My ’17 Trek Fuel EX 29er came with Nobby Nic 2.35″ rubber in the SpeedGrip compound. I love the low rolling-resistance, lightweight and overall feel but I’ve had a few scary moments with the front tire sliding out when cornering hard at high speeds. I’m not sure whether to replace the front with an expensive but grippier Magic Mary 2.35″ in a softer compound – with added weight and less rolling speed – or whether to go with a pair of Bontrager XR4 2.4″ to keep the speed up and weight down with hopefully a little more grip. (These are actually specced by Trek on many models) My trails are mixed with mostly single track and some loose over hard sections in the Northeast.
Everything I’ve read about the Magic Mary has been good to glowing. Don’t think you can go wrong.
Myself, I really like the Maxxis Minions DHF for grip in the crappy wet weather of the Northeast (Central NY) where the muddy/pine straw/rooty/rocky trails are damp or soaked 60% of the time. The Minion is the first/only MTB tire where I’ve finished my ride and said, “OK, I’m impressed.” -But, I have had issues with Minions and Stans No Tubes sealant oozing excessively.
I can also give two thumbs up for the Specialized Hillbilly (they were on sale). I’ve got them on my XC bike and can push much harder on the same sloppy trails than I could with run of the mill XC tires. –Make no mistake, they’re not in the same grippy league as the Minions, but they get the job done.
I’m not overly worried about weight or rolling resistance with tires because: a) I don’t race. b) I figure if the tire saves me from having even one wipeout the time saved having to get back upright and dust off will far exceed any time lost due to “rolling resistance.”
Have you considered putting on a wider 2.5-2.6in tires. I think the Rekon and Minion comes in 2.6 and with the more durable casings like Exo+ or Silk, it might improve your ride. Many enduro bikes are now coming with 2.5-2.6 tires. I believe the Fuel EX has clearance for wider tires. When I’ve tried bikes with Nobby Nicks, I always thought that they felt squirmy.
Yes I’ve considered a 2.6 tire as well but again, wanted to still roll nice and fast and not add 160 grams of rotation light per wheel. You’re right about the Fuel: there is clearance to run a 2.6. It is tempting and there are a ton of models of that size on the market now. Almost too many options 🙂 Always good to hear what other riders experience and the NN as it’s pluses and minuses. I’m more trail than enduro as well and this is my only real bike.
I’m definitely more Trail than Enduro also. I think the benefits of 2.6 or wider tires (increased flotation, traction, roll-over, and cushion/tire suspension) more than make up for the increased weight. Go take a test/demo ride on a Scott Genius, Specialized Stumpjumper, or some other bike that comes with 29×2.6. You might like it?!
I’ve demoed a Cannondale Bad Habit with 3.0 tires and wasn’t a fan at all of the feel of the plus size. I have yet to try the 2.6 though and will try to get out onto a bike sporting them this season. Apparently, all of the attributes that you mention are the big reason everyone seems to like them. Maybe a 2.6 front and a faster, smaller one in the back as well. More bikes are coming specced like this.
I’m no fan of 3.0in tires on i40-45mm rims—to heavy and slow rolling. Any tire wider than 2.8 and any rim wider than i35 should be sent to the dustbin of outdated tech—the same place where 3x drivetrains and rims brakes now reside. However, 2.5-2.8 tires on i30-35 rims are amazing and I consider the Trailbike wheel sweet spot and all new Trailbikes should be designed for these tire/rim combinations. If the original Plus wheel had been 2.7/i32 instead of 3.0/i45, I think Plusbikes would have been more accepted by now. The original 3.0/i45 wheel got Plus off to a bad start because it was just to much wheel.
My local bike mechanic basically echoed exactly what you said. According to him, a 2.8 tire has a better and more direct feel then a 3.0. I’ve heard this more than a few times from from number of different rider comments. I may have to go big or go home!