It seems that by ‘lack of action’ I have now found myself in a minority group. Not in ethnicity or sexual orientation but on this occasion by mtb tyre size. Maybe not across the entire population but certainly within the enthusiast realm. There may still be millions of cheap ‘supermarket’ bikes out there on 26″ wheels but if you’re looking for a new tyre for proper mountain biking, particularly if tubeless is your thing then the choices are limited these days.
Maybe I should take this as a notification to upgrade to 27.5″ but that would require a new frame, fork and wheels. Pretty much an entire new bike. And having assembled my own wheels several years ago I’ve since become very attached to the ones I have. The rims are truly tubeless, with a completely sealed inner, no spoke holes, no need for tape, fully air tight and I’m not sure I could find anything the same now even if I wanted to splash the cash.
So back to the tyre hunt. My previous tyres were Schwalbe Nobby Nics and to be fair they did an excellent job for the years that I have had them. The rear tread has now been well worn down though and it has a cut on the sidewall where the fabric can be seen all frayed and poking through. So I took the decision to replace them. The natural option would be to replace like for like being as I was happy with them but I like to try other options if they are available and seem reasonable.
Having tried out some Hutchinson tubeless tyres on my road bike previously and being able to order them at Decathlon near work, I decided to give them a try on my mtb too. So I ordered myself a pair of Hutchinson Toro in 26×2.15 size. At £29.99 they’re a similar price to many other tubeless mountain bike tyres of this size. The tread is quite similar in design to the Schwabe Nobby Nics, with small blocks down the centre for fast rolling and larger blocks on the shoulders to dig in when leaning in a corner or when sinking deep into mud or sand.
I fitted them the day before my trip to the Peak District in February. Both the front and rear tyres mounted onto my mavic xm819 rims perfectly well. I had to fiddle about for a moment or two on one tyre to get it slotted down beside the valve but after that all went well. Once pumped up I let them back down and added sealent via the valve; with the valve core removed. Then gave them a spin and pumped them back up to pressure.
I know it’s not the most important feature of a tyre but I think these tyres look really good too. Even with my blue frame the red logos really look the part on the sidewalls. And the large white text stands out nicely. While you’re admiring the sidewalls it’s worth noting that there is a marked rotation direction and that the front is supposed to be fitted opposite to the rear too! I didn’t notice this but fortunately fitted them correctly by chance!
How did they perform then? Well I’m no ‘on the limit’ style Mountain Biker, although I do still like to give it some! They certainly didn’t cause me any concern during our rides on wet and muddy Peak District trails. My general feeling is that they offered very much equivalent grip to the Nobby Nics that I had before.
By the end of the first day I did find that the rear tyre had lost a fair amount of air which I put down to the sealant having not reached all parts of the tyre yet. So I reinflated for the second day of riding and thought nothing more of it. Only when I got back to the car on that second day did I actually notice the thorn in the tyre and it all made more sense. I pulled the thorn out at my next suitable opportunity when I was back home and it sealed no problem. Had I been running inner tubes that weekend, it would have led to a cold, wet and muddy repair on the trail side mid ride.
So in summary. Good price. Good grip. Works well tubeless. Look really good. I’m pleased with my choice so far.