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Sunday, September 3, 2023

Time To Re-Tire

Cyclists always ask about tires. Here's a short story of a tire that worked great for my bikepacking.

For over 3 years, I tested the capabilities and components of my Jones 29+ mountain bike in all sorts of conditions, including loaded tours on single track and rough roads. I scrutinized every bit and piece, but maybe wheels and tires more than anything. My original wheel set ran behemoth 3.25 inch tires on 45 mm rims, which worked great on technical tracks, but rode sluggish on decent gravel and dirt. Ultimately, I bought a narrower, lighter wheel set to run narrower, lighter tires for bike packing all but the roughest stuff. See, Next Time on the Jones 29+ (March 2021).

In early July 2021, I finally selected and installed a new set of tires for my impending ride of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. The 2.60 inch Bontrager XR2 Team Issue tire, for both front and rear.

What a great tire for that purpose.

On a fully loaded bike on rough roads, that front tire rolled every one of my 2,650 miles from Canada to Mexico without a single issue, without a single crash. The back tire took a puncture at about Mile 80 on Day 2 and the plug held for over 1,500 miles. I may have been able to baby it to the border, but decided to replace it in Salida, Colorado before launching into the rocky remotes of New Mexico. 

I then rode all of 2022 on that same 2.60 XR2 Team Issue front tire, including the 5 day 2022 Black Hills Bounty bike packing tour. I even rode it through the winter and the first half of 2023, fully loaded to prepare for bikepacking rides this summer. All with no leaks, no flats, and no issues.

That's a lot of long, hard miles carrying a loaded bike on rough roads and trails. In addition to being durable, the XR2 Team Issue rolled well, gripped great, and tracked flawlessly. I loved its performance over a long period of time in a wide variety of conditions, especially loaded. The tire, like the bike, never limited where I could ride. 

Finally, just before our 2023 ride of the BackBone Grande in June, I removed that front tire. In its place, I installed slighter narrower 2.35 inch XR2 Team Issue tires, both front and rear. 

I suspect I'll love those tires, too.

Well deserved retirement, although here it looks like it's got some life left.

July 2021 trail test of brand new 2.60 Bontrager XR2 Team Issue tires on M-Hill,
just days before my 2021 ride of the Great Divide.

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