I have been riding and racing mountain bikes for 15 years. I have learned a lot in that time. Not just about riding and racing, but about cycling gear and what works and what doesn’t work. I remember one of the first lessons that you learn is what tire you like and what works for your riding style and your area of the country. I remember my first real mountain bike, well actually it was my second bike. My first mountain bike was a Trek 6500, and it was an OK bike but I never really felt one with the bike on that bike. It was a standard geometry bike with standard components on a standard aluminum frame. It was harsh, but I learned how to ride and learned that i needed a better bike. My first real mountain bike was a Litespeed Pisgah that i bought after being beat up by the Trek for about 6 months. I still remember my first ride on that sweet TI bike with full XT. It was dancing on two wheels. What a difference. This was back in the mid 90’s and it seems that every bike i saw came standard with Panaracer XC Pro tires.
They were good tires with plenty of bite. The tire still made to this day and is probably one of the most popular tires out there. The tire works really well for newbie riders as it has tall knobs and plenty of them. Newbie riders need extra knobs as this offers better traction and keeps them out of trouble. I remember thinking i wasn’t a newbie anymore and i went in search of a lighter tire with less rolling resistance. I found the Hutchinson Python.
I had seen the Python on other bikes with guys that were really good riders, so i thought i would give them a try. My first ride on the Pythons was pretty much my last, for the time being. I remember feeling how fast they felt and how much easier they were to get going. Initially i loved them and i felt so liberated. I got going really fast really quick and then came the twisties. i went into the twisty section and promptly plowed the front tire into a soft berm and over the bars i went. Ouch! Got up brushed myself off, and decided i was probably a little tired and wasn’t paying attention. I got up to speed again on a nice flat section, went into another twisty really hot, and boom! Over the bars again when the front tire washed out on me. That was it. I knew at that time that Pythons were not for me. I went back to the shop and bought a fresh set of Panaracer XC pros, this time with a foldable bead so they were lighter than the old wire bead tires i has been running. I felt the difference in the rolling weight and was pretty happy for them for quite a while. I stayed with XC Pros for the first year or so, until i got better at bike handling and they suited my riding style just fine. They also kept me upright most of the time and were very forgiving of my newbieness.