Reader Story: How Much Traction Does a New Tire Buy You? –

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Pinkbike reader Matt Morrison has continued to run experiments with his data acquisition system, following up on his attempts to determine whether pedal kickback actually happens. This time around, the goal was to figure out how much of a difference there is between a fresh tire versus a worn out tire. – Mike Kazimer

That first ride with a fresh tire is almost as good as new bike day. Well, not quite, but you get the idea. I’ve been running the same rear tire on my Stumpy Evo for longer than I can remember. It has survived the abuse of countless rides in Santa Cruz, endless laps in Whistler, and even unfriendly cacti on the Arizona Trail. A few weeks ago, a friend took pity on me and gave me a brand new tire. This prompted me to ask myself, How much traction does this new tire actually buy me? And what does better traction even mean?

I took this opportunity to run a little experiment. With my data acquisition system and a bit of code, I devised a way to measure traction loss events while on the trail. I did a few final laps with my old tire before swapping it out for new rubber. I was careful to ensure that all aspects of the bike setup, like tire pressure and suspension setup, were held constant between runs except for the single variable of the rear tire.

I’ve long thought traction was simple: you have it until you don’t! But this experiment taught me that it is more complicated than that.

And one last thing: definitely don’t buy a new tire after watching this. If it holds air and keeps you rolling, then your current one is just fine. Besides, didn’t it seem like I was having a little more fun on the old tire anyway?

Farewell, old friend.

Cass Labs

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