Geax Gato 29 X 2.1″ Tires: First Impressions- by Guitar Ted
Recently we introduced you to the narrower version of the 29 inch Geax Gato here. In this post, I will go over the mounting of the tires and how they have performed on my first trail rides with them.
Mounting: Geax makes a “TNT” version of this tire which has a UST bead spec, and therefore must be mounted on a UST spec rim, or the tire will fit too tightly in many cases. (Stan’s, Sun Ringle’ products, to name a couple.) This isn’t good if you run in to a situation on the trail that might require a tire repair. In this case we have the folding bead of the Gato, so it works famously with the Sun Ringle’ Black Flag wheel set shown here. With the yellow tape and sealant installed, these tires popped on with a floor pump. (Note: These are not tubeless rated tires, and anyone setting up a standard folding bead tire as tubeless risks voiding warranties and failures which may cause a crash, bodily harm, or death. Twenty Nine Inches can not recommend that you do this with these Geax tires, but in the interest of full disclosure, these are being run as tubeless tires.)
The Gato measures out to be a hair under-sized at the 26-29psi pressures I have them set up at. My measuring comes up with a casing width of 50.4mm/1.98″ and a knob to knob measurement of 52.3mm/2.06″. If these were run at higher pressures, no doubt they would stretch out to the stated width. The profile of the Gato is like its bigger sibling, rounded with a central row of angled, trapezoidal shaped knobs with some deep siping. The outer tread blocks face to either side in such a way that they only come into play during hard cornering, or on off camber areas of trail. The rims on the Black Flag wheels are XC/Trail type wheels with an 18mm inner width, so choosing a rim with a wider inner width may make the outer knobs work better. This will be tried later.
First Impressions: The larger TNT version of the Gato was only so-so for me until I dropped the air pressure into the teens (psi) and then it came to life for me. I could not make it fail after that. Would these skinnier versions be similar? The trail conditions were typical Fall for this area: Leaves strewn all across the trails, wet dirt, wet rocks, and wet roots lay underneath this covering.
The very rounded casing really set the tire up to run mostly on the central rows of knobs, and again- the narrow inner rim width really accentuated this profile. That was fine when riding directly upright on anything, but lean over a bit, or strike an object at an angle, like a root or rock, and the Gato would jump sideways. The dirt was also tacky and loose enough that the Gato was seen to collect the dirt and pack in a bit. (See image to the left.) The mud would eventually be ejected, but when the side knobs filled in, the lack of side bite made the tire treacherous in some parts of the test rides. Otherwise the Gato would dig in on climbs with no spinning out, and braking traction was excellent.
The 2.1″ version on test here is not made like the stiffer side-walled 2.3 inch Gato TNT, so lowering pressures much past where I had them wasn’t a good idea. As it was, the ride quality was cushy and bumps were absorbed well. After these opening rides, it is looking to me like a wider rim might actually make these tires work better, so in my next update, I will have them moved over to a set of Sun Ringle’ Charger rims to see if that makes an improvement.
NOTE: Geax sent these tires to Twenty Nine Inches for test/review at no charge. We are not being bribed, nor paid for these posts, and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.