2021 XC Race Tire Thread

So posting a follow up on my Conti Race King Protection experience.

To briefly recap, I put on a Race King Protection 2.2 rear a couple of months back in anticipation of using it at Wilmington Whiteface and Leadville this season. I had a lot of longish 50 - 100 mile weekend gravel rides planned as well as mixing in some single track, so it was a good chance to try it on the rear of my Supercaliber mounted on an ENVE M5 rim. I kept a 2 year old 2.25 Schwalbe Racing Ray on the front.

The Race King felt great on the gravel and was surprisingly competent on the trail. Traction was a step up from a Thunder Burt on the trail, especially if damp. From a handling and speed perspective I was 100% pleased.

But there were some negatives. The tire didn’t hold air well. Compared to the Schwalbe in the front I was losing air throughout the week and often the tire would be flat by the following weekend if not pumped up during the weekm. Initially I thought it was a leaky valve, so replaced it, but same result. Then I retaped tire, but still result. I was using fresh Stan’s Race Sealant and swapped it out, added extra, etc, all to no avail. Last week I noticed sealant leaking through the tire. This made me really nervous with a race coming up so I took the Race King off and put on a lightly used Thunder Burt. I pumped it up and it held air perfectly, so definitely the tire was leaking, not the wheel.

So it looks like I’m going to abandon the Race King experiment. Two months of weekend riding leading to a leaky tire is not exactly confidence inspiring. Back to Schwalbes front and rear.

Here is a shot of some the leaking spots. They were scattered all around the tire.


A little off topic but I have the same experience with some Conti Terra Speed tires on my gravel bike. Slowly leak air over 7-10 days until flat. No obvious leaks and plenty of sealant. I don’t have this issue with a couple of other brand tires that I have.

Currently running a Fast Trak 2.35 up front, vittoria barzo 2.1 in the rear. It’s all I have right now as that’s what the bike came with and can’t find anything quite yet. The Fast Trak is alright and will suffice for a while until I can find my Ardent/Ikon combo.

The Barzo rear not that bad.

Mine look like that too but it has never been a problem. Sure they’ve usually lost a few psi by the time I go out for a ride a few days later, but they hold air during the day no problem. I used them for DIY Wilmington Whiteface this weekend (and training on the course all spring), can’t imagine a better tire for that race.

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Interesting to hear that you had the same experience with the sealant leaking through on the Race Kings. II just don’t know if I could trust a leaky tire like that for an “A” event. Too bad because I sure liked how they felt otherwise.

It’s really a 2022 tyre, but the new Schwalbe Wicked Will looks like a good wet weather front option as opposed to Nobby Nic.

I’ve just ordered a new Nobby Nic to take in my bike bag in case my A race is wet, but looking at the Wicked Will it might be a faster option to add a smidgen more front end confidence.


My latest tire choice has me running a Ralph in the back, and Nobby Nic on the front. Tires are hard to come by with COVID shortages, so I’m running whatever I can easily get my hands on.

So far, the Nobby Nic feels similar to the XR4 it replaced.

The Ralph feels quite different than the XR3 and the (Conti Cross King before that) it replaced. It rides more harshly (I think it’s that the sidewall is more stiff, and doesn’t deflect as much under impacts), and slides out more easily in corners. All-in, I want a rear tire that has more grip than the Ralph.

I’d like to see how the Wicked Will performs as a rear.

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@DaveWh You might want to try a Nobby Nic front and rear. I switch to that here locally in the fall when the leaves start to come down from trees. The NN rolls surprisingly well on the rear. I’ve been surprised that on local trails I wasn’t much slower on them compared to the Raclng Ray/Racing Ralph summer combo.

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That wicked Will seems heavy at around 900g for all tyres depending on the sidewall, with the lightest alleged to be “paper thin”.

All of my Maxxis MTB tires do the same thing on the sidewalls. I think it’s pretty normal.

I’ll be making a switch for sure from the Ralph on the rear for some of my riding later this year - Pyrenees in August, Fruita/Moab desert riding season in the fall. For now, the Ralph works OK on the majority of my local trail system - although may start to get outmatched as the trails dry and turn dusty.

I would guess you were unlucky and it was a defective tire. I have ran race kings on and off for 3 years (including on 1-2 week bike packing races) and never had leaks or significant pressure loss. Overall I think they are very good, although not quite as fast as Thunder Burts and still drift a bit on loose over hard.

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Maybe it is just my location and trail conditions, but all my tires do this. The only ones that don’t are the Double Down (or similar) casing tires on my trail bike. Pretty rare I don’t have to air up tires between rides too.

I haven’t tried a RK in a long time. But the last time I did, I was impressed. It worked better than expected (rear only). But it unfortunately pinched in a rock garden that I landed in a little too hard (not the fault of the tire) and I haven’t tried one since.

Interesting, but a friend of mine has gone back to narrower tires. He just went back to 2.2 Kenda Boosters and was really happy at the last race. Though I think his fitness is far higher right now than he is used to, and he is giving unfair credit to his equipment :joy:

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I’m curious to know what’s peoples’ take on the new tread pattern nobby nic that Schwalbe rolled out a year or so back. I used to run the old Nobby Nic in the winter because i really liked the upright traction for climbing but the transition off the side nobs was sometimes terrifying. As i got better at carving turns it started to matter more, so i switched away.

some people like the Ikons, other people up thread have said that they really don’t. What do you think the difference is?

I’ve got some carbon wheels (Mercury X1 Enduro) re-dished for the Ai offset, and as soon as I get my XD driver converter and cassette, those are going on the Scalpel SE, so i will have exactly that, 2.35 Ikons on a decently wide rim. I’ll make up my own mind but definitely curious where people are coming from on the opinions.

Depends on the grain of soil in various locations I think.

The closer the soil turns to mud, the worse the Ikon performs.

In SoCal, it is pretty versatile as long as you don’t mind a bit of drift here and there and with low pressure/wide rim, you get good traction with lower rolling resistance in the rear.

That being said, I’d never consider it as a front tire.

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I didn’t know they’d changed to be honest, I’ll have a look at some photos for reference but I also have a new gen NN enroute to match my SuperRace Ray and Ralph combo so will compare it to my current NIC when it arrives.

I only ever run a Nic as a front tyre though.

@Jason_Kennedy might have his new Nobby Nic already, but I don’t know if he’s ridden it yet.

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Got it. Thank you! What do you run as a front tire, out of curiosity? Sorry if you’ve already said this up-thread.

Still waiting for my Nobbly Nic I am afraid @liam_mail.

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It’s been a while since I’ve had a trail bike, but usually like a DHF, Magic Mary, or Hans Dampf in the front

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