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  1. #1
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    What exactly makes a tire better?

    How hard is it to design a tire that is better than what's most popular on the market?

    Dozens of tires have been released in the past 10-15 years, but some people still stick to Minion DHFs. Have they evolved to stay relevant? If so, how?

    Any one have bits of encyclopedic knowledge about tires and how they maintain traction and what the trade offs are to get them the specs that sell well (e.g. low weight and rolling resistance)?

  2. #2
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    Random questions:

    Why do tire makers offer the same tread pattern for different compounds? Wouldn't softer compounds result in knobs with low stiffness, and harder compounds result in knobs that are possibly too stiff?

    Does having increased weight on a tire help it grip better, considering that it's rolling and not static? Any science behind this? Perhaps tire load sensitivity?

    Does squaring off a tire profile, perhaps through mounting the tire on a rim that's much wider than intended, really make it better for mtn biking?

  3. #3
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    Lol...I've wondered that myself. At least for me...the knobby tires out there all feel pretty similar to me. I've used the DHF, Hans Dampf, Nobby Nic, Purgatory, Butcher, and probably some others i can't remember. I can tell if going to a semi slick to a knobby...but not much from knobby tire to knobby tire of relatively similar types. Maybe my terrain doesn't really differentiate too much with the knob profiles?

    What I do like is a softer compound on the front and a harder one on the rear. The softer compound on the front feels (to me) like it grips better than a hard one.

    I think a lot of it just comes down to personal preference and/or confirmation bias.

  4. #4
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    The answer really depends on who you ask.

    For me I do not feel that the DHF meet my needs. some people will disagree and some people will agree on that. The tire is dated, but still fits a specific need. If you are Enduro racing or railing large burms, it's a great Tire. For every day all Mountain riding there are much much better options.

    A good tire is one that works for you and meets your needs. There is no one magic Tire. Somewhere better than others. Some have sticky rubber than others.

    For me, and my bike, I find all mountain and XC tires work be best for me. Currently I'm running a 29 X 2.8 McFly in the rear and 29 x 3.0 Bontrager xr2 in the front. My bike stared with a DHF/Aggressor combo and it didn't work for me. Someone else doing big hits and pounding rock gardens would probably shred my tires in one outing.

    You really have to look at how you ride and realistically what you need. Don't buy a tire just because someone wanted an enduro race with it. That doesn't mean it's the best tire for you.

    Sent from my SM-G930U using Tapatalk

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ninjichor View Post
    Why do tire makers offer the same tread pattern for different compounds? Wouldn't softer compounds result in knobs with low stiffness, and harder compounds result in knobs that are possibly too stiff?
    Read this as an example why :https://www.maxxis.com/technology/bike-technology

    Quote Originally Posted by ninjichor View Post
    Does having increased weight on a tire help it grip better, considering that it's rolling and not static? Any science behind this? Perhaps tire load sensitivity?
    Yes, to a point. Increasing the downforce and loading a wheel in a turn will increase traction.


    Quote Originally Posted by ninjichor View Post
    Does squaring off a tire profile, perhaps through mounting the tire on a rim that's much wider than intended, really make it better for mtn biking?
    No, although it depends on the tires intent and the person riding it. Some people like square profile tires, some like round.


    Quote Originally Posted by ninjichor View Post
    How hard is it to design a tire that is better than what's most popular on the market?
    Near impossible unless you start making very tires that do very specific singular jobs.


    Quote Originally Posted by ninjichor View Post
    Dozens of tires have been released in the past 10-15 years, but some people still stick to Minion DHFs. Have they evolved to stay relevant? If so, how?
    In every way, including the tread pattern, rubber compounds, sizes, widths and casings.


    Quote Originally Posted by ninjichor View Post
    Any one have bits of encyclopedic knowledge about tires and how they maintain traction and what the trade offs are to get them the specs that sell well (e.g. low weight and rolling resistance)?
    From my understanding, it's a bunch of science, some black art, and in some cases, blind luck. There are some actual tire designers that frequent this forum, including ones who have had a hand in very successful tire lines. I'm not one of them, but I find it fascinating.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by gundrted View Post
    A good tire is one that works for you and meets your needs. There is no one magic Tire. Somewhere better than others.
    Yep, it's like asking "what is the best mountain bike". Whichever is the best bike for you and the trails you ride on.

  7. #7
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    The DHF is and will stay the top dog for a few reasons. 1. Marketing tells us we have to have it. 2. The pro run it a lot 3. It is pretty predictable 4. people learn it at a young (riding age) and when things do not feel the day and act different than what you know know good or bad it takes time to adapt 4. If its not broke dont fix it 5. nobody want to be trying out a unproven tire on the front when their teeth are involved, leave that to the pro... oh wait see reason #2.

    Personally I would like to find a tire on the front that brakes better than the DHF it is just hard to change from. The assguy tire is about the biggest contender as soon as it comes out in EXO to challenge for the top spot since quite a few of big name enduro guys are switching to run it up front. I think it is because it has intermediate knobs that are better for the corners you dont know 100% and cannot commit as much to.

  8. #8
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    What exactly makes a tire better?-p5pb16520325.jpg

    Tioga Edge 22. No center/crown knobs. Claimed to have "jaw-dropping control that redefines the meaning of railing a corner."

    This tire is news to me... I haven't tried a tire without a center channel. People will likely want to know the weight (900g) and rolling resistance (questionable), but with so many tires to compete with, which are somewhat satisfactory, which last for so long... my question turns to, who's even willing to spend money to try out such unfamiliar tires? If you don't like it, what then?

  9. #9
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    I think once people have jumped onto a certain band wagon, it's hard to get them off of it. Tire choice is also heavily influenced by geographical location. Reading reviews about mountain bike tires is usually pretty worthless, unless the reviewer is local to you. This is where car tire reviews differ from mountain bike tire reviews, for the most part a road is a road, and car tires perform a different with, with the exception of geographical location (lots of rain, snow, etc). Look how many car tires are on the market, all with different patterns and compounds.

    There is a balance of weight (everyone complains about weight), traction in various conditions, tire wear, and cost. So you can't make a tire that weights too much, it has to stick to basically everything, has to roll fast, and should last forever. If you don't meet all of those desires, you will get someone out there who hates the tires.

    I ran Schwalbe for a while because everyone local was, never liked them. Switched to Maxxis, which were ok but nothing special. Now I am on Michelin and I am really surprised more people don't run Michelins. The amount of detail they put into the tires blows everything else out of the water. I cannot say for sure that is does any good, but their molds alone have to be double or triple the cost to machine based on how detailed they are.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by RS VR6 View Post
    Lol...I've wondered that myself. At least for me...the knobby tires out there all feel pretty similar to me. I've used the DHF, Hans Dampf, Nobby Nic, Purgatory, Butcher, and probably some others i can't remember. I can tell if going to a semi slick to a knobby...but not much from knobby tire to knobby tire of relatively similar types. Maybe my terrain doesn't really differentiate too much with the knob profiles?

    What I do like is a softer compound on the front and a harder one on the rear. The softer compound on the front feels (to me) like it grips better than a hard one.

    I think a lot of it just comes down to personal preference and/or confirmation bias.
    I agree. It comes down to personal preference, and your specific objectives.

    Objectively, My climb times on a DHF/DHR II are 10 to 12% slower than on similarly sized Nobby Nics.
    On the down, the DHF/DHR II combo feels faster and carves better.

  11. #11
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    The question is "better for what?" and that gets complicated.

    This gives you the basic background, once you get it, you'll have an idea of what questions to ask to fill in the rest.
    Mountain Bike Tires 101 | Blister Gear Review - Skis, Snowboards, Mountain Bikes, Climbing, Kayaking

  12. #12
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    DHF/DHR are boat anchors.

    At least for XC bikes. So there is one reason why there are different tires. Different bikes need different tires.

    I will say however that once a rider has found something that works for their needs they tend to stick to it. I certainly have. For XC riding I found a tire combo I liked years ago and despite chaining bikes I still run that same time combo. Only in the last few months did I make a change. And that was with some trepidation. My old combo gave me the performance, grip, durablity and longevity I wanted at a price that was acceptable.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  13. #13
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    The rider makes the tire better. Letís face it....good riders can tear it up on crappy tires, and hack riders can make great tires appear as though they canít be ridden.

    I come from a background of running sketchy XC tires. This has given me the experience to be able to handle more aggressive knobby tires. I have no issues running Ikonís or Tekon Raceís down the same trails that many would say you can ridenon anything other then DHF/DHRís.
    Bicycles donít have motors or batteries.

    Ebikes are not bicycles

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbikej View Post
    The rider makes the tire better. Letís face it....good riders can tear it up on crappy tires, and hack riders can make great tires appear as though they canít be ridden. I come from a background of running sketchy XC tires. This has given me the experience to be able to handle more aggressive knobby tires. I have no issues running Ikonís or Tekon Raceís down the same trails that many would say you can ridenon anything other then DHF/DHRís.
    I'm sure you're quite the impressive rider as you say, but that doesn't change the fact that there are good/bad tires for their intended purpose.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonshonda View Post
    I think once people have jumped onto a certain band wagon, it's hard to get them off of it. Tire choice is also heavily influenced by geographical location. Reading reviews about mountain bike tires is usually pretty worthless, unless the reviewer is local to you. This is where car tire reviews differ from mountain bike tire reviews, for the most part a road is a road, and car tires perform a different with, with the exception of geographical location (lots of rain, snow, etc). Look how many car tires are on the market, all with different patterns and compounds.

    There is a balance of weight (everyone complains about weight), traction in various conditions, tire wear, and cost. So you can't make a tire that weights too much, it has to stick to basically everything, has to roll fast, and should last forever. If you don't meet all of those desires, you will get someone out there who hates the tires.

    I ran Schwalbe for a while because everyone local was, never liked them. Switched to Maxxis, which were ok but nothing special. Now I am on Michelin and I am really surprised more people don't run Michelins. The amount of detail they put into the tires blows everything else out of the water. I cannot say for sure that is does any good, but their molds alone have to be double or triple the cost to machine based on how detailed they are.
    I'm surprised as well. I switched to Michelins a few years ago. Problem is, hardly any LBS carries them, they only make like 4 different treads patterns, and only some sizes and compounds within those. Maxxis has 20+ different treads, 4 sizes and 3 compounds of each. And markets the sh!t out of them. I live in the same area as Michelin's USA headquarters, and never see or hear squat about bicycle tires, period.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timothy G. Parrish View Post
    I'm surprised as well. I switched to Michelins a few years ago. Problem is, hardly any LBS carries them, they only make like 4 different treads patterns, and only some sizes and compounds within those. Maxxis has 20+ different treads, 4 sizes and 3 compounds of each. And markets the sh!t out of them. I live in the same area as Michelin's USA headquarters, and never see or hear squat about bicycle tires, period.
    Yeah, I doubt they put much money towards marketing in the US, and honestly that has to be a tough market to break into with all the other players in the game. They seem like they might be popular in EU, but who knows. Regardless, they work for me on my local trails, and as a big rider at 260lbs I will take all the front tire I can get!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by ninjichor View Post
    Does having increased weight on a tire help it grip better, considering that it's rolling and not static? Any science behind this? Perhaps tire load sensitivity?
    Yes. Friction increases almost linearly with weight normal to the surface. You can probably find tire load sensitivity curves if you do a search. That's why race cars have aero bits that generate downforce.

    Why do tire makers offer the same tread pattern for different compounds? Wouldn't softer compounds result in knobs with low stiffness, and harder compounds result in knobs that are possibly too stiff?
    "Too stiff" is relative. The modulus might be higher than optimum for handling performance but that might be an acceptable compromise for the improved rolling resistance and longevity.

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