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  1. #1
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    Best rear tire for occasional snow singletrack?

    Any recommendations for a rear tire (model and size) that provides superior uphill traction on snow and wet rocks / roots?

    New to mountain biking, picked up a used Specialized Crave Comp a few weeks ago. It just snowed here in Michigan, and on a singletrack yesterday I had to walk the bike up the steeper inclines--just couldn't get enough traction with snow on the ground + wet rocks and roots.

    In the photo: as far as I got on an uphill hairpin with rocks / roots in the middle. A couple of fat-tire bikes went right on through...

    Current tires are the stock setup: Ground Control 29x2.1 on front and Fast Track 2.0 on rear.

    I need to check the pressure--probably had a few psi too much in them, likely high 20s.

    Fewer issues with the front tire, though additional grip on steep descents wouldn't hurt.

    Not interested in studs, since the snow won't be constant and I don't want to compromise the bike on everything else.

    PS: buying a second bike with fat tires isn't currently viable.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Best rear tire for occasional snow singletrack?-uphill-hairpin-130.jpg  


  2. #2
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    You could put that GC on the rear and a Purgatory on the front. Purgs f/r. Or Trek XR4 front XR3 rear, or XR4 f/r.

    Usually, you want more traction in the front as it matters less if the rear slides.
    Do the math.

  3. #3
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    Thanks. I'm currently far from an aggressive rider. I suspect some of the trouble will go away when I gain enough confidence to ride somewhat more aggressively. Right now I'm keep my speed pretty slow, which means I often lack momentum on uphills to get over roots and rocks. I then try to power over them, but lack enough traction for this.

    So right now at least I'm focused on getting up the hills.

    Will some tires provide much more traction than the Fast Trak, or will more speed / technique make a far larger difference than a tire will?

    I know far more about car tires than bike tires. With cars, tire type makes a huge difference in snow traction. Maybe not so much with MTB tires? Less variation in snow / wet surface traction?

  4. #4
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    I've found that tread doesn't matter as much as pressure. In recent snowy rides, I've been running a 1.95 Renegade on the back at about 20psi. It has worked well, though something with a bit more bite would be better in deeper/hillier situations. I've found that narrower tires tend to work better on untouched trails while wider tends to be better on groomed or trails with a lot of frozen footprints etc. I'd try that Fast Trak at lower pressure before buying anything else. I agree about a wider front tire than back though. It won't catch ruts as much. Generally though, for traction to get going, narrower is better (like it is for car snow tires).

  5. #5
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    Maybe I'm focusing too much on a particular scenario, but the snow in question wasn't deep, just slippery. The grades that caused the most trouble were in the 8-11% range.

    I think the min pressure on the sidewall is 30 PSI. I can safely go below that?

  6. #6
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    Some of your issue may also be technique. As a newer rider you may not be weighting the bike correctly. Keep some weight on the back wheel to keep the tire from spinning. Also, carry some momentum into slick spots so you don't have to apply a bunch of pedal pressure and break the rear end loose. Combined with a lower pressure, these technique changes should help you through many slick areas.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pisgah2000 View Post
    I've found that tread doesn't matter as much as pressure. In recent snowy rides, I've been running a 1.95 Renegade on the back at about 20psi. It has worked well, though something with a bit more bite would be better in deeper/hillier situations. I've found that narrower tires tend to work better on untouched trails while wider tends to be better on groomed or trails with a lot of frozen footprints etc. I'd try that Fast Trak at lower pressure before buying anything else. I agree about a wider front tire than back though. It won't catch ruts as much. Generally though, for traction to get going, narrower is better (like it is for car snow tires).
    I think because fresh snow and not so deep...narrower tires can sink in through the snow and to find traction in the solid dirt or ground. For hard pack snow and a bit of ice, you need to lower the tire pressure into teens or even single digit PSI...and wider is better in this case. Not all snow condition is easily ride-able....

  8. #8
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    I haven't ridden a ton of snow, but enough to comment on your pic and post.


    -Snow is really variable. What works amazing in one type of snow condition is fkn garbage in different snow.
    -Skills are waaaaaaaaaay more important than tires.
    -In that pic, a narrower, spiky tire, like a maxxis shorty or a spec hillbilly would be helpful.
    -Gummy tires work better in wet, slippery conditions. A hard spiky tire can be amazing on crust, then slip on wood.
    -Ideal tire pressure is completely unrelated to sidewall tire pressure. In wet conditions you tend to air down. I'd try ~20/23 with those tires in that environment. I wouldn't advocate those pressures for general riding.
    -carrying speed is hugely valuable, but it's just one tool at your disposal.



    IMO you'd be doing yourself a huge favor if you learn to track-stand. It's pretty fun to learn, and you can get semi-competent in an afternoon on a sloped driveway. Invite a friend over, get a 6-pack, and practice. It teaches your body how to behave at r e a l l y low speeds.
    "Things that are complex are not useful, Things that are useful are simple."
    Mikhail Kalashnikov

  9. #9
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    Nothing is going to work great in that for "occasional use". If that was more of my main winter conditions, I'd probably get some nokian or schwalbe studded tires, normal width, but with lots of studs, those will help you grip on roots, icy parts, grip the harder compressed snow and ground, etc. Fat studded tire would work nice, but once you go skinny, it's going to be somewhat of a sliding-affair everywhere. Front is going to wash out all the time.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

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