FAT FRONT TIRES–MR. KNOW-IT-ALL

FATTY FRONTS
Dear Mr. Know-It-All,
I’m an off-road rider who is older and chunkier, but I love to ride in the desert. I have been seeing a lot of coverage on these “fatty” front tires. What do you think? Would one of them be a good choice for me?
Steve Weil
via [email protected]

OFS—older, fatter and slower—is the motto of the majority of my riding fraternity. Do what Tom Webb does—belly up and get the bigger size! “I have done reports on fatty fronts in prior issues, but here’s a recap. With the oversized front rubber (90/100-21), you get a wider footprint and a tall sidewall. For the detail-oriented, this means that the first number in a 90/100-21 is the widest distance between the sidewalls of the tire in millimeters—90mm. The second number is the sidewall aspect ratio, which is the tire’s sidewall height and is a percentage of the tire’s sidewall height from the rim to the tread—100 percent. I got the word on the tire’s effectiveness a number of years back from Ty Davis, who told me it’s like cheating in the sand. Washes with loose, thick sand are very hard on the pilot. You experience a lack of control and constant hunting and diving of the front wheel. Ty said that the larger (taller and wider) tire stays on top of the sand and floats rather than digging and hunting. I tested the larger Golden Tyre Fatty (Ty sent me one), and in the high deserts of California it worked superbly. Also, it offers more cush since there’s a taller sidewall with additional flex. The drawback to the Fatty front is that it is not as precise as an 80/100-21 or a 90/90-21 on hardpack. These days there are a number of companies that offer a larger front tire.

I have used the Shinko Fatty MX216, the Motoz Tractionator and the Golden Tyre GT 216AA Fatty quite a bit, and each tire has definite strengths. All are better in the sand and loose terrain. I know that Bridgestone, Maxxis, Kenda, IRC and Michelin offer these larger front tires, and I will try to get them tested during the year. Now, back away from the salad bar and ride! 

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