741 XC Tire Combo
20 Feb 2015

741 XC Tire Combo

It wasn’t long before answers started rolling in

20 Feb 2015

OK so here’s a quick recap (from my earlier 741 Tire Gnar post):

While you could just bolt on a pair of burly man tires and be done with it, there aren’t any bonus points for dragging way too much tire around the trail. For the 741’s to shine what you really want is just enough tire i.e. maximum performance combined with acceptable durability, at the lowest weight.

I’m starting off with XC tires on the 741’s, and intend to work up from there until I find an all round sweet spot. Here’s the first round tire combinations I’ve got in mind:

  • Light Gnar (XC/Trail): Specialized Purgatory 2.3 front & rear
  • Medium Gnar (Trail/AM): Schwalbe Rock Razor 2.35 rear, Schwalbe 2015 Nobby Nic 2.35 front
  • Heavy Gnar (AM/DH): Maxxis Minion 2.35 front & rear

I opted to start with the Specialized Purgatory GRID 2.3 front and rear.  I’d run the Purgatory 2.4 & 2.3 as a front tire on my Mojo HD back in 2011 so was fairly confident it would be an OK light gnar front tire on the 741’s. I did have doubts about running it as a rear tire as Spesh sidewalls aren’t known to be the toughest. Plus I’m also a big fan of Schwalbe’s fast rolling Rock Razor as a rear tire and couldn’t help but think a Purgatory out the back was overkill.

I started with the recommended pressures of 21psi front, 22psi rear. The old hand squeeze method doesn’t work that well for judging tire pressures on the wide 741 wheels so I invested in a Schwalbe Airmax Pro tyre gauge. The plan was to progressively reduce tire pressure over several rides until the sweet spot of traction vs tire stability was found.

It wasn’t long before answers started rolling in.

The brand new Purgatory on the rear was toast within a couple of rides. On a section of trail I’d ridden hundreds of time before with no tire dramas the Purg’s sidewall slashed open. While I wasn’t entirely surprised it was still a little disappointing. Even taking into account that sidewalls can be more exposed when running wider rims, Specialized GRID doesn’t seem to be a patch on their old Armadillo sidewall protection.

So I needed a better light gnar rear tire option. There was some love out there for the Maxxis Ikon so I figured I’d give it a go. While I would’ve preferred to run a 2.35 the LBS only had a 2.2o in stock so in need of a rear tire the choice was made easy. The 2.2 is probably a better light gnar XC match with the Purgatory 2.3 up front anyway.

With its minimal tread and exposed sidewalls I had low expectations of the Ikon 2.2, but over the last few weeks it has continued to prove me wrong!

Where the Purgatory’s sidewall slashed open, the Ikon kept rocking along. Where the Purgatory on the rear felt slow rolling, the Ikon was super fast. With it’s more open, aggressive tread pattern the Purgatory definitely performed better under brakes vs the Ikon, but nothing a more finessed approach to the brake lever didn’t address.

But here’s the real surprise. With its minimal edge tread I fully expected the Ikon to suck in low grip corners but so far it’s been more than enough as a light gnar rear tire. There’s a 45-50km/h turn in the local trail network where crappy rear tires readily give way, creating instant sphincter action. The Ikon has held on every time. Cool.

Given the performance of the Ikon 2.2,  I’m thinking the heftier 2.35 version could well turn out to be the perfect medium gnar rear tire for the 741. Then lookey what we have here – Jared Graves smokes the field at the Rockshox Enduro Challenge at Mt Buller running none other than the Ikon 2.35 as a rear tire. The era of minimalist rear tires is definitely on!

As I mentioned earlier I started at the recommended tire pressures 21psi front, 22psi rear, dropping 1psi at a time down to 17psi front, 18psi rear over several rides on the same trails. The traction was especially great at lower pressures and being a light weight rider I could’ve gone even lower but I’d rather err on the side of caution especially when it comes to hitting square edged rocks at speed.

Bottom line

Would I head off on an epic back country ride with this tire combo? No. Would I feel confident riding this combo in bigger, harsher terrain e.g. Mt Joyce, Douglas, Buller? Probably not.Is this combo awesome in light gnar XC terrain? You betcha!

So that’s where the 741 Light Gnar XC Tire Quest ends for now.

Front: Specialized Purgatory GRID 2.3 @ 19psi
Rear: Maxxis Ikon 2.2 EXO 3C @ 20psi

On to the Medium Gnar! 🙂

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  1. Jonathan July 20th, 2016 3:45PM

    I’m actually looking at this using exact combo (It’s what my LBS has in stock). I am currently running 2 Highroller II’s but I’ve signed up for a pretty tough mountain bike century so I need something a little faster and lighter but still need traction and durability for long rocky sections. How do you think combo would do? Thanks

  2. Digital Hippie July 20th, 2016 6:30PM

    heya Jonathan all I can say is that IMO this is a pretty fast and durable combo for XC riding when fitted to the 741’s

    Front: Specialized Purgatory GRID 2.3 @ 19psi
    Rear: Maxxis Ikon 2.2 EXO 3C @ 20psi

    Hope the century goes well!

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