Top five tires

I’ve decided to make Tuesdays Top Five Tuesdays!

They’re just like regular Tuesdays, except that they’ll have a list that I throw together really quick that we can all argue about.

Tell me that doesn’t sound fun.

Today, let’s talk about tires. Getting a new set of tires – and grips to a lesser extent –  are the best way to manage the “can’t afford a new bike” blues. New tires are all shiny and clean, and they have those little furry bits on them, and they just make you feel good.

There were some terrific tires in the 90’s, but which ones were the best? Which ones did you just have to have?

I’m going to tell you after the break.

Fisher Fat Trax 2.2

5. Fisher Fat Trax. It doesn’t look like much – it’s just a bunch of square blocks – but it was fat and beefy at 2.2 inches. And the rubber casting lines looked cool. I really don’t know why Fisher stopped making them, but that lack of production makes them very sought after now. I’ve nearly bought a couple of Fishers just because they had Fat Traxes on them.

Ground Control Extreme, and regular Ground Control

4. Specialized Ground Control Extreme 2.5. The Specialized Ground Control was one of the first tires to be more than just square blocks of rubber, and probably should be on this list. However, I’m going with this 2.5 inch version of the Extreme because it was the first tire I can think of that was extra-wide. You probably can’t draw a line from this tire to the rise of the fatbike, but it still feels important. It was also maybe the start of Specialized’s super frustrating word salad approach to naming stuff.

OnZa Porcupine

3. OnZa Porcupine. Who didn’t love the Porc? I think was the first must-have tire just because it was so crazy looking. The white one especially. And then when Missy Elliott started winning DH races on it – it was a lock. I think it was pretty heavy though, even in the folding version.

Sorry, that’s Missy Giove, not Missy Elliott. Elliott was a great racer too, but didn’t do DH.

I think people like to put the Porc on the front with a Panaracer Smoke on the rear, but I wouldn’t do that. The Porc was skinny and you wanted that on the rear to dig in. The Smoke had wide blocks sticking out to the side for cornering.

Ritchey Megabite

2. Ritchey Megabite. Just such a cool looking tire, I think it was one of the first to be designed with a computer. it had a very round profile and rolled very smoothly. It was the mark of a serious bike in 1991. Lesser bikes came with the Ritchey Force, but the high-end racers had the Megabite.

If Ritchey brought this tire back, the VRC community would jizz in their pants and buy a million of them. Or more likely, jizz in their pants and buy none of them, which is why Ritchey hasn’t brought it back.

Also, they came in red. All cool tires must come in a second colour.

Panaracer Smoke and Dart.

1. Panaracer Smoke. This is the undisputed #1. Right after these came out I raced out to the bike shop with my tax return, bought a pair for my Bridgestone, and immediately felt like a superhero. And my bike just looked hot too.

It worked fine in the front or the rear, but of course for the ultimate vintage setup, the Smoke should be on the rear, paired with the Dart on the front.

Still the best tire, and still being made – you can buy them on Amazon.

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