Sea Otter Classic 2015: Wide tire watch

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It’s early yet I know, but I’m wondering if the Sea Otter Classic 2015 festival won’t feature a wide rollout of new fattie-specific tires for the super-wide carbon rims being offered by Ibis, Derby, Specialized and others.

Here’s why:

The “fattie” rims are catching on. I ride around Santa Cruz, and they’re on virtually all the new bikes folks are riding, from not only Ibis but Santa Cruz, Intense, Yeti and others.

The issue being this: Existing tires are made for narrower rims.

Fattie rims allow lower air pressure for greater traction. But they spread the tires out. This increases traction simply from greater tire footprint. But the tread pattern on traditional tires doesn’t typically match up to the fatter, flatter profile of the tire.

The workaround so far has been, choose a tire with a round rather than square, or aggressively side-knobbed, tread pattern. The typical choice for winter (wet, muddy, soft-surface) riding has been the Maxxis High Roller IIs or Minion DHFs.

They’re stout tires with burly side casings that work well for navigating the slop. But they won’t be the first choice for spring and summer riding once things dry out.

The small-block tires, Maxxis Ikons, Schwalbe Racing Ralphs, Kenda Small Block 8s, have a round profile. And their shallower tread is great for ripping the berms in summertime.

But they have flimsier sidewalls that tend to flop under low pressure. You have to air them up to keep them stable at speed on berms and corners.

That’s why we’re guessing
the tire industry will come up with new lines for the super-wide carbon rims. And Sea Otter 2015 seems the perfect place to roll them out.

We’ll be there, and watching…

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