Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Tyres for wet chalk and clay

Posted by Matt | October 22, 2008 | 8 comments so far

Last post, I joked about ‘what tyres for wet chalk’ as my current tyres are worn out and I need any confidence boost I can get. Since then I’ve spent a good evening searching around the webernet looking for tyres to suit my requirements and come away feeling pretty confused.

I guess I should really float this ‘what tyre’ subject past a forum or two but just can’t face the pointless trolling. What I’m looking for really is feedback from people who have direct experience of the tyres which have made my shortlist.

First of all I’m veering between getting some winter specific tyres for the Orange Five or replacing my worn out Panaracer Fire XCs with something similarly ‘all rounder-ish’. So my shortlist is pretty short! Either way they need to be UST (tubeless) compatible, resistant to sharp flints (think Box Hill climbs) and offer plenty of grip on the wet chalk, clay and roots that is a North Downs winter. Width wise, I’m looking for the wider end of things I guess to compliment the Orange’s All Mountain capabilities (not mine, ha!).

First up, in the winter tyre camp is the Bontrager Mud X, a default recommendation from most magazines I’ve read and billed specifically by the manufacturer as proving ‘exceptional grip on wet roots’. It comes as a 1.8 or 2.0 width, weighs an amazing 550g and sounds pretty promising.

Also on the shortlist here is the Panaracer TrailRaker UST, available as 2.1 only, with no quoted weights from Panaracer making comparison difficult. I’m thinking this might be more suited to wet gloop, but what do I know?

On to the ‘all round’ tyres. This is where I’m really confused, especially by tyre compounds. The Mud X is listed as a 60/50 dual compound tyre whereas most MTB tyres seem to be in the 60/70 range. Fine. But on my shortlist (again by media recommendation) is the Maxxis High Rollers which in UST 2.1 form have a 62 tackiness figure and weigh 890g — in other words they’re a bit heavy, not particularly wide and might not be very grippy?

I’ve pondered the Maxxis Minions but in UST form they’re probably too wide at 2.5 and very heavy. Can I just put non-UST 2.35 Minion DHRs on and run them tubeless? The tackiness rating is down to 42 on the 2.35s – much lower than the Mud X’s! That’s where I getting confused. How much of a variation is there from 40-ish to 60 in terms of grip and rolling resistance anyway?

There’s also, intrigingly the prospect of putting on Maxxis ADvantage 2.25 non-UST tyres which come with a 60 stick factor. If they work tubeless and don’t have flint vulnerable sidewalls.

The only other ‘all round’ tyre on the shortlist is the Continental Rubber Queen, which if nothing else would keep the schoolboy in me amused. They’re available in 2.2 or 2.4 UST versions that top out at 1050g (wow!) and the 2.4 has their special ‘Black Chilli’ compound which claims tons of grip (no tacky figure though) and lower rolling resistance. Chunky, heavy but promising?

So there you have it. My leaning is toward the Bonty Mud X’s for now through to spring riding, but your thoughts would be very welcome as I’m extremely confused!


About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years then a 2016 YT Industries Jeffsy 29er, he now rocks a Bird Aether 9 and a Pace RC-627.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

There are 8 comments on ‘Tyres for wet chalk and clay’

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  1. Colin says:

    Minions all the way for me now-cornering grip and confidence is amazing and they take abuse. I will never consider xc pro’s again put it that way.

    btw, you’ve got the tack rating arse about face – the higher the number, the great the durability and lower the tackiness.

    The Minion kevlar 2.35 only come in 60a compound.

    They work well in the deep mud too and survived flying down the Tanners Hatch flinty descent with no flats (my personal tyre strength testing trail-of the 4 people i’ve shown this trail to, 3 have suffered pinch flats!) so no complaints

  2. bunnyflop says:

    Hi, Mud X’s for me. They grip brilliantly and shed mud/dig in like nobodies business. There’s NOTHING ‘good’ on wet chalk but if you find it I’d be interested to hear… happy shopping.

  3. Dominic says:

    Had a word with Roger at Head for the hills about tyres, he run the minions on his bikes, I took out the Dialled Bikes Alpine from there with the minions on and it felt fantastic, made me wonder why I bought a full-suss…..but thats a whole other thread….


  4. Andy says:

    My default winter tyres are Panaracer trailrakers. Been running the same set for a few years and they cope well with most conditions.

    Wet chalk is pretty much the worst condition you can come across due to it being slippery and hard packed. Not run them in anger down any serious chalky downhills but for general xc they are pretty good. The main negatives are that they are pretty slow rolling and narrow. However high rollers are even slower.

    Maybe consider a softer compound for the front and something harder for the rear.

    I have a spare set of Trailrakers (non UST) if you want to try before you buy.

  5. Dave says:

    Go on, get the Rubber Queens, it’ll keep me amused for months. There is a comment on CRC about them being a great tyre but the guy doesn’t know anyone who will ride them with “Rubber Queen” printed in white on the side.

    Sort of agree with Andy about the Trailrakers as well but I think I’m leaning back to Continental at the moment as my brand of choice.

  6. John says:

    I’m with Dave on this one – can you get them with a pink sidewall?

  7. Matt says:

    Thanks for all your thoughts folks. I think I’ll give the Mud X’s a try after all and see what happens. If they manage to shed mud with a light rider like Lisa then they may actually work for my 11st!

    Actually what will happen is that we’ll have the driest winter ever, if we do you know who to thank ;o)

    Colin, I think I’m straight on the ‘tackiness’ rating – the lower the figure, the stickier and less durable they are? What I meant was that Minions are available as a super sticky 42? Don’t know about rolling resistance though…

    Andy, thanks for the offer, much appreciated. I might come back to you if the Mud X’s don’t jive?

    Dave, Rubber Queens are pencilled in for next year but I’m worried about the 2.4 as Contis always come up wide. 2.2s don’t have black chilli compound.

    I have no problem with the name, being secure in myself but would love a set with pink sidewalls!!!


  8. Related: Specialized Storm Control 2.0 2Bliss mud tyres | Reviews, Wheels & Tyres | Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

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