Review: Vee Rubber Trail Taker 650B Tires

27.5 Tires

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.

Specs:

  • 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.

Impressions
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.

About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian has been part of the Mtbr team since 2007, where he has become an integral member of the review and test staff, specializing in technical articles. He likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, extreme skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth and hyperbolic articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on extremely technical singletrack.


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  • derby says:

    Hey Brian, I tried a TT up front, moving a slightly worn front Neo-2.3 to the rear, on 30mm rims. And that combo felt terrible. The Neo in back felt much more stable with better lower speed traction riding in rocks and loose than the TT in front, with only a few fast turns on that one ride. The pointy center of the TT tread slipped sideways much easier than I am used to with Neo’s

    I lowered the pressure a lot, not sure how much below the 25psi I had started, which helped reduce the side slip a little. TT’s at both ends would balance much better, I should try that.

    It does like to lay over deeply on it’s side. I don’t have much fast turny, slalom type, hardpack trail locally, I bet it would be great laying it over side to side in fast slalom conditions.

    I did measure one of mine at 800grms and 28 inches tall calced from many equal rollout circumference measurements Must be from a different production batch than your shorter and lighter samples.

    I was ready to sell my pair for cheep, but should give them a try front and back after hearing you like them so much as a pair. Thanks for the review. – R

    • Brian Mullin says:

      Derby – To me the rear is where it shines, but it does require some low pressures for it to come to life. The Neo’s are a much stouter and stiffer tire, so I would thing that combo would feel a bit disconcerting, as the TT is more pliable, with a squiggling feel in comparison. Most of my terrain is either very rocky or deep gravel. Here are a couple of local trails where they worked well: https://vimeo.com/63418187 and https://vimeo.com/61167850

  • Izzy says:

    Wow 2.45-inch knobs! ;p
    Kidding aside, I wonder how these would work as a front tire on a hardtail.

  • PWRide says:

    I’ve been riding these for about 2 months now. Pretty good tire, but I just noticed the other day that I’ve lost 5-6 lugs on the outside of my rear tire. All of them are missing inline. I wonder if I got a bad tire.

    • Brian Mullin says:

      Sounds like you might have had a bad tire? I tear tires to pieces, and have yet to chunk any knobs off.

    • tonyd says:

      PWRide- I work for Vee and would love to see a photo of your tire…and replace it with a fresh newbie. Thanks!!

      tonyd.

  • Cliff Swanson says:

    @PWRide and @tonyd… I was running a TT tubeless, mounted on a Pacenti TL28 rim on the front of a Turner 5 Spot. I had exactly the same experience with many of the side lugs on one side coming off. I noticed it while riding for a week around Moab in mid-May. I went back to a Neo Moto, which I like better. I, too, figured I had gotten a bad tire as a single. Reading this now I wonder if there is a real design or materials issue.

  • David says:

    I also have had a similar experience with the side lugs coming off. After a month of use I noticed that I’d lost 20 of them. Ouch!

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