Meaty, Beaty, big and bouncy – 650B traction monsters
I have been using the Trail Taker tires on and off for several months, and I must say I like them a lot, as they’re sticky, pliable and uber fat. The tread design, width of the knobs and a tall rounded profile, allow the tire to be run with low pressures, which offers excellent flotation and traction up and down any terrain, and is highlighted by a propensity to motor up gnarly rocky and rooty conditions like it’s on flypaper.
The Trail Taker is a Kirk Pacenti designed tire, and was a prototype of his Mega-Moto that was first seen at the 2012 NAHBS. Kirk thought the tire worked well, and he liked the design, especially when used at low pressures under the hands of skilled handler, but he wasn’t totally happy with the end product for all riders. He abandoned that design and has been working on a new Mega-Moto with another vendor that will meet his strict requirements. He said it will have a larger tubeless casing, with a higher TPI and be lighter, and these revisions should create another quality Pacenti tire that rips! I want to thank Johan Levin over at My650b.com for getting me a set of the Trail Takers to test.
Vee Rubber Trail Taker
Vee Rubber was formed in 1977 in Thailand, which is largest the natural rubber producing and exporting country in the world. The Vee Rubber Trail Taker comes in four versions, including three 650B x 2.4″ (folding dual compound, folding and wired Tackee/2-ply) and a 29 x 2.2″ (folding dual compound). I tested the 2.4″ 650B All-Mountain version, which has the dual compound, a folding bead, a 120 TPI casing and is sealant compatible. Their dual compound composition uses a center section with a normal rubber compound, while the side tread has a softer and stickier compound. Their sealant compatible design is a special construction to allow the use of after market sealants, so that it be considered a tubeless ready tire.
- MSRP – $49
- Size – 650B x 2.4″
- Compound – Dual
- Bead – Folding
- TPI – 120
- Weight – 760 grams
Testing Rig and Terrain
I mounted the tires on the Pacenti DL31 rims on my medium Ibis Mojo HD with the FOX TALAS 160 (27.5″) fork. I am 5’9″, weigh in at 155 lbs, and I have mostly ridden in the West, including vast portions of the Colorado Front Range, Sedona, Moab, Fruita/GJ and many parts of the Colorado mountains. The testing terrain is predominantly loose rocky conditions, with many long steep climbs and descents, rock gardens, slick rock, an occasional smooth singletrack and lots of ugly, loose gravel. I tend to enjoy gnarly technical terrain, where precise steering and maneuvering are required and intricate follow-through, and full commitment is required.
The Trail Takers are an aggressive all mountain design, with a monstrous knobby width of 2.5″, an ample 2.25″ carcass and 2.1″ height, and a weight of 721 grams (four tires – 734g, 720g, 715g, 715g). The tread design is interesting, with an alternating set of single and then dual ramp knobs, smaller blocks on the cusp and the big meaty knob’s way down low on the shoulders. I ran them tubeless, since that is always my preference for any tire, as it offers a better feel, no pinch flats and allows lower pressures to be run.
They weren’t difficult to set up tubeless with my compressor, though their flexible sidewalls required some persuasion using some Schwalbe Easy Fit mounting fluid that I applied along the outer tire bead. I added one mini bottle of sealant to each tire after the initial inflation to aid with any leaks, and to make sure it sealed any tire and rim interface issues. The tire didn’t show any permeable spots on the tire walls where the sealant usually plugs holes, and only bubbled a bit down by the rims. I never had any leakage, loss of air and burping problems while running them tubeless. I tested the tires with a huge variance of pressures, but found the lower the better, and tended to keep them at 20 psi, as that’s where they really started to purr and come to life.