Skinny cross-country tyres might not be the first thing on your mind at the moment, but it’s surely only a matter of time before they will be.
Ready for some long summer rides, XC races and the odd marathon or 24-hour race are these three cross-country offerings. From the retro appeal and scary narrowness of Charge’s new offering, to the feathery Michelin at 415g and WTB’s updated Moto, there’s something for everyone.
Charge Splashback 26x1.8-2.1 tyres £32.99
Using a skinwall-effect side wall, reminiscent of the Panaracer Smoke and Dart tyres with their amber sidewalls I used to ride when I was a kid, the Splashback has a unique draw in an industry cluttered with tyre choice.
Circular knobs feature along the centre of the tread with rectangular blocks at small intervals along the edge of the tyre, a tread pattern that is fast rolling on dry trails but should cope with a variety of trail conditions, when it gets a bit rocky, rooty or muddy. Or all three.
Featuring a Dual Tread Compound, 120 TPI Kevlar case with a weight of 450g for the 1.8in tyre. It's available i n 2.1in too. We've got one of each, fat at the front and narrow out back.
WTB Moto 26x2.1 TCS £41.99
Previously called the Motoraptor, WTB has redesigned this classic tyre and given it the shorter name of Moto.
"The Motoraptor was a very successful tire for WTB," says WTB's founder and leading rubber designer Mark Slate. The new tyre has been redesigned for the harder more demanding riding people generally get up to these days, and consequently ask more of their tyres.
Intended to deal with conditions range from wet to loose to dry, the chunky tread pattern should be good for UK riding at this time of year. Even year-round in many places and minds. The Moto sports double centre blocks for traction in wet conditions, spiky knobs to penetrate the trail surface, good transition edge knob placement for control where control is hard to come by, and a more open pitch to get a grip on almost any surface.
The compound used is the company’s own Dual DNA rubber. A 62a durometer rubber is used along the central section for fast rolling speed, while a slower rebound 50a durometer is used at the edges of the tyre for extra grip when banking the bike over.
They are tubeless ready with WTB’s Tubeless Compatible System (TCS). As well as the 2.1in version we have here, it’s available in 2.3in, 29er 1.9in and various bead and compound options to suit your needs and wallet. Weight for our sample is a quoted 640g.
Michelin Wild Race’r Ultimate 26x2.1 £34.99
Freshly updated for 2012 is Michelin’s tyre designed with cross-country racing in mind, hence the name. It's the lightest of the three hear and the one that will appeal most to weight weenie racers, but don't let that put you off if you just want a light and potentially very fast tyre.
It’s got what can only be described as a low-profile summer-ready tread design; we’re thinking it would be perfect for those long hot, dry and dusty summer rides, where’s there’s plenty of traction and you want as fast a rolling tyre as it’s possible to get your hands on.
Made up of diamond shaped knobs with supported bases connecting to the outer blocks, giving the knobs good support and should stop them squirming about too much. You probably don't want to be using them after a spell of wet weather...
The main changes to the new tyre occur at the edge. New triangular shoulder knobs should provide a better transition from upright to leaning over, with the inner blocks siped for a bit of give. Michelin use a combination of compounds, a 68a durometer rubber underneath the outer layer of 63a rubber.
These 2.1in tyres weigh just 415g with a 110 TPI and Kevlar bead and are tubeless-ready. A 2.25in version is also available.