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Discussion Starter #1
Hey,

Last summer I experienced a drop in confidence while riding over moderate technical features. Over the winter I've been thinking a lot of changing my tires for more grip. My question to you is: do I really need to change my tires? I don't want to go down a rabbit hole of changing equipment just because I'm struggling a bit mentally on the trail.

The features I'm struggling on are smooth rocks/boulders going up and down. Really short moves that only take a few second to get through. Especially if they are damp or my tire is already wet from going through a water feature.

MOST of the trails around here are hardpacked. Nothing loose. Could probably go with little to no grip and be fine.
 

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Going down upgrade rabbit holes is part of the fun if you can afford it. Slightly more aggressive tires with a softer durometer would help with wet traction on hard surfaces. Also, as tires wear, the edges on the knobs round off, reducing bite in the situations you describe, and the tire in the pic looks well worn. Also, running the tires with less air will increase traction, but those don't look like they have much space to give without increasing the likelihood of pinch flatting.
 

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Unless you're racing XC for money, I would recommend the biggest, knobbiest tires you can fit in your frame/fork - better comfort, better traction, better durability. Yes, you'll be slower when pedaling...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Going down upgrade rabbit holes is part of the fun if you can afford it. Slightly more aggressive tires with a softer durometer would help with wet traction on hard surfaces. Also, as tires wear, the edges on the knobs round off, reducing bite in the situations you describe, and the tire in the pic looks well worn. Also, running the tires with less air will increase traction, but those don't look like they have much space to give without increasing the likelihood of pinch flatting.
Alright good. Thanks for the answer!
 

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Unless you're racing XC for money, I would recommend the biggest, knobbiest tires you can fit in your frame/fork - better comfort, better traction, better durability. Yes, you'll be slower when pedaling...
Thanks exactly what I was thinking. Perfect
 

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Unless you're racing XC for money, I would recommend the biggest, knobbiest tires you can fit in your frame/fork - better comfort, better traction, better durability. Yes, you'll be slower when pedaling...
I'm not sure this is necessarily wise, either.

Certainly big, tall knobs are worse in some scenarios.

Now I think OP has some legit improvements to make, but going too knobby on hardpack won't necessarily net gains.

What I see is that these tires have REALLY well-spaced knobs. You'll definitely be on the razor edge of grip in a bunch of scenarios. For hardpack, I'd be looking for something that has knobs a little more densely placed, but not necessarily big knobs or tall knobs. OP should increase knob edge and amount of rubber in contact with the ground, but super tall knobs on hardpack (especially if they're of a soft durometer rubber) can fold over and get sketchy.

With rock overs, depends what kinds of rocks we're talking about. Some rocks are going to be slickernsnot no matter what tires you run (I'm thinking the really fine grained limestone in Brown County SP in Indiana as an example. riding over rock features there is more technique than equipment). Others, like the granite in Pisgah and DuPont or lots of sandstone in the southwest have a nice coarseness that's really grippy, even when wet.
 

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I'm not sure this is necessarily wise, either.

Certainly big, tall knobs are worse in some scenarios.

Now I think OP has some legit improvements to make, but going too knobby on hardpack won't necessarily net gains.

What I see is that these tires have REALLY well-spaced knobs. You'll definitely be on the razor edge of grip in a bunch of scenarios. For hardpack, I'd be looking for something that has knobs a little more densely placed, but not necessarily big knobs or tall knobs. OP should increase knob edge and amount of rubber in contact with the ground, but super tall knobs on hardpack (especially if they're of a soft durometer rubber) can fold over and get sketchy.

With rock overs, depends what kinds of rocks we're talking about. Some rocks are going to be slickernsnot no matter what tires you run (I'm thinking the really fine grained limestone in Brown County SP in Indiana as an example. riding over rock features there is more technique than equipment). Others, like the granite in Pisgah and DuPont or lots of sandstone in the southwest have a nice coarseness that's really grippy, even when wet.
This. Some general rules for tires:

  • The harder the surface, the smaller and closer spaced you want the knobs. The extremes of this are road on one end with slicks and super blown out, fine powdery deep dirt where mud spikes work best.
  • Softer compounds give more traction at the expense of wear and rolling resistance.
  • There are some rocks surfaces that when wet, there is no compound or tread design that will give good traction.
It is hard to give specific recommendations when all we have been told is hardpack, no soft and some rock. It would help to know where the OP is riding, how large, tire size, and riding style. In general, many people will combine a softer compound front tire with with harder rear to get good traction with decent rolling. Without knowing more, a few general tire recommendations for hardpack to loose over hard:

  • Schwalbe- Nobby Nic or Hans Dampf.
  • Maxxis- Dissector front with an Agressor or Rekon rear.
  • Bontrager- XR3 or XR2
  • Specialized- Ground Control
  • WTB- Trail Boss
 

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This. Some general rules for tires:

  • The harder the surface, the smaller and closer spaced you want the knobs. The extremes of this are road on one end with slicks and super blown out, fine powdery deep dirt where mud spikes work best.
  • Softer compounds give more traction at the expense of wear and rolling resistance.
  • There are some rocks surfaces that when wet, there is no compound or tread design that will give good traction.
It is hard to give specific recommendations when all we have been told is hardpack, no soft and some rock. It would help to know where the OP is riding, how large, tire size, and riding style. In general, many people will combine a softer compound front tire with with harder rear to get good traction with decent rolling. Without knowing more, a few general tire recommendations for hardpack to loose over hard:

  • Schwalbe- Nobby Nic or Hans Dampf.
  • Maxxis- Dissector front with an Agressor or Rekon rear.
  • Bontrager- XR3 or XR2
  • Specialized- Ground Control
  • WTB- Trail Boss
FWIW, the WTB Trail Boss (newer casings with the taller side knobs) suck for hardpack, IMO. If you never lean the bike, I suppose they'd be good. The center tread blocks were never my problem. My problem with those tires comes from leaning the bike over on hard surfaces. Those tall side knobs aren't well-supported, and they're a fairly soft rubber, so they fold over. This is "fun" at high speeds when the knobs start to fold over and the tires suddenly break loose. IMO, these tires are better served for soft conditions where those side knobs can dig in and give some support.

I like the Specialized Purgatory better (at least as a rear tire).
 

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Sounds like you need a Kenda Small Block 8.
 

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FWIW, the WTB Trail Boss (newer casings with the taller side knobs) suck for hardpack, IMO. If you never lean the bike, I suppose they'd be good. The center tread blocks were never my problem. My problem with those tires comes from leaning the bike over on hard surfaces. Those tall side knobs aren't well-supported, and they're a fairly soft rubber, so they fold over. This is "fun" at high speeds when the knobs start to fold over and the tires suddenly break loose. IMO, these tires are better served for soft conditions where those side knobs can dig in and give some support.

I like the Specialized Purgatory better (at least as a rear tire).
Ahh, older ones were a decent front hardpack tire.
 

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Tires may not be the base issue.
Suspension set up?
Tire PSI can contribute significantly to suspension feel/performance.
Often times, tires with minimal knobs at "optimal" psi with "correctly" set up suspension do really well on low speed tech features.
Knobby/grippy/aggressive tread can squirm on rocks and roots-very psi and rider speed dependent.
High volume tires at lower PSI can squirm on rocks/roots and result in less than stellar suspension performance.
Before faulting the tires, I'd be making sure that PSI and suspension where set up for the terrain.
It's usually a combo of several things that contribute to optimal performance/rider confidence.
Suspension set up is key much of the time-poor suspension set up can result in loss of traction when transitioning between tread surfaces/features, diving under braking, excessive movement under body weight shifts, hanging up/wallowing on features etc etc.
 

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As Harold mentioned technic could help , from the way you describe the trail ,I'd come into that section slower that needed and be on the pedals with the saddle dropped ,then I'd let off the brakes and let the bike roll/float though that section .But it's hard to say for sure.
 
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