By : Steve Meurett
It’s said first impressions are often correct, but not always correct. Mounting a new pair of tires on a fatbike and making a snap judgement on one or two rides isn’t fair – it requires rolling out on different soil conditions and with pressure adjustments to offer a well rounded opinion. The good folks at Vittoria sent a sweet set of Bomboloni tires to check out this summer and after reading Mr. Julio’s review of the 29+ versions, I was excited to slip them on. As Julio pointed out on the 29ers, the Bomboloni 26” x 4” tire have smallish-squarish knobs similar to a Knard or Chubracabra, but with some key differences. The tread pattern is directional with more (shorter) knobs near the center and taller ones 3mm outside the edge of the casing. They’re ramped and siped, as well, differentiating them from other brands out there. – These are not your momma’s waffle pattern.
The dry technical details include a weight in the 1420gr range and a casing width of 94mm when mounted on my Marge Lites and a 101-102mm knob to knob spread. Vittoria describes the Bombo as having “automotive inspired snow-tire tech” which they do remind me of-but these are at home on dirt as well. They feature a “dual-compound” tread and premium 120 TPI casing. As mentioned in the spotlight teaser, I’ve never seen such a beautifully made stippled pattern on the lining of a tire. These are also tubeless ready featuring the companies TNT (Tube-No Tube) technology.
Testing these tires at Levis Mound does give one a good mix (sand to rock with some hardpack) and my first impression was not at all favorable. My mistake. What at first felt like a severe case of self steer on the firmer portions of the trail, was in fact, due to a lack of air pressure. In the softer sands (or on snow I believe) they can be run low, but in dry mid summer baked conditions, I needed a few pounds more. It seemed 8-12# worked well for my summer riding, to insure accurate steering. Be it tread design, or the manufacturers construction, some tires are just a bit pickier about inflation. Once dialed in, they rode well…everywhere.
With Gnomefest 12 looming on the horizon down in Plattville Wisconsin, I really wanted to put the Bombolonis to another test – on the tacky clay of SE Wisconsin’s driftless region. An all day rain on Gnomefest eve insured I’d have plenty of tire testing options at the Hirsch Farm singletrack. Racers returning from the trail system earlier in the day had plenty of muck-cake strangling their tires-really making me wonder how the Vittoria’s would do, with it’s shallow small knobs. A large group ride would soon answer that question.
The trail begins with a long rocky, clay based descent into the deep valley below. Sharp corners, roots and limestone rocks challenge anyone at high speed. The more I trusted the Bombis, the faster I could let the bike go. Of everything I like about this tire it’s the claw-like grip of the taller side knobs, which kept the bike glued to the corners. Surprisingly, after being dumped out into the bottom of the valley, the tires were very clean, with little to no mud clinging to the tread. The shallow ramped and siped knobs I think are the key to this design – the tread seems to be self cleaning in clay and mud. Those aggressive (but not obnoxiously so) edge knobs really do grip as well as we thought they may. Even on the serious climbs-some singletrack, with remnants of old logging roads strewn with rock, shale, grass and the ever present clay, they stayed hooked up well and never spun out.
As Julio pointed out on the 29+ version, these are ready and willing to run tubeless-the sidewalls are cut and abrasion resistant and tire beads the best I’ve seen. With Vittoria’s long history in the tire business, they know how to build them, and it shows.
I’m satisfied that I was able to conduct a Summer-Dirt test on a broad variety of dirt base-loose sand to rock to loamy clay and have really got a feel for this quality tread pattern. The more I rode them, the more I loved ’em. If one pays attention (which you should) to tire pressure, you’ll be very pleased with the Bombolonis. Stay tuned, because we’ll be sharing how these Bomboloni’s handle the snow this winter once the season changes over, somewhere down the snowy trail.
For more info, visit Vittoria’s website at www.vittoria.com