ASK MBACTION – Tire Perfection and Parts Swapping


What bike should a big guy be riding? How much travel do I really need? How fat is too fat? The MBA wrecking crew uses its combined expertise to address these questions and more every month here at “Ask MBA.” All you need to do is visit our website——and click the “Ask MBA” tab. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the link to ask your question.


Q: Too many tires, too many comparisons with different answers! I’m replacing my 29-inch Racing Ralphs on my 2015 Cannondale Scalpel. I’ve never mixed front/ rear tires before, so don’t know what to expect. I ride every type of terrain—streets to forests to swamps to snow (I live in Canada)—and I ride pretty aggressively. My Ralphs were perfect everywhere, except in the real sloppy stuff. Please, just give me a winner, not the excuse of “depends on what type of riding you do.” And if you think mixing tires for the front/rear is the right thing to do, can you give me the winners there as well?

—Dylan Austin, who’s frustrated with all the rubber choices

A: Okay, you want the best? We’d have to say it’s the Dugast hand-made Swiss tubular tire that sells for about $150 and requires tubular rims. This is the tire that Nino Schurter used to win many elite races, including World Cups, World Championships and Olympic medals. It is arguably the fastest tire in the world, and it is nearly impossible to get here in the States, since they have no distributor here. Oh, and we’re willing to bet that they burn up over the course of a single ride or race, at which point you’ll have to remove the glued-on tire and spend an evening in the garage dealing with messy tubular glue. These tires are so expensive that we’ve noticed even Nino doesn’t run them all the time. But, if you want the best, the Dugast is probably it.

If you’re looking for a tire you can actually use, we have to know what kind of riding you do. For our trailbikes, we’d probably say the Maxxis Minion DHF 3c on the front and High Roller II in the back are the best combo; however, you’ll probably hate these because they will not be anywhere near as fast or light as your Racing Ralphs and don’t make sense on a Scalpel.

That said, let us get some more info from you. Do you want a tire that’s lighter than your Ralphs, or one that offers more protection and traction? Are price and durability a concern, or are you willing to buy expensive tires frequently? Bottom line: there is no such thing as “the perfect tire.” You have to accept the reality that any tire, or any other bike part for that matter, is designed with a specific use in mind and is based on a compromise of some sort—be it weight, price or durability. Tell us more about what you want, and we can make our best recommendation.


Q: I sent my 26-inch hardtail to be sand- blasted/painted, but it’s taking a lot longer than I thought. So, I have a 27.5-inch “new old-stock” frame, a slick deal at $15, brand new and never ridden. Is it possible to put all my parts onto the new frame?

Some bike-shop guys have said “yes,” while others have said “no way!” As far as I can tell, 75 percent of it will be a straight fit, but the headset/wheels/fork and rear disc and bottom bracket could cause problems.

—Neil Marsh, who just wants to ride again

A: Swapping frames is one of the toughest operations, because there are simply so many standards out there nowadays. When you’re considering swapping frames to one that uses a different wheel size, that multiplies the problems.

Have a question for the MBA crew? You can send your brain busters to [email protected].


Mountain Bike Action is a monthly magazine devoted to all things mountain biking (yes, that’s 12 times a year because we never take a month off of mountain biking). It has been around since 1986 and we’re still having fun. Start a subscription by clicking here or calling (800) 767-0345.

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