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Hi there!

I'm looking for tire recommendations for specifically loose terrain. I live and race in Colorado mostly and we have a lot of gravel on our trails. The thing is, I'm not the greatest bike handler and often wash out the front wheel (much more often than the rear) which has lead to some painful crashes. I know a lot of this is just learning to handle my bike better and I'm working on that, but, in the meantime, I was wondering if anyone had tire recommendations for loose terrain? Something with a touch more grip than normal due to my own lack of ability.

Thanks!
 

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At 150 you may want to go a little lower than the 180 pounders. Lots of floor pumps aren't that accurate at those pressures you may want to get a nice digital gauge. Assuming you're running tubeless?

I used to wash out the front tire on loose over hard. That mostly stopped when I swapped out the xc tire with really low profile knobs that came with the bike for a grippier xc tire at 2.35" (bontrager xr1 for the xr2).
 

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Agree with all above on tire pressure... I'm 150# and run 19 & 22# on 2.20 tires.
Now, regarding loose stuff... I have a couple races like that, so for those I run a Maxxis Ardent up front and an Ardent Race in the rear (normally, run an Ardent Race & Ikon combo).
 

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Agree with all previous posts... lower your pressures, but... make sure you are running tires tubeless. If not, that is your gateway to lower pressure and better traction.

Also, run a wider tire upfront. I run a traditional 2.1" tire in back, but a 2.3" up front. Wider tire equals bigger contact patch and better traction.
This is pretty common.

Bikes make a difference. I ride a very XC race oriented bike (Specialized Epic). XC race bikes tend to be quicker handling which can make them sketchy in loose stuff. I agree with your logic, run a more aggressive/traction tire on the front to give you more bite.

I run Specialized Ground Controls front and rear and love them. They have great traction, roll pretty fast and don't weigh a ton. In the past, I have tended to prefer faster more race oriented tires with less traction... but the sketchiness of the Epic front end pushed me towards a more aggressive tire on his bike. I think it has really helped.
 

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+ 1 million on lowering your pressure, I'm 153 and run 19psi on 2.25 front/ 20psi 2.1 rear for the past three seasons without any issues.

Even still, as amateurs, I figure we are rarely beyond the potential grip of the tires in most cases if we have good technique, even here in NorCal, home of dust over hard pack. I would recommend a skills clinic from leelikesbikes.com. It was the best money I've ever spent when it comes to bikes and no amount of gear or tuning could make up for how much faster and more confident I am compared to before.
 

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I run 30 front and rear.
Yikes! Last year I ran 24/26 psi on 2.25 Mezcals and had way too many front tire washouts. This year I run 18-20 psi front (2.35 Mezcal) and 20-22 rear (2.25 Mezcal) and have had only 1 washout. I weigh 169-172 lbs on race day. I'm no longer crashing and feel more confidence in my grip.
 

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I would recommend a tire a little more aggressive tread for the front. I.e. some like XR 3 over the 2 or 1. The idea being they dig down into/through the gravel to the hard below and find traction. I found that to be helpful for me. My concern that a knobby tire like that would be really bad on straight hard pack turned out to be unfounded.

Sent from my Pixel 3a using Tapatalk
 

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This is really good info. I weight about 150, so should I try to run what you do or go a little higher? Obviously I'll have to experiment, but I don't really know what a good starting point is.
Lower. I tend to run 2.2" to 2.35" tires on skinny 23mm rims, and I never go above 21# front and 25# rear.

If I was setting you up I'd start at 18/21 and see if you have any rim strikes. Different tires/casing are going to move that pressure range a pound or two.

Now, assuming you've got a sensible pressure (not 30#), I like the Vittoria Barzo when it gets loose. I wrote some thoughts about those tires here:
https://blog.bikeminded.com/what-were-riding-vittoria-barzo/

(TL;DR I like them for all around stuff especially when I don't know what to expect)
 

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I would recommend a tire a little more aggressive tread for the front. I.e. some like XR 3 over the 2 or 1. The idea being they dig down into/through the gravel to the hard below and find traction. I found that to be helpful for me. My concern that a knobby tire like that would be really bad on straight hard pack turned out to be in founded.

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The new XR3 has the center tread of the XR2 and the corners of the XR4, looks like a good option for a little loose conditions to me, haven't tried em yet.
 

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I would recommend a tire a little more aggressive tread for the front. I.e. some like XR 3 over the 2 or 1. The idea being they dig down into/through the gravel to the hard below and find traction. I found that to be helpful for me. My concern that a knobby tire like that would be really bad on straight hard pack turned out to be unfounded.

Sent from my Pixel 3a using Tapatalk
Matches my experience with a Hans Dampf. I just choose not to use it for weight.
 

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Maxxis Ikon 3C Exo MaxxSpeed or Vittoria Mezcal / Barzo
For rear maybe not for a rider learning to ride still as front tire in loose conditions. Actually not really good any rider in loose conditions as a front tire probably.
 

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hammonjj, suprised no asked already what bike and tire are your running now already estbalished pressure to high but bike, it's geometry, your postion, and current tire might allow us to make a better recommendation.

For me recently been running Maxxis Forekaster, Rekon, and XR4s as front tires. I would lean towards the Rekon as the first choice for a endurance race front tire at moment.
 

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I ride in Arizona desert and Mtns. I use Ikon 2.35 front and it works well. 21 psi on my 21mm wheels and 20 psi on 24mm wheels in front. Rear I use XR2 2.2 art 27 and 26 psi for wider wheel. I am 165 and like more firm rear tire. Beefier tires will stick better, but come with more drag and weight. If that is what works for you great, but it something to consider. I won't run tires like the Apsen or XR1 as I want more grip an will pay the weight penalty. I also won't run less than 2.35 on front. The XR3 is something I will probably replace my Ikon with once it wears down for a front tire. I won't run really big tires on my XC bikes due to weight and drag.
 

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I just replaced Aspens with a Rekon front and Rekon Race rear for So Cal/Tahoe conditions because of how dry and loose everything is now. I’m 172 lbs, running 22 psi front/24 rear on 25mm internal rims. My new fave tire combo...seems like a perfect blend of traction and speed. Going to run this combo for Tahoe Trail this week.
 
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