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I got a Slash and it came with Bontager XR4 Ellite tires.

The same evening at the park I had a puncture. Turned out the offender was a thorn to the sidewall (I rode through some cut off and now dry bushes and tree stems).

I intend to ride the bike over snow, ice, mud, sharp rocks, large round rocks, road, but mostly trails, that can sometimes have sharp stones or thorny plants. And wound NOT want to patch both my tubes every time I go through some strawberries.

So I am considering moving to very heavy tires, e.g. Scwalbe's Big Betty or Wicked Will. Would this mitigate my concerns?

Alternatively, the current tires and rims are marketed as "Tubeless ready". Maybe it would be a better bet to move to tubeless setup? But then, why didn't they sell the bike in TL configuration, if that would be better?

I do not ride at competitions. My goals are to be able to ride to the top of the mountain without lagging behind my friends, and then enjoy the descent.

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Hm, the internetz seems to suggest that Bontager Duster are at most XC rims. Maybe I should not expect too much from them in the first place? –  Vorac Nov 14 '13 at 11:54
    
There are various types of "belted" tires which are much more puncture-resistant than regular tires. But in general (there may be exceptions) the belts cover only the tread area, so they do not reduce the chance of sidewall punctures. –  Daniel R Hicks Nov 14 '13 at 12:28
    
@DanielRHicks, indeed. That is why I am asking about DH tires - I have zero experience with those. Some quick reviews indicate "enforced sidewalls". On the other hand, Scwalbe have a statistic "snakebite resistence". What on Earth would that mean? –  Vorac Nov 14 '13 at 12:43
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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Would this mitigate my concerns?

Yes. Heavier and downhill specific tires are more capable of handling the roughness of the trail. Downhill specific tyres are usually "double ply" which means that they have thicker sidewalls which prevents cuts from sharp rocks and are resistant to snake bites.

Maybe it would be a better bet to move to tubeless setup?

Tubeless will save you from 99% of thorn related punctures. It will also save you from 50% of snake bites (pinch flats).

(the percentages given are from my own experience)

But then, why didn't they sell the bike in TL configuration, if that would be better?

I'm not sure whether companies ever do that. Tubeless is messy and sometimes hard for the end user. Also, the standing juice inside the tyres may dry out after a couple of months, which will allow air to escape and make the brand new bike look bad on the store's exhibition (flat tyres).

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So, your advice? Do tubeless require a lot of maintenance? Tools? Or should I just purchase heavy tires, just ignore the 1kg added to the bike, and enjoy maintenance-free experience for years? –  Vorac Nov 14 '13 at 12:50
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They require more maintenance than tubes but give you some advantages. Using heavy tyres will make the uphill riding harder and the downhill riding easier. It's all about tradeoffs. –  cherouvim Nov 14 '13 at 12:54
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I certainly feel your pain about having to repair tires all the time. I've been stuck 10 miles from the trail head with a cut in a tire that caused me to constantly stop and add air as I limped back (second tube of the day).

Bigger, beefier tires will help, but if your plan is to make it up the hill with your friends and not be totally gassed then I wouldn't recommend full DH tires. I switched out my rear on my AM rig from a 2.35 to a 2.5 and boy does it chug when laying down the power. On the other hand, I can point it downhill and not even worry about it, and the grip is fantastic.

For good, all-around trail tires check out something in the 2.35-2.4 range that's made for All-Mountain/Enduro as these usually have thicker sidewalls and harder rubbers.

As for going tubeless, that will certainly help. The sealant will handle most of the punctures that you're likely to get, but I have heard of folks getting numerous punctures that have slowly bled the air from a tire. The problem with tubeless when riding more aggressively and on harder terrain is burping, where the tire briefly comes out of contact with the rim and you lose some air pressure. No amount of sealant can prevent that.

My bottom line recommendation is to go with a split tube/tubeless setup. You can hit everything from fast XC trail to full on DH and be covered in the case of punctures and big hits. Sure it's a little heavier, but you won't be running big huge tires either.

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I was expecting an answer from you, bro. What do you mean by "split tube/tubeless setup"? I notice that my tires are 0.8kg, while the heaviest that I can find are 1.3kg - not that much more. Why does tire width have more impact on rolling up the hill than weight? Actually what is the mechanism of "chug when lying down the power"? –  Vorac Nov 14 '13 at 14:50
    
Split tube/tubeless in this case meaning, running tubeless setup (sealant, valve) with a tube inside for added support. The bigger tire thing is all about rolling resistance and weight, especially since you won't find a 2.5" Small Block 8 or similar tread! –  Aaron Nov 14 '13 at 15:18
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