There are plenty of mountain bike innovations from the 90s that are best left rotting in the dustbin of history. Daft hats, purple anodising (usually) and elastomer suspension are all best forgotten. Panaracer’s Smoke and Dart tyres, though – now available in ‘classic’ guise again – refuse to die. Can these relaunched classics from more than 15 years ago compete with the latest tread patterns?
It’s hard to imagine now just what a stir these tyres caused when they first appeared. With their generous volume, square-edged profile and aggressive tread patterns, they made most of the existing mountain bike rubber look very tame by comparison.
The Smoke’s no-nonsense paddles make it an obvious rear tyre, while the Dart switches the knobs through 90 degrees to provide more lateral grip for cornering.
By current standards the 2.1in profiles look skinny, but thereare huge reserves of turf-ripping grip available for all but the claggiest of conditions.
Mud clearance isn’t great, there’s noticeable drag on hard surfaces, and some riders find the square profile has a tendency to break loose suddenly in corners, but for the most part these revived classics give the current crop of tyres a run for their money.