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.

100 thoughts on “Mud Tyres Vs XC Tyres | Do You Really Need Aggressive Tyres For Winter Riding?

  1. All the actual evidence says that you all ride mostly Der Barons for the entire year, never mind the season or weather. By evidence I mean the recent video on what each presenter has done to their bike to make it different to others and truly theirs where you all said that you ride Der Barons all year. I know its not the most solid evidence but it's the best I can manage without becoming a full time stalker. 😎😵🙈🙉🙊📷📋🔎

  2. I never run XC tires here in Colorado. My faves are Kenda Nevegal and Minion DHF. And I run tubes as well. 👍

  3. I'd rather see a good all round tyre vs mud spikes to see how much difference there is. I can't see many UK riders choosing an XC tyre for year round riding.

  4. i run HR2 27.5×3.0 front and rear on a hardtail. when its dry and it fills a little skittish, i just ride faster and lean more. when its muddy out, i just ride faster and lean more.

  5. At 5:26 there is a tree decoration: Rock Shox Indy C 60mm in yellow! If I would live in UK I would salvage it – they are rare in my country :)))

  6. We seldom get muddy conditions like that where I ride here in NZ! I run Minion DHR2 on the front, Aggressor on the rear. Now we're into summer I'm keen to try an Assegai on the front.

  7. 3:25…thats lightweight mud!
    Cud say get chris to take u to our local quarry woods…so boggy…..but ive been surfacing the trails!😁💪😜

  8. I've tried mudtyres once, but I found them to draggy in everything apart from real deep mud, they also don't shed mud so much as xc-tyres so after the muddy sections they were still full with mud and very slippery! So now I keep my XC-tyres on whole year round, also good for learning!

  9. Who's dumb enough to run magic mary front and rear in the UK? We hit up FOD mini enduro trails off piste and a bit of staunton, i never had so much traction in sloppy conditions!!! The same can't be said for having to winch yourself back up! What's the michelin wild enduros like; GMBN boys, you're likely to endorse Contis, so I can totally understand why.

  10. I ride natural trails, and in muddy conditions, aka autumn, winter and spring I ride Minion DHF 29×2.4.
    In Summer I switch to Vittoria's Mezcal 29×2.25.
    I think season specific tyres is something everyone should consider, even cross country riders.

  11. The answer is no. I’ve been riding on fast rolling, xc focused 29in. tires year round for almost two years. It’s all about technique and being aware of the trail conditions.

  12. I ride a mud tire year round. Its the same tire I've ridden since 1995. I find it a good all around tire for my riding

  13. Dunno how you can’t ride down that mild descent on trail kings I’ve been smashing sloppy dh stuff all winter on a steel hit with them

  14. Dry summer – Spec Renegade
    All around – Ardent Maxx Speed, Rocket Ron’s
    Mud – Knobby Nic
    Snow – Knobby Nic
    Ice – Not a Knobby Nic!

    Of course you should change tires for conditions/seasons! Most important… learn the individual characteristics of your tire and slowly learn their limits.

  15. 10:10 I have Maxxis Shorty Maxx Terra C3 EXO 2.3 on 23mm rim, and I don't experience the folding known thing described here. But I do notice the rolling resistance.
    this December the weather is similar to Uk weather, looks like it's gonna be brown not white X mas.
    I run Cush Core.

  16. Dear Henry,
    I enjoyed your Christmas prayers and I wish we could join you for some caroling. LOL 🙂
    And I really appreciated you informative/making me think about Winter Tires for my 29" Hardtail MTB.

    I chose Maxxis Crossmarks for my everyday tires.
    We live in Oregon which, like England/UK, has the possibility of mud year round. But I also ride my favorite bike to work each day (bring it inside my office & change into professional clothes) and longer pavement and off-road distances on the weekend. Some of my friends drive their bikes to the mud, but I ride mine on various surfaces to get to the trails. Some are "logging roads" which can be a mix of hard gravel and mud.

    This videos really demonstrated to me how inadequate my tires would be on muddy trails. Today I was riding a mixture of highway and off-road gravel/mud/leaves and across grassy areas where my Crossmarks were just perfect as a less aggressive tire would have been stuck on the "shortcut". Watching you, Henry, I see what will happen to me, someday soon, when I sink in the mud.

    Thank you again Henry for this great informational video.
    Merry Christmas!!!

  17. In Florida it's either super hot/sunny or rainy year-round. I don't ride trails (I just commute), so all I need is a fast-rolling XC tire that also has some extra grip for when it rains

  18. 4:27 This is when i get off and walk. Turning the bars and still going the direction your wheels were pointed is too dangerous for me.

  19. I run Maxxis IKON tires front and rear all year round; never had any issue with loosing traction. No more than with any other tire I've used anyway.

  20. Next time try 2.1 or 2.0 width.
    I riding this size mud tyres in winter season (today i've done 31km in totally mud wet trail)
    Less rolling resistance when leaving wet, soft section. And different brand at each wheel doing some magic – front for Michelin Wind'n'Mud (softer) rear Specialized Storm Control.
    At summer season, switching for 2.35…

  21. Try riding here (central Canada) without gloves in winter, you'll have less than 10 fingers! Coldest day I've ridden (1.5 hour ) the high temperature was -21 C.

  22. Came here to see what is common with Mud Tyres and Winter Riding. Then I realized you have summer all around the year. xD

  23. My mechanic swapped out my DHR II and DHF for a set of Assegai 2.5….these things are the titts. I ride in a lot of moon dust and caliche which become slick as hell with a light rain. The Assegai's out perform my old set up.

  24. @GMBN Tech, I'm wondering why you're calling the Mountain Kings "cross country tires." Continental markets these as "trail tires" not very suited for hardpack, and they recommend the Cross Kings and Race Kings as "XC tires".

  25. Well done, I'm sure the camera doesn't do the conditions any justice at all. Is the trend still for narrower tyres with mud? I remember the good old days with the likes of 1.9s… Now they would be a ball to scoot around with now. Until the novelty wore off and you got a grip of yourself and just said no. Not at all…

  26. You concider a mountainking as XC tire? In the Netherlands we ride (in conti terms) with racekings and X-kings! That's an XC tire, MK is all-mountain to me

  27. I run 27.5" Continental Trail King 2.4s on mine. Swapped them from my Continental X King 27.5 – 2.2s late last year. The 2.4s are way better!

  28. I used to ride really” aggressive “ big knobs, but found small knobs and medium size xc tires to work way better. In summer I’ve even ridden bmx and beach cruiser tires and outrun my brakes.

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