Its all in the mind – the size of your knobs! Or how big you think they are.

I love riding my road bike so much so that I have to make an effort to get onto the dirt. So, last Friday, when I was asked if I would be out on my mountain bike on Sunday I was not too keen. I do like my new bike, the Kinesis FF29, but last time out I had a bad fall – bad enough to need a painful visit to the physio. In fact I’ve had a few scary moments recently and was beginning to question the design. So I took off my tyres and fitted some Maxxis Crossmarks. They have been my favourite tyre for a few years now although they are best suited to dry hard pack.

I didn’t just fit the tyres but weighed them, weighed the UST version, weighed standard tubes, weighed Foss light and puncture proof tubes all to work out the lightest option.

Foss tubes nailed
Foss tubes nailed

However, in the end I couldn’t inflate the lightest option tubeless even with the compressor so I used the LUST and so will be turning mearly 40g per tyre more but I do have the added advantage that they stay up and won’t go flat even if they are punctured.

Foss tubes
Foss tubes £19.99, available road, off road 26″ & 29″

My suggestion for Sunday was to ride some singletrack at Whiteways. It was freezing (well 5 degrees) and sunny but that didn’t last long. It clouded over and warmed up. The quick way there is, from a technical point of view, uneventful but that would soon change. Once into the wood the fun would begin. The ground was damp but no more slippery than you’d expect. My last ride had been in the Summer dust on the Blue Run with the bike sliding hither and thither on each off camber turn. The Crossmarks immediately bit into the soft earth and my bike seemed to enjoy the terrain. Making turns every few metres my confidence grew and with it my speed. There is so much singletrack over at Whiteways that you have time to really get into it. I began to feel invincible pushing through the corners confident that the tyres would grip or, if not, I’d be able to handle any slide. I really felt that the side knobs of those tyres would keep me on track no matter what.

Maxxis Crossmark LUST 2.1
Maxxis Crossmark LUST 2.1

In reality the side knobs are really small but they felt massive to me so I had he advantage of a really fast rolling tyre with incredible grip. It just shows what happens when you feel confident. I thought that the FF29 was awesome. Changing the tyres was all that I needed to do. To enjoy your mountain biking you need the right equipment but even more than that you need to believe that it is working. It’s all in the mind.

This is the time of year when you need to accept that it is slippery, don’t worry about that, but do focus on the good bits to make sure that you don’t lose your confidence on the first (and inevitable) slide.

My tyres were pumped up to 30psi. I did get a big thorn puncture and could hear the tyre hissing away but the Stan’s juice soon did its job and the leak sealed. I just needed at add just a bit more air.

Note about tyres and 29ers: There is approximately 30% more tyre contact with the ground with a 29″ wheel so you get more grip. Add to that that the bigger wheel hits bumps at a shallower angle you can afford to run your tyres at lower pressure with less risk of pinch flats. Doing this means that you’ll have a lot more grip so you can get as good cornering and climbing in damp conditions with a hard pack tyre as you would with a good wet weather 26″ knobby. This means that you can run a light tyre on a 29er which is good news as it takes more to turn those big wheels.

Here is the route: Whiteways and back Please note that in the winter some of this can be a bit muddy. Avoid Patching Wood and the descent through Screens Wood to the Trout Farm / Gate House on the Arundel roundabout when wet. The route gets you to and from Whiteways quickly so is not the most exciting.

For more check out Quest Adventure.

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