Teravail Semi Slick NSMB AndrewM.JPG
REVIEW | EDITORIAL

When Is A Semi-Slick 2 Damn Quick? (With The Teravail Cumberland)

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Sep 2, 2020
Reading time

2 Slick 2 Quick

I'm standing, bent over my handlebars, with the saltwater version of Niagara falls cascading down my face, digging for any kind of rear-wheel traction I can find. My back tire slips, I lurch forward, and my first real endo of 2020 is a violent example of the uphill variety. I land right on a stack of roots and just stay there for a while staring up at the canopy. Lovely morning.

Conditions are hard. I mean, loose-over-hard, but just plain hard works too. Summer came late and I never quite adapted to the heat when we left Junuary behind. Most of my riding this year was from home, straight up the road, and then straight up the No Quarter climb. Trail conditions jumped straight from slimy to loose with maybe three days in between. What a great 'summer' to commit to riding a semi-slick tire!

For a long time before When Is A Semi-Slick Too Damn Quick? was published I had been only riding aggressive knobby tires front and rear; Vigilante, Magic Mary, SE5, G5, LG1R, etc. After participating in the comments and lamenting the last of larger semi-slick options two things happened. Firstly, I was really eager to get back out on a semi-slick tire. Secondly, a true-2.6" semi-slick tire showed up for testing from Teravail.

The 29x2.6" Teravail Cumberland is the tire Specialized doesn't make, in a 29" size. It's the tire Bontrager could make, combining an SE5 with an SE2. It's the tire e13 will hopefully make by just enlarging their current S/S. It's the tire WTB may already make in their 2.6" Ranger, albeit with less vicious-looking side knobs.

Teravail Semi Slick NSMB AndrewM (2).JPG

The Cumberland in a 'Durable' sidewall is essentially the 2.6" Slaughter GRID TRAIL that Specialized does not make in a 29" size.

Teravail Semi Slick NSMB AndrewM (4).JPG

On an i35 rim or i40 rim the Cumberland is bigger-than-claimed and offers similar support to Bontrager's SE or Specialized's GRID Trail casing.

CushCore

While this review is about the Teravail Cumberland, I do need to note a couple of Oscars for the roll of Best Supporting Tire - wet or dry. Playing the villain we have the 2.6" WTB Vigilante in the Tough Casing / Fast Rolling variety. I was running it as a rear tire before making the switch to the Cumberland and it made riding to the semi-slick extra, extra, spicy for those first few rides while exaggerating energy savings on climbs.

The role of veteran tire keeping the Cumberland from getting too out of line was shared by the Bontrager G5 on my Alpine Trail and the 2.8" WTB Vigilante Tough Casing/High Grip on my single speed. Having a front tire you can fully trust when getting hard on the brakes is key to having fun with a semi-slick.

Then there's CushCore, up for a lifetime achievement award or something of the sort. My original plan was to ride the Cumberland extensively both with and without an insert but I soon abandoned that plan and carried forward with inserts and narrower scope.

Teravail Semi Slick NSMB AndrewM (10).JPG

I have an upcoming piece on choosing between CushCore Plus and CushCore Pro at the transitional 2.6" tire size.

Teravail Semi Slick NSMB AndrewM (9).JPG

I ran the 2.6" Cumberland with both sizes of insert and ended up preferring the Pro on an i35 rim and the Plus on an i40 rim.

Teravail Semi Slick NSMB AndrewM (8).JPG

With or without CushCore, the durable casing Cumberland was easy enough to air up tubeless with a floor pump.

It didn't take many rides to determine that I'm over the combination of a semi-slick and a 6" travel full suspension bike. Where I love the Cumberland on my hardtail and I'm certain I'd love it on a short & slack bike like the Transition Spur or Enduro Evo, the trade-off just isn't that great when I'm talking about a bike with a coil shock, big brakes, etc. I'm winching the bike uphill anyway so I might as well maximize the fun factor on the way down. It's my experience that healthy amounts of rear-wheel traction are an important factor in maximizing the fun on that bike.

A couple of rides after I abandoned notions of regularly riding the Cumberland on my Marin, I also pulled back from plans to ride it without an insert. Maybe I've become addicted to the damped CushCore ride on my hardtail or maybe conditions this year have been especially trying for the hardtailers amongst us. Either way, the boost in up & down performance and the fun factor of running the Teravails on my Waltworks, jumped exponentially when I dropped tire pressure significantly and sagged into the big grey inserts.

Wet Bets

I couldn't tell you what we were thinking. Sure, it was a perfect dank and dreary North Shore November day, in July, but my A-game had obviously been absent climbing up Fromme and either Upper Oil Can or 7th Secret would have been the right choice. Instead, my friend Jac and I headed down Bookwus.

I had ridden the trail recently on my hardtail, with a rigid fork and a pair of Tough Casing Vigilante 2.8" tires, and CushCore Plus inserts, and I'd been more than satisfied with my efforts. Sadly, even with some help from a 120mm suspension fork up front, a few awkward offs where the rear tire simply wasn't cooperating left me walking more than I'd care to admit.

When we popped out at the bottom I was still having fun, laughing, but most definitely ready to call it a day and head down Pipeline, my favourite, janky, baseline trail for testing things out and getting a confidence boost on whatever setup I'm riding. I was already thinking about rear-wheel 'steering' (sliding) the Cumberland down some of Pipeline's greasy rock sections when Jac pointed the way to Ladies Only and dropped in.

I actually started putting together a decent ride. There was a brief intermission when we ran into the trail's builder, Digger, and he and Jac proceeded to ridicule my rear tire for a while, but in general, I stopped thinking about the Cumberland and the greasy performance of the semi-slick became better and better.

Teravail Semi Slick NSMB AndrewM (6).JPG

On an i35 rim the 2.6" Cumberland is larger than advertised. With my cheap calipers, it's 2.68" at the casing...

Teravail Semi Slick NSMB AndrewM (7).JPG

...and 2.8" outside to outside at the knobs. That's not bad for an 1150 gram tire with good support. This is with 18psi.

Teravail Semi Slick NSMB AndrewM (1).JPG

At first look I was concerned the drop between the center and sides was too large. But with the 2.6" tire sagged it's perfect on the trail.

The side wall support on the Teravail 'Durable' casing is not on par with WTB's Tough Casing and is similar to Bontrager's SE2 or WTB's Light Casing. In a Maxxis tire I would put it at the same approximate level of support and protection as EXO+. Trying to air it down a bit for slick roots and rock faces I couldn't achieve the level of support I was looking for without an insert.

With the insert it was another matter. The tire's casing and tread have both held up well and it has a nice suppleness that works well with the suspension that CushCore brings to the game. With air pressure dropped closer to 14-15psi, the big side lugs are easier to engage by leaning my bike over a bit but I don't get any squirmy or squirrelly feeling thanks to the support of the inserts. And those side lugs are key.

There are lots of situations where I prefer the even transition of the Bontrager SE2 over the big side lugs of a semi-slick; however, going down something steep and greasy or loose, I feel I've saved myself dozens of times by really leaning over my bike and introducing the side knobs. It's confidence-inspiring enough that I'm intending to enter the wet season with the Teravail installed

High & Dry

Climbing the 1150-gram* Teravail tires in loose-over-hard or greasy conditions is a lot like riding the tires downhill. I'll often try to lean over my bike to get the side knobs engaged and climbing performance improved immensely on the hardtail with the addition of the tire inserts. I had a much easier time adapting to the semi-slick in greasy-wet condition than I did in pebbly-dry conditions where I had many, many, more "OH SHIIIIIIIiiiiiiiiiT!" moments.

With the added traction of my full suspension bike, climbing the Cumberland tire was an excellent experience and with the right gearing and body position, I only spun out a few times where the G5 or Vigilante would have held firm. On the medium-long travel dually though, the descending performance murdered the semi-slick experience for me. It was significantly less fun on greasy wet trails, and when suddenly, a day later, everything was desiccated the fun factor only dropped from there. Insert or no insert, I couldn't wrap my head around riding the semi-slick on a bike that wants to go fast - or at least fast by my standards - and then needs to be hauled in for tight sketchy sections of trail.

*shave 100 with the Light & Supple casing

Teravail Semi Slick NSMB AndrewM (5).JPG

With this year's conditions jumping from greasy to dry & loose running an insert was key for climbing traction on the hardtail.

Teravail Semi Slick NSMB AndrewM (3).JPG

Downhill took a lot more re-calibration than I remember in the past; however, I did jump straight from a 2.6" WTB Vigilante to the Teravail.

On the hardtail, I've been making the Cumberland work on sections where I would have preferred a meatier tire. With the insert, low pressure, and a bit of rhythm, I'm getting it up climbs with minimal slippage and, with the exception of a few steep ladders that are somehow less terrifying in the rain with a 'real' back tire, I'm no slower or more cautious running the Teravail.

If I had left North Vancouver more this spring/summer, or if we'd had a longer transition between the extremes of our trail conditions, I think I'd be singing its praises loud and proud. Based on the year we've had, and the winter that's coming, a full-on knobby is probably the better choice for most local folks unless they're looking for an XC-fast tire with a get-out-of-jail-free-card courtesy of those big lugs.

Since I love riding in Cumberland, BC, I've run a semi-slick there most times I've visited with great results shy of a couple of the steeper and looser double-black trails. For long days on the trails there, the semi-slick saves a bunch of energy.

If You Don't Ride From Home...

And that's where the semi-slick is a clear winner for me. Saving energy on really long rides, or riding from home, while delivering enough traction to have fun on aggressive trails albeit at a little slower descending speed and with my brain turned on all the way. Giving my bike a bit of a snappy XC feeling while still bringing bite to bear on steep nasty descents.

Whether it's a hardtail or one of the new light-enough-to-thrive & slack-enough-to-survive bikes that every company will have out next year, a semi-slick with the right setup, insert, or pressure, makes all-day efforts, and road climbing significantly more enjoyable. I used to run one on my Rift Zone, and I think it's more than nostalgia that has me thinking the Cumberland would be great on a Tallboy, Epic EVO, Spur, or the like. I ran it mainly on i35 and i40 rims but even aired up on the more common i30 size most companies spec, the tire works very well with lower pressures.

Teravail Semi Slick NSMB AndrewM (4).JPG

I appreciate the large volume of the 2.6" Cumberland and felt, on an i35 or i40 rim, that the side knobs were always there when I needed them.

e13 Semi Slick Tire AndrewM

Love it in the 2.35 on my full suspension bike. Want bigger for my hardtail. Why doesn't the e13 S/S come in a bigger size?

Bontrager SE2 Tire AndrewM

The Bontrager SE2 doesn't have massive side lugs but is surprisingly capable in a high volume 29x2.6".

I can't universally recommend the Teravail Cumberland. Many folks I know will never have fun without a DHR-esque tire out back on their bike and in a lot of cases, that's true for both uphills and downhills. Mountain biking is supposed to be fun and there's no performance gain uphill that's worth terrifying yourself on the way down. Prefer a big knobby tire? Your friends will wait on the climbs.

But, if you are semi-slick curious, semi-slick sold, or semi-slick delirious, I think the durable version of the Cumberland is an excellent choice and not just because it's the only choice with big volume (29x2.6") and big side knobs. It rolls fast, it's comfortable, it's proven durable, and there's enough traction available that I'm in no hurry to take it off my bike even if today's rains have me looking at the full-knobbies hanging on my wall. At 75 USD, it's also a solid value compared to other semi-slicks that either don't match it for size or don't match it for aggression.

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Comments

Endur-Bro
0
Endur-Bro  - Sept. 1, 2020, 11:09 p.m.

I’ve seen Teravail ads on IG the past few weeks. Had no idea what is was.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 1, 2020, 11:43 p.m.

In an I-Only-Ride-Maxxis way, or simply haven't heard of the brand?

It's another Q-brand (QBP) a la Surly, Salsa, Whisky, All-City, etc. I think the Cumberland is their most intriguing tire by a mile.

I rode it down C*buster and Boogeyman yesterday on my rigid bike and had an awesome time... but conditions were perfect.

Reply

pwojnar
-1 4Runner1
pwojnar  - Sept. 2, 2020, 12:10 a.m.

In an I-only-ride-maxxis way, why no comparison to a Minion SS? I still think the 2.4” double down version is one of the funnest tires I’ve ever ridden. Your tires don’t need to be good at slowing down if they’re still minions when you lean them over...

Reply

tehllama42
0
Tehllama42  - Sept. 2, 2020, 6:15 a.m.

Wait, you can actually find a MinionSS in 29" in any configuration other than Exo//TR/Dual 2.3"?  I'm not convinced any other variants exist outside of the catalog.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 2, 2020, 7:34 a.m.

I don’t have enough hours on the Minion SS to comment/discuss in detail for an article.

I tried it briefly and much preferred the Slaughter (27 v 27 on a mullet) and haven’t had an opportunity to try it 29”.

Reply

tehllama42
+1 Andrew Major
Tehllama42  - Sept. 2, 2020, 7:41 a.m.

In 29er, the Slaughter is even that much better than the MinSS2.3.  Favorite for me is still the e.13 TRS-R, because that is a great tire - I just need to get it in the proper DH casing, because it enables a whole new level of bad ideas on my bike.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 2, 2020, 7:46 a.m.

The e13 is hands down the best S/S I’ve used for descending. Rubber, casing, etc and for Shore-XC on an FS bike the 2.3” was perfect.

I wish they made a 2.6/2.7 in that tire for the back of my Walt. For me, on local terrain, S/S is all about shorter travel Shore-XC bikes and hardtails and the extra volume is nice (especially combing the tire with CushCore).

Shore-XC I think I actually love the SE2 the best. Or maybe it’s just the most surprising, delivering traction from those tiny side knobs.

Endur-Bro
0
Endur-Bro  - Sept. 2, 2020, 11:26 a.m.

Unfamiliar with the brand name. Wondered if it was a RuRoc or any of those janky ski goggles ads. 

The only SS I’ve ridden was the Schwalbe Rock Razor 29x2.35. It was okay. I’d likely just get a faster rolling traditional tyre than another SS. Unless it was for an XC bike. Actually now that I have a pedal bike besides my Surface I could give one another go. 

I’m pretty okay with running 2.3 DHRII F/R and rotating the front to the rear when I get a new one. 

PS I’m currently running a lot of Michelin tyres as of late. Rock Razor2, Wild Enduro F. Have a Wild Enduro R and Wild AM to try out soon too. Thinking of trying DH22 for winter. Ran the special addition Schwalbe Tumourous Tammy on the DH bike

Reply

fartymarty
+2 Andrew Major Endur-Bro
fartymarty  - Sept. 2, 2020, 12:33 p.m.

I'm runing a worn 2.3 DHR2 on the rear (paired wih a DHR2 up front) and it's relatively quick.

Reply

Timer
+1 Andrew Major
Timer  - Sept. 2, 2020, 3:42 a.m.

Andrew, do you know what the type and durometer of the rubber is on this tyre?

My experience (backed by other people's measurements) is that rubber compound has an enormous impact on rolling speed, probably more so than knob height or casing. There is a bit of an interaction effect with knob size, though.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Timer
Andrew Major  - Sept. 2, 2020, 8:01 a.m.

They don’t list a durometer other than to say it’s dual compound. 

It feels very similar to my much-loved SE2, which is 61A/50A, so that’s where I’d lay my bet down. Come to think of it, center-wear has been similar as well. The Cumberland side knobs are comparatively massive so not easy to compare wear there.

Reply

tehllama42
+1 Pete Roggeman
Tehllama42  - Sept. 2, 2020, 6:19 a.m.

The confusing part about running a semislick out back is that there are changes that need to happen out front to get ideal results, and they are better on FS bikes for sure.  On my 150/130mm travel short/slack bike, they key is putting a tire like a DHR2 out front, and changing braking technique to have even a hope of things working out for the best, big braking paddles out front and leaning on that are what makes the overall tradeoff worth it - on loose-over-hard and slickrock trails the combination is unbeatable, especially for out of shape punters who want to go fast.

It feels bad coming in and being like 'Andrew, you have to change the front tire, and your entire technique', but that kinda is how I actually feel about it.  The things I actually like about running an SS in fast/open terrain are that I can overcook a turn and know that the back end will step out, bleed speed, but snag enough grip to stay on the trail, and stay hooked up from that late apex forward, provided I weight the front wheel enough to not fully wash out.  It's a horrible feeling at first if unintentional, but once understood it's simply riotously glorious, if a bit inefficient.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 2, 2020, 7:43 a.m.

It’s not like I don’t have a lot of hours happily riding a semi-slick on an FS bike (see comments about Rift Zone) or I don’t get the basic premise of transferring braking responsibilities to the front wheel (see comments about 2.8” Vigi / 2.5” G5), it’s just that once I’m lugging a full travel bike up the hill anyways whatever advantage/fun derived from running a S/S on local terrain is lesser to running a full knobby out back.

Shore-XC, I’ll take semi-slick everyday.

Also, hate to just come out at say “you’re wrong,” but semi-slicks are definitely the most fun on the back of a rigid single speed coming down trails like C*buster and Boogeyman (old exit, of course). My Instagram story expired and I’m a Luddite but I’ll see if I can get a copy of the clip of how fun it is!

Reply

tehllama42
+1 Pete Roggeman
Tehllama42  - Sept. 2, 2020, 8:18 a.m.

I think this comes down to trails that can be ridden from my house - when I drive a bit and get on some terrain where knob penetration is actually a thing that happens in anything other than loose decomposing granite, the braking, grip, and transition performance of real knobs on the back is unparalleled.  The trails I can ride to from my house, straight line braking is basically the best option, then burning off speed sideways is the next best, and the e.13 SS does that the best (and not much else notably well).  Decomposing granite over hardpack is a strange surface, and probably drives my impression more than anything else... we basically don't get access to most of the benefits of real knobs out back on FS rigs, so might as well save some joules uphill.

I'm running RekonRace/Aspen on my XC HT (doubles as a road/gravel bike and kid trailer hauler), so there's quite literally zero counterargument about what they're truly best for - the low tread out back gives me energy at the top of long climbs that enable all sorts of bad ideas, so far they've all gone remarkably well, and been delightfully tail-happy, but I need fork squish to get the best out of that.
For my part, definitely want a 29x2.6 e13 TRS-R-SS, and also want a Exo+/DD cased RekonRace in 29x2.5 (to pair with a 2.6" Minion out front), because that's a true bad idea enabler setup.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 2, 2020, 10:17 a.m.

Definitely. The more pavement on a ride - even a nasty ride - the more semi-inclined I am. Also, I’ve ridden semi-slicks all over but I can only talk about the Cumberland from the perspective of local (Fromme, Seymour, Cypress) trails.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 2, 2020, 10:19 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

agleck7
+1 Andrew Major
Agleck7  - Sept. 2, 2020, 3:01 p.m.

Wait, you’re saying this isn’t the only way to corner? (ps, minion ss dd + cush is my daily driver)

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 3, 2020, 7:55 a.m.

Have you tried any other similarly aggressive semi-slicks? 

Seems most folks who try the Minion prefer something else (e13, Slaughter, etc)

Reply

ManInSteel
+1 Vik Banerjee
ManInSteel  - Sept. 2, 2020, 9:39 a.m.

Am I the only one looking at the bike more than the tires?  That sick Waltworks....my O my...

Reply

tehllama42
+1 ManInSteel
Tehllama42  - Sept. 2, 2020, 9:48 a.m.

I feel like putting pictures of it in every article he can is Andrew's public service - desensitize us to that level of two-wheeled erotica so we don't all have to buy one ourselves.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+3 twk Vik Banerjee ManInSteel
Andrew Major  - Sept. 2, 2020, 10:13 a.m.

Ha! Thanks. I always find it a bit funny as a I think my Walt V1 is a much cooler bike with being rigid-specific (not suspension corrected) and having the Toxik Harald dirty fade... 

V2 is just way meaner between a couple degrees of HTA and a couple inches of wheelbase. And arguably by being able to run a suspension fork.

Reply

Vikb
+1 ManInSteel
Vik Banerjee  - Sept. 3, 2020, 4:45 a.m.

I know right? I'm supposed to be able to read the words with that porn splashed across the screen?!?!?! ;-)

Reply

Vikb
+3 Andrew Major twk IslandLife
Vik Banerjee  - Sept. 2, 2020, 10:26 a.m.

The nice thing about putting in a decent amount of paved KMs of riding from home is that DHR ends up being a semi-slick sooner or later. ;-)

Reply

IslandLife
+2 Andrew Major Vik Banerjee
IslandLife  - Sept. 2, 2020, 1:04 p.m.

Ha!  I was just going to say... Isn't the best semi-slick and nicely worn DHRII?

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 Vik Banerjee IslandLife
Andrew Major  - Sept. 2, 2020, 3:10 p.m.

HAHAHAHA. I don't know if this is true everywhere or just the Shore, but the number of folks I know who have pulled a perfectly good (<50%) DHRII or DHF out of the recycling box at a shop and been stoked that it was pre-worn into a semi-slick is more than ten. 

Does not work with the Highroller mind you. Know two divers who found out the hard way that the side knobs on those undercut themselves long before the thread looks done.

Reply

Jotegir
+1 Andrew Major
Lu Kz  - Sept. 2, 2020, 7:42 p.m.

As someone who spent most of his spring and summer on a Bontrager XR2 29x2.6 out back on his stache, I can't freaking wait for the new XR3 to come out in non-XC racer sizes (and sidewalls for the bigger bike). I'll be swapping to an Optic for next season, probably going to keep the same tire combo (2.6 XR4 front, XR2 rear) until the XR3 comes out! I was a big fan of the minion SS but how close the slick knobs are together leaves something to be desired.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 Lu Kz Tjaard Breeuwer
Andrew Major  - Sept. 2, 2020, 8:24 p.m.

A 29x2.6” SE3 would be very worthy. Are you just dreaming or have you heard of such an animal coming to be?!

Reply

Jotegir
+1 Andrew Major
Lu Kz  - Sept. 2, 2020, 9:32 p.m.

No knowledge, only dreams. But Trek can't be that daft to the fact they struck gold with that tread pattern... can they? .... can they?

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 2, 2020, 9:46 p.m.

What a tease!

Reply

Kenny
+1 Andrew Major
Kenny  - Sept. 2, 2020, 9:37 p.m.

Yes. That tire needs to happen.

Reply

WalrusRider
+1 Andrew Major
WalrusRider  - Sept. 3, 2020, 6:28 a.m.

I don't do plus tires but I love my e*thirteen LG1r Semi-slick!

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 3, 2020, 7:59 a.m.

Love the e13 on an FS bike. On the hardtail the extra volume is so key.

Reply

theaeriopagite
+1 Andrew Major
theaeriopagite  - Sept. 4, 2020, 8:04 a.m.

This makes me want to buy a calliper! Great review and analysis btw.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Tjaard Breeuwer
Andrew Major  - Sept. 4, 2020, 8:08 a.m.

Thanks!

Truly believe everyone should consider owning a set of calipers. They’re not expensive and I use them for various non-bike measurements.

Reply

Tjaardbreeuwer
+1 Andrew Major
Tjaard Breeuwer  - Sept. 16, 2020, 8:29 p.m.

I only have room for a 2.55” tire in the rear of my bike. Running the Ehline 2.5 on i28 rim. But, I want bigger. Just installed Tannus tubeless to get the pressures down closer to what I like.

The Ehline is an interesting more-than-semi slick. Taller center knobs, but still very tightly packed. I bet it would beat the Cumberland on loose over hard, but mud would be terrifying, since it looks like mud velcro. We can’t ride our trails when muddy, so no experience there.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 16, 2020, 8:34 p.m.

The more-than-semi-slick category has some interesting rubber for sure! Ehline looks like one of the tires I would be raving about until I really, really, wasn't. I wish they did more of their tires in a 29x2.8", including that one.

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