Bontrager FR3 2.35 tire review- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Bontrager FR3 2.35 tire review

    I picked up one of these tires from one last week and after putting about 40 miles on it this weekend I thought I would give my impressions.

    Casing measurement- 56mm
    Knob to Knob measurement- 61mm
    Rim mounted on- Edge AM 30mm wide
    Weight- 1000+ grams
    Pressure ridden at- 25psi

    I mounted the tire up tubeless which was very easy to do. I actually mounted it once without sealant to see if it would leak and it held air all night. I remounted it the next day with a scoop of Stan's sealant in it.

    This tire is very heavy! I put it on the scale and saw over 1000 grams and din't even bother recording the weight at that point. To me if a tire over 1k grams it isn't going to matter if it is 1050 or 1250, it is still really heavy. The Conti MK 2.4 with a tube that I took off weighs less then this tire tubeless.

    The good- On the trail this tire rolls very, very, very fast! The solid center rib makes it roll like slick tire. It corners very good, you can lean it way over and rail around corners or just easy turns with no leaning. Fast flowing singletrack was great with this tire because you can corner so fast. It handled the small amount of mud we have right now better then the Mk2.4 that it replaced. It is suppose to rain all week so i will get to test it better in mud later this week.

    The bad- The weight of this tire really becomes apparent when you get onto a trail that requires a lot of speed changes. If you have to do a lot of accelerations you will feel it with the weight of this tire.

    I started out at 27psi and it felt good, at 24 it started to feel squirmy under braking and at 20 it was very unstable. I finally settled on 25psi as being the best handling without the squirmy feeling under braking.

    The bike I did the test on is 4in travel Lenz Leviathan if that matters. I weigh 190lbs and 200 to 210lbs once all geared up depending on how much stuff I take with me. I am in the southeast and ride in Tennessee and North Georgia which is clay based hard packed dirt, rocks and roots.




  2. #2
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    thanks for the review!

    Please note that if you like this review then I should get credit since I sold it to Ligero.

    As for weight, I know cuz i weighed it prior to shipping but it was 1038 grams.

    I am very encouraged by the measurements...though wonder how much smaller (if at all) it would measure when put on my Stans Flow rim???? Maybe Shiggadelic can extrapolate.

    Your review sounds encouraging and it sounds like its gonna be a great front tire!

  3. #3
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    Nice review Ligero. So did you like this better than the MK?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by UnitedWeRide
    Nice review Ligero. So did you like this better than the MK?
    yes, because i did not sell him the MK

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by UnitedWeRide
    So did you like this better than the MK?
    The MK is different, it is lighter but does not roll as fast. Also the cornering on the MK is very good but only if you have the bike leaned way over on the large corner knobs. The FR3 turn good if it is barely leaned over or railing around a corner.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ligero
    The MK is different, it is lighter but does not roll as fast. Also the cornering on the MK is very good but only if you have the bike leaned way over on the large corner knobs. The FR3 turn good if it is barely leaned over or railing around a corner.
    i know its heavy for sure...but a horrible rear tire you think? weight alone makes it not appealing (ie, front and rear heavy tires = heavy) but curious. Perhaps on a AM+ bype 29er front and rear?

  7. #7
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    I just got a hard on, no seriously

    Looks PERFECT for me also looks like a proper 2.35 this is bigger volume wise than a Stout 2.3 yes ?? yes it's heavier 100grams maybe but I like the weighty steam roller effect.

    The middle rail looks good for speed and also to stop the flop factor in mud a nice hard line to stop the wheel sliding out in mud.

    Where do I get one ?? ( Volume > Stout Pending ) and how much ( actually don't care ) just where

  8. #8
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    man another good tire to consider so far I am really liking the MK 2.4 up front tubeless, but the 2.2 I am not sold on yet maybe when I get it converted tubeless. Isnt there a Bonty tire to match this in the rear?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by FoShizzle
    i know its heavy for sure...but a horrible rear tire you think? weight alone makes it not appealing (ie, front and rear heavy tires = heavy) but curious. Perhaps on a AM+ bype 29er front and rear?
    It would probably work just fine as a rear tire if you don't expect to climb anything super steep.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Turveyd
    I just got a hard on, no seriously

    Looks PERFECT for me also looks like a proper 2.35 this is bigger volume wise than a Stout 2.3 yes ?? yes it's heavier 100grams maybe but I like the weighty steam roller effect.

    The middle rail looks good for speed and also to stop the flop factor in mud a nice hard line to stop the wheel sliding out in mud.

    Where do I get one ?? ( Volume > Stout Pending ) and how much ( actually don't care ) just where
    sure they will be available to people without MTB blahgs soon enough.

    I got the only set in the CA warehouse, and sold one to Ligero and kept the other for my forthcoming project. Defer to Shiggadelic and others in the know but likely after Interbike for general public?

  11. #11
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    The center rib is interesting. There used to be more tires like that, but they seemed to be relegated to city bikes, as though a fast rolling solid center automatically means it can't be a serious off road tire.
    I don't know. there must be a reason why a solid center rib is not used more often. It seems to make a lot of sense.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilinsteve
    The center rib is interesting. There used to be more tires like that, but they seemed to be relegated to city bikes, as though a fast rolling solid center automatically means it can't be a serious off road tire.
    I don't know. there must be a reason why a solid center rib is not used more often. It seems to make a lot of sense.
    Straight line braking ability could theoretically be worse as there are less edges to bite into the trail. It would depend on the soil type and trail conditions though.

    But with this tire at normal trail riding psi I think the adjacent rows of knobs on either side of the ridge would also be in contact with the trail and make it mostly a moot point

  13. #13
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    There is no reason not to have a solid center rib as on softer ground the side knobs will come into play if the pressure isn't to hard.

    Gives a whack the tyre to max pressure and cruise on the roads to the forest / mountain tyre aswell.

    Will they fit in 06 Reba SL's is the questions with 21mm internal Halo Freedom rims ??

    Hope there out soon, my Stout is showing wear and losing it's bite on mud

  14. #14
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    If there is no reason to not have a center rib, more tires would have them, as the advantage is obvious. The disadvantage is less obvious, but maybe is the squirrely braking, which could be especially bad on the front. But, I would go with someone who has tested the tire more than any theoretical ideas about the design.

  15. #15
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    how it performs as a rear tire is TBD

  16. #16

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    isn't it still daylight there?

  17. #17
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    Just ordered this again, first time failed and went with the 29-3 2.25 as more of a mud all rounder and best mud tyre I've used even if it's not really a mud tyre the long knobs give it great steering strength even in nasty mud.

    FR3 will be used I imagine for Peaks / Trail Centres for MAX float over rocks and the like where mud is less of a issue.

    Ligero did you ever test the FR3 in the mud ??

    The Centre strip will be interesting but at low pressures I'd bet the next lugs are in contact anyway but it should give a lot of bite to assist in turning on softer ground so find out soon.

  18. #18
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    I was out in the mud today with these (Portland, ME - it's all mud due to the large amounts of rain we have had.) They did fairly well. Made it through 3/4 of a swamp before I bogged down to much, and had to bail. They could shed mud a little better, they weren't overly squirmy, and cut a nice line through the thick. I was running them as around 23 psi (I weigh around 150 geared up.)

    Mine don't weigh over 1000g though. I have the team issues which came in at 810g and 847g mounted to Speed Discs with tubes.

  19. #19
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    Mines arrived I've mounted it and whacked it's PSI to @60 in the hope it'll stretch a bit before use as internally it's volume is less than a used 29-3, but it looks a lot fatter cause of the knobs, plan to ride it tomorrow.

    No idea how those soft bits coming off the centre line will handle mud there very soft though so likely not a issue, be happer to run without I think ( too much scalpaling for me LOL )

    Connect my Shock pump I guess and see if the pressures dropped which would indicate stretch of the tyre!!

    29-3 is a great tyre my fav thus far, but I like the look of the more aggressive knobs and the wider tread on this.

    I have the Team issue aswell cool, less weight to lug over gates

  20. #20
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    Pressure was unchanged 2psi tops drop so not enough to mention.

    Quick road test and even pushing down the alley to the road the steering feels really heavy, though headset lifted front wheel nope, it turns very slowly on road it's hard work and I've got the air pressure quite high for a road test.

    Felt nice comfort wise up a few kerbs and over some roots though.

    didn't notice any extra drag compared to the 29-3 either maybe less but hard to be sure.



    Interesting for sure!!

    Looks super beefy and confidence inspiring for rocks and roots though, where as the 29-3 looked to thin for me to push my luck on them.

  21. #21
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    so, for a rigid 29er ss guy, which tire?

    ardent 2.4" or fr-3 team issue?

    going to be mounted up front, tubeless.
    "forget kings...forget hadleys......they all have crap engagement. just run your bike fixed gear." - FoShizzle

  22. #22
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    Thanks for the good review.

  23. #23
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    Kam, trying to get a good ride in tonight to try out the FR3 in forest front only useage ( got a 69er ), its resistance to turn worries me but it'll be great on rocky fast but straight descents maybe.

  24. #24
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    Finally got out for a ride on it, grounds dried up alot since Sunday, very dry sticky mud making it hard to compare, not instantly in love with like the 29-3 but Comparing to....

    FR3 feels to have less volume, wouldn't really want to run it any softer, matches up with the internal measurement though.
    FR3 is much wider and as such has oddles of grip, but steering precision is less and steers slower, 29-3 is a great tread pattern for that though.
    FR3 actually feels to roll slightly faster ( Front only ) than the 29-3 likely nothing in it, which is cool!!

    I need some more rides on it and some rocky rides which is where I think it'll shine through, I think it'll stick to wet rocks like nothing else.

    Will it be a fit and forget all rounder for me or just Rocks / Trail centre useage ?? find out soon!!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by FoShizzle
    how it performs as a rear tire is TBD
    I like it as a rear a lot.
    Quote Originally Posted by buddhak
    And I thought I had a bike obsession. You are at once tragic and awesome.

  26. #26
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    Only got a 69er so can't test on the rear until later in the year when I build up my 29er HT then I'll consider it, more likely a Ardent 2.4 though on the rear and this up front!!

  27. #27
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    Any more updates? There's not a lot out there about this tire. I'm hoping it's not a dud since I already ordered two of them;p

  28. #28
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    I'm using them front and rear on a hard tail. Very good AM tires.

    Even with the center ridge, climbing and braking traction are good. Maybe because there are gaps in the center ridge?

    Cornering is great. I think they got the volume just right. No squirm if you get the pressure right. Good sidewalls I'll take these over a lighter, higher volume tire.

    Team issue, tubeless, is worth the extra $

  29. #29
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    I've got about 140 miles on mine, running it in the rear (I run a 29-3 in the front). Most of the riding has been on frozen ground, through snow, etc. In snow, it has far better traction than the 29-3 that used to be in the rear.

    This past weekend, I was (legally) riding a local construction site (with the permission of the owner, a client of mine). Some areas had the frost coming out of the ground and I did encounter some mud/clay. I was greatly impressed with its performance under those conditions--one of the best mud tires I've ever used. I agree with the comments above...the center rib is good for a decent ride, and the aggressive side knobs are really helpful everywhere else. I do wish it were a bit lighter...I'm running the Team issue, which is less than the 1kg reported above, but still plenty beefy.

  30. #30
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    I tried them and was not all that thrilled with them.

    The thick sidewalls are nice but they are pretty heavy. I did not feel like they corner on Arizona terrain as well as a Rampage.

    They are tough. I tore a hole in a Fire XC that I had on the rear, so I put one of these on back. No worries about tearing the sidewalls on them.

    But I thought the climbing traction sucked as a rear tire, and used on back it wore out very fast.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by twowheelsdown2002
    I tried them and was not all that thrilled with them.

    The thick sidewalls are nice but they are pretty heavy. I did not feel like they corner on Arizona terrain as well as a Rampage.

    They are tough. I tore a hole in a Fire XC that I had on the rear, so I put one of these on back. No worries about tearing the sidewalls on them.

    But I thought the climbing traction sucked as a rear tire, and used on back it wore out very fast.
    My findings are vastly different. Much better front traction than a Rampage, many times more durable. Tons of climbing grip in the rear.

    Run tubeless no problem. One of my favorite tires right now.
    Quote Originally Posted by buddhak
    And I thought I had a bike obsession. You are at once tragic and awesome.

  32. #32
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    Enel and Twowheelsdown, which direction are you runnning these on the rear, traction or speed? Great looking tire that I considered for wet weather front tire, but it's too heavy for me...even Team Issue....a 650-700 gram version would interest me greatly! The rubber seemed really nice and sticky and love the broken center rib for faster rolling and maybe better directional stability? My Purgatory 2.2 has been great up front, but would love to try these if they weighed less.
    Get off the couch and ride! :)

  33. #33
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    Mine varied depending on the exact conditions of the trail, in the right conditons I was flying down stuff without a care in the world, in the wrong they are awful, guess that middle strip works in some terrain and fails miserably in other types.

    Only tried on the front!!

  34. #34
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    Turveyd, Thanks for the update. What are your opinions on the right and wrong terrain for this tire?
    Get off the couch and ride! :)

  35. #35
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    Living in the mid-atlantic and having a healthy appetite for the jaged, chucky rocks native to the area, I loved the beefy casing. Its rare that I get more than a month out of a tire here. Weight is not an issue if I have confidence that I am not going end up with a gaper and this tire instilled that kind of confidence. Many of the trails I ride are slow, extremely technical, with lots of trials type moves to make so I run low pressure. I think of my tires as I do suspension. If I bottom out between 1 and 5 times on a ride, I am at the right pressure. Props to Bonty for making a tire with a casing worthy of riding in this area. On that note, there are some other tires that have recently come availible with beefy casings that I have yet to give a spin.

    On the downside, the tread compound seems hard and the side knobs unsupported which leaves them prone to giving out if I am on an off-camber rock or pushing hard into a turn. I find that while I have confidence that I will not slice this tire, I have absolutely no confidence in the tread compound or ability to corner. In my opinion, the worthless tread about evens out stellar casing. As a front, the tire does roll fast, but would be skeptical as to its ability to hook up as a rear. I weigh in at 145lbs and tried this tire for about a month at pressures between 12 and 18 lbs on a Flow front.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Natedogz
    Enel and Twowheelsdown, which direction are you runnning these on the rear, traction or speed? Great looking tire that I considered for wet weather front tire, but it's too heavy for me...even Team Issue....a 650-700 gram version would interest me greatly! The rubber seemed really nice and sticky and love the broken center rib for faster rolling and maybe better directional stability? My Purgatory 2.2 has been great up front, but would love to try these if they weighed less.

    I run the rear reversed. I guess that is the traction direction.
    Quote Originally Posted by buddhak
    And I thought I had a bike obsession. You are at once tragic and awesome.

  37. #37
    Missouri sucks...
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    Enel, have you run the Ardent 2.4, WTB Stout and WTB Dissent? I'm building up a Yelli Screamy and want a hardcore tire that will be capable on trails like this:

    Rim 1
    <object width="480" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/n0d0CGGMAv0?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/n0d0CGGMAv0?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="385"></embed></object>

    Rim 2
    <object width="480" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/TjTjdJnE5U8?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/TjTjdJnE5U8?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="385"></embed></object>

    It doesn't look too bad in the video but those rocks are BIG and usually sharp and damp. What would you suggest for a front/rear combo? I have 2 FR3s and 2 Stouts on hand. Once the weather cooperates, what should I try? I've never ridden either tire. They'll be going on Salsa Semi rims.

  38. #38
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    Looks like a fun trail. Any of the tires would do well there. Sounds like you need to experiment a bit.
    Quote Originally Posted by buddhak
    And I thought I had a bike obsession. You are at once tragic and awesome.

  39. #39
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    Yup. I live 5 minutes from some awesome riding Gonna go with the FR3 until I have a reason to change

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Natedogz
    Enel and Twowheelsdown, which direction are you runnning these on the rear, traction or speed? Great looking tire that I considered for wet weather front tire, but it's too heavy for me...even Team Issue....a 650-700 gram version would interest me greatly! The rubber seemed really nice and sticky and love the broken center rib for faster rolling and maybe better directional stability? My Purgatory 2.2 has been great up front, but would love to try these if they weighed less.
    I ran the tire reversed on back.

    I did not like the climbing traction, so I even resorted to a long sit down in the garage with a 6 pack and an exacto knife and I cut little sections out of the center strip so it would grab a bit better. Way too time consuming for no real gain.

    I found that the tire had very wierd turning characteristics. If you leaned it a bit it was ok, but it felt weird in transition. Slow speed maneuvering where you are turning, but not leaning much made it feel like it did not steer, then it suddenly would when it was leaned some more. Not confidence inspiring at all.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by washedup
    Living in the mid-atlantic and having a healthy appetite for the jaged, chucky rocks native to the area, I loved the beefy casing. Its rare that I get more than a month out of a tire here. Weight is not an issue if I have confidence that I am not going end up with a gaper and this tire instilled that kind of confidence. Many of the trails I ride are slow, extremely technical, with lots of trials type moves to make so I run low pressure. I think of my tires as I do suspension. If I bottom out between 1 and 5 times on a ride, I am at the right pressure. Props to Bonty for making a tire with a casing worthy of riding in this area. On that note, there are some other tires that have recently come availible with beefy casings that I have yet to give a spin.

    On the downside, the tread compound seems hard and the side knobs unsupported which leaves them prone to giving out if I am on an off-camber rock or pushing hard into a turn. I find that while I have confidence that I will not slice this tire, I have absolutely no confidence in the tread compound or ability to corner. In my opinion, the worthless tread about evens out stellar casing. As a front, the tire does roll fast, but would be skeptical as to its ability to hook up as a rear. I weigh in at 145lbs and tried this tire for about a month at pressures between 12 and 18 lbs on a Flow front.
    I am your weight. I found that although I like the smooth ride quality at low PSI where I occasionally bottom against the rim, low PSI makes them wash out in corners, knobs squirm on off camber rocks, etc.

    Pump it firm and it corners great, whether you lean it a lot or a little. Big difference. But I ride in dry rocky and sometimes loose conditions mostly.

    For low PSI to perform well with trials type hoping on sharp rocks, etc., a two ply sidewall is the way so maybe this is not the tire for you.

    Its not as heavy as others have indicated. I have the tubeless Team issue which is 880g

  42. #42
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    I dont even bother with the team issue stuff. I got one by accident and it didnt last long. I havent found a tire with a thinker casing than the FR3 exp. Great volume too. The 29.4 tread and volume look promising even though the sidewall seems a bit thinner than the FR3.

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Natedogz
    Turveyd, Thanks for the update. What are your opinions on the right and wrong terrain for this tire?

    More about amount of Mud, dry ground it's useless, light mud / wet was fine, anything slightly sticky and yet again useless,

    Made the steering like a barge to, where as the 29-3 quickens up the steering and steers positively in in thick mud.

  44. #44
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    I agree with another poster in that if at the right PSI it hhoks up well up front- too low and gets squirmy. In the rear I didn't like the traction climbing even in "traction" direction. I personally like the rubber compound as I can appreciably see wear in a gradual way- no chunk, not hard and shiney either. But it still weighs a kg in non-team issue version......

    Anyone have a suggestion as to a similarly agressive tread patterned AND tubeless ready AND lighter weight tire as a replacement for this FR3 once it is done? TLR RR? Other?
    Last edited by Noclutch; 01-14-2011 at 12:08 PM.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclutch
    Anyone have a suggestion as to a similarly agressive tread patterned AND tubeless ready AND lighter weight tire as a replacement for this FR3 once it is done? TLR RR? Other?
    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/...jsp?spid=58035

    The 2.4 is claimed 800g. I think somebody weighed a few and they came in around 830.

  46. #46
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    Don't like the idea of a 70a Centre and only 60 outter on that Spec tire personally, anyone got any volume measurements, can't get them anywhere other than ordered direct

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by 92gli
    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/...jsp?spid=58035

    The 2.4 is claimed 800g. I think somebody weighed a few and they came in around 830.
    Im running the purgatory up front and the FR3 reversed in back, I ruined an FR3 , and was having isues with a FR3 in front ( not much clearance) so i swapped the FR3 to rear and put the Purgatory up front. Pretty amazed at the purgatory, it doesnt look like much but I havent found a single thing not to like. great traction in NH nastiness.
    The FR3 is also good, best lasting tire for the rear Ive found going tubeless, excellent rolling, decent traction, I would trade a bit of rolling for a bit of traction though, maybe make that center compound a bit softer, its not bad , but it could be perfect.

  48. #48
    SSolo, on your left!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enel
    I run the rear reversed. I guess that is the traction direction.
    Yes and thanks for answer.

    Quote Originally Posted by twowheelsdown2002
    I ran the tire reversed on back.

    I did not like the climbing traction, so I even resorted to a long sit down in the garage with a 6 pack and an exacto knife and I cut little sections out of the center strip so it would grab a bit better. Way too time consuming for no real gain.

    I found that the tire had very wierd turning characteristics. If you leaned it a bit it was ok, but it felt weird in transition. Slow speed maneuvering where you are turning, but not leaning much made it feel like it did not steer, then it suddenly would when it was leaned some more. Not confidence inspiring at all.
    Thanks too. I've found that electronics circuit board type of diagonal flush cutters work great for tire trimming and are alot less work than razor blade or X-Acto knife:

    http://www.adafruit.com/index.php?ma...roducts_id=152

    http://www.google.com/search?q=elect...ed=0CCcQrQQwAg

    Quote Originally Posted by Turveyd
    More about amount of Mud, dry ground it's useless, light mud / wet was fine, anything slightly sticky and yet again useless,

    Made the steering like a barge to, where as the 29-3 quickens up the steering and steers positively in in thick mud.
    Assume you mean 29-3 TLR for the front?

    Agree that too low pressure makes any tire squirmy imo....I've had great tires, that when run too low were very comfy, but the side-hilling and steering was scary...inflated to proper pressure for my terrain, weight and rim width and the tires were great handling once again.
    Last edited by Natedogz; 01-14-2011 at 08:46 PM.
    Get off the couch and ride! :)

  49. #49
    SSolo, on your left!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Turveyd
    Don't like the idea of a 70a Centre and only 60 outter on that Spec tire personally, anyone got any volume measurements, can't get them anywhere other than ordered direct
    Dual tread compound works good for me. Purgatory measures 2.110" wide at casing @ about 28 psi front and Captain measures 2.120" wide at casing @ about 32 psi rear....on my HT. These are mounted on Mavic TN719 disc rims:

    FEATURES
    Maxtal
    SUP
    Traditional drilling
    Single eyelet
    Clincher
    Disc

    DIMENSIONS
    ETRTO compatible size: 622 x 19
    Recommended tire widths: 1.50 to 2.30
    Valve hole diameter: 8.5 mm, supplied with valve adapter
    Recommended nipple length: 12 mm
    Recommended rim tape: 622 x 20 x 0.6
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    These are pretty narrow rims imo at 19mm inside width but they came on the bike and have been pretty reliable.
    Get off the couch and ride! :)

  50. #50
    change is good
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    I like this tire especially on my rigid. Cushy and tough. Not light, but no worries about it flatting easily. It is a all-rounder so it doesn't do anything exceptionally well. It's a little faster than a Rampage but it offers a little less traction.

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