VREDESTEIN Spotted Cat 29″er Tire: First Impressions; by c_g

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Not long ago, during my Eurobike´11 coverage I introduced to you the new 29″er rubber by European tire manufacturer VREDESTEIN (here). Only a short time later we received a box
with all their brand new 29″er tires in our offices, which were announced here. Now with some riding time on their dry weather tire – the Spotted Cat, I can already provide you with some insight on their performance.

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Like all their 29″er line, it come in a high quality 120 TPI casing and either tubeless ready or tube type (50-70 g lighter) versions. We received the tubeless ready ones. First let´s get the numbers out of the way.

The Spotted Cat is stated as 2.0” and it falls exactly in that range with a 50.0 mm casing width and only marginally wider tread width – that is after being set up tubeless and stretching for some time at 2.0 bar. The samples received weighed 555 g and 554 g, so considerably lighter than the claimed 620 g. It is a typical representative of the mico-knobby tires with a multitude of “T” shaped triangles (anyone know a better word for the shape 🙂 ?). They all are of the same height throughout which makes for a pronouncedly round cross section.

Mounting them tubeless on the AMERICAN CLASSIC All Mountain rims has been a no hassle task and one blow by a CO² cartridge would do to make it hold the air. They were exceptionally air-tight for being tubeless ready and I actually ran them without any sealant during the first rides. So far so good – everything as promised and even better :).

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RIDING IMPRESSIONS: The VREDESTEIN Spotted Cat made its debut on my OS Blackbuck II bike in fairly dry late summer weather, which deteriorated severely after a while turning into some really nasty and wet conditions later on, so it is safe to say the tires have seen their share of varying conditions. Having come off the SYNCROS Flavor tires (29 x 2.25, see my verdict here) I was eager to see if, or in which way, the Spotted Cats would behave.

I immediately could sense their superior desire for speed and low rolling resistance. With their inverted mini-triangle knobs evenly spread over the rolling surface, that even were ramped on the attack side, they ran as smooth as can be with only a audible whirring sound on pavement. Traction and braking grip were great on dry to moderately moist soiland to my positive surprise it even did pretty good on loose over hard pack sections. Of course slippery roots and rocks were not its favorite terrain.

Just like any micro-knobby, it would do only OK on deeper or muddy sections I found the rear doing better but the front letting go too soon to feel good in aggressive riding. Furthermore those multi-shaped knobbies would fill up easily providing only minimal traction and control – self cleaning properties were OK but not really good.

To my positive surprise cornering on anything hard was rather nice and controlled – the limits were not exceptionally high (by my impressions even lower than the SYNCROS Flavor´s) but were easily detectable and always announced themselves in time to react – this predictability to me is one of the great characteristics in this micro-knobby tire. Naturally one would reach those limits frequently but with the VREDESTEIN Spotted Cat there were no sudden surprises.

The supple casing and XC-specific width of the tire forced me to run a higher pressure than I usually do, only to avoid constantly hitting my rear rims. (Having ridden mostly full suspension bikes lately I seem to have lost some of my riding finesse and so gave my rear wheel a rather hard time on the first few rides 🙂 .)

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FIRST IMRESSSION SUMARY: Now with a few weeks of riding the VREDESTEIN Spotted CAT under varying conditions, I´d say that it fulfills the bill of a super fast, supple, and easy going dry conditions tire really nicely. It shines on dry and moderately moist conditions. One of the particularly good qualities of the Spotted Cats is how they absolutely shine in terms of predictability – while I have ridden micro-knobbies that could be pushed harder, this one would tell you when its limits were reached in such a great manner, that I always felt safe.

As autumn is hitting hard and trail conditions turn more sloppy I may carry on riding the Spotted Cat but probably have to step up to the next level of aggressiveness – the VREDESTEIN Black Panther or Black Panther Extreme.

Stay tuned for more on the VREDESTEIN tires soon here.

RIDE ON,
c_g