So, because throwing back old posts (it just doesn't seem like the correct term does it?) is what the kids want these days (#TBT right?), here's a thing about tires I wrote three years ago.
Cliche yes, but I don't know if you could describe mountain bike tires better in one sentence.
You could probably make a coffee table book of all the different tread patterns that have existed since mountain bikes really took off in the late 80's. Scratch that - you could make a coffee table book of all the tread patterns that no longer exist since mountain biking got popular. We saw all manner of "innovations" like tires designed to roll in a certain direction, tires meant to work on the front or on the rear, different rubber compounds, different sizes, and different colors.
Now I doubt anyone - other than me - would buy such a thing, but the point being that the general design of MTB tires is changing every year.
Why is this?
Did the hardpacked trails somehow get more slippery over the winter? Did the gravel out there get upgraded? Did the roots get, I don't know... rootier??
I know that conditions on any given trail can change after years of use, but in general, we're still riding the same types of trails here in 2011 that we rode in 1990. It's still dirt, rocks, roots, sand, and grass.
So why then does the Panaracer Smoke - generally accepted as the best tire of it's time - no longer work? It must no longer work, because it's not fitted to new bikes anymore, right?
And the Onza Porcupine; did it have an expiration date that we didn't know about? Did it's designers somehow know that by 1995, it just wouldn't grip the ground anymore?
(hint - they're all the same!)
Now check this pic of a Yamaha from 1974;
How is it that Motocross tires haven't changed - at least in their tread pattern - for 40 years?
And why don't they have the dizzying array of different tread patterns like mountain bikes do?
I'll admit, I'm not immune to this. A new set of tires and grips can go a long way to making your old bike feel new. But, I just don't get why those old designs don't work anymore.
I think my Blizzard would really like a set of skinwall Ritchey Megabites.
Of course the blocks are spread out more for damp conditions, closer together for hardpack trails, different widths, different rubber compounds, etc, etc.
It's a small victory for function over fashion.