Tire recommendation for gravel/sand/rock
looking for a recommendation for a front tire, I am currently on 2.25 Racing Ralphs and while I am happy with them in general (other than wear), cornering grip in soft conditions could be better (I think).
I am riding on trails in a Wadi, so the underground is mostly compacted rocks/gravel pistes, with some times loose gravel or even sandy sections in between (that's where I'm struggling).
Would a Nobby Nic be an improvement for my conditions? Any other recommendations?
No special requirements other than 29", it should just be tubeless ready for future conversion. I am riding a Cannondale Scalpel (just in case it would make a difference).
Your question cuts right to the heart of the matter. Overblown fear of power robbing, speed sucking, ROTATING mass has led many to run under built front tires for their actual and unavoidable conditions.
If you run in loose, you need a taller knob. A taller knob will be a wider knob or it will just fall over. So there won't be a 600 gram tire that works in deep loose. At 700 grams you get a lot of choices and a Nobby Nic is fine if you want to stay Schwalbe.
If you want tall knobs that you can rally beat up on you'll probably have to accept 800 grams. And there is no reason why an 800 gram tire will necessarily have appreciably more rolling resistance than a 700 gram tire just because it's 15% heavier.
I got over it and decided to run a front tire that I have confidence in and can have as much fun as I like on, without having to constantly calculate how far I can get 'involved' without overdriving the tire. Currently using a Specialized Purgatory 2.3 but a Ground Control is about 700 grams and works 85% as well. Had a 2.4 Maxxis Ardent up there for a while but I like the Purgatory just as much and it's more predictable - and way cheaper but not as tough.
Racing Ralphs are my least favourite front tire; they're OK as a rear I guess but kinda limited on sidehills. And pretty much hopeless for the conditions you're describing. There are all sorts of tires that would be better; the Ground Control has a reputation for steering well in sand. MB Action gave it a big recommendation recently so it would be a good place to start. Or a Nobby Nic.
There's no point in paying attention to somebody's recommendation for a front tire if they ride in wet roots and leaves in Vermont and you're in Arizona. Ask around locally and get the drift of what works where you're going to be riding.
Minion DHF's in 29 x 2.5"
Assuming your rims are wide enough.
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