After feeling under-gunned at the Assault on Mt Currahee I decided to get something a little bigger/more aggressive than the small block 8 tires I was running. There aren’t a lot of options in the 40c size so I ordered one of the cheaper options and went with the WTB Nano with wire bead. After I ordered the tires it occurred to me that I might want to measure the fork clearance and I found that it might be pretty tight with a large tire. I was a little stressed by this but one I got the tires and mounted them it was obvious I had more than enough room.
The tires are reasonably aggressive and mounted easily. They measured out to 37mm on my 24mm outside width rims. Not really having anywhere else to ride these I decided to take then onto the Sope Creek trails. These trails are fairly technical and rocky/rooty so I figured I would end up going pretty slow. Turns out I was mistaken, the bike and the tires performed really well and I was slower than my MTB but a lot less than I originally expected. My ride ended up be about 20 miles with a little bit less than 4 miles being on trails/gravel, the rest on pavement. I had the tires around 60 PSI and this is obviously way to high for MTB trails but it seemed to work fine, if a little jarring. Toe overlap is a major issue and apparently I love swinging around my front wheel as I had to constantly keep an eye on what I was doing to avoid crashing due to foot/tire interference.
I guess this was technically a monster cross ride so that’s something. In the past I’ve been enamored with the concept, having a kick ass bike that you can take anywhere. In my mind I’d be blasting down the road, see a cool trail and just hop the curb and start shredding some serious gnar. In reality, you’re going have to adjust your tire pressure, run compromise tires that suck as both road and trails and deal with poor human/bicycle fit (toe overlap) or run some weird geometry. The main things I noticed were that the tires were really too small to be fun on the trails and the knobs were too aggressive to be fun on the road. Cornering felt like shit as the bike got all squirrelly due to the knob-flex. I also noted the center rib tended to grab the painted lines and any raised lines in the road. It wasn’t a major issue but it was kind of disconcerting when it happened. Maybe Atlanta area road paint is just exceptionally thick?
Monster cross is probably better for a different environment but after riding my road bikes on gravel and some short trails and then this cyclocross bike with monster cross tires, I’m not quite sure the latter is really needed. I mean, you’re not going to be tackling sick mud pits on road slicks but you can ride pretty much anything that would be fun on a 28c tire, I think.