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  1. #1
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    Lighter tire really has better sidewall protection? Confidence of EXO vs SnakeSkin

    What I should I trust more for flat protection and no sidewall cuts? A 29x2.25 Snake Skin Racing Ralph, or a Maxxis Ikon 29x2.2 EXO?

    160lbs Cat 1 XC racer that rides aggressively-- kinda live for descents and techy trails a bit

    I used to race 26ers, and never trusted a tire less than 575g or so (26x2.2 X-King Protection was my goto 26er racing tire in 2011-2012). In Breckenridge years ago I flatted a 26er Ikon EXO on a shale descent. So I was hesitant to try them again but a CO friend has recommended them.

    I was surprised to find that the Ikon EXO's are lighter (610g on my scale) vs my snakeskin RaRa's (640-690g) on my scale. The Ikon's are not quite as high volume. I had good luck during two rocky races in the Ozarks rocks with RaRa's so far this year, but they are worn and on their last legs. Help me accept change and move on the Ikons... if you think they are durable and rock cut resistant!

    610g strikes me as awfully light for a sidewall protected 29er tire... am I being overly paranoid?

    Should I expect that 29ers cut tires less due to the improved angle of attack over 26ers? After learning to trust 575-590g 26er tires, trusting a 610g 29er tire seems a bit hard to swallow?

    thanks for easing my paranoia and helping me pick a race worthy tire I can trust for rocky terrain in Arkansas, Gunnison, etc...

  2. #2
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    Some other threads seem to imply that Ikon EXO's are quite sturdy... is that true? Really? Ease my paranoia.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by rfxc View Post
    Some other threads seem to imply that Ikon EXO's are quite sturdy... is that true? Really? Ease my paranoia.
    I wouldn't use an Ikon on the front, it's not grippy enough. My setup uses both the tires you mentioned; RaRa up front, Ikon in back (S/S & EXO respectively); this combo has worked well for me. YMMV, of course.

  4. #4
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    Hey sdcadbiker, where do you ride and how much do you weigh?

    I think weight has a lot to do with how well tires hold up and perform.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by rfxc View Post
    Hey sdcadbiker, where do you ride and how much do you weigh?

    I think weight has a lot to do with how well tires hold up and perform.
    I weigh... umm... more than I should; around 195 pounds with clothes & camelbak. I ride in Southern California which has just about everything, mostly loose over hardpack but also slickrock, gravel, babyheads and rocks; this tire combo handles it all.

  6. #6
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    I've ridden/raced both the ralph snakeskin 2.25 and the ikon exo 2.2. I weigh ~180 and race cat 1 xc in the midwest.

    For a year I was running ralph ss front, ikon exo rear. Eventually, after being raced for a year the ikon tread started bubbling all over, the scary part is the tire/tread was in great shape prior to when it started bubbling (checked pre dakota 50, found the problem cruising around town post 50). Once bubbled the tire ended up in the trash. Since I used it for a year of racing I wouldn't call it a failure, but will say it reduced my confidence in the tire and being setup tubeless... you never know when it's going to start bubbling and it could be during a race. I have not bought another ikon since.

    On the other hand, I have a ralph SS that has somehow held up for nearly 3 years of racing as a front tire.

    Aside from the durability concerns of the maxxis rubber compound when used with sealant, I'd say it's a decent tire. However, I'm not sure it's as fast as the ralph and IMO does not have the grip the ralph does. The ikon has a lot of very closely spaced knobs, which seems to make it more prone to packing up with mud in addition to not having as much side knob grip as the ralphs.

    This year I'm running either snakeskin ralph front/rear (on rough/rocky races) or non-ss racing ralphs (midwest xc). I can't seem to find a tread that has a better combination of grip, speed, and durability compared to the ralphs.

  7. #7
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    I used snakeskin racing ralphs at dakota 50 last year, too! Used again at Spa City 6hr in Arkansas and BoneBender in Lawrence KS.

    I have a set of of snakeskin racing ralphs i bought new in August 2012... they probably have 400-600mi of singletrack on them, 200mi of pavement in the winter, and a week in moab. the rear tread is worn down, the front looks ok. what is concerning, though: both sidewalls now remain "wet" constantly. they don't lose psi overnight, though. I'm paranoid I have worn the tires down and hesitate to use them again at syllamo.

    My *frugal* choice is: a)use the brand new ikons in my garage (or sell them on ebay) or b) use the somewhat worn racing ralphs I already own.

    The desperate, paranoid, non frugal option: buy brand new racing ralphs.

  8. #8
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    Nice, I used the ralph ss/ikon exo combo at bone bender last year, ralph ss front/rear this year.

    I can't say my sidewalls ever look 'wet' on my ss ralphs, so it sounds like you might have a bit more wear to the sidewalls than I do.

    I'd say just use the ikons unless you can get close to what you paid back. If you really like to lay the bike over and ride aggressively I don't think you'll like the ikon as much as a front tire, although as a rear tire the ikon worked just fine in tandem with a ralph. The ikon is predictable, but also seems to break loose sooner.

    If you want an in-between solution sell one of the ikons and buy another ss ralph as a front tire.

  9. #9
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    Curious, did you used to race 26ers?

    do most people experience fewer flats with the different angle of attack and tire footprint of 29ers?

    I am having a hard time going from a trusted 575g 26er to "trusting" a 610g 29er tire... yeah I have trust issues. also overthinking things. Sorry.

  10. #10
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    I can use a new ikon in the rear and use my best condition RaRa in the front for syllamo... that might be a reasonably cheap solution.

  11. #11
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    I got into racing just as I made the switch from 26" to 29", so I only had ~5 races on a 26" bike. I'm 6'5", so 26" just didn't work for me proportionally, especially when combined with XC race geometry.

    If it says anything, I'm also in the learning/reducing paranoia stage. This is the first year I'm trying non snakeskin ralphs since I noticed most everyone else was running non-snakeskin in races and having good luck. The weight dropped from ~670 grams for a ss ralph to ~540 grams for a non-ss ralph. If I can get these to hold up throughout the year I'll likely stick with them (aside from western rocky races) since they're higher TPI and seem to grip/conform to the dirt better. Something tells me they'll also wear faster, but I guess that's the price you have to pay for race tires.

    Best condition ralph ss front/ikon exo rear sounds like a solid plan.

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