27 March 2012 - 7:12A Rant
Or, “objects in catalog are marketed to be bigger than they really are“, which was kinda too big to use as a title, and maybe a little bit too snarky. It’s been a while since I’ve had a good rant on here, and this time I am setting my sights on the apparent lack of standards regarding tire size. It seems that these days you can say a tire is just about any size, regardless of how accurate that measurement is, and that it is totally OK. This especially burns me because I feel like I have been personally gypped.
I have been eagerly awaiting spring as there were 3 new tires I was expecting this year that got me really fired up over the winter. See, I’ve always had a thing for big tires. Mountain bikes with skinny tires look just plain silly to me. Obviously, there is a place for such a thing, like race bikes, however, I don’t think I know anyone that likes to roll around on skinny tires for recreational mountain biking. And let’s face it, 7-900g tires are not really race worthy, and this is not where my complaint lies. See below.
Tire # 1
The WTB Weirwolf LT 2.5 TCS. I LOVED the old WW LT. High volume, low tread and fast fast fast. WTB stopped producing these in 2010. As stocks dwindled, I did my best to get as many of them before they were gone for good. Sadly, I was unable to hoard any for myself. Then I heard they were going to rerelease the tire, so things were not sounding so grim anymore. I waited about 14 months before I finally got my first set of new WW LT tires.
Well, the first thing I noticed, was that I could not for the life of me get the tire on a Stan’s rim. I tried, breaking several tire levers before giving up. Irritated, I tried a Salsa Delgado I had kicking around. No dice. I did however get it on a WTB TCS rim with minimal fuss, and I inflated it to finally get a good look at this tire I had been waiting for for so long.
You can just imagine what happened after I inflated the tire. Phone calls were made, emails were sent. Clearly not even close to the 2.5 size emblazoned in huge numbers on the sidewall. On the plus side, the tread pattern looks pretty good, and the weight comes in around 720g. Not bad for the amount of knobs protruding from the casing.
Tire #2 (Electric Boogaloo)
Continental X-King 2.4, also coming up short in the size department, although it is noticeably bigger than the 2.2 version. My hope is that the tire will continue to grow a little as it gets ridden. But even now, after a couple of rides, measuring out at 2.2, this “2.4″ is bigger than the aforementioned “2.5″.
What the hell?
Now I know that some of you might be questioning my method when it comes to measuring these tires. I’m using new Park digital calipers, bought specifically for nerding out like this. I have the tires aired up to 30 psi, with no inner tubes. I am measuring the casing, not the tread, which can stick out a little further on some tires. Not that it really matters though, because with the sheer amount of daylight between the rubber and the caliper speaks volumes. I expect that the inner rim width would affect the inflated size of the tire to some degree, but 1 or 2 mm isn’t going to be enough of a difference to make the tires what they are “supposed” to be.
Schwalbe Hans Dampf 2.35. Hey look, with only one ride, these tires are actually pretty close to the size printed on the box!
So what gives here? Is it the economy? Are we making cutbacks in tire size? How is it that a major component manufacturer like WTB can fall so painfully short on a tire that is supposed to be what fans of the old version were waiting for? Did they really mean version 2.5? I hate to lampoon a company that makes so many great products I use and enjoy, I love their saddles, have been a huge fan of their tires for ever, I am a big believer in their new TCS system, but the size on this tire just bums me out.
Conti should be held to a higher standard when it come to hitting their tire sizes. They make every kind of tire for every type of thing that has tires. I’m not as bummed with them as I am WTB, but when they can make two sizes of a tire model, let’s get closer to the mark. They can obviously make a 2.2, so how about that 2.4? Companies like Schwalbe seem to be able to hit that mark a little more accurately. Sure they are also the most expensive tires in this little missive, but hey, I feel I’m getting what I pay for. And maybe that’s just it. Maybe they cost more because someone has their finger on the pulse.
What do you think?