First Look – Terrene 27.5×4.5 Cake Eaters

There are a lot of people excited about the Terrene Johnny 5 because it has been touted as a potential Bud/Lou challenger and I have to list myself as one of them. That said, I think I am actually even more excited about another Terrene tire; the 27.5×4.5″ Cake Eater. I didn’t realize this until I had it in hand but this is a category stretching tire like the Surly Bud and Lou or the Vee Tire 2XL, but for the 27.5 rider. Time will tell, but I am guessing it will be one of those “reference” tires by which all others in the category are judged.

There are some bold claims in that first paragraph so let me drop some numbers for the 27.5×4.5 Cake Eaters:

  • Tire width on 70mm inner width rim: 4.4″ casing, 4.45″ knobs (freshly mounted and @ 6 psi)
  • Diameter: 785mm (freshly mounted and @ 6psi)
  • Bead-to-bead 267mm
  • Center knob height: ~5mm
  • Intermediate knob height: ~5.5mm
  • Side knob height: ~6mm
  • Weight: 1,601 and 1,642 g

I will just jump to the punchline: This tire is by far the biggest 27.5 fat bike tire, and by a significant margin.

Let’s start with the diameter because that is likely going to be one of the crucial dimensions when people try to fit this on their bike. 785mm is about 30.8″ which also happens to be about the same diameter as a Vee Tire 2Xl. For perspective, a 27.5×4.5 Bontrager Gnarwhal (previously the biggest most aggressive 27.5 fat tire) is about 770mm (30.3″) at that pressure and a Bud or Lou is 758mm (29.8″). That means the Cake Eater is about 1/2″ bigger diameter than any other 27.5″ tire. From a performance perspective, the bigger the diameter, the longer the contact patch and the greater the float of a tire.

The second important dimension is the width. This is one of the rare 27.5 tires that actually measures close to its listed width. If these are mounted on an 80mm rim and/or were given some time to stretch they likely would be right at 4.5″ for the casing and knob width. For perspective the Bontrager Gnarwhal 27.5×4.5 actually measures out around 4.2″. So with the 27.5×4.5 Cake Eater, not only are you gaining in the length of the contact patch, but also the width. Bigger diameter and width means we hands down we have the 27.5″ tire with the greatest float.

The third thing is the knobs of the tire. For perspective, a Lou’s knobs are around 7mm tall and a Buds are about 6mm (I hear the Gnarwhal is around 6mm but didn’t measure when I had access to one). The Bud/Lou is the undisputed champ of big float and traction tires (without getting too excessively draggy and while fitting a lot of bikes, sorry 2XLs). The Bud/Lou knobs are definitely taller than the 5-6mm height of 27.5×4.5 Cake Eaters but when compared to the majority of fat bike tires which are in the 3-5mm tall knob height range, the Cake Eaters come in strongly in the “agressive” end of the fat bike tire spectrum.

So now let’s delve into the knob tech and placement. The center knobs are fairly closely spaced for an aggressive tread but it quickly disperses as you you move towards the side knobs with clear evacuation channels for the snow. This means the tire should dig into soft snow and try to find something to hang onto. Intermediate knobs are fairly widely spaced. The side knobs have a familiar pattern that looks similar to the Terrene Wazia but with an alternating knob pattern instead of repetitive rows of “H” blocks. One thing that I am glad to see are staggered blocks over the width and fore/aft on the tire. I have enjoyed the Terrene Wazia but never felt like it was a great front tire because the knobs are arranged in rows/paddles. When you turn the handlebars it always seems like a lot of snow just slips through those paddles/channels and the tire pushes sideways. The Cake Eater look like they will make the snow go through a much more circuitous path and therefore may give more turning grip in loose conditions.

Another significant knob tech is siping. The center knobs have small zig zag sipes, the intermediate knobs only have holes for studs and the side knobs have significant sipes/channels. In theory this seems like a solid strategy:

  • For hardpack conditions you want a faster rolling, dense knob pattern with lots of micro edges that form from the small zig zag sipes on the closer spaced knobs.
  • Once you lean over enough to get the side knobs engaged while aggressively cornering, you have more significant biting edges from the deeper channels of the knobs for when snow is breaking free and flowing through the tread (and then roosting off the tire).

Wow, that was a lot of tire prognostication and dork-i-tude but what does it all add up to? Hard to say right now but if I had to guess, we have potentially a second Bud/Lou challenger besides the 26″ Johnny 5. Because it may achieve that float and traction via a different path (bigger diameter rather than just going wider) it may achieve that loose conditions performance while being quicker rolling. Add in stud pockets and this seems like a goldilocks tire for a significant portion of the fat bike population. I think it is safe to say that Terrene is probably the most exciting tire company in the fat bike game this winter. Bring on the snow!

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