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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I’ve spent hours reading about tire options for my 150F/140R trail bike. Frankly I’m paralyzed with indecision.

I’m getting back in to MTBing after 20 years off. As I’m pushing 50 now, I don’t see myself being a very aggressive rider, but my most local trails are forested, rocky/roots, with some moderate climbs. I ride central and eastern PA and NJ trails. I ride all weather except winter snow and ice. I suck at climbing right now, and I’m still apprehensive on the downhills.

I’ve been looking at Maxxis tires a lot because that is what my two local shops carry. I actually already have a 3C EXO DHF 2.5 which I threw on the front.

As we all are, I’m trying to find the best balance for climbing ease and downhill traction. I’ve looked at the DHR II pairing with the DHF (seems to be the gold standard but painful climbs might turn me away from the sport again), Dissector with DHF (seemingly unavailable right now), Aggressor for rear (I max out at 2.4 on the rear so would need a 2.3 which I’m thinking is too small), and even DHF/Rekon combo (figured this might help the climbs a bit for me).

I’m not married to the DHF on the front, but it’s how I’ve been basing my search since I’ve already got it. I keep wondering if most of the recommendations I’ve been reading are too much tire for the way I will be riding.

Any advice?


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First, make sure the DHF is a good match for you. The DHF has a traction gap between upright and leaning over. Depending on your riding style, you may never notice it, or it may cause you problems (if you lean the bike over slowly, you will probably have issues with it, if you push it on its side quickly, you will not). For most riders it works well and is a very versatile tire and a good front choice. If you are having issues with it, take a look at the WTB Vigilante, Schwalbe Magic Mary or Hans Dampf, or Vittoria Martello (among others).

For the rear, the Aggressor is probably the best balance to go with the DHF front. The Dissector is a very good tire, but wears extremely fast on the rear. Alternatives (as availability on tires can be hit or miss right now) are the WTB Trail Boss, Schwalbe Nobby Nic, Specialized Ground Control, and Bontrager SE4 (again among others).

Don't get too bogged down in the weeds in your analysis. There are very few bad choices among the major tire brands now. Just pick the size that fits, tread pattern close to your conditions, and casing that works for your riding weight, conditions and style (I would say for casing, in Maxxis- Exo or Exo Plus, WTB- light/fast rolling+ slash guard, Schwalbe- Super Trail, Specialized- Grid or Grid Trail, Bontrager- SE).
 
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Cant go wrong with DHF & DHR, it's my go to tire combo. Sure there are "faster" tires out there but I would rather have confidence in traction rather than a little less rolling resistance. DHF front & back isn't bad either if the blocky DHR turns you off.
 

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Oh I have advice! I am in a similar situation but I DONT have paralysis. I simply accept the truth:

I do my best to make a choice, and I will inevitably make a wrong choice. It sucks to spend on 3-4 tires to find the right combo, but when I hit it, I KNOW that it's the right set, because the last three were too hard, too aggressive, to heavy, whatever.

If you're on 27 or 29, at least you can sell the old tires with 10 miles on them. I have 26'ers and they will never sell. I gave one away so far.

Wanna buy a Hans Dampf Addix Soft with 10 miles on it? :)

Cool Story Bro:

Went through 4 tires for the rear:

Michelin DH 34
Ardent Race (Now THAT is a change!)
Hans Dampf
Old Model DHF 2.5WT SuperTacky

Basically wanted the DH34 with 500 grams pulled off the tire. Which turns out is not possible (duh!). DHF gets me pretty close tho, so I'm GTG on rears until the old stock sells out.
 

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BTW we ride similar trails, but you can't take my advice because I don;t give a fig for rolling resistance. I simply see the shortest path to descending confidence is to put the grippiest tire possible on the bike for most confident descending.

In your case, that is the Michelin DH22 or DH34, both ROCK on rocks, wet roots, gravel on hardpack, etc.

But they roll like velcro and climb like you're riding on beach sand, and weigh 1400 grams on the outside of your wheel, so there's that. Good for your lung capacity workout tho :)

---------------------

But seriously (and I do mean this) buy at least one and put it on the front and tell me you are or are not confident on the descents. not the bike park. The soft rubber. Put your DHF on the back.

After 50 miles of fun, go out and buy what you really think is right for your rear, put the DHF back in front, and shelve the DH34 for future fun. IMO it will be a really great counterpoint as you evaluate rear tires for climbing, rolling resistance, and downhill grip to have experienced a michelin DH front and your existing DHF 3C 2.5 on the back.
 

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I've spent hours reading about tire options for my 150F/140R trail bike. Frankly I'm paralyzed with indecision.

I'm getting back in to MTBing after 20 years off. As I'm pushing 50 now, I don't see myself being a very aggressive rider, but my most local trails are forested, rocky/roots, with some moderate climbs. I ride central and eastern PA and NJ trails. I ride all weather except winter snow and ice. I suck at climbing right now, and I'm still apprehensive on the downhills.

I've been looking at Maxxis tires a lot because that is what my two local shops carry. I actually already have a 3C EXO DHF 2.5 which I threw on the front.

As we all are, I'm trying to find the best balance for climbing ease and downhill traction. I've looked at the DHR II pairing with the DHF (seems to be the gold standard but painful climbs might turn me away from the sport again), Dissector with DHF (seemingly unavailable right now), Aggressor for rear (I max out at 2.4 on the rear so would need a 2.3 which I'm thinking is too small), and even DHF/Rekon combo (figured this might help the climbs a bit for me).

I'm not married to the DHF on the front, but it's how I've been basing my search since I've already got it. I keep wondering if most of the recommendations I've been reading are too much tire for the way I will be riding.

Any advice?

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Rode Western PA for the past month, but I am based out of California, so my PA experience is limited, but...
  • Riding in Western PA, I rented a 29er a couple times that had DHF and Tomahawk, I think both 2.3? I got along fine with that bike, it had loads of grip, and didn't notice the DHF channel, but the trails were grippy from rain
  • Also rented an XC bike in PA with XR2s and I can say they were not enough tire for anything other than very tame trails
  • I can say the 2.3 Aggressor is not too small paired with a 2.5 Maxxis tire up front, and this is an opinion shared by others that have done the 2.3/2.5 comparison in forums here. I run a 2.5 Assegai maxxgrip with a 2.3 Aggressor DC on a 27.5 bike, and the rear doesn't look narrow to me at all. This is what I ride in california where it is very dry and my main priority is to not wash the front wheel out
  • Previously ran 2.6 DHF 3C with 2.6 Rekon DC, but did not get along with the DHF's channel in dry, loose conditions where I didn't always get the bike leaned over enough, although this was before I started practicing my turns weekly. Rekon did tend to lose traction in dry steep climbs, but I managed it most of the time, and stuck with it for a while due to reputation on pedalling efficiency
  • If you end up not liking the DHF channel, I'd recommend trying the XR4, as it is a similar amount of tire, if you are not wanting to go all the way to an assegai
 

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First, make sure the DHF is a good match for you. The DHF has a traction gap between upright and leaning over. Depending on your riding style, you may never notice it, or it may cause you problems (if you lean the bike over slowly, you will probably have issues with it, if you push it on its side quickly, you will not). For most riders it works well and is a very versatile tire and a good front choice. If you are having issues with it, take a look at the WTB Vigilante, Schwalbe Magic Mary or Hans Dampf, or Vittoria Martello (among others).

For the rear, the Aggressor is probably the best balance to go with the DHF front. The Dissector is a very good tire, but wears extremely fast on the rear. Alternatives (as availability on tires can be hit or miss right now) are the WTB Trail Boss, Schwalbe Nobby Nic, Specialized Ground Control, and Bontrager SE4 (again among others).

Don't get too bogged down in the weeds in your analysis. There are very few bad choices among the major tire brands now. Just pick the size that fits, tread pattern close to your conditions, and casing that works for your riding weight, conditions and style (I would say for casing, in Maxxis- Exo or Exo Plus, WTB- light/fast rolling+ slash guard, Schwalbe- Super Trail, Specialized- Grid or Grid Trail, Bontrager- SE).
I agree on the moment of uncertainty with the DHF. Running a front tire with transition knobs for years then hopping on a bike without is down right frightening. Once you're used to it, they're fine, but I wouldn't suggest one for someone just getting back into it.

The new Butcher t9 has been awesome up front for me. New geo bikes are also loaded with grip, but you've got to be in the right body position to capitalize on it. Riding it lazily is going to just have it wash out no matter what if you don't have enough weight on the hands.
 

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Most riders getting into (or back into) the sport would benefit more from a predictable tire with decent traction than a tire with really high peak grip. You're not getting the benefit of having a DHF if you're not leaning it over fairly aggressively. A Bontrager XR4/SE4 will have as much on center traction and be a lot easier to reign in if it does lose traction.
 

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From my experience I would recommend Bontrager XR4 tires. I rode them in the Midwest and have been happy with them. They have fairly good, predictable traction and decent rolling resistance. A lot of people swear by XR4 in the front and XR3 in the rear to decrease rolling resistance a bit more.
 

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Ardent was always my go-to, then moved to Rekon when I had room for a 2.6 rear. I've had several, and really good results - fast rolling, crazy long life, good traction and confidence. Lately, though, I've holed a couple through the tread and another snakebit the sidewall. Trying Aggressor next. Not a fan of the weight increase (1030 vs 730) but either my local rocks are getting sharper or I'm getting sloppier.
 

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I go from XR2/equivalent front/rear, up to XR4 in the front. Of course, most of my mountain bikes using 3.0" tires limits the selection a bit, and it's difficult to compare directly.

The grip on an XR2 is underwhelming on a "skinny" tire, and even a 3.0 in front, when riding faster in a place with lots of loose ground cover. That said: I've noticed almost no difference in perceived effort to move the bike with an XR4 on the front, but a huge increase in traction turning. Putting one in the back definitely bogs down the bike.

If I rode more frequently in the northern reaches of the two states, I'd consider using reinforced sidewalls (so, Maxxis or the "SE" series tires from Trek), but I've not had trouble once a week riding rocky, exposed stuff on them.

9/10 when a back tire slips, it's driving up over something for me, so huge knobs don't do much for me... But if you're feeling left out, the XR3/similar tires marries a short block tread on the middle with fairly more aggressive knobs for leaning.
 

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I'm in the Northeast, primarily ride in NJ. I'm a Schwalbe fan, on the HT I have Nobby Nic in front in soft and Hans Dampf out back. For the FS (Enduro) I have Magic Mary in front and Hans Dampf (which I swap out for Big Betty for park days). I am pretty happy with both combos, most likely the latter would be a good choice for your requirements. HD tends to be a little skittish out back at times, but that can be a fun/good thing.
 

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Ultimately the DHF is a decent tire but I am not as wowed as most seem to be. My riding consists of many roots and rocks with technical climbs. The problem I find especially at lower speeds is that you really need to lean hard to get the best grip. It feels like it’s all or nothing which is a PITA. Wet grip is above average though which why I kinda just stick with them. The more open and fast paced trail the better they get. But when the trail gets tighter I wonder about finding better options.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
What tires are you currently riding and what do you not like about them?
This is a good question.

Current tires on the bike are Kenda Regolith, seems to be an all purpose lighter duty trail tire. There's not much love or info on them, so I made the assumption they are an underwhelming tire. Most discussions I came across pointed to at least the Regolith front as a weak point. Hence the reason I changed it out. I've noticed a little slipping when climbing with the DHF front and the Kenda rear, but that may be experience rather than equipment.

I budgeted a few bucks for bike upgrades and I thought tires might be an easy place to start.

So probably nothing that I necessarily dislike or can't live with for now, just looking at an opportunity to dial in a little better.

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Martello 2.3 Trail front and Rear, or Martello 2.3 front Agarro rear.

To me the Martello is the most versatile tire I've tried that can handle wet roots at odd lean angles but then can also get on edge and corner. The thing I love about the Martello are the edge knobs and the siping they have. It is like there is a gradual deformation of the edge knobs that let it settle into the corner then lock in.

I am in central NY primitive trails. Conditions change rapidly from dry to wet. I love the supple casing of the Martello for all the small trail chatter. On the rear it is decently fast rolling. The Agarro rolls faster.
 
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