MTB Tire Mods: The quest for the perfect tire

If you’re looking for the perfect mountain bike tire and off-the-rack just won’t cut it, why not mod your tires? As crazy as it may sound, riders like Eric Carter have been doing this for a while and some tires (like the Kenda ExCavators) were actually designed with end-user modifications in mind. Tire cutting isn’t for everyone and we should point out that once the knife touches rubber you’ve completely voided your warranty but hey – no risk, no reward, right?

Decline Magazine actually published Eric Carter’s tips for modding ExCavator tires and you can read his tips on the Kenda blog. His first mod is for improving performance in soft and wet terrain and involves removing the center lug. Other mods help out on hard terrain and cornering – just goes to show you elite racers use every edge they can get, including tire mods to suit course conditions.

We tested the Kenda Dred Treads a few weeks back and the guys at Kenda had some “unofficial” tips for modifying the tires for various conditions. A vertical cut through the “stop sign” knob improves off center transitioning without sacrificing too much rolling resistance while a horizontal cut improves bite on climbs and in wet conditions (though it increases rolling resistance). Cutting a “plus sign” into the tread helps improve bite and off-center transitions but will decrease the life of your tread (there are always trade offs).

Another way to increase traction and make the Dred Treads perform less like a semi-slick tire is to remove the stop-sign treads entirely. This will allow the remaining inner knobs to sink further into soft or wet soil while at the same time increasing rolling resistance.

If those options aren’t enough, you can even vary the number of knobs you cut / remove. Say, for example you only want to add a little more grip to your tires – just cut out every fourth knob or every other knob. The possibilities for tweaks are pretty much endless – the perfect tire really is possible!

Cutting tires with a knife can be tricky and you’ll want to be careful not to puncture the tire or yourself 🙂 Some cuts like the one on the “stop sign” knobs are best performed using sidecuts or pruning shears. So get out an old tire and start modding – and post your pics so we can see how it turns out!