Mental image vs Reality

biknut

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This how a Stealth Bomber looks to normie eBikers
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The reality
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My bike next to an Ariel Kelper
 
4.0 tires on a fat bike makes it stop looking like a fat bike and start looking like a pretend-motorcycle. In my personal view its a bit of a pathetic impersonation. Sadly I still have one bike with smoothie 4.0's that needs to go back to PHAT again.
 
I mostly ride my homemade trike in the summer but in winter ride with a group of retired friends once a week on local singletrack trails. My KHS runs 4.8" wide knobby tires. I would never run those tires in summer for two reasons. The rubber compound is fairly soft and running on hard surface would wear them out quickly and two they are costly.
Now I spent many years riding street and dirt bikes and I confess I love the way those 4.8" look. It does take me back to my younger days. But the real benefit is the increased traction on both sand and snowy trails. I met a group of fat bike riders last week and they were running semi smoothie 4" tires and were complaining about the front wheel washing out on turns and the trail is all turns through the forest. Same thing with my friend on a Voltbike Yukon. But on my bike virtually no slippage making the ride very enjoyable. Our group headed 50 miles out of town to ride another area on the 14th and same result. Here it was more important since some of the trails lead up across the face of a ridge and were roughly 3 feet wide.
 
I found running smooth rolling knobbies on pavement at street pressures (15-20 psi) lets the tires 'sing' which in turn is heard by pedestrians as you are coming up on them. It was a huge, unexpected benefit on a street commuter to have people turn around and look at me, then stop their attempt to jaywalk in front of me or zig in front of me on a path. No help with morons wearing earbuds but we live in an imperfect world.

As for wearing out the tire, thats a function of finding the right tire. Any of the variations of the Chaoyang Big Daddy - most especially the 30tpi version - wear very slowly. I will get around 5-6000 milers out of one and since they wear for so long, you have plenty of time to wait out the suppliers and find your next pair on sale. I'd get them on Ebay under the Arisun brand often as not for about US$60 each, which is no more than you would spend for a decent skinny tire. They're sold as the Chaoyang Big Daddy, the Arisun Big Fatty, the Origin8 Tsunami, Panaracer Fat B Nimble, and many others. Once you learn to recognize the tread pattern you'll see it everywhere. I even got a tiny one recently (20x3.0) with downsized knobs that looked just like the big tire had been hit with a shrink ray. They are a smooth roller that are ideal at nothing but good at everything, even deep mud so long as you have a throttle and the balls to submerge the bike halfway to its hubs (and a 2wd bike :D). Also (and this is a big one) no self-steering.

I put many thousands of miles over a period of years on high speed, custom fat street commuters and went thru a long learning process.

Here is a pic with those tires on (2018). Then with Snowshoes that I ran tubeless via Fattystrippers in 2019 (terrible idea; the fattystripper idea sucked for me).
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The leaky tubeless setup was replaced later that year with skinnies, that rolled like a dream but at a 30 mph pedaling cruise there was too little sidewall and I feared for the frame's long term integrity, not to mention my teeth.
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So to keep the smooth rolling, I went to 4.0'sto give the bike a break. They work. The Origin8 Supercell in 30 tpi doesn't self-steer and is perfect, but I've also got an Arisun Big Smoothy on the front which is not as long wearing but was on sale. Both have excellent traction. But as soon as I get up the willpower to work on a bike I don't need to ride much anymore the smoothies come off and we go big and fat again, with small knobs (I've got a good set of Surly Edna's that are the same class of fast roller knobby, wear like iron and have a casing larger than the advertised 4.3 to and matches the Big Daddys).
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One question M@: The fatties that wear well, do they use harder rubber than ones that don't wear well? That's typically how it works in the car world. I'm thinking of snow tires vs. summer tires vs. all-season radials.

On street motorcycle tires, the only way to have a sticky tire than wears well is to use more silicone, but that makes them expensive. (ex. Michelin Pilot series)
 
One question M@: The fatties that wear well, do they use harder rubber than ones that don't wear well? That's typically how it works in the car world. I'm thinking of snow tires vs. summer tires vs. all-season radials.
Possibly, but the tpi counts on tires are more about casing thickness and strength. Downhill tires use low thread-per-inch counts too. High tpi tires are the thinner, more supple ones with lighter-weight sidewalls.

Maybe I should just do the TL/DR version and say I have no idea on rubber composition :)

I know the knobby Big Daddy tires could be pushed right to the edge of my comfort zone when apexing sharp right hand corners. That included the Surly Ednas (which are made by Innova and are awesome, but pricey at around $120 a pop). The same was surprisingly true of the 30 tpi Origin8 Supercells, which Chaoyang sells under their own label as the Sandstorm. Thats a semi-slick tire I could corner as hard as I dared, and even did great cornering in rain, once I worked up the balls to try it (don't do that maybe I just got lucky). The Supercell in 30 tpi is hard to find, but I found a shop that sold parts for pedicabs that had them always in stock, back when I was buying them.

Speaking of which, while I am saying how great Chaoyang-manufactured tires are, their quality is VERY uneven in one specific way: they are prone to having casing defects that cause the tire to wobble/zig in one spot as if you have a bent rim. So buy the tire but put it right on a rim and see if it has this unfixable problem. Don't wait 6 months and then not be able to return the tire when you finally mount it. You will think the rim is the problem but then look only at the rim when the wheel spins and you will see its only the tire wobbling.
On street motorcycle tires, the only way to have a sticky tire than wears well is to use more silicone, but that makes them expensive. (ex. Michelin Pilot series)
My Michelin Pilot Sports could take high speed hairpins on my without pushing the front end, but the exchange I got was tires that had a 200 treadwear rating. Or maybe it was less than that. Its been a long time since I've gone down that road.
 
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