One of the highlights of the Interbike show this year was the introduction of a few tires and some wheel news we have for you.

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Hutchinson Tires:

With so many new 29″ers and brands introducing 29’ers, I was surprised to find that Hutchinson USA didn’t have any news concerning anything bigger than their current line up, which includes the Piranha, (which I was told would “probably never go away“), the Toro, and the Cobra, which should become available in the U.S. soon.

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The guys at the booth were still trotting out the line that folks didn’t want 29″er tires that weighed over 800 grams so Hutchinson wasn’t planning any newer additions since they would weigh well over this. (Interestingly, they were completely stoked to show the 26″er Sqaule, which is well in excess of 1000 grams. 😉 ) With 29″ers getting longer legged suspension, and bikes getting more aggressive geometry, I told Hutchinson that they may want to revisit that position. We’ll see……….

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Continental Tires Update: In our Eurobike Tire Report by c_g, (seen here), we heard about the “Rubber Queen”, which had been rumored to be named “Trail King” for the 29″er market, but this seemed not to be the case from our earlier report. Well, now it is confirmed that it will arrive on these shores, (at least), with a “Trail King” hot patch.

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We were allowed to handle the show sample which was aired up on an average width rim, (Stan’s), and we also spied the tire mounted to the Horsethief in Salsa Cycles booth. In both instances, we feel that the Trail king, (and also the other new, German produced 29″er tires we handled), are a departure for Continental in that they truly are rounded, large volume casings that seem to “measure up”. Stated size on the samples we held were 2.2″ ,( a 2.4″ will also be coming), and they looked to be all of that. We’re told Continental is sensitive to the reputation that they have had in recent years for “undersized” tires and want to fix this. If this is what we are getting, we’re stoked!

To reiterate, these tires will now come in a tubeless ready version called “Protection”, which will feature a protective layer in the casing that will run from bead to bead, but will not wrap around the bead itself, which will allow for a “floating layer” and should allow for a better casing response to the trail. Also, these Protection versions will feature the tubeless ready bead, and the vaunted Black Chili compound.

We also learned that Continental is working on their own sealant for these tires which will be optimized for the specific rubber and casing materials that they employ to make their tires. It is said to be a latex based sealant with as little ammonia as they can get away with. Word is that will be out sometime in 2012.

Tire availability will be sparse until 2012, probably by spring time. Race Kings will appear in very limited quantities at first, and we are scheduled to get a pre-production pair for testing soon. Look for a test on Trail Kings when they become available here next year. Stay tuned for more as we get information…

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At the Stan’s booth we saw the new 2012 “Race Gold” 29″er wheel set. This wheel set is a “carbon beater” in that it weighs only 1345 gm with tape and valves installed. This wheel is available as a complete only from Stan’s NOTUBES and will have a few variants to select from including a front hub convertible from 9mm quick release to 15mm through axle, a rear hubbed version convertible from 10mm quick release to a 142 X 12mm through axle, and a front hub version that is compatible with Lefty forks.

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This wheel set features the “Race Gold” rim, (available only as part of this wheel set), which has a claimed weight of 320gm. The design also features Stan’s newer rim “Bead Socket” technology where the rim sidewalls have been slightly decreased in height from previous Stan’s rims to allow the tire to “work better” as a tubeless tire, rather than be pinched by a traditional hook bead rim. Stan’s have designed a slightly bigger diameter to the bead seat to insure tire retention at low pressures. In fact, they recommend that you can run 15-33psi with 2.0″ tires. The Race Gold rims are 24mm outer width with a 21mm inner width.

The complete wheel comes with the aforementioned rims and hubs and are laced up with DT Swiss Revolution spokes and alloy nipples. Weight limit for riders on the Race Gold wheels is 170lbs/77.11Kg.


Easton Wheels:

Easton Wheels was showing off its new EC90 XC wheel set this year which features a different kind of carbon fiber technology made in a factory owned by Easton in Tijuana, Mexico. The wheels feature a UST spec rim well and bead seat configuration in carbon fiber. The outer rim width is 24.7mm and inner width comes in at 19mm.


The hubs feature full compliment, sealed bearings with seals Easton calls “hybrid seals”. Grease is specific to mountain biking applications as well. The front hub is convertible from 9mm quick release to 15QR. The rear hubs can be converted as well from standard quick release to the 12 X 142 through axle.


The carbon in these wheels is a different composite than most with what Easton calls “Armored Ballistic Carbon”. This “ABC” carbon is basically made up of two components, the resin, which Easton calls “MRES-B” and the carbon fiber which they have dubbed “HMPE”.

The HMPE stands for High Modulus Polyethylene which is said to be from the strongest of the man made fiber families. HMPE is also used in military applications for assault helicopters and for body armor and helmets. These fibers have exceptional resistance to high impacts and Easton sees it as a smart candidate for mountain bike wheels because of this.

The MRES-B stands for the type of resins used for their impact resistance to ballistic and blast impacts and in combination with Easton’s proprietary processes, yields a stronger finished rim that uses 15-20% less resin. This lowers weight as well.


Easton finishes up the wheels by building each by hand and acoustically tuning them for even tensions. The nipples are specially designed to thread into the rim, (left hand threaded) while the spokes thread into these traditionally making for a rim that can be trued if necessary.

The rear hub features an aluminum body with three pawls in the ratcheting mechanism that has a 36 point gear ring for 12 degrees of engagement. That free hub has two cartridge bearings in it as well.

Axles are hollow aluminum which is oversize and the bearings that run on it are further protected by the end caps on the hubs which help form another labyrinth seal. Micro-adjustable bearing pre-load is also a feature to insure that there is no side to side play in the system. Spokes are Sapim double butted in a sand blast grey.

All this carbon and technology yields a complete wheel set weighing 1416 grams and at a MSRP of $2500.00 USD.

We got a chance to speak to long time Easton engineer, Chuck Teixeira about these wheels and he says it isn’t so much the weight he’s pleased with, but the way that they ride. He explained to us that the resonate feel of aluminum wheels over rough terrain is muted almost completely out by the carbon wheels leaving him to feel a smoother ride. How does this happen when you have a big, meaty tire on your rig? We don’t know for sure…….yet. We were promised a test set of wheels soon to check this out though, so stay tuned!

Budget UST Type Wheels: Easton also announced a budget priced set of 29″er hoops dubbed the EA70 XCT which will feature double butted spokes, cartridge bearings, and the UST spec rim wells, of course. The wheels are all black with grey decals for a really stealth look. These will not be convertible but are available in 15QR front, 142 X 12 rear, and standard quick release versions. Inner rim width is 19mm and the spoking pattern is 24- 3X front and rear, as are most Easton 29″er wheels. These will sell for a MSRP of $750.00 USD.

More from Interbike and Eurobike in the coming days.