05 April 2010

bikefix Second Look: Geax Barro Mountain 26x2.3 TNT tires

Marc already reviewed these tires but I want to pipe up and give my opinion too. Besides, I’ve been running them for longer (although he may still have more miles on them) so I feel an obligation to our readers. I’ll just come out and say it- These are my favorite tires for a trail bike right now. They are the perfect combination of traits: good volume, descent & predictable grip, light weight, and are tough enough that you don’t have to worry about your line choices.

Because they're in Marc's review, I won’t go over every detail about these tires. Basically the Barro Mountain is part of a new breed of tires that are targeted directly at trail use. It’s a small but growing category of lighter tires with faster tread patterns and fairly large casing sizes. The Barrow is ideally suited to loamy trails with a low and wide knob pattern spaced fairly far apart. The cornering knobs aren’t especially big or sturdy which gives the tire a rounder shape and a tendency to break loose a bit earlier during cornering than square-shouldered tires, especially on looser surfaces. The break is predictable though and that matters as much as where the grip ends. Since I live in the Southwest, it may sound like this isn’t the best tire for me. Here in the southern Rockies though, our trails above 8,000ft tend to be packed or loamy and I always use a trail bike there, so it’s not all loose desert riding- otherwise I probably would err towards a different tire. The reality is that the 2.3 inch size of this tire provides a lot of insurance against the minor weaknesses of the tread pattern in rocky, loose conditions. On any trail with a good base, be it hard-pack or loamy, this tire is a screamer and makes me feel much faster than I am. I have also been on some muddy rides with this tire and the large spaces between the knobs work in the Barrow Mountain’s favor there too.

More importantly, as Marc mentioned, the tubeless-compatible TNT (Tube / No Tube) casing on this tire is one of the best around. I haven’t had a single problem with it- no punctures, no leaks, and no burps. I run them without tubes between 29psi and 33psi depending on the trail. I weigh a good 215 lbs. with all my gear on and Marc is much lighter. The fact that we both like this tire is another testament to its versatility. This brings me back to why I may find it more acceptable in loose terrain than Marc does- weight. Perhaps my “beefier” nature allows more of the knobs to grip, or gives the knobs that do grip more bite. I’m just guessing of course, but I find the Barro's performance pretty acceptable on loose terrain. It does break loose more than I'd like, and doesn’t have as much traction as other tires, but everything is a trade off, and my guess is my weight gives this tire a better performance on loose trails.

There aren’t too many other tubeless tires that are this wide and come in at 680 grams either. That is the clincher (excuse the pun) for me. Most of the tires that I consider for trail bikes weigh from 750 grams to 880 grams and many of them are closer in size to 2.2’s. It is shocking how much 70 grams or more can feel on a tire. These tires do wear quickly but considering how much tubeless tires can cost these days, the $45 price more than makes up for it. That’s my take.



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