Semi Slick NSMB AndrewM (12).JPG
EDITORIAL

When Is A Semi-Slick Too Damn Quick?!

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date May 28, 2020
Reading time

Let It Roll

Pumping along in perfect super-hero trail conditions with tacky wet dirt and bone dry roots got me thinking that my full-on DH tire out-back is a overkill this season. I'm not looking to give up my serious-sidewalls or my CushCore inserts, but a little faster rolling speed would be perfect right now. Heck, since they'd be up out of the way, maybe I could keep my mean super sticky side knobs just for sh*ts and giggles.

In fact, it wasn't that long ago that I was riding aggressive de-knobbed tires twelve months of the year with an e13 LG1 semi-slick on my full suspension bike and a 2.6" Specialized Slaughter tire on my single speed. And it wasn't just me. A couple-or-few years ago half the riders I knew were running a semi-slick out back on their bike whether it be full suspension or a hardtail. There are all sorts of situations where a crazy fast-rolling tire with massive cornering knobs makes a ridiculous amount of sense. Even when they aren't the best choice for traction there's no arguing that a semi-slick tire in the rear is super-funtastic.

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Summer 2018 I ripped around on a quick-rolling Bontrager SE2 with limited 'oh sh*t' moments. One of them just happened to be on Terrace Mountain.

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My only semi-slick moments on a hardtail in 2019 took place when I borrowed the wheels off my suspension bike to ride on the carbon, carbon, carbon, carbon Carbon Chameleon.

After a brief rocket up in popularity, it seems that semi-slick tires are back out of fashion so instead of looking forward to further development I'm looking through the dregs of their Atlantean heyday. There's still the Specialized Slaughter, when they have inventory, the Minion SS in 2.5 WT, which thankfully has MaxxGrip rubber, and the 2.35" e13 LG1r S/S. But there haven't been new options introduced for two years.

Specifically, I would love to see some almost-Plus (2.6") and Plus (2.8"-3.0") options with real sidewalls so I can have my cushion and fast-rolling too. With the vacuumous loss of popularity, I guess I can also give up on my dream tires, a 29x3.0" Bontrager SE2 with SE5 side knobs and a 29x3.0" WTB Ranger in Tough Casing/Fast Rolling with a set of mean, sticky, Vigilante knobs to port and starboard?

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Traction is okay here if I'm light on the brakes.

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Traction is amazing here and I love the S/S climbing.

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Traction is questionable here. The answer coming down to the specific rock.

Ignoring loose climbs and descents, a good semi-slick is often a very capable choice in many situations beyond hard pack. In some of the 'wet coast' snow conditions we get I actually found that the 2.35" e13 LG1r S/S climbed better than full-throated knobbies or big-ass fat rubber. They aren't the best choice in thick mud until everyone else's tires are clogged up in which case the traction is no better but at least they don't tend to build up as much material.

Crossing green roots is a definite weakness but on the greasiest rock features I do okay until the trail gets steep. In those situations I tend to be a bit panicked even with the slowest rolling mega-tacky DH rubber.

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The 2.35" e13 LG1r and 2.6" Specialized Slaughter are surprisingly amazing in certain snow conditions.

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S/S tires like this Slaughter get along well with greasy rock work but greener wood can be a handful.

I have friends riding Shore-XC who swear by a Maxxis Ikon, Bontrager XR2/SE2, or Schwable Racing Ralph as a rear tire but when I bring up adding some real side lugs they're non-committal. "Why not just run a more aggressive trail tire?"

I have friends on BALD DH rubber with semi-functioning side knobs who manage to somehow use their wizardry to brake down the greenest and meanest woodwork the Shore has to offer. Surely they agree with my love of semi-slick rubber? "Why would I buy a tire that's already worn out?"

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My setup for years has been a semi-slick on the back of a single speed but for 2019 only my Chameleon review featured this combo.

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I wish e*thirteen made a bigger S/S tire. The 29x2.35" is great on the back of a suspension bike but I'm fully invested in 2.6"+ on hardtails.

Which brings me around to the real question. Am I the only one who still loves semi-slick tires? Fast-rolling XC rubber isn't what I'm looking for and as good as the SE2 is in the big size with a decent sidewall, I'd still choose to ride it with bigass side knobs if that was an option. What happened to all the folks buying Rock Razors, Slaughters, LG1r S/S, and Minion S/S tires? Does it turn out that a full-knobby doesn't roll that much slower in exchange for all the bonus traction? Wouldn't these tires be awesome in a 27+ and 29+ format with real sidewalls?

If you were fully on the semi-slick bandwagon and jumped off, (I hope you're okay) what turned you away?

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Comments

momjijimike
+4 Andrew Major Cr4w Pete Roggeman WasatchEnduro
momjijimike  - May 28, 2020, 1:31 a.m.

2017/2018 I rode Minion SS, Slaughter, WTB Riddler, ... set a lot of PR on the uphills. But everytime I switched back to more knobbs on the back I felt much safer on the downs. 

The same for me if I use lighter tires - a lot of fun, bike gets more nimble and I'm faster. But for safty reasons I prefer something like Minion DHF, DHR, Dissector, ... on the back. Also enjoy a DD more than an EXO or EXO+. Better comfort, more stability and just safer.

p.s. nearly forgot, had in 2019/2020 a good time with Maxxis Tomahawk 2.3 DD Maxxterra :)

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 28, 2020, 6:53 a.m.

Agree, my dream S/S tires are definitely DD, Super Grav, or Tough Casing. That plus bigger sizes and I feel I’d spend way more time on one.

Reply

tehllama42
+1 Andrew Major
Tehllama42  - May 29, 2020, 10:18 a.m.

As a dedicated 29er rider (on XXL bikes), the basic nonexistence outside of the catalog of the 29" MinionSS in DD casing is why I had to look beyond Maxxis... ideally a 2.4" version would work better for how tall those side knobs are.
Practically, the only two options I have are RockRazor SuperGravity, and the e.13 SS, and for the cost delta, I'm going to be an e.13 rider for the forseeable future.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 29, 2020, 11:35 a.m.

I found I enjoyed the Slaughter and E.13 S/S more than the RockRazor as it was quite a bit rounder and I didn't get over to the side knobs as often. I wish E.13 would do the S/S in a true 2.6" size as I'd love to try that.

Reply

Harris
+2 Andrew Major WasatchEnduro
Harris  - May 28, 2020, 3:21 a.m.

The closest that I've come is using a Maxxis Tomahawk DD or a thoroughly worn out E13 TRS Race gen 1 tire. The Maxxis Aggressor is one of my all time favorite rear tires for the area that I'm in, and it makes me want to try out a semi-slick in the rear to go with my E13 front. I don't mind the rear end getting loose, and would happily take a bit more rolling vs the very sticky full knob E13 that I currently run. Maybe on the next change around.

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AndrewMajor
+2 WasatchEnduro Tim Ambler
Andrew Major  - May 28, 2020, 6:51 a.m.

Aggressor is an interesting shoe to bring up. The only Maxxis tire that comes close in terms of wildly mixed reviews is the High Roller. It’s either ‘throw the horns and get done this is the only rear rubber for me...’ or it’s ‘that tire has all the drag and none of the traction just give me a DHRII for the rear.’

That can be same trail, same day, same conditions.

Reply

Vikb
+1 Andrew Major
Vik Banerjee  - May 28, 2020, 6:05 p.m.

I've ridden the 29 x 2.5" EXO Aggressor on my GG Smash for a while last fall and just put it back on the bike. I was not expecting to like it and ended up riding some very wet trails where I thought it would suck....and it did great. I kept thinking "Man this wet trail will be rough on this tire and then at the end I was smiling and it did quite well." I'm curious to see how I like this year and see if I was drunk on some Kool-Aid or not.

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AndrewMajor
+4 Velocipedestrian Vik Banerjee Dude@ Tremeer023
Andrew Major  - May 28, 2020, 6:51 p.m.

That's the worst... how many times I've had one magical ride on a new part and it's like the holy grail has been discovered... then the next ride it turns out that sometimes I just have a really good ride, the equipment be damned.

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Vikb
0
Vik Banerjee  - May 30, 2020, 7:39 a.m.

Well one ride down on the DHF/Aggressor combo [this year] and that Aggressor did really well again. I'm riding from home these days so 40-60kms overall with 20kms on slow janky dirt trails in the middle is a tough mission for any set of MTB tires, but these seem to be a decent option. I'll keep wearing out the Aggressor and see if it lets me down as things get drier and looser.

Reply

andrewbikeguide
0
AndrewR  - May 29, 2020, 8:30 a.m.

Everyone I have met running an Aggressor is usually looking at it, watching the sealant bubble out onto the trail, saying something like "I only put this tyre on the bike three days ago".

Reply

Harris
0
Harris  - May 30, 2020, 4:12 a.m.

My aggressor experiences were all 27.5" 2.3 DD casing and rear only, paired up with a DHF in the front. I ride all over California, but with the majority happening in the dry of Tahoe, the fast and rocky of Downieville, and the redwood forests out on the coast. I'm in the former camp of always having been stoked with it, or just generally getting to ignore it. That said, I now run full sticky E13 tires front and rear, so drag be damned I just want maximum traction, especially when the roots get wet. The aggressor was surprisingly good in the kitty litter of Tahoe and Mammoth mountain areas though

Reply

oldschoolsteel
+1 Andrew Major
oldschoolsteel  - May 29, 2020, 8:11 a.m.

I went from a narrower Minion 2.3 S/S as a dry tire on a 27.5 rear wheel to a 2.5 aggressor this spring (with a Forecaster in between for the wet season). I think think the Aggressor is a better tire. It rolls pretty fast, has usable edging knobs and much better straight-line grip. I thought it would feel slower, and that the cornering might suck, but neither turned out to be true. It also looks to be wearing much better than the S/S... so far... 

However, it makes me wonder what a 2.6 or 2.8 minion s/s might roll like. The forecaster has a pretty pitiful tread pattern, but in the 2.6 width, it still held on OK. However, I never really appreciated the side knobs on that one.  I ran semi-slicks on XC bikes a few decades ago, but mostly but gave them up for higher-volume tires with minimal tread. To be honest, these more aggressive S/S tires are pretty far from slick, they just have minimal center-line tread. At higher volumes, they might be awesome. After getting a look at that Slaughter 2.6, I kinda want to try it.

Reply

tehllama42
+1 Andrew Major
Tehllama42  - May 29, 2020, 10:20 a.m.

The 2.35 Forekaster is a remarkably flexible tire, making it 2.6 improved it more.  I do think the SS tread pattern expanded would be somewhere - although in that 2.6 size I suspect a RekonRace modification (with the right casing) would get the same level of awesome accomplished, and actually get you there.
The semislick performance varies so much based on how quickly those side knobs engage, especially in conditions where knob penetration on surfaces is variable.  I've found that slightly shorter but more accessible knobs are a better pairing on higher volume tires, which is why my preference would be an EXO+ RekonRace instead of the SS/Slaughter template.
For hardtails, I find that I put even dumber sideloads on rear tires, so more volume plus knobs that really grab at high angles aren't as ideal as a setup that gives me more grip early, so I can blow that off into a controllable drift, especially if the upside is better rolling and weight.

Reply

oldschoolsteel
0
oldschoolsteel  - May 31, 2020, 12:23 a.m.

That's a good point on sideknob accessibility. It got me thinking about why I've always kinda preferred rear tires with a bit of a flatter pattern. I don't like reaching too far for the edging knob. I run Stan Sentries with a 32mm ID, so they tend to round-out tires over 2.6. Though I do run a 2.8 on the front sometimes, and quite like it. On the rear, I often think I should have gotten a slightly  wider rim. The sentries are pretty great though...

I get where you're coming from on having more grip "up front" on the rear, and a predictable breakout. However, I find that I do really appreciate some additional air volume on a rigid rear. Though, I might just be old...

I should eventually try those cush cores... I just hate frustrating instals.

Reply

olaa
+1 Andrew Major
olaa  - May 28, 2020, 3:45 a.m.

Been on the Tomahawk as well, but it was a while ago. That was a surprisingly fun tire although not the grippiest on roots!  

This spring when my rear Magic Mary started looking worn. Instead of changing tire I cut the middle knobs down so that the side knobs would get a bit more grip. Great fun with a cut spike, so much faster but still with some grip left :) And i probably got a month more out of the tire...

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 28, 2020, 6:38 a.m.

Thanks! I’ve been looking at my fairly worn rear Vigilante which is 50% center but still 75-80% side (huzzah for riding from home...) and thinking about doing just that. How low did you cut? Photos?

Tomahawk feels like it should come in Plus sizes... maybe only in 2.6” and larger actually.

Reply

olaa
+1 Andrew Major
olaa  - May 28, 2020, 10:27 a.m.

cut mm

Yes, a 2.6 Tomahawk would be perfect as rear tire on the hardtail!

The terrain here doesn't wear down the tires all that much, but the edges get rounded off and degraded and side knobs get destroyed from loads of off-camber. So my center knobs were quite ok while the side knobs were looking terrible. Cut the center ones down to about 1.5 mm. 

Do give it a try! It's sortof a win-win either way :)

Reply

Tjaardbreeuwer
+3 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman Andy Eunson
Tjaard Breeuwer  - May 28, 2020, 5:53 a.m.

I still love that type of tire, but I am not in your part of the world. On our north shore (Lake Superior) our trails close when wet, so I ride hardpack, rubble and dry rock. No mud, rarely wet rock. No need for large braking/climbing knobs in the rear. Just want some cornering bite for loose surfaces or the occasional remnant of amud puddles. No steeps either, except for rock rolls.

And I have different tires on a separate wheelset for the bikepark.

There are a few new options, Bontrager released the new XR 3 as one of these designs, wish they made it as SE3 as well. Terra Vail has the Eh-Line. I have it in 29x2.5, but it is not much bigger than my Rock Razor in 2.35.(60mm casin on i28mm rim at 22 psi). It does come in both light and tough casing.

And Specialized did upgrade the Slaughter, to the new Grid Trail casing, and grippier compound.

But indeed, Schwalbe should really come out with some more sizes and casing options for the Rock Razor.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 28, 2020, 6:43 a.m.

I’d love to try an SE3. In both a 2.6” and a 3”. 

Sadly what I think is the best rear tire in that category (and best front and rear tire for regular folks doing XC / gravel / bike packing / adventure has been killed off by people and their gram scales - the WTB 29+ Ranger in the supportive and infinitely durable Tough Casing is no more. 

Slaughter 2.6” is quite tall but not really that wide. Or maybe just my time on 3” and 2.8” tires has clouded my judgement. Either way my Plus-sizes S/S tire dreams seem to have died on the vine.

Reply

blaklabl
0
blaklabl  - May 28, 2020, 8:54 a.m.

Are the Slaughter 2.6 really only about 1mm shorter than their 2.8 variant?  I've seen that Specialized chart before, but find it hard to believe.  I'd love to move to a 2.6 for a spell but wouldn't want the BB to be any lower than the 2.8 version makes it (used to run one).

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tehllama42
0
Tehllama42  - May 29, 2020, 10:23 a.m.

Probably different rim widths plays a role in that - 2.8 on 35mm and 2.6 on 30mm are going to be pretty close to the same height, but give you drastically different (OK, maybe not that big a delta) ride performance depending on terrain

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tehllama42
0
Tehllama42  - May 29, 2020, 10:23 a.m.

Probably different rim widths plays a role in that - 2.8 on 35mm and 2.6 on 30mm are going to be pretty close to the same height, but give you drastically different (OK, maybe not that big a delta) ride performance depending on terrain

Reply

Kenny
0
Kenny  - May 29, 2020, 11:44 p.m.

Yep SE3 in the new XR3 would be awesome. I still might try the XR3.

I also wish schwalbe make the rocket Ron in a heavy casing. I am really liking the 2.8 on the back of my hardtail but I'd pay a couple hundred grams for something with a beefier casing.

Rocket Ron is similar to the ranger. I get along well with these tires with a higher quantity of smaller knobs but wide versions with good casings just don't exist. Cush core and hope for the best?

Reply

cxfahrer
+2 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman
cxfahrer  - May 28, 2020, 6:35 a.m.

Semis are great for groomed or graveled bikepark laps - the Slaughter was great for that. But every time I wanted to ride something more challenging I had to swap tires, so I stayed with Minion DHF. The Slaughter is not noticeably faster on pavement than an DC Minion. 

Oh my hardtail I have a 3.0 Chronicle DC, which has near zero braking and cornering traction. Fun, but I had to Walk down some lines recently.

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AndrewMajor
+1 bumVSmtn
Andrew Major  - May 28, 2020, 6:46 a.m.

Yeah, there are a few things missing in this article. Like I prefer big knobs all around when trails get hairy and do t live swapping tubeless tires back and forth (more so now with inserts). I suppose it’s a two rear wheel situation and that’s a big expense and too much planning for the benefit v. just rolling a big slower on the big knobby.

Lots of laughs!

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tehllama42
+1 Andrew Major
Tehllama42  - May 29, 2020, 10:26 a.m.

I think it's a situation that has much more to do with effective knob penetration - where I live it's mostly loose over hardpack, so running more knobs is only helpful part of the time, and I actually enjoy having slightly lower but more predictable break-loose conditions on it.  Steep rock slabs are the biggest limitation for me as well, because the on-center braking forces me to rely on front wheel traction, and that's where I hit the 'hero or zero' point where I'm either carrying momentum like a rock star, or walking/tripod-ing out.

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drelley15
+2 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman
drelley15  - May 28, 2020, 6:44 a.m.

I was out last night getting a bit of a ribbing for using my Rock Razor on the rear but it’s such a fun tyre for the summer here in the UK. Much faster, especially as it’s fairly ineffective for braking in the loose! Really keeps you on your toes. Just wish it came in a heavier duty casing.

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tehllama42
0
Tehllama42  - May 29, 2020, 10:27 a.m.

Sounds crazy, but the right front tire to compliment that really works brilliantly - different approach required, but something with big braking knobs/paddles (like the DHR2) can make up a lot of that difference.  Casing is the bigger limitation, because with semislicks I find myself carrying speed in places I couldn't have otherwise, and abusing stuff through rock gardens in new and exciting ways

Reply

kos
+2 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman
Kos  - May 28, 2020, 6:56 a.m.

How about the sorta-kinda semi-slick Bonty XR3, Andrew?

When I first saw it, I was skeptical. After I rode it, I was sold.  Not for everybody up front, but it rips as a back tire.

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AndrewMajor
+1 WasatchEnduro
Andrew Major  - May 28, 2020, 7:22 a.m.

Wish they made an SE3. I can’t get away with the XR sidewall (and prefer the SE sidewall support anyways). 3” or even 2.6” SE3 I would be hot to try.

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GOrtho
0
GOrtho  - May 30, 2020, 6:39 a.m.

They do I, I have one one the back of my trail bike. I don't notice any less traction than an Aggressor to be honest, and it rolls better. I don't think they make the larger widths:(

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NotEndurbro
0
Dustin Meyer  - May 28, 2020, 7:37 p.m.

I didn't get along with it for a front tire, especially coming from the previous XR3 which I thought was an incredible front tire for XC. I feel like they weren't quite sure whether to go all tee way with the side knobs. The side knobs have a big footprint, but then are low to begin with and then actually ramp down toward the center section.

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D_C_
+2 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman
DMVancouver  - May 28, 2020, 7:11 a.m.

I swore by the Slaughter for a couple years, but after a new bike came with a DHR in back, it wasn’t as soul-crushing to pedal around as I expected, compared to the semi-slick. I found the Slaughter to be surprisingly versatile and it never really let me down, but dropping into something like a steep chute with wet, soft dirt, the tire was always in the back of my mind. So now I run grippier treads in back.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 28, 2020, 7:23 a.m.

If I had had to take a bet on what the majority of converts who have gone back to full knobs would say then this would have been it!

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D_C_
+1 Andrew Major
DMVancouver  - May 28, 2020, 10:21 a.m.

On another note, I tried a 2.35 Ikon in back last year that I put on for the Nimby. It also had a surprising amount of grip, but the rear end gave out without warning when pumping into a flatter corner at speed on Bobsled, putting me flat on my butt. It was at that point that I recognized that a fast-rolling tire is better to have decent side knobs for any sort of fast riding.

Reply

tehllama42
+2 DMVancouver Andrew Major
Tehllama42  - May 28, 2020, 10:29 a.m.

That's what I found as well - if you're intentionally overcooking it out back, and rolling with margin the rest of the time, it's a brilliant tire... but the Rekon Race does everything that tire does, except better.

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Hepcat
+1 twk
Beau Miller  - May 28, 2020, 5:02 p.m.

Amazing tire, but Race is 120tpi= wet tissue strength. 60tpi only for this husky boy. Ikon is available in 60tpi.

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NaOH
+3 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman WasatchEnduro
Stephen Gaucher  - May 28, 2020, 7:13 a.m.

I'm running the Kenda Helldiver/Hellkat Pro combo on my Scout and they've been fantastic.  Previously I've run the Minion SS as well.  Give me semi-slicks or give me death!

Reply

TucsonMike
+2 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman
TucsonMike  - May 28, 2020, 7:24 a.m.

I recently replaced a very worn high roller 2.3 dual compound EXO rear for my 5010 (desert riding in Tucson )with another high roller and on easier trails I really did miss the speed I was carrying and being able to break traction so easily really made the bike come alive and made riding dry XC trails so much more fun. On the downhill trails on the mountain I was able to get some epic drifts and loved the lack of traction. That bike is currently in the shop but I did put a 2.4 aggressor dual compound DD on my Bronson and it seems to be a great compromise between rolling resistance and control. Did 60k of descending at Angelfire this weekend and control was great with minimal wear. Can’t ask for more than that in my opinion. May try SS on the 5010 once the new high roller I’ve got for it are worn out.

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tehllama42
0
Tehllama42  - May 29, 2020, 10:29 a.m.

For some people, the HR2/SS combination really works.  It's not for me, but anybody that's really using body english to pop around the trail - since you're close to me, and a lot of good riders our here swear by that combo on rigs like the 5010, I'd give that a whirl to see if you like it.

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agleck7
+3 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman Cam McRae
Agleck7  - May 28, 2020, 7:31 a.m.

Minion SS is my daily driver (DD or EXO w Cush).  But for trip to PNW or places with deeper/looser soil and proper, sustained steeps, i'll be switching to something with better braking.

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boomforeal
+2 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman
boomforeal  - May 28, 2020, 7:36 a.m.

i have been running a minion ss exo out back exclusively on my trail bike for the past 4 years, ever since steve sheldon pointed out that you can't spell slaughter without laughter. i don't find it a compromise at all on steep/gnarly trail -- you get used to the conditions in which traction is in short supply and learn to avoid them or adjust pretty quickly, ime -- but i only ride in bc during the summers. i have a pair of specialized slaughter grid 2.8s that i haven't installed yet. they're on the narrow side for plus tires, but i'm not sure how beneficial large side-knobs on plus or fat tires are, really, anyway

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 28, 2020, 8:10 a.m.

Side knobs v. Plus, do you mean in terms of leaning the bike over to engage them?

I had this issue with the 3” DHF (worst DHF Maxxis makes) as its center to side gap is huge but on the 3” SE4 (very round) and 2.8” Vigilante I’m over on the side a fair bit (I mean, I haven’t experimented with cutting off side knobs or anything but they show wear and I feel like I’m engaging them).

Unfortunately Specialized is not making a 29x2.8 Slaughter as I’d try that for sure. 27x2.6” I found when I was in trouble in steeps I could lean the bike a bit and get a healthy increase in grip where the SE2 and Ranger Plus semi-knobs I’ve ridden don’t have that feature.

Reply

boomforeal
+2 Andrew Major Andy Eunson
boomforeal  - May 28, 2020, 8:35 a.m.

yeah. in corners, my impression is that plus tires generate grip through increased surface area contact, vs. traditional knobby tires which generate grip by digging into the trail. it's something (i think) i can feel when i switch between my fat-turned-plus bike with rekons vs my trail bike with minions, and it influences how i ride and react. hard to imagine how you can both generate a large contact area and focus pressure directly to/through a row of side knobs at the same time; i picked up the slaughters to explore this tension, though as i mentioned they're not all that chubby really, more like the width/volume of WT tire. interesting idea about leaning a semi-slick over a bit to increase grip in steep terrain -- if i find myself losing traction under such conditions and can keep my lizard brain from panicking, i will try that trick for sure!

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 28, 2020, 8:41 a.m.

Interesting! Do let me know if you notice the side knobs on the Slaughter.

It’s really too bad as the 2.6” was undersized on a 30mm and 40mm ID rim and I was holding out that they’d make a bigger version.

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tehllama42
+1 Andrew Major
Tehllama42  - May 29, 2020, 10:33 a.m.

I'm in the same camp - comes down to how much side loading you can put through the tire - taller knobs tend to lead to just getting extra sidewall deformation instead of really usable grip when laterally loading, so much so that for 2.6 and up I'd actually say shorter (but more plentiful and slightly more centrally located) side knobs because I can get a little bit more usable cornering traction - by the time I've got it really leaned over, I'm either making grip because there's so much rubber down I'm hooked up, or in a big slide where the knobs are making the tire seem 'snatchy' instead of controlled.  The taller knobs seem to put it in that edgy situation where they're grabbing part of the time, and sliding part of the time, which seems to have a lot to do with how much sidewall load is contributing to deflection of the carcass under those side knobs.
I do wish there were 60tpi flavors of the RekonRace in EXO+ or similar in semi-fat tires, because I think that particular combo would be a revelation anytime you're not getting mud packed into the tread.

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rigidjunkie
+2 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman
Allen Lloyd  - May 28, 2020, 7:41 a.m.

I have started riding my old Salsa El Mariachi with semi-slicks front and back.  It is 80% gravel rides, but on trail I am amazed at how well the tiny knobs do.  My big bike has Conti's that constantly pick up small rocks and fling them, it is literally pulling the earth up out of the ground.  

One of my favorite tires was an old Michelin semi-slick that came in the weird green rubber, it had nice big side knobs and it rolled soooo fast.  I always thought, well this tires is going to suck in whatever new condition I threw at it, but it worked everywhere.  I still think there was some magic in that green rubber.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 28, 2020, 8:24 a.m.

Been seeing a lot of that green rubber around on gravel bikes. Don’t know if it’s reproduction or new old stock but either way it definitely has the nostalgia neurones firing.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 28, 2020, 8:46 a.m.

Looks like the Michi but made by Panaracer. Interesting - and that explains it!

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rigidjunkie
+1 Andrew Major
Allen Lloyd  - May 28, 2020, 12:05 p.m.

I remember the side knobs being a bit more aggressive, BUT that is the tire I used.  I might have to get a set for my bike.

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blangshaw
+1 Andrew Major
Burgess Langshaw Power  - May 28, 2020, 8:15 a.m.

I'm gonna suggest the Vittoria Mezcal in 29x2.6.  It has a shockingly large amount of grip for how little the knobs are, does great when leaned over, and rolls very nicely.

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AndrewMajor
+1 WasatchEnduro
Andrew Major  - May 28, 2020, 8:22 a.m.

The Mezcal is an interesting tire but in the same vein as the XR3 they would need to make a version with a real sidewall to catch my interest.

In addition to loving the support, one of my life goals is to never have to insert a tube again on a trail and tough sidewalls are part of that.

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DarioD
+1 Andrew Major
DarioD  - May 28, 2020, 8:28 a.m.

The Trail Boss at 50% wear fills your niche pretty well, but I've found it to be nothing like a S/S in rolling speed until it's properly worn.

I've been on the e13 S/S program for a few tire's time now, and really dig them on my full sus, but agree with you that a bit more volume would make them far more hardtail friendly.

In the end, if you're someone who has to put in any road miles to get to a trailhead, the semislick life can be a disheartening one every 250 miles or so.

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wasatchenduro
+1 Andrew Major
WasatchEnduro  - May 28, 2020, 8:36 a.m.

Ha!  My e13 S/S (enduro casing, plus compound) was too damn quick this morning down a scree-filled ridgeline!  Spicy for sure.

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cooperquinn
+1 Andy Eunson
Cooper Quinn  - May 28, 2020, 8:58 a.m.

I'm currently running a Dissector/Rekon combo, and while its *not* what I would choose for Shore grease and wet days on roots and rocks, it makes a strong case for faster rolling tires. 

Obvious climbing benefits aside, its a sensation not unlike putting fresh bearings in a longboard; I find myself rolling into very familiar sections of trail (say, the flat part of Severed) and just kinda going "whoa, this is much faster than usual, with no effort".

But, there are limits (say, trying to slow the bike down after the drop at the top of Pingu) when things are moist.

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andy-eunson
0
Andy Eunson  - May 30, 2020, 7:50 a.m.

I just installed a pair of Dissectors on my hardtail. Oh yeah. Way faster than the Assegais I had on from the wet season. I was dinging rims until I put way more air in them.  We are in hero traction conditions right now though. We’ll see what the weekend brings.

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tehllama42
+1 Andrew Major
Tehllama42  - May 28, 2020, 10:27 a.m.

The e.13 SS 29x2.35 are my all year tires (spoiled desert rat).
I've definitely found that the trick on suspension bikes for making these work is braking knobs on the front tire.  In my case, the DHR-2 out front is the answer.  Not a perfect solution, in that lateral grip isn't as high overall, and rolling resistance while climbing isn't the best, but as an overall compromise that pairing is brilliant.  On typical loose over hardpack, as long as I can weight the front center appropriately, I'm on KOM pace in ways I don't deserve to be for my skill level, and that's leaving some in the tank because they're multi-use trails.
It does force a bit of a technique adjustment in braking sections (that tire combo brakes in a straight line quite well if you lean on the front brake, but doesn't like to multitask if you overcook it - but the magic is that you can usually initiate a drift by trail-braking the back end or a bit hip move to break the back end out and you just bleed speed while the front end tracks - which is great in flatter open turns, but isn't as much of an option where it's steep or particularly choppy.

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oldmanbike
+2 Andrew Major Carmel
OldManBike  - May 28, 2020, 11:05 a.m.

I liked the Minion SS exo ride-wise but gave up after a few flats from cuts in the tread casing. Just not tough enough for my blundering in East coast rocks. Very happy with the Aggressor DD.

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tehllama42
+1 Andrew Major
Tehllama42  - May 29, 2020, 10:35 a.m.

Yup - if Maxxis made a 29x2.4 DD-SS, that would be my tire.  If Aggressor works for you, I wouldn't mess with it.

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nouseforaname
+2 Andrew Major Tjaard Breeuwer
Nouseforaname  - May 28, 2020, 11:50 a.m.

Question answered - I reckon it's the change in EWS racing over the last few years. A few years back the courses were much less "DH course on little bikes" and much more pedally. Now riders need all the grip they can get and rolling speed is not the deciding factor. I think that's why development has stagnated/plateaued. I might try an SE2 on the back of my bike once my Xr4 bites the dust.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Tjaard Breeuwer
Andrew Major  - May 28, 2020, 6:53 p.m.

I really like the 2.6" SE2 outback for Shore-XC and actually front and rear for gravel ride-arounding. I'd love to see a big SE3.

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BrewCrew22
+1 Andrew Major
Brandon Brewer  - May 28, 2020, 1:16 p.m.

Have you looked at the Teravail Cumberland, ticks most of the boxes. It does only come in a 2.6 though, nothing bigger.

https://teravail.com/tires/cumberland#TR7217

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earleb
+2 Tim Coleman Tjaard Breeuwer
earle.b  - May 28, 2020, 1:44 p.m.

https://www.schwalbetires.com/accessories/helpful_tools/tread_cutter

Buy what's close to what you want then trim em.

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Timmigrant
+1 Andrew Major
Tim Coleman  - May 28, 2020, 1:48 p.m.

"Add to Cart"

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Timmigrant
+1 Andrew Major
Tim Coleman  - May 28, 2020, 1:47 p.m.

I'm generally a fan of the semi-slicks, but haven't consciously bought one in a while. I really like the Rock Razer, and the WTB Riddler, but found myself gravitating towards the WTB Trail Boss and Break-Out as favourite rear tires. All in Tough Casing and High Grip. After the Break-Out was discontinued I spent most of last year just riding dual Magic Mary, Super Gravity, Ultra-Softs. This wasn't a conscious decision, but I think I gravitated (excuse the pun) this way since most of the riding I do is steeper climbs and steep descents. On those types of trails the faster rolling tire doesn't have as much benefit. I think if I rode more lower angle trails I'd definitely run a semi-slick rear.

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andy-eunson
0
Andy Eunson  - May 28, 2020, 2:49 p.m.

When I was racing XC I was all over the semi slicks. I had a number of Bontrager semi knob mostly in 1.95 or 2.0 or whatever too narrow we all used back then. Fast tires but only a little more grip than a hockey puck when it got slick. I ran a pair of Ritchey semi slicks for the Test of Metal and holly crap those were fast. They had what looked like a knurled pattern with very shallow scooped paddles across the the tread every 3 cm or so. It made one realize that most of the Shore even when it’s raining is hard surfaces. Not that much mud really.

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Losifer
+3 Andrew Major WasatchEnduro bumVSmtn
Carlos Matutes  - May 28, 2020, 2:53 p.m.

I just picked up a pair of e*13 tires For my Knolly Fugitive- TRSrace A/T for the front, SS LG1 plus for the back. I’d Ben playing around with a couple of tire combos. Starting with a 2.6” DHF front/2.5” DHF rear, and then tries a 2.6” Dissector front/2.6” XR4 Rear.

So far I’m very happy with the e*13 tires, especially the SS. Having used a Minion SS a couple of years ago, this is a much bigger volume tire that doesn’t lay the side knobs on the ground on a 30mm rim! 

I’m in Boise, Idaho. High desert, loose over hard, rarely wet, but I rode one of our higher altitude trails on Monday in some classic damp loam and wet rocks conditions, and had no regrets.

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tehllama42
+1 Carlos Matutes
Tehllama42  - May 29, 2020, 10:38 a.m.

You're not crazy about that - I actually dug out a 25mm rim just to make my 29x2.3 SS tires usable, and turns out that's what it needed in order to be a useful tire.  Doesn't handle side load quite as well, and there's a touch less usable volume as a result... that bike is now the wife bike, and she loves that partiular setup.
The e.13 on 32mm has been pretty awesome for me as well, I do want to try pairing it with their new tire out front, but the DHR2 pairing has been so excellent for me, I don't know why I'd want anything different - it complements the inherent deficiencies so well (braking is great on that out front), and shares the same awkward lateral limits that it turns into a giant fun sled in the right loose-over-hard conditions where I can chuck it into two wheel drifts with just weight transfer (no brakes).

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Andeh
+3 Andrew Major Tjaard Breeuwer AJ Barlas
Andeh  - May 28, 2020, 3:58 p.m.

I hate semi-slick or tires that prioritize rolling speed over control, but that's a function of local trails.  I got to ride a ton early in quarantine, before I got summoned back to work, and did a lot of A/B/C testing of a brand new Dissector, a moderately worn DHR II, and a brand new Michelin Wild Enduro Rear.  I'm in northern California, and the trail I was lapping was about 2 minutes long with an average grade of -27% (according to Strava).  It's a moderately steep "natural" flow trail, that is almost always loose over hard, and it includes some off camber and sections with loose gravel-sized rocks.  I consistently get better times with the the more aggressive tread patterns.  The trail is so naturally fast and the natural traction is so bad that if you run semi-slicks, you brake longer and have less control.

I've had people from out of town visit, who normally love an Aggressor, then remark after the first lap:  "OK, now I see why you ride real tires."

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 28, 2020, 6:55 p.m.

I showed up to a ride on the bike I'd been riding Shore-XC on experimenting with 29x2.3" Slaughter tires front and rear that basically ended up being straight down sections with the odd catch-hump and a bit of flat pedaling. It's the worst I've ridden in two decades. Definitely if in doubt I'm on mean meat.

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Reverend
+1 WasatchEnduro
Tim Ambler  - May 28, 2020, 7:30 p.m.

One other factor is whether you ride-to-ride or you unload your bike off the car at the trailhead and are on dirt almost immediately. I have recently had the pleasure of new bike day that included stock Assegais front and rear. Very nice tires but, geez, that rear sure is a slow rolling anchor on the 25 minutes of asphalt/gravel-under-powerline/path spin up to the base of where the trail network starts properly. Once on dirt I don't notice it too much but from a practicality stand point, something that rolls well yet still has some side knobs is appreciated. 

I used to run the Aggressor front/rear and I actually thought they were pretty fun (fast rolling, a bit drifty but predictably so and thus kind of fun). I've got a new Aggressor on order to run as a rear and will keep the Assegai up front.

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WyOh
+1 Tjaard Breeuwer
WyOh  - May 28, 2020, 8:10 p.m.

I'm in New England... I am running Ikon & SE2 (back/front) on my Smash this season. So far the combo is a lot of fun. It is my 1st foray on faster rolling tires, & I'm surprised at how much in changes the character of my rides. They've morphed a lot of areas on my local trails from "lets slog through this to get to the fun stuff," to "hey, when did that feature appear & become a fun little jump?"

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knarrr
+2 Andrew Major Tjaard Breeuwer
Andrew McKee  - May 28, 2020, 11:15 p.m.

I loved the Slaughter for many seasons, it reminded me of a fully rockered (reverse camber) ski; very loose and surfy when ridden flat, but tons of grip when leaned over on edge. After a hiatus from semis, mostly due to unavailability of good options, I now have a Minion SS 2.5 on my hardtail in a DH casing. 

Its still a fun tire, but for where I ride (dry, rocky, dusty) I think the MaxxGrip compound ruins a lot of the good qualities of a semi. Its not as loose when running it "bases flat" as I'd like. I love the feeling of initiating a drift effortlessly in conditions that reward it. That same tire in a Double Down/Dual compound would be my holy grail.

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a.funks
+1 Andrew Major
a.funks  - May 29, 2020, 1:49 a.m.

I found the Minion SS a lot of fun on our flatter local trails but the lack of braking grip scared me too much on the steep ones. However more skilled/braver riders than me manage to make semi-slicks work for them locally, some of them year round. 

I swapped back from the Minion SS 2.3 to the DHR2 2.3 on my hardtail, both in the harder dual compound. Amazingly that DHR2 doesn’t roll much slower and it’s miles better for traction uphill or braking grip. The DHR2 2.4 is quite a lot slower though - much more difference than the 0.1” increase in nominal width would suggest.

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andrewbikeguide
+1 Andrew Major
AndrewR  - May 29, 2020, 8:34 a.m.

Just a suggestion, and happy to get shouted down as it appears that I am the only lower mainland rider, other than Ritchey Schley, who likes Continental tyres, but if you want a fast running, sticky compound but long lasting (ish) tyre with good side knobs then consider a Trail King 2.4 APEX Protection. The APEX Protection is the important bit as you get a robust side wall and, by virtue of a smaller range of SKUs, Black Chilli rubber which wears like MaxxSpeed but grips as well as, or better than, MaxxGrip (as people always use Maxxis as a reference).

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tehllama42
0
Tehllama42  - May 29, 2020, 10:40 a.m.

Love that rubber compound, I just feel like Conti has missed the boat on tread patterns it works with - on a slightly knobbier semislick configuration, that tire would be glorious, and pairing that with a cut (or slightly simplified) baron out front would be a truly phenomenal combo... instead, those tires are basically no-go for me anytime knob penetration isn't high (slick rock, decomposing granite loose-over-hard), to where I can't use any of their tires other than the XC stuff.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 29, 2020, 11:48 a.m.

I want to love Continental's MTB tires. They're top quality (in my experience selling their road tires), Black Chili has a good story, they make tires in Germany and they make high volume 2.6" rubber with decent sidewall support (Apex). 

I'd get on one and LOVE it until - whatever time of year - there's a greasy day and all that sweet traction just disappeared. I would recommend them all the time to fair-weather riders but in my experiences, they've got nothing on MaxxGrip when trails are green. 

It's been a few years since I've tried any of their rubber but I don't think Black Chili has changed in that time?

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Vikb
+1 Andrew Major
Vik Banerjee  - May 30, 2020, 7:47 a.m.

I rode Conti TKs for years on Van Isle all summer/winter and they gripped well wet or dry. I always bought the real made in Germany tires not the cheap Vietnamese versions. They announced a 2.6" Trail King a few years ago and then never made them. Bummer.

AFAIK Black Chilli hasn't changed.

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D_C_
+1 Andrew Major
DMVancouver  - May 30, 2020, 5:48 p.m.

I was quite happy with the Der Baron/Trail King combo year-round on my hardtail. I found they gripped in the wet as well as anything. They did seem to weep more sealant than other tires, though, especially after a few months of life.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 8, 2020, 10:11 a.m.

Yeah, went and had a look at their lineup and without a full size 2.6” or reasonably true to size 2.8” it’s hard to get too excited.

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a.funks
+2 Andrew Major Tjaard Breeuwer
a.funks  - May 29, 2020, 2:32 p.m.

“It's been a few years since I've tried any of their rubber but I don't think Black Chili has changed in that time?”

Continental have done a great job of confusing everyone over what Black Chili is! It isn’t a compound, it’s an additive. I’ve ridden four different black chili Continental tyres which I’m fairly certain are a few different compounds:

X-King Protection was faster and harder but shredded quite easily!

Trail King Protection was similar to the X-King but seemed stickier - maybe just the tread pattern?

Rubber Queen UST (old name for Trail King) was at least as grippy as the TK but more durable, never seemed to tear up or lose chunks. Also a really good casing, flexible yet tough for a light tyre.

Baron - incredibly sticky, best wet roots tyre ever, rolled so well for something so grippy.

These were all in my 26” days but I remember thinking “these cannot he the same compound, they ride so different and wear so different!”

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 29, 2020, 5:30 p.m.

I should have specified that for MTB I've only ridden aggressive tires, including the original Rubber Queen and at least one version of the Trail King, at a couple of different times, so I can't comment on the rubber of their XC tires but I feel like over the years I've given their real-rubber a fair shake. It has been a few years and I have not ridden the Baron.

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WalrusRider
+1 Andrew Major
WalrusRider  - June 8, 2020, 9:11 a.m.

I've been riding Barons front and rear with cush core for a couple years in all conditions and they're by far my favorite tires. The traction on wet root and rocks is as good or better than Max Grip Maxxis tires but they wear much better. Hardpack conditions aren't their forte but they still work really well. The knobs are strong and not too tall so they don't squirm like many tires. The baron on the rear does seem to roll pretty slow and I'm considering switching to something else in the rear for summer. This post is making me consider an e13 semi-slick. My biggest apprehension is I ride a lot of steep and loose tracks and have been spoiled with massive traction.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 8, 2020, 10:10 a.m.

The last couple weeks my regular route has had a lot of peanut butter on the way up and turning over the sticky 2.8” Vigilante has been brutal... been dreaming of a high-volume semi-slick. Even pulled out a 2.6” SE2 I have with 50% life left...

But! But, the trails down have been freakin’ greasy and man is it dreamy to be smashing big mean soft rubber back down. An added benefit of CushCore is that it takes just that much longer enough to change a tire that ai don’t make rash decisions.

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bumVSmtn
+2 Andrew Major Carlos Matutes
bumVSmtn  - May 29, 2020, 7:29 p.m.

I’ve run a variety of rear SS combos over the years , especially for the early season riding here in Idaho. 

Haven’t fully wrapped my head around why, but I prefer a rear SS on a hardtail compared to full suspension. 

DHF front and rear would be my desert island combo.

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AndrewMajor
+1 bumVSmtn
Andrew Major  - May 31, 2020, 1:32 p.m.

Hardtail already more reliant on front wheel braking traction or maybe just going lower max speed?

It’s interesting because I think I like the S/S best of all on a short(er) travel FS bike.

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mrbrett
+1 Andrew Major
mrbrett  - May 30, 2020, 6:53 a.m.

In my experience, rim width makes or breaks the Slaughter and other SS tires. Too wide and the side knobs are dragging,  and you might as well run a DHR. Too narrow and they don't get a good opportunity to grip before you're leaned too far over.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 31, 2020, 1:31 p.m.

I ran the 2.3” Slaughter on a i27 and i30 rim and the 2.6” Slaughter on i30 and i35 and in all cases I had a good experience.

I did have the too-wide-rim experience with the e13 S/S though. Need to be able to lean the bike a couple degrees before those side lugs engage!

The one thing with e13 tires is the side lugs do fold over very predictably. Certainly my favourite S/S - just wished for more volume.

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Zornitta
+1 Andrew Major
Zornitta  - May 30, 2020, 2:17 p.m.

Not exactly a SS, but anyone tried Terrene Mcfly? Looks like it run a bit small, ~2.7

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 31, 2020, 1:28 p.m.

They make a Tough version of the McFly and the tread pattern looks good. Haven’t tried it but would definitely give it a shop out back on my Walt.

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cullyen
+1 Andrew Major
cullyen  - May 30, 2020, 6:19 p.m.

I was a big fan of the Slaughter, there was a massive difference in speed compared to a DHR when rolling. That was only dry stuff here in Oz. It depends on the bike too, as I cant run anything too aggressive on the rear of my Zerode Taniwha because the rear traction is so high I will lose the front end way ahead of the rear. I'm running an Ardent at the moment, which is a good all rounder, but will swap that for a minion SS

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michel77
+1 Andrew Major
Michel Vis  - June 5, 2020, 11:36 a.m.

I just recently switched out my 2.5 Aggressor rear/2.5 Minion DHF front for a set of Teravail Honcho's 29x2.6 durable casing rear and light/supple casing front, both 60 tpi.  Something a little lighter/faster and appropriate for spring/summer conditions but still capable enough for the burlier stuff.

Pretty impressed so far, much faster rolling than the Maxxis combo, and ride noticeably "softer" as well which is nice on a hardtail.  I may even try the 2.6 Ehline out back, more in line with this article being more of a semi-slick tire.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 8, 2020, 10:06 a.m.

I’ve looked at their 29x2.6” Cumberland a few times on their site. Man it looks like a Slaughter! Durable casing. 

If they came in a 2.8” I don’t think I could resist. How is the Honcho size wise?

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michel77
+1 Andrew Major
Michel Vis  - June 12, 2020, 7:14 p.m.

Hey Andrew, I had a 2.4 Honcho first and it came out pretty narrow (about 2.2 on a 30mm internal rim).  I now fitted the 2.6 and it's much better, still running a bit smaller than a true 2.6 but it's wider than a 2.5WT Aggressor so close enough.  Seems like a solid tire so far.

I do also like the look of the Cumberland, looks just a bit more aggressive than the Ehline (although Eh-line is an awesome tire name) and comes in 2.6 vs 2.5 for the Ehline. I may use some store credit to get a Cumberland and report back..

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 14, 2020, 4:59 p.m.

If you end up getting one I'd love to hear your feedback.

If was one of those greasy rides today where I was happy to have all the big sticky knobs; however, the superhero season isn't far off.

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