1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
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2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    Loose sand/dirt trails..Change tires or go slower...

    So the local trail I've been down numerous times came out and bit me hard coming down when I was jamming down and came across seriously rutted sections and very loose gravel/sand/dirt. All the rutts were running parallel to the track so it was hard to make the right decision. My speed was at a good pace any serious attempts at braking would only tear up the trail. The traction was just not there to slow in time and I the front end washed out and kissed the ground with the side of my face. Thank God the helmet took the brunt but I have some nice rasberries which sucks cause Im in sales and not good to be talking to people with rashes!!!

    Anyways, I running the stock Kenda Claws and I air down during downhills just enough to avoid pinch flats. But, bad tires for seriously loose trails? The trail is usually pretty good and the tires have done their job before but with the heavy rains, its caused major rutts and loose stuff to come down off the sides of the hills. I probably should have just slowed down ehh?

  2. #2
    No good in rock gardens..
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    Sometimes it just happens mate - if the trail is that loose that the tyre can't reach a hard base then there's no braking or steering traction no matter how hi zoot your tyres are.

    We've all been there.

    One crash would not make me change tyres that had been good until then - I've crashed on just about every set of rubber I've ever owned, including the favourite ones.
    My Cannondale Lefty keeps failing....

  3. #3
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    It's true that nice tires won't turn you into a better rider than you are. But that's a tire that retails for $25.

    Treat yourself. Ask around in your local area as to what people are running.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  4. #4
    Picture Unrelated
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    The ruts and loose are different problems. For loose surfaces you want a high volume tire. Take "fat bikes" for an example. They are made to primary be used on surfaces like sand and snow so they have gigantic tires (up to 4.0, where your average tire that comes on a new bike will be more like a 2.1). Whatever your tire width is now, I would suggest trying a size up from that. So if your Claws are 2.1, get a 2.3 something. Also be aware that every tire manufacturer seems to measure their tires differently so it's kind of a crap shoot when you switch between brands of what size you are actually getting. If you're looking for pure grip, I've had good luck with Kenda Nevegals in 2.3 but they roll slow; which is fine because usually I do too.

    You're not going to find an especially good rut tire anywhere, but I would suspect that same as loose surface you would be better off with a higher volume tire. It will give you more contact area and let you run lower pressure before you pinch flat too much.

    Such good advice to see what other people are running in your area; do that.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  5. #5
    responsible zombie owner
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    I've had a similar experience, crashing hard after hitting soft sand churned up by a truck where it was once hardpack. I'm a bit more circumspect now about what's up ahead.

    I get good traction in sand and loose surfaces with Panaracers - the Rampage 29" (2.35) and the classic 26" Fire XC Pro (2.1).

  6. #6
    DynoDon
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    I have a few sections of trail where I go from hard pack to sand then back to hard pack, it can get pretty hairy, I shift my weight to the rear to lighten the load on the front, its kind of like hydroplaning on water, if I stop pedaling it will slow down because more weight is in the rear causing it to dig in, if I hit it at speed with my weight back the front will follow the ruts, that gives me some control, it sounds like you had too much weight on the front, thats why it dug in then washed out. The dryer the sand the harder it is to control. I've come to enjoy it.
    I have one section that has 100 ft+ of sand then hard pack for 30 ft an over a bridge, then back into sand for another 50 ft. I use to hate it, now its fun.
    My tires are 2.25 Rocket Rons by Schwalbe, a light weight tire, I think its more technique then tire. Like anything pratice makes it easier. Good Luck

  7. #7
    WI. Big Boy MTBer
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    I have found that the GEAX Saguaro to be a great all around HP tire. Again.. sometimes it doesn't matter what tires you are running.. The dirt is gonna get you from time to time. I'm looking at chain ring divots in my calf that remind me of that fact.
    TREK X CALIBER 6, MOTOBECANE USA MIRAGE SLX

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the input guys. Usually this trail is hardpack but again the serious rains we got tore up the trails with rutts n loose sediment off the sides of mountain. Its a trail I normally rip and yeah I realize I just got caught up. $..t happens like you guys said.

    Manabike I do know how to ride in the sand (I ride dirt bikes and quads in sand too). But the trail is not really soft where you dig in, its just real loose.

  9. #9
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    Hey, gonna revive this thread because I am having a similar problem

    The area I ride in is in the desert, in a wash type area. The sand isn't dune sand, it is like grainy beach sand, like a fine gravel. I guess it is a sand with a touch of clay, since some areas are hard packed with only a light loose layer on top, and other areas you can stick your hand in and it is like a medium grit beach sand (too loose to make sand castles, I would say! :P). Here are some pictures of the trails (this is the hard packed stuff, couldn't find a picture of the sand I am having trouble with):


    And until I memorize the trail, the loose sections sneak up on you. The trail is all made of the same stuff, this sand, but some of it is harder packed than the areas where the water washed through after the rain. No matter how much speed I have, it grabs me like tar. Haven't spun out yet, but took it slower than I wanted to after a few close calls. Climbing in it is absolutely fubar not happening, but I am not a strong biker yet either. You guys have talked about running different tires on the front and back, but other threads I found on this had broken links, so I am kind of missing what I am supposed to be looking for.

    Being a beginner, I don't need anything hardcore. The rocks and gravel are the worst things on the trail for my tires, and even though it is the desert, I see almost no cactus in this area. Nothing too technical, no jumps. The main problem I foresee in looking for a tire is I am still building my mountain bike, so I have only one bike for trails and commuting. From what I have found, tires that are good for sand are bad for paved. So this is a concern as well. Also, I'm trying to find tires discounted through all the sales going on now, since I really don't have money to be spending on this now, but I do need something. I found a few tires based on what people said about knobs on the side and middle, so you push the sand under the tires. It seems, however, that mud tires may have a similar idea? But it is definitely different, as you want mud tires to clear mud and sand tires to grab sand. So, anyways, here are some tires I found, not sure if any of them will be doing what I need them to:

    Kenda Telonix Wire Bead Tire 2011 > Components > Tires and Tubes | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop
    Kenda Telonix Folding Tire Oe 2011 > Components > Tires and Tubes | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop
    Kenda El Moco Wire Bead Tire 2011 > Components > Tires and Tubes | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop (these are the ones I think are mud tires?)
    HUTCHINSON TORO 26 X 2.35 Mtb Mountain Bike Tire 57-559 NEW: 349138 Random Bike Parts (more than I want to spend, but they were recommended in another thread)

    Thoughts?

  10. #10
    Purulento
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    In loose sand you need to go faster not slower. Changing your weight toward the rear (sitting more on the back of the saddle) of the bike helps too...

  11. #11
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    holy enormous photo, batman!

    don't overthink the tire choice question, which you kinda are. For sand, you want as big a tire as you can get so you can drop the pressure and float over the sand. Especially in the front, which is the major factor in staying upright in sand. If your front tire loses traction, down you go. If the rear loses traction, you might have to get off and walk, but you won't necessarily crash.

    You actually don't want super aggressive knobbies. If your knobbies are too aggressive, you'll churn up the sand and increase your odds of going down. Too small, and it'll be like riding a slick tire. You'll float over the sand, but have very little traction otherwise. IME, tires that are better for sand have moderately sized, widely-spaced knobs. I have had good luck with the 1st gen Conti Mtn Kings on the sand I have. But my sand is fine-grained prehistoric beach sand, so it's a lot less gravelly than what you have. Slightly bigger knobs might actually work for you.

    But the biggest factor is tire size. You want BIG and low pressure to float on top. Narrow and/or high pressure will cause your tires to cut into the sand and you won't be going anywhere.

  12. #12
    T.W.O.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikemaya View Post
    Hey, gonna revive this thread because I am having a similar problem

    The area I ride in is in the desert, in a wash type area. The sand isn't dune sand, it is like grainy beach sand, like a fine gravel. I guess it is a sand with a touch of clay, since some areas are hard packed with only a light loose layer on top, and other areas you can stick your hand in and it is like a medium grit beach sand (too loose to make sand castles, I would say! :P). Here are some pictures of the trails (this is the hard packed stuff, couldn't find a picture of the sand I am having trouble with):


    And until I memorize the trail, the loose sections sneak up on you. The trail is all made of the same stuff, this sand, but some of it is harder packed than the areas where the water washed through after the rain. No matter how much speed I have, it grabs me like tar. Haven't spun out yet, but took it slower than I wanted to after a few close calls. Climbing in it is absolutely fubar not happening, but I am not a strong biker yet either. You guys have talked about running different tires on the front and back, but other threads I found on this had broken links, so I am kind of missing what I am supposed to be looking for.

    Being a beginner, I don't need anything hardcore. The rocks and gravel are the worst things on the trail for my tires, and even though it is the desert, I see almost no cactus in this area. Nothing too technical, no jumps. The main problem I foresee in looking for a tire is I am still building my mountain bike, so I have only one bike for trails and commuting. From what I have found, tires that are good for sand are bad for paved. So this is a concern as well. Also, I'm trying to find tires discounted through all the sales going on now, since I really don't have money to be spending on this now, but I do need something. I found a few tires based on what people said about knobs on the side and middle, so you push the sand under the tires. It seems, however, that mud tires may have a similar idea? But it is definitely different, as you want mud tires to clear mud and sand tires to grab sand. So, anyways, here are some tires I found, not sure if any of them will be doing what I need them to:

    Kenda Telonix Wire Bead Tire 2011 > Components > Tires and Tubes | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop
    Kenda Telonix Folding Tire Oe 2011 > Components > Tires and Tubes | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop
    Kenda El Moco Wire Bead Tire 2011 > Components > Tires and Tubes | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop (these are the ones I think are mud tires?)
    HUTCHINSON TORO 26 X 2.35 Mtb Mountain Bike Tire 57-559 NEW: 349138 Random Bike Parts (more than I want to spend, but they were recommended in another thread)

    Thoughts?
    The aggressive Telonix is probably not going to do well in a hard pack situation, and 2.4-2.6 wirebead makes them a monster to climb with.

    El Moco is not a mud tire, it's a fast trail tires similar to High Roller. I like it as a rear tire, it skid more than most tires I have in the back but it's fun quite predictable tire.

    You'd probably be pretty happy with Nevegal, or Excavator. Another tire I'd recommend for dry condition would be the Tioga Psycho Genius 2.3.

  13. #13
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    Schwalbe 26X2.25 RACING RALPH PERF BLK 26-54 PSI, 535 GRAMS, 67 EPI
    ^^^^^^^^
    This tire. It's fast on trail or road. It's light at 535g. It runs straight through gravel and sand at 25psi.
    It's quality at $33 ea.

  14. #14
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    Thanks guys! Should I run different tires on front and back as well? If so, how do I shop for those? More knobs in front or back? And, if I can only afford one tire right now, would I see any increase in performance just running in the front, or should I wait until I have enough for both tires?

    Also, where do I need to measure to determine the max width I can go with the tire? Is it just the frame, or is there a limit on the rims too?

  15. #15
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    All those things are very personal.

    As for fit, there is not much consistency in tire measurements. Shiggy's website is a very good resource for that but not comprehensive.

  16. #16
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    Popping back in this thread because I have chosen my front tire, but cant decide on a rear!

    I got a great price on the Hans Dampf (trailstar 2.35) and thinking of running it front. I can switch to tubeless when I have a little extra money too (the rims are Rhyno Lites, not tubeless, so I need a kit). I don't necessarily need a tubeless ready tire to pair with it, I just want to try out some different tires. Should I just run two Hans and be done with this? The trail I am riding is still the sand, that is all there is around here. But having a tire like the Hans is great because I can run it anywhere I decide to take the bike! I am hoping to go up to Oregon over summer for the Dirt Series mountain biking camp, as well as some of the local mountains for some light DH. I haven't ordered yet, so I can always get a smaller one for rear and do something different up front too.

    I am looking at Excavator (downside is high roll resistance, not good for rear?), Panracer Smoke, Panracer Fire, and Velociraptors. It seems that everyone goes around in circles regarding opinions on the Smoke, fire, and Velociraptors. Some people swear by one over the other, and I can't seem to find one that stand over the others. I keep going back to look at the psycho genius, but I read a few reviews saying they slide pretty badly if things are wet, and they aren't the best for downhill, so they may not be good if I want to take them to Oregon or up the mountains. I don't like the Kenda Nevegals because they are REALLY heavy. Seems a bit unnecessarily so. Lets try to keep it under 800g, under 700g preferably. I am not a weight weenie, but there is a point where the weight of a tire gets kinda ridiculous, and the Nevegals at over 1000g are past that point. I haven't cut weight on the other components, so I would like to keep the tires light if possible!

    I am over thinking this again... >.<

  17. #17
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    yeah, probably over-thinking.

    I'd start off getting the same tire front/rear. If it works well, then great! If you find that you prefer its performance in only the front or rear, then you've now got 2 of them, and you can set about choosing something to address the limitations you found. If it doesn't work for you at all in those conditions, then it's a data point and maybe you'll find that those tires work well in some other conditions you ride.

  18. #18
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    Sand=You just need a fat bike. It's as simple as that. Since those are expensive you need the widest tire that your bike can do and go from there. As far as tread pattern, I don't know. I would think low profile for more surface area.

  19. #19
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    I just ordered a pair of the Hans Dampf. They are 2.35, the specs of my fork say 63mm max. Not sure where to measure on my frame, but I have almost 3" clearance on the narrowest part of the stays. Depending on how far the tread reach when I run at low pressure, I may be getting a bit close with the fork! I am currently riding on 1.9"s meant for... I don't know what. They are stupid and cheap and don't look like any tread I have seen when shopping for tires. Wide cross-shaped tread in the center, a few knobs on the side. Once I got them to the sweet spot in PSI (29 front, 32 rear) and learned my trail, I haven't had many problems. I know when I need to pick up speed to clear a sandy section, and the more difficult areas just require me to remain eagle-eyed to watch as the hardpack line zig zags around the sand pockets. I am hoping that getting better at riding sand when conditions are against me means it will be cake when the conditions are more in my favor

  20. #20
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    Bikemaya are you in El Paso? Those mountains look familiar.

  21. #21
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    No, the low desert. Palm springs, ca area. From pics I have seen, it is quit similar here to other southern states such as texas, arizona, and southern nevada.

  22. #22
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    It's kinda moot since you already ordered tires, but my local quickie loop is half sand (just like the sand you have) and half paved.

    I've been using a Kenda BBG 2.35 DTC on front. The side knobs are all inline and closely spaced, and they behave somewhat like keels/rudders when the tire rolls, trapping the sand in channels between the side knobs and the center tread. Think front sand tires for quads and you get the idea. It doesn't wash out quite as easily as other tires I've tried, and it rolls reasonably well on pavement.

    For the rear, I'm using a Kenda Short Tracker 2.35. It's been discontinued, but looks like Cambria Bicycle Outfitters still has some leftovers. It looks like a slick with side knobs and short puddles that run across the tread laterally. Doesn't dig into sand like aggressive mud tires do, and rolls OK on pavement.

    JFYI, in case you feel like experimenting with different tires in the future. I'm sure 2.35 Hans Dampf will be big improvement over 1.9 tires.

  23. #23
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    Oh wow, Katz, that combo looks FAST! The treads on both look much different than the standard tires I have been going around in circles with too. That is the kind of 'different' tire setup that I want to experiment with which is specialized for certain conditions.

    I will give them a shot once I get some miles on the Hans Dampf and a better idea of where improvement is needed. Thanks!

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