Tires for Austin Rattler 2020?

For anyone that did the Austin Rattler in 2019, or is familiar with that XC course, what tires would you recommend? I am leaning towards Bontrager, but cannot decide on XR2 vs XR3 and 2.2" or 2.35". Maybe XR3 2.35 up from and XR2 2.2 in the rear?

I ran ardent race 2.35 front and back last year and will probably do the same this year.

I actually pre-rode 1 lap of the course last weekend for the first time this year and it’s a hard course to figure out. Most of it would be fine on a fast tire like an aspen, but there are enough loose sections w/ steep up and downs (often with sharp turns at the bottom) that I think if favors a more aggressive tire. Several of these spots have a good amount of golf ball to baseball sized loose rocks and I’m wondering if tire choice even matters in that mess. A bunch of short and punchy climbs. Nothing technical as far as obstacles/terrain, just not too many places to get in a groove and pedal (or even grab a drink). It couldn’t be more different than Leadville.


Do you think the race moving to November would influence your tire choice? I’m thinking Austin in November will probably a little more consistently sloppy.

November isn’t particularly rainy and it wouldn’t matter out there anyway. Reveille peak is the go-to place in central texas to ride after rain. The decomposed granite drains quick and don’t really turn into mud. In 2019, there was a big thunderstorm during the race and is was raining hard for a bit. I ran into a few slick spots on lap 2 during/after the rain, but nothing serious. A little rain on that course probably makes it faster/grippier in many places. Nothing at all like the prior venue for the Rattler where it turned into an endless mud pit after rain. The only downside is that the course throws up a lot of grit when it’s wet and it’s like grinding compound on a drivetrain. I pretty much cooked a front chain ring during the 2019 race with just a couple hours of riding in the rain/wet.

1 Like

March/April and November are about the same and as mentioned above RPR drains fast and many sections are really not impacted by the rain at all.

Maybe you bring a beefier front tire and swap out prior to the race if it’s going to be raining day of but otherwise I wouldn’t sweat it.

I"m debating tires now. I have Aspens 2.25 mounted up right now but I do have an Ardent Race 2.35 that I could throw on the front. In reading some of the online posts it seems the course will be a little different this year. The online videos I have seen from 2019 show a lot of double track that wasn’t very technical (looks like some of the roads I ride on my gravel bike.). I’m not sure how accurate those videos are…

I don’t think the course will be much different at all from last year. They will reroute a few sections but if I had to guess the vast majority will be the same as last year with the rerouting done in the same area as last year but with subtle changes.

I live an hour ish away and will be out there pretty frequently and can provide updates.

I have ridden a variety of tires out there in a variety of conditions. My take is that you can run a light duty tire and be just fine until you aren’t. Last year my racing partner double flatted early in the race and never could get enough air to hold in the front tire to finish a lap. Race over. Maxxis Aspens front and rear.

The course can reward fast rolling tires. The first 4 miles of the race will be on fire road and a fast rolling tire there will be great.

That said, the course is currently very dry and very loose. The first lap in November on race day I will guess will be the same unless we get a ton of rain very close to the day of the race. As all of us go around the course for 4-8 hours the corners will begin to tighten up. Again, for the fire road start and maybe lap 2 and definitely lap 3, a fast tire could be your friend. It’s just the rest of the time that I’m worried about.

The super fast tires like Aspens, Thunder Burts and Race Kings probably don’t have enough cornering knobs for the loose sections which a very commonly at the bottom of steep sections. Sidewall protection would also be a concern.

I’m torn between Ardent Race and Ikons. Might do an AR up front and an Ikon rear.

While the rocky sections are not the most technical the rocks are very sharp and unforgiving on sidewalls. If you are great at tire placement a lighter duty tire could work.

I’m thinking a tire with a thick cut resistant sidewall, tall cornering knobs and low knob height in the center of the tire would be a pretty solid combination based on my last two trips out there.

Will be happy to provide more detail after my next trip.

1 Like

Used WTB Ranger Light casing last year, a few places where I was worried about the rocks cutting a sidewall. Now on 2.25 Vittoria Mezcal Race tires, haven’t been as worried about sidewalls. Light, fast rolling, good traction. :+1:t4:

1 Like

I hear people say the same thing about Leadville - that tires like the Race Kings are fine for much of the course, but not good on loose over hard like powerline and columbine descents.

My view is to pick tires best suited for the majority of the course, and then just be careful in the short sections where you need to pay extra attention.

The schwalbe rocket razors look interesting. They look similar to the bontrager XR3s. If I ride silver rush in 2021, I’ll probably ride Race King rear, and XR3 front.

1 Like

I’ve ridden that course a bunch and agree w everything posted by @Stringwise . While there are a few sections where a fast rolling tire is good, there are many more places it could bite you. Even ignoring durability, there are just too many loose sections where you need some knobs, at least in front. I’m planning to stick w ardent race front and back, but an ikon rear is a good option.

1 Like

My brother and I were also out at RPR last week and it was so difficult to even determine where the trails were… We ran into the guy who was beginning to form some of the courses and he was already talking about variations from last year.

I’ve probably ridden 30 loops of that course in the last 18 months and I still struggle with navigation sometimes. There are so many challenging spots, even with GPS help. I guess I’m happy they are updating the course if they can improve the flow a bit, but it sounds like another learning curve for navigation.

1 Like

It’s also not fun to look down at the head unit for “real time” directions out there which I’ve had to do too :sweat_smile:

If anyone gets a good GPS of the new course post it here and share the love.

Just follow the sharp, off-camber turns and you’re good!

Course is effectively the same as last year but sounds like a few changes are coming…



We are most likely going to swap out a loop on the front half of the course for one near the end of the course.

I went out to RPR and rode the course today. Talked to the guy taking $ and he said the race organizers still have some work to do to figure out a few sections. I think I got most of it, but there are a couple spots that we couldn’t figure out. There are some significant changes on the 2nd half of the course and they are including much more of the solid granite sections. None of them are really technical, but they certainly aren’t going to speed up the course. It is extremely dry and loose out there right now, but we’re expecting rain this week. Some significant rain could really improve conditions.

I talked to a guy who was pre-riding the course today on a Maxxis aggressor front and Ikon rear and he said it was pretty good. I’m seriously thinking about trying something beefier on the front. I’m currently running Ardent race front and back and I’m really struggling on the loose/rocky turns.

All of the guys in my group that were running AR’s including me have swapped to something a bit more burly.

It’s pretty maddening that so many of us have gone out there to get a good pre-ride lap in but the marking is so bad I don’t know anyone that has accomplished anything close to a true race speed lap. For the fees they charge for this race it seems they could budget for a few extra rolls of black and yellow tape.

Any idea how much of the course is single track vs double track? I’ve never been out there to Reveille, but watching the videos i could find from last years it seems like the course is like 85%+ double track or wide undeveloped course.

I have Rekon’s on the bike right now and based on what I’m seeing it sounds like they’ll be a decent fit. I won’t have any time to get out there for a pre-ride so I’ll just live with them.

Ordered a maxis forekaster tonight, gonna try pairing it w an ar or ikon rear. I know it’s supposed to be a wet weather tire, but have seen some reviews saying it’s a good choice in the front for really loose conditions.

My Orbea Oiz TR came with a 2.35 Forecaster on the front and AR on rear. I also demo’d XC bikes at Outerbike in Moab last year and several had Forecaster on the front. I found it worked well in the dry conditions - the loop I tested on had a long switchbacky descent that was loose over hard in many places and the Forecaster really gave me confidence in those turns.
All this talk has me questioning my AR front tire. I have my Forecaster/AR set on slightly heavier wheels that I could swap over but it looks like rain this week - at least in North Texas. That could change things perhaps.