Written by Jason Mahokey Wednesday, 16 May 2007 00:00
Good for me that Al was just as stoked to hear the news and had confirmation from our Panaracer rep PDQ that the tires were in the works, being made by Panaracer for IRD and would be available late March or April. SWEET!
I've been on my Dos Niner for over a year now, started off rolling the Maxxis Ignitor, then last fall went to some HUGE meats in the form of the Panaracer Rampage 29er 2.35, now the Fire Pros were becoming available just as I was preparing for my second race of the year, a 12 hour solo event.
They arrived far enough out from race day for me to get them mounted up, get a feel for them and tested out on some local single track.
The tires have a claimed weight of 715g (Kevlar bead). I don't have scale, to confirm the weight or check for variances, but I know they feel lighter than the Rampage and are on par with the Maxxis Ignitor.
I was happy to see the familiar Fire Pro tread when I got my hands on them. In the past I never had an issue with the 26" Fire Pros other than sticky clay based mud, so it was a welcome sight. I will say the tread pattern did seem a bit wider than the 26" version which would lead one to believe they would be a bit better a shedding mud than their little cousin.
I mounted them up on my Bontrager Mustang 29er rims (with tubes). I'm running my air pressure at just about 35 PSI in the rear and a little over 30 in the front. I know many folks like to run lower pressures, but for my 175 lb. body (buck naked and dehydrated) I like to error on the side of higher. Tires mount on and off with ease and I found no real need for a tire lever.
Compared to my fat Rampage 29 x 2.35s I had on, the 2.1 width looks tiny, but that's fine by me since as much as I like the Rampage it's a tad TOO big for my racing and training and find the 2.1 width perfect.
First ride was a 1.5 hour race week shake down ride for the Dos Niner on some local single track. I honestly was only focused on looking out for any bad qualities at this point, since I was also keeping an eye on my newly serviced shock and drive train as well. But they seemed to hook up fine on the roots, hard pack and even ripped fine through some muddy areas easily. So they would be staying on for the weekend's race.
2nd ride on the tires was racing solo at the 12 Hours of Lodi Farms where I was greeted to steady rain all day Saturday leading up to the Midnight start.
This race would prove to be a real test for the IRD Fire Pro 29ers. The course would throw everything at them over the 12 hours. Started out with some soupy mud, thick fresh cut trail mud, wet grass, and slick as snot roots and logs. Morning would bring clear skies, warming sun and many trails on one half of the course were now hard pack.
The thinner mud proved no problem for them, they even hooked up decently on the thicker mud in the fresh cut sections, they would of course clog pretty quickly (I believe any tire would have). The good news was as soon as you exited those sections they started shedding mud darn quick and were good to go. My wider tread pattern was proving to be correct. I wish I had a pair of my old 26" Fire Pros to compare to.
Over the race I never had an issue. Climbed and hooked up on the roots well. The Fire Pros also have higher profile outer tread than the Ignitors I previously used, and hooked up great through the corners and a few muddy off camber sections. I went down a few times on some roots during one of my night laps, but I really can't say it was any issue with tires. More pilot error do to sleep deprivation and poor night riding skills, ha!
Rides 3 & 4 had me recovered from my race and back on my local single track loops. I really pushed the tires hard in the corners this time and they came through every time. The trails were in dry condition and mostly hard pack with some loose rock and exposed roots thrown in.
On the hard pack and short pavement sections they didn't roll as fast as I would have liked. If you're like me and planning to do 100 mile events like the Mohican 100 or Wilderness 101 that tend to throw some pavement at you along with single track and fire roads, it's something to think about. They're by no means anchors, but those knobbies that give us improved traction do add some rolling resistance.
I find with tires there's always a give and take. If you're racing and riding mostly single track and dirt with the need for confident traction and cornering these are the tire for you. If you find yourself doing a lot of commuting to the trail head or races with a lot smooth West Coast style hard pack or looking for a full on racer tire, than you may want to look for a faster rolling tire.
Having said all that it probably won't stop me from using them for most of my race schedule and riding in 07, since even if I'm doing a race that has 30% pavement/fire roads, 70% is still going to feel better rolling a tire like the Fire Pro. Plus I have enough to worry about in preparing for 100 milers and solo events. I just want a tire I can put on and feel good about and I think the Fire Pro comes a close as just about any to that.
Except for the occasional 45 minute drive up to the mountains I don't ride on too many extremely rocky trails, so I can't comment too much on their handling of technical rocky trails. I will say that I ran the 26" Panaracer Fire Pros many times in the past at rocky races like the 24 Hours of Snow Shoe, Big Bear and Seven Springs and can only think that this 29er version would be even better.
I can't make any comment on any tubeless mods or LONG term durability. I don't foresee tread wear being an issue for them unless you ride them on pavement a lot, but with the rolling resistance I'm not sure why one would.
This review was sort of a "power review". I've only had the IRD Fire Pro 29ers a short time, but have logged 105+ miles and 17+ hours of racing and riding them in just a week and a half.
Overall weight is respectable for a full knobby 29er tire, the cornering and climbing traction has been great. It's darn good all round 29er tire that I don't see taking off any time soon. If it weren't for the rolling resistance I'd give it a full 5 Bikemen, but since the rolling resistance is an issue, I'm going with 4 Bikeman heads.
|IRD/Panaracer Fire XCPro 29er 2.1 Tire: Black/Black, Folding. Modeled after the incredible FireXCPro MTB tread. You get the multi-stepped knobs and specially shaped side wall knobs that has helped the 26'' Fires become one of the most popular treads of the last 10 years. Multi-condition tread. Dual-directional tread, flip the tread to run....|
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