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  1. #1
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    Tire choices for rocky, rooty New England

    Hey guys just wanted to start a discussion on folks' favorite tires for rocky and rooty (esp when damp) trails like Lowell and Lynn. Having just moved up from the Atlanta area, the Larsens and SB8s that worked well in the hardpack clay are just not cutting it here. Right now I've got my old Motoraptors on which have been great in the snow, and will probably work well but they weigh a ton and are slow. Fine for now since my on-snow biking is more of a stroll than a sprint, but I want to liven it up. What light(er) XC tires do you find work well for when spring comes and the pace quickens again?

    Thanks!

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  2. #2
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    I have the Schwalbe Nobby Nic's on my Rocky Mtn. Altitude. at first glance they appear pretty aggressive but they still roll remarkably well. I have the 2.35s but they may make them a bit narrower.

    I am not sure how they stack up weight-wise. but they work great for me at Lynn, Lowell, and HP

  3. #3
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    I personally run Maxis Ardents on my Rocky. On my Singlespeed I have a racing ralph on the rear and a nobby nic on the front. Sidewall protection is your friend up here. I would say that about 50% of the riders in our group, 100 or so riders, run Ardents. They roll fast enough and grip just about all the different terrain types you will encounter up here.
    If you are in Lowell, do yourself a favor and get to Harold Parker.

  4. #4
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    I had some Ardents on my Trek Remedy... i loved how they rode.
    Ihad a set with the "reinforced" sidewall, and it worked very well. I had a set of single ply Ardents that got a little cut up too

  5. #5
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    I like spec. butcher up front and the purgatory in back,( 2.3's) not that light but beefy and grippy for the wet, rocks and logs.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by leeboh View Post
    I like spec. butcher up front and the purgatory in back,( 2.3's) not that light but beefy and grippy for the wet, rocks and logs.
    I've heard others say this, so maybe mine were a bad set. My Purg's were the absolute suck on anything wet. Not just raining wet, but even high humidity in August when rocks/roots get a little clammy. My well worn Ikons were better.

    I've had good luck with 29" Ardents as well. This year I'm going with High Roller 3C/Minion DHR for the spring slime. In mid-summer I'll typically move to Ikons once things get dusty.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the feedback. I will definitely look into Ardents my next time picking up new rubber. At minimum it gives me an idea of what kind of tread to look for that works well, because looking at the thread patterns on the Ardent, Butcher, Purgatory, and Nobby, they all have a certain similarity (as opposed to the Larsens and SB8s). I'll also dig into my collection and see what I can find that would be better suited and play around. I know I have a couple WTB Motos, a Hutch Python, and a couple Bontragers (Jones AC and XC I think).

  8. #8
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    Kenda Nevegal front and back in a 2.5 Stick-E kills it in Lynn

  9. #9
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    Look at the bontrager tires as the hook up really well. But go for the bigger knobs.
    Save a tree & wipe your butt with an owl.
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  10. #10
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    Yea I'll look at the Nevegals too. Just checked and they're under 700g. I thought they were heavier than that. That's my biggest issue with the WTBs.

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  11. #11
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    I'll cast another vote for Ardents. I run a 2.4 front, 2.25 rear.

    My bike had SB8s on it when I got it. I was shocked at how much easier mtb was around here when I took them off.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by kubaner View Post
    Kenda Nevegal front and back in a 2.5 Stick-E kills it in Lynn
    Agree. Probably the best tires made for NE riding IMO. I wish they lasted longer though.

  13. #13
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    I use the Nobby Nics with Snakeskin sidewalls and run tubeless... works great for me
    Last edited by TJmackie; 01-09-2014 at 11:09 AM. Reason: spelling

  14. #14
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    I like my Ardents and I also like my Continental Mountain Kings. I do similar sizes for both (2.4 front, 2.2(5) rear). Definitely get whatever you can in sidewall protection.
    That creep can roll, man.

  15. #15
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    So what I'm hearing about sidewalls is that the 500g racing xc tires that made the bike so nimble down in GA on hardpack clay just aren't gonna cut it, and I might as well suck it up and use heavy tires that will hold up around here lol.

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  16. #16
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    I also use ardents. 2.4 front and 2.25 rear on my slayer. 2.5 nevegals are complete rubbish for climbing.

  17. #17
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    I've had an Ardent 29x2.25 front and back, and it was OK, but when it was wet, I stopped trusting it. Continental Mountain Kings performed much stronger I thought in a range of conditions.

    The Nobby Nics are fantastic, but they wear much faster in my experience.

  18. #18
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    If by "rubbish" you mean the balls, then yeah, nevegals are rubbish.
    Their only fault is that they won't last an entire season without losing some of their sidewall integrity. But $35 twice a year is not bad for good rubber.
    For wet, off camber, rooty grip you can't beat them.

  19. #19
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    I love the SB8 and Slant6 as rear tires. Definitely want something knobbier up front though. Racing Ralph, X-King, or Nevegal when it gets slick. I ordered up a Honey Badger to try out as I'm still trying to find a tire that has the front bite I want, but doesn't weigh a ton and has a durable sidewall. I haven't had a tire yet that was as durable as a Kenda tire and the new HB and Nevegal X Pro might finally fill the gap in front end grip for me.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by kubaner View Post
    For wet, off camber, rooty grip you can't beat them.
    Butcher Control/Clutch control combo beats them.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by solo-x View Post
    Nevegal X Pro might finally fill the gap in front end grip for me.

    The new x pro's use their dtc compound.

    Kenda dtc tires blow on rocky and/or rooty trails. Especially when it's wet. Their stick-e compound was the only thing they had going for them. Nevegals loose nobs and have a ****ty thin sidewall that tears way too easy. ymmv.

  22. #22
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    This was also asked here not long ago, see
    Best tire for NE trails?
    See you at the Treasure Valley Rally XC MTB race in Rutland, MA on Sunday August 28, 2016!

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by kubaner View Post
    If by "rubbish" you mean the balls, then yeah, nevegals are rubbish.
    Their only fault is that they won't last an entire season without losing some of their sidewall integrity. But $35 twice a year is not bad for good rubber.
    For wet, off camber, rooty grip you can't beat them.
    Kenda Nevegal X Pro Tire ? Reviews, Comparisons, Specs ? Mountain Bike Tires - Vital MTB

    Idk... nevegals have and will always suck IMO... HR2 and ardent both absolutely destroy nevegals in all conditions

  24. #24
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    Love my setup. 2.4 Ardent up front with 2.2 Ignitor in the rear.
    Wish the Ignitor had better sidewalls like the Ardent but makes up for it on grip.

  25. #25
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    When I'm going economically I'll put a mtn king protection 2.2 in the back and a 2.4 in front. When I want the fastest and nicest rolling I put a 2.25 nobby nic in the back and a 2.4 ardent in the front. For race day I'll put a 2.35 Ikon on the front and if the conditions are really buff I'll roll a Racing Ralph in the back but usually just stick with the nobby nic for hooking up on technical climbs.

  26. #26
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    Personally, I don't know how anyone likes Nevegals. They lose their knobs from day one on dirt. I have seen more nevegals with knobs missing than any other tire... Not great grip or rolling. But everyone likes what they like.
    My preference, I like the new High Roller 2 in front with a Minion DHR 2 in the rear.
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  27. #27
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    Been on the High Rollers for a few seasons now - good all-arounder, definitely hold up better than the Nevegals.
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  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by kubaner View Post
    Kenda Nevegal front and back in a 2.5 Stick-E kills it in Lynn
    Yup! I run these in the 2.35 size on my Trek (Stick-E front, DTC rear). They don't roll the fastest, but the traction is great. I've seen guys slide off sections of trail that I had no problem on with the Nevs.

    I haven't lost any knobs, the tires are still in great shape.
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  29. #29
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    Live in NY and ride in NY and VT mostly, but similar terrain. Ardent's or their knockoffs are my go-to front tire. I like something like the SB8 or Geax AKA for a rear, but might try something a little more aggressive once I burn up the AKAs I've got. Running VeeRubber/VeeTire Speed-R in 29x2.4 in the front - great traction over wet or dry roots, rocks, pine needles, sand, hard pack and snow, and predictable traction in mud.
    Eric

  30. #30
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    Schwalbe Hans Dampf SS front
    Schwalbe Racing Ralf SS rear

  31. #31
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    My Salsa came with Conti Mountain King 29 x 2.4's. I didn't see a lot of great reviews of them, but after my initial ride on them on the terrain in question ( plus snow and a lot of water), I think they did well and I have no complaints.

    Once I get a few more rides in I'll post an update if my opinion changes.
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  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by berkshire_rider View Post
    The new x pro's use their dtc compound.

    Kenda dtc tires blow on rocky and/or rooty trails. Especially when it's wet. Their stick-e compound was the only thing they had going for them. Nevegals loose nobs and have a ****ty thin sidewall that tears way too easy. ymmv.
    My mileage has definitely varied. I went through a pair of X-Kings in less than 60 miles. I have a set of Slant6's that have 400+ miles on them, SB8's with as much or more, and a Nevegal (DTC, but not the X Pro. X Pro looks like a lighter casing and redesigned knob profile, not a compound change). I've never lost knobs off a Nevegal (used to run them on my Stumpy) and aside from the weight and rolling resistance I have no complaints. They have tons of bite and all of my Kenda tires have had the greatest level of durability of any tire I've tried. The Kenda lines are a bit heavier than many other brands because the casing is so tough and durable.

    The Honey Badger is working really well for me. A little spooky on higher speed corners on loose over hard and leaf covered trails, but otherwise it has been a solid front tire for me. I'll probably try the X Pro Nev this fall once racing season is over.

  33. #33
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    Oh, and make sure you get the "good" Nev's. If you get the OEM ones, then I'd agree that they suck.

  34. #34
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    I am a Maxxis Ardent guy myself, but I got a set of Nobby Nics that came on my RM Altitude, theyre getting cooked pretty fast but I like them a lot.

  35. #35
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    I've been running a Hans Dampf (PaceStar) rear and a Magic Mary (TrailStar) front and they been pretty awesome. I was running TrailStar Hans Dampfs front and rear, but I didn't like the Hans up front - it didn't seem to bite enough. And the TrailStar compound for the rear wasn't holding up to well with all the rocks in NE. So I swapped out to a harder PaceStar compound for the rear which is holding up much better. The new Magic Mary is a pretty awesome front tire, it really holds a line well and its a lot more predictable when pushed vs the Hans Dampf. I stuck with the softer TrailStar compound up front which makes railing turns a lot more fun now.

  36. #36
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    Hey all,

    I'm looking to buy a new set of tires for my hardtail 29'er. Any additional tips/comments/suggestions?

    I'm pretty much leaning toward Ardents, but i fear they may be too heavy/slow so i'm thinking about trying a faster rear tire.

  37. #37
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    some of my favorite faster rear tires (but still a bit knobby): Schwalbe Rocket Ron, Conti X-King, Bontrager XR3, Schwalbe Racing Ralph. Almost not knobby at all: Panaracer Driver Pro, WTB NanoRaptor. I'd have to say my favorite for dry summer conditions is Racing Ralph. As conditions get a bit looser I prefer the Rocket Ron and X-King. I've never tried the Maxxis Igniter, but that looks like a faster complement to the Ardent.

  38. #38
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    Not much love in here for Bontrager...but I absolutely love the XR4 Team 2.4 as a front tire. Blows Nevegals and their washy tendencies out if the water. I do like the Nev in rear. Right now I'm rocking the XR4 2.4 up front with the Nev 2.1 in back.
    All good things in all good time

  39. #39
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    "Not much love in here for Bontrager..." I have noticed that. The XR3's I've been using are the 'Expert Team Issue' models. Maybe these are better than other models? I got them way cheap on sale at Cycle Loft in Burlington and they've been fine.

    Another interesting tire I just got but haven't tried yet is the Hutchinson Cobra 29 Race Riposte. Again found it on sale somewhere super cheap. Can't wait to try it. Very small, tightly packed center knobs, but pretty aggressive shoulder knobs. Looks interesting.

  40. #40
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    What do you guys think about Ikons? Maybe 2.35" up front and 2.2" in the rear?

    It sounds like Ardents are a pretty sure fire recipe, i just don't want to roll around more weight than i need to. Then again, there's no reason for me to be a weight weenie either. Ikons seem to have more surface area which might help on roots and rocks, though. Spaced out knobs are good for loose, but sometimes they don't have enough contact area for flat surfaces.

    Maybe Ardent 2.4" up front and an Ikon 2.2" in the back?

    I don't think I have a ton of rear frame clearance so i'll buy a smaller back tire for now and test fit a bigger front in the back so i know for the next round of tires.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by StuntmanMike View Post
    My Salsa came with Conti Mountain King 29 x 2.4's. I didn't see a lot of great reviews of them, but after my initial ride on them on the terrain in question ( plus snow and a lot of water), I think they did well and I have no complaints.

    Once I get a few more rides in I'll post an update if my opinion changes.
    I'm liking the Contis now. I switched over to tubeless, which has been GREAT, there are too many thorns around here not too.

    These tires do great in mud, and being the 2.4 width, they're great in sand as well. The only negative about them that I can see is that they tend to wash out in loose corners.

    I've ridden some dusty and dry trails lately, and when the soil turns to silt, I have to corner with care. I've found if I get out of the saddle to get some weight forward it helps, but I'm still leary of them under those conditions.

    If the ground is at all moist it's no longer a problem.

    Grip on rocks and roots seem to be great, and so far the sidewalls have proven to be tough enough.

    Also, for a non-UST tire, they sealed great to the rims. I was able to inflate with a floor pump. Although I'm running Stan's Flows, so that may have something to do with that.
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  42. #42
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    Panaracer rampage roll well, corner well, climb well, but are a bit of a harder compound. Nevegals don't corner nor roll great, but their sticky compound cuts through the sweat that invades 50% of my rides and coats every rock and root and turns it into a greasy mess. Pacenti neo-moto if you're 650b.

  43. #43
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    This summer I've been riding some 2.4 & 2.2 Cst Rock Hawks. Pretty good tire for the money. They seem pretty burly and they roll fast enough for me. I ride a lot of rocky and rooty trails and the traction has been very good too. Glad I tried them. CST is the parent company of Maxxis.

  44. #44
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    I rode in the mud on a fairly technical set of trails, lots of rocks, roots and plenty of UP/DOWN yesterday with my 2.55 WTB Weirwolf LT's and had a blast. Didn't know what to expect in the wet and they were very sticky when they needed to be. Excellent rolling tire as well.

  45. #45
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    The ardent/ikon combo works wonders on my buddies niner... On some pretty nasty Rocky rooty trails.
    Eric

  46. #46
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    my surly knard 26 x 3.8 @ 9/10 psi are way better in wet/dry/techy/loose/packed conditions than any non fat tires i've ever ridden.

    so much fun

  47. #47
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    my 29 x 3 knards are far worse in wet/loose conditions than almost any real tire I've ridden. The knob vomit/ton'o'knob tread pattern just isn't good for traction. Tons of grip when you're crawling though, just none when you're braking or cornering.

  48. #48
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    I've been running Pacestar RaRa's for over a year on my TBc. Finally seeing some longevity out of the snakeskin version. Ikon's didn't cut it (well, they did get cut).

    But what really rocks my world are the Michelin Wild Grip'rs that came on my SoloC. Much more solid grip on green mossy rocks that would make the RaRa's slide. Not as fast-rolling as the RaRa, but more confidence-inspiring in the gnar.
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  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by sandwich View Post
    my 29 x 3 knards are far worse in wet/loose conditions than almost any real tire I've ridden. The knob vomit/ton'o'knob tread pattern just isn't good for traction. Tons of grip when you're crawling though, just none when you're braking or cornering.
    Go wider. Or ride differently.

    rog

  50. #50
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    Gotta disagree on the Knards. Pretty condition/terrain specific tire dude, don't be fooled. I've said it before and I'll say it again, you just haven't tried anything different yet so don't know how good it will be and no those Vee things don't count.

    I think that a tire with varying knob heights and significant knob wrap around the outer edge is important for any riding in the northeast. We have so many different conditions in the space of one ride that you really need three different tires and so many rocks and assorted other sidewall damaging impediments that if you don't have enough side knob protrusion your traction and sidewall protection becomes inconsistent. Overall I've had the best luck with Conti Trail Kings but the Mt King should be just as good outside of very wet conditions and the X King is a fantastic dry/hardpack tire.

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