Spotlight Vee Tire – Crown Gem 27.5 x 3.7


We reported from Saddledrive that the new Heller Bloodhound was rock’n the Trek-Fat wheel format and would come with a brand new tire from Vee called the Crown Gem. It’s a tread pattern that I’ve ridden as both 27.5+ and 29+ previously and now Vee has made a Crown Gem that’s 27.5 x 3.8. If you follow our instagram, you know that I’ve been testing the 2018 Heller Bloodhound for a week or so, so I’ve got a half a dozen good off road rides in on the tires. Before we get into the ride, let’s share some spec’s.

Our two tires that came on the Heller weighed in at 1410 g and 1405 g. When laid flat the bead to bead, measures 220 mm and the tread width is 115 mm. Mounted to the 27.5 x 80 mm Mulefut rims, the tire is 94mm wide. The tires have a 120 tpi casing and come in the black Silica Compound, are tubeless ready and have folding beads. The tires came set up with tubes and all but my latest ride, were ridden that way. I recently set them up tubeless and after a little fiddling with the rear, wheel, they’re holding air. Out of all of the measurements, I found the height of this tire, wheel combination to be the most interesting. The Crown Gems mounted on the 27.5″ Mulefuts is only 5 mm taller than a 45NRTH Husker Du mounted on a 26″ Reynolds Elite Carbon Rims, so a person that owns a 26″ Fatty could easily fit this wheel, tire combination, with no change to geometry or stand-over to their machine.

Some of the information that Salsa shared with us at Saddledrive pertained to their thoughts on Trek-Fat, since they’re moving that direction (with a Maxxis 27.5 tire) on the 2018 Beargrease. They told us that because of the shorter and stiffer sidewall of the 27.5 fat set up allowed them to roll with lower tire pressures in soft conditions. But we’re testing the CG’s on dirt, so I checked with Heller about air pressures for singletrack on the Bloodhound and they suggested that I started at 10-12 psi and lower as needed.

I know that Vee has had some issues in the past with self steering, especially at lower psi’s. Knowing that…..I monitored my tire pressure each time I set out on the bike. I’ve been  setting the bike up 9.5 in the front and 10.5 in the rear for the last few rides. I’ve experienced zero self steer at those pressures on everything from gravel, dirt singletrack and asphalt. The last couple of tires that Vee has sent us test have been that way. Maybe they figured out the problem. The Crown Gems roll pretty smoothly as one would expect a moderately knobbed tire to roll. I love moderately knobby tires and so far the Crown Gems are meeting or exceeding my expectations in all of the important categories. Today, I pushed them into a soft muddy corner and both tires broke loose and then grabbed in a nice predictable drift, that delivered me successfully out of the turn with a big grin and an involuntary ‘war whoop’. The fact that I had the confidence to push it in that loose corner speaks to the way the Heller has me riding these tires. (More about the Heller, coming soon) The 27.5 Fat format shrinks the pneumatic envelope in each tire, so the bounciness of a normal fat-bike wheel is mitigated, with no sacrifice to stability or traction. The Crown Gems have delivered, what I’ve been looking for from the Plus Bike category. I’m riding sections of singletrack faster and with more control than I can ride them on a standard fatty. F’realz. Bluto and a dropper post have a lot to do with it, but the Crown Gems are a big part of that performance as well.

I’ve only experienced a half a dozen rides and I’ve just recently converted them to tubeless. so I think that I’ll prescribe myself another 24 rides to collect more data. I’ll continue to test them, along with a few other tires in the category and report back with a full review in about a month.

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