What tires should I run for Downieville?
The question of the year, every year.
So, here goes, here are a few excellent options you too, along the pros, can rock. These are only suggestions, everybody, and I mean everybody, has an opinion on this. So don't blame any foolish bike handling or sloppy race day performance on the tires, you'll see, there are options for everybody:
Vigilante 2.3 29" TCS Front, Trail Boss 2.25 29" TCS Light: Fast Rolling Compound Rear. This is the combo for you if you want to get after it, you want to descend aggressively, but you don't necessarily target square-edged rocks like some sort of crazed, hell bent ape.
Vigilante 2.3 29" AM TCS Front, Trail Boss 2.25 29" TCS Tough: Fast Rolling Compound Rear. You do ride like an ape. Actually, you pride yourself in it - "No tire is tough enough for my riding style," you triumphantly tout. If you spread carbon shards on your breakfast toast and ride 29, this is the combo for you.
Vigilante 2.3 27.5" Team Issue TCS Front, Wolverine 2.2 27.5" AM TCS Rear. I don't care the climb is tough, if anybody, or anything for that matter, gets in my way of setting the record on the descent - that's it, they're done for! Team Issue tires have a ridiculously soft compound, if you can't corner this... then you can't corner, 'nough said.
Vigilante 2.3 26" TCS Front, Wolverine 2.2 26" AM TCS Rear. Again, tough without a ridiculous weight penalty and fast rolling. You could even do just the XC event with this and not even look that foolish or over-tanked (a syndrome similar to "hardtail holdout syndrome" where people used to, I hope only used to, put Marzocchi Monster T forks on hardtails, usually with 24" rear wheels, then promptly send it over stair gaps or anything to flat. Because, "Why would I do it on a sissy full suspension, I can do it on a hardtail." It was a bad time for mountain biking.)
Vigilante 2.3 26" Team Issue TCS Front, Vigilante 2.3 26" Team Issue TCS Rear. Did you mention hardtail holdout syndrome? Wanna fight? If you still abide by the send it mentality and will not accept anything getting in the way of IT and SENDING, then this is your combo. Bag of hammers tough, bundle of erasers grippy.
Weirwolf 2.3 29" TCS tires, front and rear. Fast, 750g, truly big footprint. This is one of those be a little risky options - not as deep of tread as the Vigilante for sifting through the sea of loose rock rubble, not quite as tough as Vigilantes, noticeably lighter and faster rolling though - the rolling the dice option.
Finally, why not go with Weirwolf 2.3 26" AM TCS front and rear? They roll fast, they're incredibly tough. If you get a flat with them, it's your fault. No, really, it's your fault. The Bronsons work too, not quite as foolproof tough but lighter... The list goes on...
All these lovely tires are available from your stellar, helpful, understanding, kind, insightful, local bike shop. Go grab them.
Here's to another amazing Downieville Classic, the last real mountain bike race.