for me, but it required me to make some adjustments. Some of this is going to be by feel, and at first it won't feel natural, or right, but a little shift in your weight one direction or the other is going to make a huge difference. As a tall guy, I was constantly fighting my 26er standing up on steep climbs. At first, when I switch to a 29er and put all my weight up front like I needed to keep the front wheel on the ground, I had zero traction. As I gained confidence in the bike, and shifted my weight back a little, it got better.

    2) tire pressure - 30PSI in the rear on a 19mm internal rim? How much do you weigh? If you don't weigh over 200lbs drop that a little. Climbs are the place where I notice small differences in tire pressure the most.

    3) Since you asked, I've had really, really good luck with the entire Ardent series from Maxxis, my current rear is the Ardent Race. Your milage may vary with that suggestion, as many people find the Ardent vague in turns, and the transition from the center knobs to the side knobs sketchy. I tend to have a slightly exaggerated riding style and really throw the bike over over turns, so it's never bothered me. They roll fast and grip will for climbing, turning, and braking.

  10. #10
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    Well, despite the OPs claim to being a skilled climber, I'm going to question that going from my experience when I switched from a 26er to a 29er. For me there was no comparison, the 29er could climb things the 26er took real effort and concentration to even make it 1/2 way up, the big difference, on my 26er I used to run Nevegal DTC and the 29er, well it came with WTB Nanos Highly suggest it may either be user technique/error or that the OP needs to take some time to get accustomed to the different geo of his new 29er.

    As to a tyre with similar sort of design, as MikerJ said, the Maxxis DHR2 would be my suggestion, DC compound for longer lasting, faster rolling or 3C if grip is all you're concerned about.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    just to be clear, if you are experiencing a lack in climbing traction because of the tire tread or might it be riding technique?
    to follow up, I hope you didn't take my comments as a bash. as other have said, the issue is not just tires, and might not be the tires at all. you're having trouble adjusting to a new bike, regardless of the tread or the size of the wheels. a dozen things could contribute to this- bike geometry differences, handlebar reach/height, gear selection, saddle position, suspension settings, tire pressure, etc. as others have said, simply changing your tires will likely have little effect on your ability to climb.

    this guy's thread might have relevance: http://forums.mtbr.com/wheels-tires/...h-1039457.html
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    The most skilled mountain biker I know set the Strava KOM up our local "technical climb" riding Continental Race King 2.2 Protection tires. No bobbles where others fall over.

    He's also a world cup racer.
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    OP, part of the problem might just be that right now in southern Cal everything is so friggin dry that traction on many loose or loose over hard tech climbs is going to be elusive if youíre standing, no matter what rim/tire youíre on. Iím on Aspen 2.25s which measure 2.3 on a 26mm inner diameter 29er rim, running 23 lbs in the rear on a carbon hardtail, and I weigh 170ish. Traction is pretty good, but the loose tech climbs where it makes sense to stand (imagine if the dirt was damp) are few and far between. I have better luck on the nose of the saddle. But Iím not a super tech wizard. I have a friend whoís a master of the loose tech climb and he swears by a Nobby Nick. Heís on a narrower rim like yours. Me, Iím just prayin for some rain!
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx View Post
    Well, despite the OPs claim to being a skilled climber, I'm going to question that going from my experience when I switched from a 26er to a 29er. For me there was no comparison, the 29er could climb things the 26er took real effort and concentration to even make it 1/2 way up, the big difference, on my 26er I used to run Nevegal DTC and the 29er, well it came with WTB Nanos Highly suggest it may either be user technique/error or that the OP needs to take some time to get accustomed to the different geo of his new 29er.

    As to a tyre with similar sort of design, as MikerJ said, the Maxxis DHR2 would be my suggestion, DC compound for longer lasting, faster rolling or 3C if grip is all you're concerned about.
    Agree, much harder to "break" traction uphill on a 29er comparatively. Can run a lot less aggressive tread and still have much more traction.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miker J View Post
    A modern day version of the Velociraptor, that climbs great...

    Maxxis Minion, DHR2, dual compound, 2.3"

    Should play well with a narrow i17 rim.

    Not a xc tire at all, but if you are use to running a Velociraptor...

    All else being equal run tire pressure about 3 psi lower on the 29 vs 26.
    Yes, I singled out that tire as being the closest thing to the Velociraptor in 29. Here's what the manufacturer says- "Wide trail (WT) casing is optimized for 30-35mm inner width rims" I would be interested in the 2.30 version. So just checking again, this DHR 2 Dual would work fine on a Crossmax 19mm inner rim?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattMay View Post
    OP, part of the problem might just be that right now in southern Cal everything is so friggin dry that traction on many loose or loose over hard tech climbs is going to be elusive if youíre standing, no matter what rim/tire youíre on. Iím on Aspen 2.25s which measure 2.3 on a 26mm inner diameter 29er rim, running 23 lbs in the rear on a carbon hardtail, and I weigh 170ish. Traction is pretty good, but the loose tech climbs where it makes sense to stand (imagine if the dirt was damp) are few and far between. I have better luck on the nose of the saddle. But Iím not a super tech wizard. I have a friend whoís a master of the loose tech climb and he swears by a Nobby Nick. Heís on a narrower rim like yours. Me, Iím just prayin for some rain!
    In SoCal it's always loose and the majority of my steep climbs are seated and on the nose. I learned back in the day at Del Cerro, Palos Verdes and continue today in the San Gabriel mountains. It doesn't get much steeper than those places. Occasionally say on a steep loose over hardpack fire road i like to break the physical monotony with some standing, but briefly only. I have heard some good things about the Nobby Nic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    The most skilled mountain biker I know set the Strava KOM up our local "technical climb" riding Continental Race King 2.2 Protection tires. No bobbles where others fall over.

    He's also a world cup racer.
    I think your last sentence says it all. He could probably do it with street slicks.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx View Post
    Well, despite the OPs claim to being a skilled climber, I'm going to question that going from my experience when I switched from a 26er to a 29er. For me there was no comparison, the 29er could climb things the 26er took real effort and concentration to even make it 1/2 way up, the big difference, on my 26er I used to run Nevegal DTC and the 29er, well it came with WTB Nanos Highly suggest it may either be user technique/error or that the OP needs to take some time to get accustomed to the different geo of his new 29er.

    As to a tyre with similar sort of design, as MikerJ said, the Maxxis DHR2 would be my suggestion, DC compound for longer lasting, faster rolling or 3C if grip is all you're concerned about.
    I've had 3+ months of frequent riding in making the switch to 29 and yes, I love it. I do not (yet) have the 2 lowest gears I had with my old triple set with this 1x11 so therefore I was able to get up steeper stuff on my 26. Hopefully that will change when I can come up with the $ for Sram Eagle 1x12 and find the right rear tire. I definitely have my eye on the DHR2.

  19. #19
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    Until then change the front chain ring to one 2 teeth smaller.

  20. #20
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    Don't stand up. Put the seat high enough and stay seated. That's the key to steep loose dirt climbing.

  21. #21
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    Sounds like you need a bike fit.

    Not sure on how steep your hills are. If you have any type of technical climbing, boulders, baby head rocks that move. that 50T on a eagle isn't going to do anything. If you are a fire road climber, that 50T will help out.

    19mm ID rim is small now-a-days with the tires being released.

    I run Ardent front and Ikon rear on all my bikes including my SS. love them.

    If your old bike was a 3x and your new bike is a 1x. Yeah, it's gonna take some time to get used to not having a baby gear, As said. drop the chainring down a few teeth.

    AZ has some LOOSE trails. Ikons work very well.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by just4thefunofit View Post
    I think your last sentence says it all. He could probably do it with street slicks.
    Most people think, "Oh, he's just a dirt roadie."

    Raced him in short track last summer. He was two wheel drifting every corner because he was bored. About halfway through he just accelerated and left us all for dead.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DethWshBkr View Post
    Velociraptors are a very nice paddle tread.
    The new Bontrager XR4 is excellent in the rear i find!
    True, excellent in front too.
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    Why not ask your local bike shop what they recommend? I'm sure they ride those hills all the time and carry what ever tire you need. He is going from one of the best climbing tires ever to a tire not designed to be used in the dry.

  25. #25
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    Again, my experience, but after moving to a 29er I found I was climbing in a 1 or 2 gears harder position wise on the cassette compared to when I rode a 26", so that in reality is about 2-3 gears harder, so much so that within a few months I upgraded from 22/32/44 rings to 24/34/46 because I just didn't need as low gearing.

    Quote Originally Posted by just4thefunofit View Post
    I've had 3+ months of frequent riding in making the switch to 29 and yes, I love it. I do not (yet) have the 2 lowest gears I had with my old triple set with this 1x11 so therefore I was able to get up steeper stuff on my 26. Hopefully that will change when I can come up with the $ for Sram Eagle 1x12 and find the right rear tire. I definitely have my eye on the DHR2.
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    I think you'd be much happier with lower pressure in the rear, try messing around with lower pressures. What do you weigh?
    I wore out a Velociraptor on the rear on my trainer 26er, I liked that for a winter tire, I ran that tire for a whole lot of miles.
    My local training trails have some steep sometimes-loose climbs where I need to slide forward on the saddle and lower my shoulders to maintain traction. That being said, both my 29ers have better grip with a variety of tires (all at lower pressure) than my 26er with the Velociraptors.
    My current favorite is the Vittoria Barzo 29x2.25, I think those come in a larger size too.
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    Here is what I've decided to go with- Maxxis Minion DHR2 dual 2.30 rear and Maxxis High Roller 2.30 front. I will also experiment with lower than 30 psi on the rear (I'm 190 lbs). I've already switched the front 1x11 32t chainring to a 28 and that helps. Thank you to everybody for taking the time to offer suggestions.

  28. #28
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    I run 22psi rear and 16psi front quite routinely and I'm 250lbs.

    I also NEVER stand up to get traction going uphill.

  29. #29
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    I am very happy with my climbing traction. One other thing to consider is rear tire orientation. Some tires actually put a second arrow on for use on the rear. I usually swap the rear even if there's no arrow. Looking at the center knobs, there's normally a ramp on the front (normal direction), that part of the knob that hits the ground first as the tire rotates. This gives smoother and faster rotation on downhill. The back is sharp and square for braking. Works great on the front. Usually on the rear, the ramps just reduce the grip when climbing. I get greater traction under climb and don't notice much difference on downhill under braking. I had a lot of moto downhill when younger so I rely much more on the front brake when slowing or going downhill anyway. My favorite tire now for Nevada's mix of dirt is the Minions, DHR or the Magic Mary.

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    Quote Originally Posted by @Ride@ View Post
    I run 22psi rear and 16psi front quite routinely and I'm 250lbs.

    I also NEVER stand up to get traction going uphill.
    +1. 30 PSI is much to high a pressure for a 29er unless you are way over 200lbs. I run 30 psi on the cyclocross bike when riding trails, low to mid 20's while racing.

    On the 29er I tend to be in the 18-20 psi range for most trails @ 175 lbs.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by @Ride@ View Post
    I run 22psi rear and 16psi front quite routinely and I'm 250lbs.

    I also NEVER stand up to get traction going uphill.
    Must be in a fat bike @ those pressures

    I'm 245-ish all kitted up & run 22 front & 27-28 rear ^^

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    Quote Originally Posted by just4thefunofit View Post
    I've had 3+ months of frequent riding in making the switch to 29 and yes, I love it. I do not (yet) have the 2 lowest gears I had with my old triple set with this 1x11 so therefore I was able to get up steeper stuff on my 26. Hopefully that will change when I can come up with the $ for Sram Eagle 1x12 and find the right rear tire. I definitely have my eye on the DHR2.
    Yup my old 26 in 27 speeds is a great climber
    my new 29 in 11 speeds was OK 32, 10/42
    much better now with 28 in front wich is close to 32-50
    my guess is your gear ratio is less friendly for climbers
    practice seated climbing
    or improve your transmission
    like you some surface around here are less friendly for standing
    tires are fine
    i agree a bit less air helps

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    Sorry i forgot to mention i bought these 2 bikes used with 4 continentals the 26 worn out slips less than the allmost new 29 when climbing, obviously 11 speeds involves a compromise for me my fun is climbing, question solved.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by targnik View Post
    Must be in a fat bike @ those pressures

    I'm 245-ish all kitted up & run 22 front & 27-28 rear ^^

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    Quote Originally Posted by @Ride@ View Post
    I run 22psi rear and 16psi front quite routinely and I'm 250lbs.

    I also NEVER stand up to get traction going uphill.
    Just to clarify- The vast majority of my climbing is seated with the steepest stuff riding the nose. Occasionally on a long multi mile fire road climb I will briefly stand just to give my butt and legs a break from the monotony. On my old 26 Velociraptors I could do that in any body position and never spin out (so long as tires were not worn). We'll see how the new Maxxis' work out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by just4thefunofit View Post
    Just to clarify- The vast majority of my climbing is seated with the steepest stuff riding the nose. Occasionally on a long multi mile fire road climb I will briefly stand just to give my butt and legs a break from the monotony. On my old 26 Velociraptors I could do that in any body position and never spin out (so long as tires were not worn). We'll see how the new Maxxis' work out.
    How much do you weigh? If I stand up on really steep climbs my tire spins out. 250lbs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by @Ride@ View Post
    How much do you weigh? If I stand up on really steep climbs my tire spins out. 250lbs.
    190 and that's because you're not on Velociraptors. WTB needs to make these in the 29 size.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by just4thefunofit View Post
    Here is what I've decided to go with- Maxxis Minion DHR2 dual 2.30 rear and Maxxis High Roller 2.30 front. I will also experiment with lower than 30 psi on the rear (I'm 190 lbs). I've already switched the front 1x11 32t chainring to a 28 and that helps. Thank you to everybody for taking the time to offer suggestions.
    Sounds good. When you changed over to the 29er, did you go tubeless? If so, you should be able to run lower pressure for sure. I'm 170 and ran 24 psi easily in Utah on a 2.25 rear.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by just4thefunofit View Post
    190 and that's because you're not on Velociraptors. WTB needs to make these in the 29 size.
    Velociraptors, Fire XC's etc. were good "in the day". I'm pretty sure they wouldn't sell competing with modern tires. I think once you get used to the new tires, you won't look back.

    With the snow flying, I guess it's time to break out the ol' 207cm VR17s! Can't beat that ski.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by just4thefunofit View Post
    Yes, I singled out that tire as being the closest thing to the Velociraptor in 29. Here's what the manufacturer says- "Wide trail (WT) casing is optimized for 30-35mm inner width rims" I would be interested in the 2.30 version. So just checking again, this DHR 2 Dual would work fine on a Crossmax 19mm inner rim?

    Sorry about the delay.

    Yeah, I think you'd get away with that tire on a 19. Just not the WT flavor - that's a 2.5". The Maxxis 2.3" runs narrow and for an i19 I'd say that's about the best tire I'd know of.

  41. #41
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    So the verdict is in on the first ride on the Maxxis' (tubeless) at 27 psi. Nice traction! Riding style was not the issue, tires were.

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    I use Continental 2.4" Mountain King II on 40mm outside width 29er rims. 19 lbs pressure rear and maybe 21 lbs pressure front (tubeless) . I have no complaints with the traction.

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    Quote Originally Posted by endo_alley View Post
    I use Continental 2.4" Mountain King II on 40mm outside width 29er rims. 19 lbs pressure rear and maybe 21 lbs pressure front (tubeless) . I have no complaints with the traction.
    In my area(Montreal, province of Quebec) the Continental Mountain King seems popular in the quality tires, they are on 2 bikes i bought used. From memory the newer is II the worn out is not but even with little thread left it still grips enough.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by just4thefunofit View Post
    So the verdict is in on the first ride on the Maxxis' (tubeless) at 27 psi. Nice traction! Riding style was not the issue, tires were.

    Right on!

    Ride on!

  45. #45
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    If nobody has said yet, 30psi is way too high for climbing traction. I'm 250 and I can make climbs at 20psi that I can not make at 23.5psi.

    Ymmv

  46. #46
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    It's great for cracking rims too!
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    Quote Originally Posted by @Ride@ View Post
    If nobody has said yet, 30psi is way too high for climbing traction. I'm 250 and I can make climbs at 20psi that I can not make at 23.5psi.
    Ymmv
    Never thought of using the tire brand print on the side for traction.

  48. #48
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    Maxxis Ardent 2.35 has great grip... Ikons suck in my opinion when it comes to traction... Also, just curious, do you use a setback seatpost ? I also have been riding since 1993 and I recently switched to a setback seatpost and it seems to have improved my seated pedaling.... and I pretty much always have traction when seated..

  49. #49
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    Minion DHR2 29 x 2.4 gets awesome traction climbing.
    2018 Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol XXL
    2016 Fuse Pro XXL 29er

  50. #50
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    Minions are energy vampires on the rear. Ardents lack traction in my opinion and play second fiddle to the Chunky Monkey which has the same Maxxis casing and comes in a sticky compound.

    If you want a great tire in between the Minion and Ardent this is it.

    Random Bike Parts has them for $25 a pop shipped!

    Here is a Monkey VS Ardent. More space between center lugs and taller stiffer side lugs.

    My fresh 2017 Chunk Monks weigh about 70 grams more than my old EXO Ardents. (850g vs 780g)

    Seeking great climbing traction-img_20171206_053813.jpg

    Ardents are sketchy front tires in comparison. No grip when you lean them over.
    Last edited by Mr. Doom; 12-06-2017 at 08:33 AM.
    The wheel is a extension of the foot

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    You can see where the extra 160 grams of rubber on a 2.5 DHF was put. (1020g)
    Those tall knobs have more bite and more drag.

    I liked the Monkey on the front and On-one smorgasbord on the rear for trail riding but for rougher terrain the Minion on the front and Monkey on the rear is great.

    Here is a Monkey VS. the Minion.

    Seeking great climbing traction-img_20171206_054524.jpg
    Last edited by Mr. Doom; 12-06-2017 at 07:20 AM.
    The wheel is a extension of the foot

  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Doom View Post
    Minions are energy vampires on the rear.
    That's cute. OP asked for a tire with "great climbing traction" not "smooth profile and lightweight".

    I can't tell a difference in drag unless I'm on pavement. On the loose chunky trails I ride I absolutely used more energy climbing when I had Ardents and similar tires. But I'm over 230 lb too and tear up tires less than 1000g.
    2018 Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol XXL
    2016 Fuse Pro XXL 29er

  53. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Doom View Post
    Minions are energy vampires on the rear. Ardents lack traction in my opinion and play second fiddle to the Chunky Monkey which has the same Maxxis casing and comes in a sticky compound.

    If you want a great tire in between the Minion and Ardent this is it.

    Modern Bike has them for $25 a pop shipped!

    Here is a Monkey VS Ardent. More space between center lugs and taller stiffer side lugs.

    My fresh 2017 Chunk Monks weigh about 70 grams more than my old EXO Ardents. (850g vs 780g)

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_20171206_053813.jpg 
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Size:	54.9 KB 
ID:	1170894

    Ardents are sketchy front tires in comparison. No grip when you lean them over.

    I've found an Ardent out back, in a _2.4"_, is a good all-rounder for trail riding. Don't use it too much anymore. If I need something faster rolling than the DHR2 I use a Forekaster.

    Maxxis dual compound does not get enough recognition. Out back it works great. It is more durable, has plenty of grip, and rolls faster. The corner knobs, being tougher also fold over less under a more heavily weighted rear end. 3C up front DC out back. The 3C out back is just too draggy.


    The new Maxxis 2.6" tires are a game changer, for me, in terms of traction vs rolling resistance, and trail damping. They work so well its like getting something for nothing. Traction is more important to me than RR. We've got many areas where if you are not "just right" you dab or dismount and loose a bunch of momentum and energy - and RR does not matter there. On the other hand there are areas where I like to pump and roll the bike without much pedaling, and just get into the nice flow. A draggy tire can put "damper" on that.

  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miker J View Post
    I've found an Ardent out back, in a _2.4"_, is a good all-rounder for trail riding. Don't use it too much anymore. If I need something faster rolling than the DHR2 I use a Forekaster.

    Maxxis dual compound does not get enough recognition. Out back it works great. It is more durable, has plenty of grip, and rolls faster. The corner knobs, being tougher also fold over less under a more heavily weighted rear end. 3C up front DC out back. The 3C out back is just too draggy.


    The new Maxxis 2.6" tires are a game changer, for me, in terms of traction vs rolling resistance, and trail damping. They work so well its like getting something for nothing. Traction is more important to me than RR. We've got many areas where if you are not "just right" you dab or dismount and loose a bunch of momentum and energy - and RR does not matter there. On the other hand there are areas where I like to pump and roll the bike without much pedaling, and just get into the nice flow. A draggy tire can put "damper" on that.
    On-One makes the Chunky in both flavors, TR=Blue label and 3C=Orange label (Trail Extreme) You can get a pair of these for what I spent on single Minion/Ardent right now.
    The wheel is a extension of the foot

  55. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Doom View Post
    On-One makes the Chunky in both flavors, TR=Blue label and 3C=Orange label (Trail Extreme) You can get a pair of these for what I spent on single Minion/Ardent right now.

    Thanks. Good to know.

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