On test: Ritchey Motovader Pro tyres, May 29, 2005
Fat but versatile
Matt Barr hits the dirt on some fat do-everything rubber from
Ritchey Motovader Pro
Tom Ritchey has been making tyres (or, as he'd say, tires) for a looong
time. Despite this, they aren't necessarily one of the brands that would
immediately spring to mind when considering some new rubber.
A few years ago I had some Ritchey Z-Max tyres on the mountain bike,
and despite performing very well in most conditions, they were a little
bit narrow and the casings a little bit too lightweight for the type of
riding I was doing (and the kind of rider I am!) When they wore out, they
were replaced with whatever tyre was flavour of the month, and time moved
The immediate question looking at the MotoVader 2.4, then, is, does the
performance of Ritchey's lighter, more race-bred tyres, scale up to bigger
tyre dimensions? Certainly first impressions were just that - that Ritchey
had taken the proven "VFA" tread pattern and expanded it to fit a more
The MotoVaders we got to play with are the Pro version, which have a
folding bead and use a soft compound rubber - what Ritchey calls 'Severe
Conditions' rubber. Thankfully, the bead isn't one of those annoying,
overly-tight, kinds that some other manufacturers love (and are cursed
by anyone trying to fix a flat in the heat of the moment), so popping
these tyres on and off was no drama.
First ride was immediately after I threw them on the bike, and took them
for a quick spin up and down the road. Road tyres these certainly aren't
- they take a bit of mumbo to get up and rolling on tarmac. The knobs
aren't particularly high, so I'm putting some of this road-reluctance
to the soft compound rubber. Thankfully off road, where they belong, this
isn't nearly so noticeable.
The geology around Sydney means we have a choice of mountain biking terrain
that encompasses sandstone, sand, and sandy sandstone - so thankfully,
for the purposes of variety, I've had the opportunity to try the MotoVaders
a little further from home, as well as on our local tracks.
On our specialty, solid sandstone, these tyres perform really well. Being
2.4in wide, they cope with impacts just fine, and I'm yet to suffer a
pinch-flat from pounding into a rock edge with the MotoVaders. Riding
on rock, the softer compound m,akies its presence felt, giving a noticeable
bit of extra bite. This is particularly confidence-inspiring when riding
some of the more technical descents and climbs.
As things get a little more sandy, the Motovaders continue to work well,
cornering with acceptable levels of sideways drift. Once thing I noticed
was that they pick up a lot more grit than I'm used to. Maybe a front
mudguard would come in handy...
When cornering on more dusty tracks, with loose rocks, I found the front
MotoVader didn't quite bite as much as I'm used to, occasionally pushing
through corners. This is possibly partly down to my usual preference for
a square profile front tyre though. One interesting thing to note here
is that after a week or so, it was noticed that I running the front tyre
backwards from the suggested direction (oops!). With it around the correct
way, cornering seemed to improve for the most part.
As for mud - well, we don't get to see a lot of that around Sydney, even
when it does eventually rain. The few bits of mud I encountered, while
slightly annoying, were hardly the kind that would challenge many tyres.
Just by inspection the knobs aren't particularly deep, so won't penetrate
through mud too much, but they are fairly well spaced, so one would imagine
they wouldn't be completely useless.
When I first got the MotoVaders, I was expecting that I'd just use them
for playing around on more rocky tracks, and probably switch back to my
regular tyres, or something a little lighter, for some of the endurance
rides that I've been doing lately. It turns out that I haven't - at least
on the front of the bike (the rear sometimes gets swapped out for something
a little less knobby, in deference to the terrain and my lack of climbing
speed). In the past few months, I've run the MotoVaders in a couple of
eight-hour races (in a team of 2), and completed a 100km race. I hardly
challenged the leaders, but we can't blame the tyres for that!
Those that like to pigeonhole everything in the MTB world would put these
in the "freeride" bracket, simply because they obviously aren't a cross-country
racing tyre, and are probably a little too lightweight for full on downhill
racing. To me, they fit really nicely into the "Going Riding(tm)" bracket
- because that's just what they are good for.
Typical retail price: US$40; Au$59.95
Pros: Soft compound adds to grip; rolls well & reasonable weight
for a largish tyre
Cons: Soft compound reduces life; not enough bite in loose conditions/gravel/when
the rider is crap
More information: www.ritcheylogic.com