Lehigh Valley Free Riders...Hucking the (Hudson) Valley one trail at a time.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Winter Tire Review - Maxxis Swamp Thing

 Swamp Thing...the words probably conjure up memories of the slimey anti-hero from the mid-eighties who fights to protect his swamp home, the environment in general, and humanity from various supernatural or terrorist threats. You probably don't think of mountain biking when you hear the words Swamp Thing, but thanks to a little hidden gem from Maxxis Tires, you will now.

If you are like me and like to ride your bike twelve months of the year here in the balmy northeast, you have probably come across a situation where you felt the conditions had you totally outgunned in the tire department. I have gone back and forth over the years with trying to find a dedicated winter riding tire to deal with the slime, wetness, roots, rocks, and varying soil conditions we encounter in the NE part of the US while riding during the winter. As much time as I spend maintaining my bike, I don't really want to have to change tires for every ride to adjust to the varying conditions over the winter. Finding something that worked just as well in the wet, sloppy stuff you encounter after a mid December thaw as it does on the frozen, crunchy, leaf covered wonderfulness that makes winter riding so much fun was no easy task...until now.

Introducing (at least to my consciousness) the Maxxis Swamp Thing MTB Tire. I was introduced to this little known wonder by the guys at Cutters Bike Shop, the unofficial home of my little blog, and I will never look back for my winter riding needs.

This burly offering from Maxxis has apparently been around for a while and is not available in the US anymore directly from Maxxis, but several online retailers still have them available and I was able to pick up a set for a pretty reasonable price.

When the leaves start to fall it's the start of Swamp Thing season. In all but the most sloppy conditions,  the Swamp Thing will find grip. The rounded profile can take some getting used to if you have spent the summer on squared edged tires, but the transition is worth it and you will soon appreciate the level of control these tires provide in the sloppy stuff and the speed at which they roll through wet roots, rocks, and logs.

By no means a welter weight at over 1000 grams per tire, these suckers don't so much finesse their way down the trail as they turn your bike into a off-road freight train and plow through it. But if railing and hucking throughout the winter months is your goal, these babies will be your best friend.

 The Swamp Thing is technically a downhill tire and is not that well known, but is definitely a hidden gem. I have been running these on my Enduro for the past month and can attest to their awesome huckability and hook-up in all conditions.

I have been running the 2.5 version and it is not much bigger than the 2.35 version, if at all, and easily fits within the clearance thresholds of my Spesh Enduro. The tires come in several configurations, but I decided to go with the 2.5", 60 TPI, wire bead, version. as the tires are pretty soft to begin with, I thought the 42 TPI casing would be way to soft and so far the 60tpi's are working brilliantly.

The super tacky compound is confidence inspiring over roots and rocks but will probably wear quickly so I don't expect to get more than 2 seasons of riding out of set.

The bottom line: Nothing else comes close for riding the slippery, steep, varying conditions of a NE winter.

Detail shots below.

1 comment: