Bontrager’s tyre engineer Frank Stacy hunts for the ultimate trail bike mud tyre…
From Dirt Issue 147 – May 2014
Words by Steve Jones. Photos by Steve Jones.
“It’s the wrong time of year to do a mud tyre feature”, a friend from a neighbouring mag told me. Although wet weather grip is primarily a must from October to April I reminded him of the weather at last years first Enduro World Series in Italy, the summer time monsoons of Les Gets and Gee Atherton winning Val di Sole in 40º heat on his Continental Mud Kings.
Judging from numbers we researched from riders using Fly Up downhill service in the Forest Of Dean, on any given wet day the percentage of riders using wet weather rubber was around the 30% mark. It seems that many people don’t understand the need for mud tyres.
Whereas downhill is pretty well covered in terms of rubber for full–on monsoon weather, at the other side of the spectrum general duty trail bike mud tyres are available mostly as a 50/50 options. The best trail tyres to date are the Specialized Storm, 60a compound, the Panaracer Trailraker, 55a, and the Bontrager XR Mud. All around the 2.0 width, the Specialized and Bontrager have roughly the same pattern whilst the Trailraker was unique in its very angular mud shedding pattern – close to a tractor tyre.
The Bontrager remains one of the best all–rounders but as a trail bike mud tyre it is slightly compromised if you’re taking on longer rides. It’s arguable that there is demand for a lightweight mud tyre for a trail bike for full–on mud conditions for gravity style riding. But even though we’re not talking uplift tyres here, in heavy conditions and with higher pressures these tyres do a very good job on harder hitting 160mm bikes given their wide remit.
Last month I got a chance to ride some proto mud tyres with Trek and Tracy Moseley as they set out to produce a new improved version of their XR Mud, giving feedback in the process. The man behind all Bontrager’s tyre development is an American called Frank Stacy.>>