Wednesday, November 13, 2013

New Shoes For By-Tor

Fatback Sterling tires
Ol' By-Tor the Titanium Mukluk was needing new shoes before Winter. The old ones were looking pretty worn down, and I knew that they wouldn't be much good in any kind of snow I'd be wanting to tackle. So, when I was at Interbike, I spied these new tires from Fatback called "Sterling" that I thought looked interesting. These tires just became available and I bought a pair and had them sent to me here.

In the fat bike world, there has been Surly tires, and........nothing else, until just very recently. Vee Rubber, (they go by just "Vee" these days, I guess), jumped into the market last year but their tires were very heavy and the tread pattern didn't turn me on at all. Then Vee started making other fat bike tires, but again, they were essentially blown up versions of not very good 29"er tires. Meh......

However; now with Greg Matyas' of Fatback putting in his two cents, this tread pattern, (and another called the Snowshoe, also a collaboration with a fat bike company), look much more promising. The tread pattern looks smart, and traction should be decent with the open pattern of squarish shaped groupings. However; Vee also tended to have dead casings and tons of weight. This Fatback Sterling seems to be a much better offering in that vein as well. My two examples weighed in at 1220 and 1225 grams each. For a comparison, that's a tick lighter than my Big Fat Larry 120TPI tires and much lighter than the 3.8" Larrys these tires replaced. For as many knobs as these tires have, and considering they are Vee Tire made, that's impressive to  me.
Quickie ride last night

Now I will say that all I have ever used on a fat bike are "Larry" type tires- either Big Fat Larrys or the standard issue 3.8's. So, please take the following comments with that in mind.....

The Surly tires I've ridden and seen seem to have a higher "crown", or in profile type terms, a very pronounced"C" shape. That means the tires steer well on dry terrain, but you've gotta air them way down to get all the knobs engaged and grab all the float you can outta these things. The Sterling has a much shallower "C" shaped profile. The casing is much wider than the tread area as well, which also differs from Surly's Larry tire line. I aired these up to an unheard of, (for me), 20psi to seat the tires well, and when I rode them at that pressure the tread contact patch was significantly wider than what a 3.8" Larry lays down at 10psi! The ride wasn't all bouncy and out of control either. Hmm......

On width: Fatback claims on their website that the Sterling is 4.25" wide on a 70mm rim. By-Tor has the older Uma 70mm rims from Fatback on there and with the Sterling aired up to 20psi and measured immediately after mounting I got a hair wider than 3.8" at the casing, but that was already wider than the "3.8"" Larry I had just removed. However; these tires would have to stretch about 10mm to get to be 4.25"ers on my rims. That's a bit optimistic, I would say!

But that doesn't really bother me. As I said, I can already put down a wider contact patch than I could with the 3.8" Larry, and that's where the traction and float come from, not from the casing width. To my mind, a flatter profile should float better, and obviously, with more knobs hitting the trail, I should see an increase in traction, disregarding the superior tread design. With the tread design considered, I am thinking these should be far better tires.

We'll see.

1 comment:

Bob Simonds said...

I love the Rush reference name of your bike.