Wednesday, September 02, 2015

A Year With A Chinese Fat Tire

The Ti Muk with a Chaoyang tire on the back.
About a year ago now I got the opportunity to try out some tires and advise a certain company on their merits, if they had any or not. One of those skins was a fat tire by a Chinese company named Chaoyang. Turns out it is China's oldest and largest tire manufacturer. They make thousands of types of tires, so I would suppose they know a thing or three about making a bicycle tire.

Anyway, I see these Chaoyang tires more now and they come on some fat bikes as original equipment. Maybe you've noticed this as well. I thought I would pass along my experiences with this tire and how it performs.

I recall my first impression was that the tread pattern looked like an evolution of a Husker Du or maybe the Dillinger from 45NRTH. Sparsely spaced, squarish knobs and with some siping in some areas. Nice looking tread, but not a tall tread block. Actually, the blocks are shallow, in terms of fat bike tires. Weight on this wire bead tire was just over 1500 grams. I understand that folding bead versions are about 200 grams lighter if you can get them. I'm not sure of any stateside distributors, but I have found these on-line.

Mounted up on my Rolling Darryl rims with tubes, I found that the width was slightly less than the Bud on Rolling Darryl front wheel. Near as I can tell the tire is 4 9/16ths inches at its widest point on the casing but the widest knobs are only 4 1/8th inches apart. So, it isn't a 4.9"er, or as wide as a Bud or Lou, but it does fall in that nice "middle" ground between a 4"er and the bigger Surly tires. Obviously, the knobs width on the casing, (or shall we say the "business end" of the tire?), is not much more than some other 4" class tires, but that volume does count for something and you can manage some float with that big ol' balloon casing.

Chaoyang fat bike tire showing the tread pattern here. 
The Chaoyang 4.9"er I have is eerily similar to the skinnier Panaracer Fat B Nimble. (Shown here for comparison)

Verdict: In my opinion, the Chaoyang tire is a well constructed, "normal" fat bike tire as far as tire standards go for this class of tire. It isn't going to blow your socks off with a light weight, great feeling casing, or a tubeless ready bead, but it isn't a "junk" tire by any stretch of the imagination. That it falls in that "in between" width is really great, since I can max out my Ti Muk's chain and seat stays and still get all my gears. This means maximum flotation for this bike, instead of wishing I could slam in a Lou,  and have no clearances, or "settle" for a 3.8"-4" tire that would leave me wanting more. I give this a big thumbs up for being a weird size. However; it should in no way ever be considered a 4.9"er, which is what the tire is marked as.

The performance of this tire on packed snow, or harder surfaces is outstanding. It starts to show cracks in the armor when things get deeper and looser. It will slide laterally quite easily, since the outer knobs are so low and they don't come around the casing very far. Forward bite is minimal in looser snow, sand, and mud in comparison to a Nate or Lou. This tire easily breaks free on looser rocky climbs and in slippery mud and snow conditions.

I can always lower the air pressure and make this tire get traction when it has no business doing so, but that said, this tire is really best on drier snow, groomed trails, or as a summertime single track tire if you have buff trails or harder dirt surfaces. If it had bigger, more aggressive knobs or some lateral supporting knobs out on the edges of the casing, it would make a better all-arounder. Unfortunately, that isn't the case here.

Note: Guitar Ted received this tire to test at no charge. He was not paid, nor bribed for this post and always strives to give his honest opinions throughout.


Izzy said...

If I'm not mistaken, the tread pattern on these is a copy of the Panaracer Fat B Nimble

Pianostool said...

Great blog, thanks for the right up. I think once my current tires wear out I will stick one of these on the rear and a 4.5 juggernaut up front. Unless I find a great deal on some gumwall nates.