Tioga's new Venture tire expands on the 'AI' adaptive knob concept that the company first introduced on the Psycho Genius. The clever tread and now conventional dual compound rubber layout work well on hardpack and loose-over-hardpack conditions, but it's not the most versatile tire we've ridden.
It's tough to say exactly what effect Tioga's intriguing AI has, but the theory seems reasonably valid. According to Tioga, the variable-depth channels and the knobs' triangular shape allow each block to expand depending on the load direction to expose more biting edges as needed.
What we can say for sure is that drive, braking, and cornering grip are fantastic – at least on hard surfaces. The tacky 60a-durometer rubber skin on the center knobs holds tenaciously to sheer rock and sun-baked hardpark, while the the tires' broad and low-profile shape puts an awful lot of that rubber on the ground – a larger contact area equals more grip, after all.
The knobs' squat dimensions and harder core rubber don't exhibit much squirm, so the Venture rolls unusually quietly and fairly quickly for such an open tread pattern. Wear has also been very good, even in the rather abrasive testing conditions surrounding the Colorado Front Range.
The original – and very well reinforced – Psycho-inspired shoulder knob shape has been carried over from the Psycho Genius, as has the aggressively squared-off casing profile. But Tioga has wisely changed course in terms of tread compound layout. Whereas before there was a softer compound down the middle and a harder one on the shoulder knobs, giving the tire unpredictable cornering characteristics, the Venture now uses a more-logical tackier 42a-durometer rubber out on the edges.
As a result, we found that you can lean exceptionally hard on the Venture through corners, secure in the knowledge that there's a secure foundation to support you as you drive through the turn. The Venture does let go fairly quickly when pushed past its limit, but in the right conditions, those limits are awfully high.
If you regularly find yourself on desert-like terrain, you should find the Venture will provide heaps of confidence in terms of traction – which makes sense given that the bulk of the real-world testing was apparently done near Flagstaff, Arizona.
That security goes away somewhat when the trerrain get loose though, because the tire simply doesn't have enough knob height to gain much mechanical purchase. In fact, the central knobs are so low-profile that we'd almost consider the Venture to be a semi-slick in some respects, as the base rubber (in between the knobs) is in regular contact with the ground. Such exposure also creates some worry in terms of puncture-resistance, despite Tioga's reassurance that there's extra rubber in the crown.
Not surprisingly, the Venture also isn't at its best when the ground is wet.
Weight is reasonable, with our 27.5 x 2.35in test tires hitting the scales at 752g apiece (+/- 8g), which is not bad at all considering the reinforced casing and plentiful tread rubber. Actual size is just slightly smaller than the printed numbers, with a 2.25in casing width and 2.29in knob-to-knob width when inflated to 25psi on a 21mm-wide (internal width) rim.
Tioga also offers this new tire in 26 x 2.35, 26 x 2.50, and 29 x 2.40in varieties, but only the 27.5in model comes in a proper tubeless-ready construction.
Price: US$35 (26 x 2.35/2.50in with steel bead); US$65 (26 x 2.35/2.50in or 27.5 x 2.25in); US$65 folding; US$35 steel; US$40 (29x 2.40in with steel bead); US$70 (29x2.40in with folding bead)
Weight: 749g (26x2.35in, folding bead); 752g (27x2.35in, folding bead); 804g (29x2.40in, folding bead)
Pros: Awesome grip on rock and hardpacked dirt, very good rolling resistance and wear
Cons: Grip falls short in loose and/or wet conditions
BikeRadar verdict: Expansion of the AI adaptive knob concept gives great grip on solid trails
More information: www.tiogausa.com