Last weekend I posted Wolf vs. Bear. I wanted to compare the 2.5 versions of the IRC Trail Bear and the WTB Weirwolf, and also see how it would be to run a 970 gram front tire on the single speed. The picture shows the Trail Bear 2.5 on the front, and it's little brother, the 2.25 on the rear (750 grams).
The 210 gram heavier Trail Bear is noticeable from the get-go. It accelerates slower, and makes the front end a bit heavier for wheelies. On the plus side, the tall, closely spaced knobs roll very smoothly, and stick like glue to the trail. The Eastern Sierras are mostly sand (decomposed granite), so shedding the wet dirt was not a problem.
When comparing this tire to the Weirwolf though, I think it falls a bit short on overall performance for XC riding. While the Weirwolf might lose a bit to the Trail Bear in traction, I've always felt in total control with the Weirwolf. It's a very predictable tire. Spinning a half a pound less weight makes the Weirwolf a bit more exciting in the acceleration category, and also makes it more uphill friendly. This is important to me, since I spend most of my time riding uphill.
As I mentioned in the earlier post, the last time I tried this tire was on my 35 lb Kona Coiler. The heavier tire on the already heavy bike made the bike too sluggish for XC use. I was surprised to learn though, that the heavy Trail Bear was acceptable for single speed use. My single speed is 24 lbs, so adding the heavier tire was not a huge penalty. It may also be noted that I am 5 lbs heavier than I was in the summer when I tested the Trail Bear on the Coiler. I didn't feel like I was constantly struggling to keep up with the gang, which was a big problem on the Coiler. Since the Weirwolf that I pulled off the Single Speed is near retirement, I plan to keep the Trail Bear on the SS until something else comes along...which could be a matter of days. The other Jeff has a Panaracer Fire FR 2.4 he wants me to try, and Brent already loaned me a Conti Vertical Pro 2.3 for demo. So many tires, so little time.
I ran the Trail Bear at 35 psi, 5 psi below the sidewall recommendation, with no problems. In fact, I plan to drop it down to 30 psi for the next ride. Every bit of extra suspension you can get is welcome on the rigid fork!