From the moment that I got my first glimpse of the Apache Fatty Slick from Vee Tire, it grabbed my attention as something that might work well for beach riding. Some of my Pac/West amigos have been experimenting with tire shaving on everything from Endomorphs to Snowshow 2XL’s to create the ultimate tire for beach excursions. Vee’s new tire begs the question….Can a slick provide enough traction for beach riding? The Apache FS is 26 x 4.5 and our two test tires weighed in at 1219g and 1230g. The bead to bead measured 267 mm and the tread to tread was 137 mm.Yepp….I said tread, because these slicks have a texturised rubber tread that makes them very grippy for slicks (on dry pavement).
Vee recommends 20-40 psi and if you’re riding these on the road, asphalt of concrete, that’s the way to go, because at normal (lower) fat-bike tire pressures they self-steer. At 20 psi or above on a mixed bag of road/gravel and wooden bridges the Apaches were void of any self steer and were quite zippy. On the first ride, the pavement was a little wet in spots and the Apache’s gripped and rolled like champs. The thing that surprised me about these tires were how huge they are. Otis is a 190mm spaced frame that can run Bud and Lou, yet the Apaches just barely fit mounted tubeless to HED BFD 100mm rims. The tires measure 125 mm on 100mm rims at 20 psi. That’s a whopping 4.9 inches boys and girls! BTW – the Apaches set up tubeless very easily and held air after the first ride.
What really had me intrigued about the Apache, was the prospect of beach riding. Like I mentioned in my opening paragraph, true beach riding aficionados have been searching for the perfect beach tire ever since endomorphs got punked by Big Fat Larrys. On the beach, self steer is not an issue, so I knew that I’d be dropping the pressure down below 20 psi to get the kind of float that’s needed in sand.
I packed up the Mobile Fun Unit and headed up to Two Rivers, Wisconsin to give these big slicks a proper beach test. My first spin was a sunset cruise. I dumped some air out of the tires till they felt right. I sit on my tires as I let air out, to get the feel for how they’ll smoosh under my weight – as opposed to the hand squeeze method. As I had hoped….they rode great on the sand. The texturised Silica rubber sticks to soft sand and on firmer sand they rolled even better than I expected. I measured the psi after the ride and I was running 7.5 and 8.0 F/R.
The next morning, I inflated the tires back up to 20 psi and pedaled up the road to get to the next section of beach. Lake Michigan water levels have been too high for the past couple of years to really ride most of the areas that we enjoyed in previous seasons, but “that’s just the way she fuck’n goes” some times. On my road ride on the way to the beach, the first thing that I noticed was the complete absence of any self-steer, however the front tire had started to rub my fork on one side. That’s probably due to the tire stretching and settling into the tubeless set-up. Other than that, these things sing along the pavement like the bluebird of happiness. In no time, I rolled up to the beach access trail and stopped to dump air. I took them down to where I thought they squished real nice and set forth.
The sandy singletrack down to the water went fine, but as soon as I got down to the water’s edge, the sand was replaced by Quarter to Half Dollar sized, beach smoothed, gravel. It was like riding on sandpaper marbles. I dropped more air and that did the trick. I got maybe only a mile down the beach till I hit a point where four foot waves were hitting a limestone abutment with no way around. I tried to ride and then wade around and a big wave almost grabbed Otis and sucked him out into waist deep water. I just barely saved my phone and cameras from a watery grave. Riding in those waves was the only time that the Apaches left me looking for traction. So after a short – almost swim or really just a deep wade, I decided to retreat back up the beach to where Sven and I had ridden some trails in previous visits.
The trails are nothing spectacular. More walking trails than MTB singletrack. These trails are a mix of sandy-grassy multitrack, so I decided to see how the Apaches would handle vanilla trails.The apaches held their own at moderate speed and modulations. Once again the apaches exceeded my expectations. I explored more and found some trails that I had never ridden before that led to an area of dunes. I got to play around and really test what the apaches can do in the sand. The Apaches performed very well with unexpected traction and total confirmation of the amount of float that these tires provide. After I got done playing in the dunes, I rode the rest of the vanilla path and the short section of beach again, before heading back to camp.
Back at the road, I put 100 strokes from the Lezyne wunder-pump into each tire and noticed that the front tire rub was back. Riding at 6-10 psi on the beach, the front tire fit , but once the tire was inflated to 20 psi, It rubbed the fork enough, that I probably won’t be keeping it on there for very long. I guess that means the best plan is to send these tires over to Michigami to the Manistee Grooming Syndicate aka Fat Camp – Ken and Andy for testing. Ken has a Quiring Triple B that he can run 5.05’s. I can’t wait to hear what Ken thinks about the Apache FS’s.
I spent the next day riding the Apaches on beach and trail along the Lake Michigan coast and here’s what I learned. Any trail substrate that you would consider to be slippery or slick is not a great fit for the Apache. Mud and rain slicked singletrack was the textbook definition of – sketchy. I also found them to be great on pavment and gravel and confirmed that they roll on sand as well as any other tire that I’ve ever run on the beach. I ran them down as low as 5.5 psi on the beach. I talk more about how the Apache Fatty Slicks rode on the Weekly Dose of Fat Show #111 starting at (47:10).
I’m a little bummed that these tires are moving onto sandier trails and wider forks over in Michigami so quickly, but I know Ken will run these things through the grinder and give a fresh perspective on how these unique tires perform. Look for his report, somewhere down the trail amigos ~g