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Ok... before I get virtually biatch slapped, yes I looked into the search function before posting, and while I discovered some tasty tidbits I decided to post this for two reasons:

1 – get something other than the 123 posts going (ya’ll know what I’m referring to)
2 – newer tires have come out and there is relatively little on them

I ride loose over hard packed, rock gardens, rutted sand pits – for SoCal locals I’m talking about Laguna’s El Moro, Alicia Woods, Troy Lee and Skin Suite off Skyline, San Juan and Chiquita. I ride many of the trails relatively aggressively, and have blown a WTB Weirwolf off the back rim so those are out.

I prefer tubeless and have the Flow rims on a DW 5 Spot with a coil Lyric… I love the traction and air volume of the Maxxis Minions (2.5’s) but the weight is often a biatch… I have read mixed reviews on the Conti Mountain Kings. I’m looking at the Specialized Purgatory’s in a 2.4, but wanted your opinions too… looking for opinions from locals, or those who ride similar conditions.
 

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Not SoCal but the terrain here sounds similar to what you describe. Maxxis Minion DHF 1ply front, DHR or Highroller rear 2.35 1ply have been the best ever for me. Not the widest, but they really deliver, and weight isn't bad. Im also running Flow rims, and found I need wire beads for these tires. The Kevlar beeded versions of the DHR/DHF were way way too loose on the Flow rims.
 

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I'm a So Cal local and ride all the same trails you do on a DW Spot. In fact, I just got done riding 5 Oaks and Stairsteps.
I have been running Kenda Excavators 2.35 for a few months now and I am pretty pleased with them for our local stuff. I am running them tubeless on Flows.
Good luck.
 

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tald said:
Not SoCal but the terrain here sounds similar to what you describe. Maxxis Minion DHF 1ply front, DHR or Highroller rear 2.35 1ply have been the best ever for me. Not the widest, but they really deliver, and weight isn't bad. Im also running Flow rims, and found I need wire beads for these tires. The Kevlar beeded versions of the DHR/DHF were way way too loose on the Flow rims.
+1. I run the 2.35 DHF on the front and rear in wire bead on Flows. The wires can be found at Blueskycycling for $25 right now. Normally you can pick them up from CRC for less than $30.

I run the Supertacky 2.35 on the front and the 60a in the rear. These tires just flat out hook up. The sidewalls are a bit thin, but seem to hold up pretty well. Great rollers as well. The weight is about 870 grams. At $25 I have a bunch in stock!

Since you are already familiar with the Minions, the transtion is pretty simple. I have NEVER been a fan of the Continental line of tires. I was taken back a bit by the size originally, but the size and volume are fine.
 

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I ride SoCal too, palm springs desert area mostly. I recently hit San Juan and Chiquito running 2.5 Nevegal Sticky front and 2.35 Nev DTC rear, non UST, setup tubeless on Flows. This combo works well for me. The desert area is all loose over hard pack, very loose right now. The 2.5 Nev simply eats rock gardens and is a very stable tire. It's wide and more square then the 2.35 so the edge really bites in hard corning. If you have trouble burping tires then you might want the UST version on the rear.

I am thinking about venturing out and trying the conti Rubber Queen in 2.4 f / 2.2 r. These are really high volume and decent weight with a pretty thick sidewall - they're just hard to to get right now. I'm on a spot BTW.
 

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Also, have a look at the Ardents with sidewall protection. 2.25 or a little bit bigger if you really like to pound the rocks at speed. Great predictable tire with solid sidewall support. Decent weight and good roll. Nice stability when leaning over the sides.

I don't ride your area but some of the stuff I come across at the lift park sounds similar to your conditions.

I like the Larsen TTs too. Really impressed how well low ramped knobs grip on hardpack and loose over hard.
I've been finding I get a better contact patch (Feels like more tire is on the ground) with smaller knobs and tires grip better and hold firmer, and squirm less. I actually got really good results out of the Aspens which look like semi-slicks but the tread does really well on hard surfaces and isn't unusually sketchy with loose over hard.

So if you're looking for performance on various hardpack, maybe consider smaller and/or ramped knobs.
 

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High-mojave rider here; similar conditions to what you describe.

Running Fat Albert 2.4 snakeskin frt, Nevegal DTC 2.35 rear. On Mavic 717s (really!) with homebrew-hick tubeless conversion.

I'm loving the FA on the frt, only drawback is the $. Rode it at Flagstaff this year and it worked great there too. I know a lot of guys here don't like the Nev but they work for me and I'm already slow so the drag don't bother me much.
 
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