The Nanoraptor is the only mountain tire available for big wheeled mountain bikes (see the Vicious Cycles Motivator bike review in this issue). Getting that first "mountain" tire was crucial…
By Karl Rosengarth
The Nanoraptor is the only mountain tire available for big wheeled mountain bikes (see the Vicious Cycles Motivator bike review in this issue). Getting that first "mountain" tire was crucial for the fledgling 29" mountain bike movement. Think about it: without a true "mountain" tire, a big wheeled "mountain" bike had, at best, cyclocross tires to choose from. Wouldn’t that make it a "cyclocross" bike?
Mark Slate of WTB explained the technical arguments behind a 29" mountain tire: "The increased traction and stability of the 29" tire improves the performance capabilities of the mountain bike in several important ways. It’s easier to ride in the rough and it rolls faster than smaller wheels due to less pressure exerted in pounds per square inch because of the greater contact of the tire with the ground. The increased contact of tread to ground provides greater lateral traction. Driving and braking in the loose stuff is improved due to the better approach angle of the tread with the ground. The inertia of the larger diameter wheels at speed provides great stability."
I’d agree whole heartedly with Mark’s "increased traction and stability" claim, based on my six week long personal experience riding the 29×2.1" Nanoraptor. Traction was excellent in virtually all conditions. The only time I lost traction was during hard cornering in the muddiest of conditions. The tread is based on the 26" Nanoraptor, a racing oriented pattern designed for medium to hard pack conditions. So, no, it’s not really designed for mud in the first place. That’s fine, if I were going to design the first 29" mountain tire I’d design a fast, light tire like the Nanoraptor. A fast tire accentuates the fast rolling fun that big wheeled bikes bring to the table. A big, chunky tire might be too slow, which could sour potential 29" converts. As Mark said, the big Nanoraptor "is easier to ride in the rough and it rolls faster than smaller wheels." Fast and smooth and stable-that works for me!
The 29" Nanoraptor comes in steel bead only, and it retails for around $26. And WTB has got you covered with 29" mountain tubes as well (for around $5). WTB is actively supporting the 29" mountain bike, and they are planning on releasing a more aggressive 29" tire soon.
Contact: WTB, 475 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley, CA 94941; 415.389.5040; www.wtb.com.
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