Tyre upgrade from Bontrager XR3 Expert 27.5x2.35
So ive been riding with these tyres for a year now on my Trek Fuel EX8 (stock tyres) I have done about 1000km on them and they are now at the point of loosing trackion up hill and washing out on tight corners.
Their are plenty of tyre threads around but each person rides different types of trails etc.
I am from Australia so all the trails I ride are hard compact dirt and granite and the occasional DH with rock gardens
Im wanting something that will keep the speed up but grip when i get a good lean on around berms.
I did love the bontragers from day 1 but they are hard to come by where i am. Ive been considering a set of a MAXXIS minion DHR II or minion SS. Or should i go for something different on the front and back
After just having a look i have 2.35 on the front and 2.20 on the rear. Never ever knew they were different
It's pretty normal to run different tires on the front and rear. A front tire is usually wider and knobbier for improved cornering traction, and a rear tire smaller or less knobby to improve rolling resistance and save some weight. Some people run the same tires front and rear, and that's okay too, but I'm a big fan of optimizing each.
Many tires are designed to be front or rear specific. The R in DHR II stands for Rear - you would normally pair it with a Minion DHF (F for Front). A semi-slick design (Minion SS, Schwalbe Rock Razor, Specialized Slaughter) should only be used on the rear.
If you are normally on hard pack dirt, I'd recommend a semi-slick in the rear for just what you ask for: fast rolling and great cornering grip when you lean it over. I've got about 400 miles on a Specialized Slaughter and love it. Rock Razor has slightly better grip, but I dislike how fast Schwalbe tires in general wear out, especially in rocky conditions, so I'd personally pass on the Rock Razor (YMMV). Haven't tried the Minion SS yet, but it should be on the same page as the other two. Dunno what your local availability will be like, though - you have to get Specialized tires from a shop that carries Specialized or from their website.
For the front, do not put a semi-slick tire on, you'll break your clavicle. Pick something bigger and knobbier for traction. You're less concerned about rolling resistance because less of your weight is distributed on the front tire, especially when climbing.
The XR3 you have runs a fairly round profile - usually a rounder tire is more predictable and slightly easier to lean over, but a squarer tire tends to dig in more when you do lean it over. Also look at the tread pattern - tires with lots of transition knobs (between the center tread and cornering knobs) tend to feel smoother and more predictable when leaned over, but tires with a bigger gap between the center and cornering knobs (fewer/smaller transition knobs) sink down get more bite when they lean over - you can corner harder but have to lean the bike more aggressively. Try to think about what you like in terms of feel when you're cornering and your riding style when you look at the treads of different tires.
A short list (and by no means complete) for good, aggressive trail front tires would be: Maxxis Minion DHF, WTB Vigilante, Specialized Butcher, Bontrager XR4, Schwalbe Hans Dampf
Exactly what lazarus said!
I also run the XR3 up front, and XR2 or XR1 in back on my Trek Superfly FS. And I ride in similar conditions as you (a lot of hardpack and rocks, but also some loamy soil over hardpack and some woods riding). I mainly run them because a few local shops carry them and I like them. If it was me, and I couldn't find them, I'd just go to the LBS, and look for a tire with a similar tread and tread depth as the XR3 for the front, and one with lower-profile knobs for the rear.
If you go with an aggressive tread in the rear, you will definitely notice the extra rolling resistance, and I didn't find any major gain in traction for the conditions I ride in. If you go with the XR1 or a low-profile tread in the front, you will definitely notice the lack of cornering control.
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