Athletics and Recreation

Mud Tyres Vs XC Tyres | Do You Really Need Aggressive Tyres For Winter Riding?

Mud Tyres Vs XC Tyres | Do You Really Need Aggressive Tyres For Winter Riding?


– When I first started at the channel, Doddy told me about a local riding spot that he said it was absolute
death in the winter. And I said, dude, I’ll be okay, it’s only
winter riding, come on, needless to say he was right, it’s like an absolute ice rink. So, today I’ve come equipped with a set of cross country
tires and a set of mud spikes to find out do we really need
to change our tires in winter? Riding in the wet, for me anyway, can actually be a bit more fun. That lack of traction can really add some excitement in the mix. But, if you want to ride the
steeper, more natural trails, it can sometimes be downright dangerous. Now in the UK we’re really lucky that we’ve got this whole host and network of these amazing trail centers, that drain really well in winter. They’re kind of brilliant
all the year round. But, what if you want to carry on riding the natural stuff, should you be changing your tires and is it a conversation worth having? Well today I’m going to find out. This place is absolutely
ridiculous in the wet. So, we’re going to compare some
shallow cross country tires compared to a high stack mud spike. Now these cross country tires are great, I often really enjoy riding
them most of the year. But, when it comes to winter do we need something specialist? Here at GMBN were incredibly lucky to be supported by Continental Tires. But many brands will offer mud tires with a similar design ethos. This isn’t something that
is regimented by brand. That said, some companies pack more technology into their tires and it would be untrue to say that all tires are created equal. So the tire that we want most of the year, although this one is
maybe leaning more towards the cross country side of things, is something like this. It’s got a low stack height, that means it gets a
really nice contact patch with the ground, whilst
giving lots of stability. The shortest those stacks are, the less that tire can deform and bend, and so it’s more predictable. It is also very light. Now this makes excellent for climbing as it’s got less rotational mass that you’ve got the
accelerate all the time. The tread pattern such as this one is designed to give not only fast-rolling, but provide lots of grip and traction as you go up and as you go down over a whole variety of surfaces. So, rocks, roots, anything really. Now it also benefits
from quite a high TPI, which is thread per inch. Now the higher the TPI
the better the tire. Is isn’t deforming, the
more supple the tire is. This is also aided by this
being a tubeless setup. So there’s plenty of grip on offer. With all those positive
points that I just reeled off what’s the drawback of
a cross country tire? Well I think the main thing or at least, you’ll probably be finding out today, is that shorter stack height
that I told you about, which is great in dry terrain, sometimes can get
overwhelmed by claggy mud. It also doesn’t shed mud so easy. So, in the soft sticky
stuff, it could come undone. Oh, Jesus Christ! (laughs) Right, okay. So this one was actually meant to be quite a relaxed climbing shot that wasn’t really meant
to illustrate any point, but already you can see the level of saturated and slippy terrain we’re dealing with. Let alone in the sense, tires can clag up and
smooth over on the climbs. So it’s going to be a long day
at the office for me I think. I’m actually, I sound stupid, I’m actually a bit nervous. Now, coming up there, first of all the tires
started clagging up, and then we started walking up and then I started falling over. I mean, it’s really,
really, really slippery. But it should be a lot of fun. Now I want to make a really
important point here. You wouldn’t say a fork isn’t a good eating implement because you can’t eat soup with it. And similarly, having the job in-hand is really, really important. This isn’t what this
tire was designed for. It’s a cross country tire and it is great at doing
what it was made for. But the question is, is
there much difference between something like
this and a specialist tire? Well, we’re going to find out. So wish me luck, godspeed and all that. Hoo, let’s do it. Oh my god, it’s already, oh my god. Oh I missed that bit, oh god. (tires screeching) (laughs) Oh my god. Get through these roots there. Oh my god. Oh no, no, no no. Oh my god! Oh my god. Oh no, that’s not even this good. The track’s over there. (laughs) Oh god. Jeez, that’s wet. Try that again. (laughs) Oh no, oh no. Oh my god. It’s not stopping, ah! (laughs) Aw, I landed on a stump! Oh my god. I can already wash in the front, I don’t even got the bloody turn yet. Head into this little… Bloody hell! Easy does it now, there we go. Oh, rocks! After a morning of feeling like I’d never ridden a bike before, we headed back to change the tires. (bike pumping) So the cross country
tires are off the bike. Now I want to make a point here. That was something those
tires were never intended for and I think it speaks to how lucky we are as mountain bikers to have tires available to
us that are so versatile. I still got down, I
didn’t die, it was fine. Maybe they weren’t perfectly
suited for the job, but now I have something that is. So a mud tire is a bit
more like a football boot. Those studs are there
to penetrate the ground, now those football studs
might not work very well if you’re walking across tarmac, but that’s not what they’re made for. They’re made for the soft conditions. Think of those cross country
tires I was using earlier on, and perhaps consider
them something more like your everyday running shoe or trainer. They’re much better on harder surfaces. So what makes a mud tire so good? So I mentioned earlier on because it’s got far greater stack height, that means it’s able to bite and penetrate the ground far better. You can also see these intricate indentations and
little bumps and rises, what they do is they help
the carcass shed mud, which means your tire won’t smooth over becoming virtually a slick. It’s also worth noting that it doesn’t have such intricate
cornering or tread pattern. Now those sophisticated tread patterns that you get on a cross
country and trail tires are absolutely fantastic because they can do a whole host of jobs. They can provide traction
when we’re climbing, they can also aid breaking and cornering with very carefully shaped knobs. Now this tire as you can see doesn’t have so much of that. It’s a bit less sophisticated when it comes to that
because all it’s there to do is to stop mud clicking to it and to penetrate loose surfaces. All those different shapes, they add surface area and surface area here, those flat areas, will only make mud clag
and stick to the tire. Right, well, here goes nothing. I don’t know if there’ll be any different, it’s probably that wet. Oh no, immediately. So the first real test here. I know it doesn’t look spectacular, but it just feels so much safer. It’s an absolutely different beast, like you can actually lean on the bike. Hoo, I think the best thing
about mud tires actually, is I can spend more time riding the stuff I really enjoy riding, it opens up the terrain. You know, some of that stuff
earlier on is so clayed, it’s not that technically varied, it’s not that steep, but basically all it is is an exercise in keeping your weight exactly central because you’ve got
nothing to lean against. What I’m having fun doing now is actually pushing on the side, and able to use the
tire as it was intended and be able to move my
bike in either direction, move my weight forward and back without having an immediate repercussion. (laughs) It’s not the tire’s fault, that’s the point I’m trying to make. Oh. So mud tires are the answer to all our prayers for our winter riding. Why couldn’t I whole-heartedly recommend buying some straight away? Well they are far slower in terms of rolling speed and they have a lot of extra weight, which you’ve got to plug around. Now if you’re riding natural
trails like we were today that are quite soft, then honestly they’re just fantastic. They will change your riding experience and make you far, far safer. But what if you like
to ride trail centers, what if you like to ride manmade stuff? Maybe some burns and
some hard-packed trails, well then I can tell you straight away a mud tire isn’t going to
be a good thing for you. What will happen is as you’re hitting those hard turns, all those big tall knobs will be deforming and twisting and that will give you a really unstable and unprecise feeling sensation. So I really couldn’t
recommend them for that, but I would say if you like to have a bit of a mud plugger available, it can be really worth having a set that you put on one month a year, and it’s certainly a lot
of fun riding that stuff. So what would I recommend. Well personally, I like to ride a Barron, which is almost like a cut spike, it’s similar to a Maxxis Shorty or maybe a Magic Mary from Schwalbe. I mean, why do you think
the Shorty got the name? It’s a cut spike, it’s because
it’s got a short spike, it’s fantastic riding mixed conditions and doesn’t suffer from quite as much roll when it comes to those high-low turns. But a tire like that, like a Barron, like a
Shorty, like a Magic Mary, will still be really, really good at penetrating softer
ground and shedding mud. Not quite as capable at mud shedding as something like this, but they’ll still do a very admirable job as well as perhaps being
a bit more versatile. Now as we said earlier on, it’s no comment on those
cross country tires. They’re just not ever
intended for that purpose, and if they were made to
shed that level of mud, well they would be a really
compromised cross country tire, and probably not really fit for purpose. What would I describe
riding a cross country tire with quite a shallow
tread on that mud lake? Well, it was a bit like standing on ice. It didn’t respond to steering input, or before and after movement. The issue being that every
time you need to do that, you need to lean against something, to move your weight
back or to push against. And if you did that, the
tire would just slide. The biggest difference for the mud spike, is that you can actually
push into the ground, so suddenly a simple move like moving your weight back or applying the brakes or turning, suddenly had so much more grip available and it meant that it was not only safer, but a lot more predictable. So I hoped you enjoyed the video, well let’s face it, a video of me pretty much humiliating myself as I spend, well, quite a lot of time on my backside in them there woods. Now if you want to stay with the channel, click down here to see the race we did
against Oli Beckinsale, and if you want to stick with tire tech, click down here for the Victoria
factory tour with Buddy, as always guys, don’t forget
to like and subscribe. Get in the comments below, let me know what you run all year round. Thank you very much, and
we’ll see you next time.


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