Tire Cornering Grip: Absolute Traction vs Usable Traction

Dirt Merchant Bikes has recently started our series of tire comparison tests for our Pacific Northwest winter conditions.  One insight that I had from the tests is that Usable Traction (which I will define shortly) is more important than the amount of Absolute Traction that a tire has. I am defining Usable Traction as the amount of traction that is accessible to riders of average skill levels based on how well riders are able to anticipate a tire's traction limits.  One of the tires in the first test has a strong reputation for being a good cornering tire.  However, another tire with perhaps slight lower absolute cornering traction was unaminously preferred by testers for cornering ability.  The key factor driving this perception was how well this tire communicated the limits of its cornering traction and the amount of available traction.  For most riders, I think that how precisely a tire communicates when it is going to break away may be more important than its absolute traction limits.  Your thoughts?

Check out the results of our first tire comparison test at:  http://www.dirtmerchantbikes.com/special-events/2014/11/20/tire-comparison-test-report-2015-nobby-nic-high-roller-ii-neo-moto-hans-dampf

Our upcoming tire comparison test will include the following tire combinations:

1. Hans Dampf 2.25 (front)/Nobby Nic 2.25 (rear) – This combination balances the traction of the Hans Dampf as a front tire with a faster rolling Nobby Nic as the rear tire.
2. Magic Mary 2.35 (front)/Hans Dampf 2.25(rear) – The Magic Mary is the highest traction tire in the Schwalbe lineup short of a full-on downhill tire.
3. WTB Vigilante 2.3 (front)/ WTB Trail Boss 2.3 (rear)
4. Continental Trail King 2.2 Protection Apex - front & rear – The Trail King is similar in concept to the Hans Dampf.
5. Continental Mountain King II 2.2 Protection - front & rear:  The Mountain King is similar in concept to the Nobby Nic.

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