Trail Bite/Trail Drive – I took this setup out on the rockiest rootiest trail we have and proceeded to climb a steep 40 minute route to the top that begins with wide double track covered in rolling loose rocks to sandy flowing rollers and ends with slick hard-pack single-track intermittent with large step ups. My thoughts were to use the aggressive side knobs to help with picking the way UP through the very skittish rock gardens. The snowy and muddy patches that broke up the trail on the other hand allowed this tire to shine. The bite into the loose surface was secure and the line choice held with minimal slipping.
Running this tire under the recommended pressure did make me more prone to pinching a sidewall and I could tell that there was a momentary collapsing of the sidewall in aggressive cornering. Despite this I had zero issues with durability, the sidewalls are thick and able to take this kind of abuse. For the rider who has a steady stream of flats to accompany a body weight that holds a line at speed this tire would be the solution.
Preconceptions – Aggressive tread with lots of bite
Setting up – one tire went on (tubeless) with no air compressor
Pressure – 10-15 PSI (125 lb. rider)
Ride – Durable, very stiff sidewalls make for less overall grip on rocks
Best Uses – heavy rider aggressive on downhills and is prone to punctures
Conclusions – this tire likes mud and fast descending
Z-Max Evolution –The ample spacing between tread makes this tire handle well in all conditions while the large side knobs are great for cornering and lateral control. My first ride on this tire was loose and powdery off camber single track coupled with sandstone rock outcrops. I immediately noticed how well the tires held me onto the trail with zero slippage. Where I placed my wheel was exactly where it stayed. The Z-Max had ample grip on the rocks but felt truly at home on the dirt.
I moved on to fast rolling pebble/kitty litter granite covered trails and really loved what I was noticing, the tire held the perfect amount of drift in the corners without overshooting of getting bogged down. They handled nimbly at speed and held up on sharp aggressive rocky terrain while taking numerous hard hits. Climbing felt secure and yet again the line I picked was exactly where the tire stayed even at slow speeds. I was able to power out of every climb standing with only minimal rear wheel slipping on the steepest and loosest of the hills.
This tire is light and supple for racing and the aggressive tread would be ideal for adding a level of security in loose or changing conditions. The spacious tread allows for mud clearance so for rides in a variety of conditions or for one all around go-to tire the Z-Max is well versed to take on the challenge.
Preconceptions – slower rolling
Setting up – air compressor and latex
Pressure – 18-21 PSI (125 lb. rider)
Ride – grippy, light, supple, great traction
Best Uses – loose conditions, aggressive handling, quick transitions,
Conclusions – great for fast riding on loose terrain, good grip in mud, great all-around tire
Shield – This fast rolling tire is perfect for fast clean single track but was still able to hold its own when it came to loose or sharp rocks and sand. This tire gripped incredibly well on hard-pack off-camber or solid rock with its minimal rolling resistance and a supple casing. Washed out trail a whole new level of fun as the tire stuck to my choice of line with no sideways movement or slipping. The low profile makes for a great cross country race tire and even feels fast on pavement. A bit more weight was required to keep the rear tire on the ground when climbing short steep pitches powdered from frequent use but the well placed tread allowed for quick and secure cornering at high speeds and ample grip on steep, loose, rocky climbs.
This tire will be my go to for summer racing, it held up to a number of sidewall hits with no issues of puncturing and no burping off the rim even at low pressure and aggressive riding. Overall light weight and grippy, the Shield holds up to a variety of terrain while providing a fun fast ride.
Preconceptions – fast rolling tire for smooth single track and minimal resistance
Setting up – air compressor and latex
Pressure – 18-19 PSI (125 lb rider)
Ride – fast, low profile, great sidewall grip, supple casing for control.
Best Uses – cross-country racing, hard pack trails, riding on solid rock, holding speed
Conclusions – great race tire