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Olympia Cycle & Ski, 1813 Portage Ave

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Surly Nate 120 tpi

The other day we featured a bike that was sporting Surly's new(er) nobbie Nate fat bike tires.  Seeing as we just took stock of a few of the tires we figured we should feature them on their own too.  

When fat bikes first appeared on the market they were intended mainly for use on snow and sand, where extremely high volume, low pressure tires help float over, instead of cutting into, such terrain.  However, as the bikes have gained a wider acceptance folks have begun using them for other things too, like trail riding.  In most situations a fat bike won't be as fast on the local singletreack but they might be a solution to getting beaten up by all of those roots and rocks.  Essentially the high volume tires, when run at low pressure, provide you with a form of light action dual suspension. They also provide good grip over technical terrain, sort of....

The problem with fat bike tires until recently was that they were designed specifically for rolling in a straight, flat line on top of snow and similar terrain, and accordingly they didn't really have much grip when the going got really technical. Adding knobs to the tires adds weight to an already heavy piece of rubber. However, if you're spinning out at the bottom of a hill because you can't grip the loose dirt the weight becomes a secondary concern, so the 27 tpi steel bead nobbie Nate was born.

As expected though it was indeed heavy.  1.62 kg per tire to be exact.  Yup, that's just over 3 1/2 pounds for those using old math, and that's the weight we found on our own scale - we've seen the weight listed even higher on other sites.  Fortunately things have gotten a little lighter with the fairly recent introduction of the 120 folding bead tpi Nate.  It weighs in at 1.36 kg by our count (some sites have it listed lighter).  For some reason that doesn't sound like much to us when expressed in metric but the truth is that's more than half a pound weight savings per tire.  Not bad. Or at least better.

The higher tpi also provides a more supple ride, so there's really no down side other than the slightly higher cost of course.  The 27 tpi steel bead is $85, whereas the 120 tpi folding bead is $135.  

Finally, it's worth noting that the tire casing on the Nate is close to the same width and height as the Larry or Endomorph, so if you're riding either of those the Nate should fit your set up BUT beware that the extra nob does create a bit more width and height - that shouldn't likely be a problem in the front but you'll want to make sure it doesn't cause you any chain line issues in the rear.