Getting Dirty With Edna
Few bike parts can affect a bikes fun factor like tires. You can roll with a generic stem or hubs and I doubt it’ll ruin your day but mount up some cheap, heavy tires to your favorite bike and you’ll probably want to trade it in before you can finish a loop at your local trails. I like to nerd out about tires; design, casing, knob height and spacing, and sizing to rim width as most of you reading this probably do too.
When Surly announced their Edna 4.3″ tire was coming out it piqued my interest. I like to run their 3.8 Nate and Knard tires in the non-snowy months then switch to some 4.6’s once the white stuff decides to settle in. I’ve honestly never really been a fan of how most 3.8″ tires work on 80mm rims for trail riding. The casings usually seem too flattened out and the sidewalls too rigid and stretched. Could these be the perfect year-round tires for my Wednesday? I ran into Gomez at our local trails and he offered to let me try a set out for a while.
As soon as I received the tires I began ogling them. Hmm, 60tpi casing, 5mm ramped center knobs, 6mm reinforced shoulder knobs, tighter spacing than Nate but still open on the edges. Additional tire geekery can be found covered in our initial post here. I quickly set them up tubeless on My Other Brother Darryl rims. I’m happy to note they set up easily with a hand pump and held pressure consistently after a couple rides. I can’t say that about all tubeless ready tires, so we were off to a good start.
Mounted in the Wednesday at 10 psi, with the rear axle all the way forward I barely have the 6mm of “legal” clearance at the chainstays. Even if the casing stretches a little with use I’m comfortable with it. Clearance in the front with a Bluto or a stock rigid fork was no problemo.
The first two things I noticed on the trail were the height and GRIP of the tires! The rolling diameter is considerably taller. The height allows it to rival a 27.5 X 3.8 that some of the fat bike racers are getting all excited about, but with a full .5 inch of extra girth to go with. Mind you, it doesn’t feel heavier, just taller to the point that I pull about a gear lower to go just as fast.
Once you get rolling and start hitting corners, hang on! The amount of grip on hand is scary compared to some of Surly’s previous offerings. The lean angles I could push on the Wednesday would make a superbike rider jealous and had me considering mounting plastic pucks on my knees to find the limits. Those additional biting edges work together and the tires just would not give up.
Rolling resistance isn’t bad either. The center knobs are ramped and the spacing is a little tighter which limits the tread squirming as it interacts with the ground, keeping you rolling smoother. Our conditions this fall have ranged from damp and slick to buff hardpack. I’ve run the tires between 7-15 psi but have found the happy pressure on dirt to be in the 8-10 psi range.
On to Winter!
Our first lick of snow came a couple days before the Hugh Jass Fat Bike race in Lake Geneva, WI. About an inch of fluff would give me a chance to try the tires on new conditions in anger. Well, as angry as you can get playing Hammerschlagen between laps and taking beer shortcuts. Set up at 4 & 6 psi (F&R) the Edna’s took to the course as if the snow wasn’t even there. Packing and gripping the light crunch allowed me to make up time in the singletrack. As the sun came out, some of the corners began to glaze over into an icy surprise that threw most riders off. Fortunately, this is where the supple casing helped out and kept the side knobs from breaking away, allowing me to stay on the gas. I was thoroughly impressed and happy with a near podium result!
Over the holidays, I got the chance to head north and finally put the Edna’s through some actual powder. The mecca of Wisconsin mountain biking, Levis Mounds, offered everything from grippy, packed single track to 6″ inches of undisturbed fluff. Aired down to the 4 psi range, I never had a problem hooking up even on the steepest, powder-covered granny gear climbs. Likewise, the tread never felt squirmy on the hard pack or steep descents. Definitely, confidence inspiring when you’re shredding the backcountry in single digit temperatures.
I admit, the fat-bike snob in me wasn’t sure if a $95 MSRP tire would be all that fun but I’m glad Edna proved me wrong. Is she for you? I’d say if you have a modern fat bike that accepts 4″+ tires (sorry Pugsley) and you want a great year-round tread with a little more cush, or a lighter weight set for your 5″ bike without giving up grip, Edna would be worth a look. Surly prides themselves on making durable, versatile products that are a great value and they definitely seemed to accomplish that with the Edna.
For more information about the Surly Edna visit – surlybikes.com/crazyauntedna