As I was loading up the super blingy Why Cycles Big Iron outfitted with Enve Fat Fork and M685 Wheels for testing (First Look here), Uncle Gomez says “Here – try these out while you’re at it and tell me what you think . . .” as he shoves two folded up 27.5×4.0 45NRTH Dillingers in my hands. Sure, why not?! You can read all the details of the tires (weights, size, etc.) here and in the First Look. Note – these are the 120tpi Custom Studdable version (aka without studs).
After a couple rides on a set of (HUGE) Terrene Cake Eaters (27.5×4.5), I switched over to the Dillingers. While the Dillingers were quite a bit smaller than the Cake Eaters, they were notably bigger in both height and volume than their 26” counterparts. As one would expect with a good quality tubeless ready tire, set up was a breeze, especially since they were being mounted to the new Enve M685 fat wheelset. Up until recently, Mother Nature hasn’t cooperated this year in providing copious amounts of the white stuff so during my time with the Dillingers, my time on snow was limited. What time I did have rolling these tires on the white stuff was a positive experience. Traction was predictable and ample in most situations. The only time the tire came up short was when conditions got deep/soft but this isn’t really an aggressive tire, which is often warranted in such conditions. Not quite on par with the traction of my normal snow set up of Flowbeist front and Vanhelga back, but the Dillingers rolled noticeably quicker than that combo. This was even more evident on dirt and gravel. Overall within the 45NRTH line, the Dillinger fits nicely between the Hüsker Dü and the Vanhelga.
Since this is a 27.5 tire (or B-Fat as some are calling it) the obvious question is – 27.5 vs 26 – what’s the fuss all about? In a nutshell – its about contact patch. As with the debate of 26 vs 29 of the previous decade (yeah, its been that long), the larger diameter tire offers a larger contact patch with the ground, and thus the argument goes, better traction and less deflection. Of course, this bigger contact patch/volume comes at a weight penalty. The 27.5×4.0 Dillinger unstudded weighs more than its 26×4.0 studded counterpart. How this translates to on the bike, seat of the pants performance is up for debate. On gravel, besides slightly more effort to spin the bigger rubber up to speed, I don’t know if I could really tell the difference between a 26 and 27.5. On dirt and snow, the difference seemed to be a little more noticeable, especially at lower pressures where the larger contact patch could spread out more with the 27.5” and provide more float. Additionally, the tread spacing on the Dillinger doesn’t cake up adding to it’s performance. As previously mentioned, during the test period, I was able to compare the Dillinger with a 27.5×4.5 Cake Eater. Now that was a noticeable difference. The Cake Eaters (did I mention these tires are HUGE) and the effort to spin them up to speed took noticeably more effort than the Dillingers. One caveat with regards to these tires though . . . due to a taller profile/volume of the 45NRTH 27.5 tires compared to 27.5 tires from other brands, these tires WILL NOT fit all frame/forks capable of running a 27.5 tire (see the FBdC First Look for reference). This is something to consider when looking at what is otherwise a great tire. With that said, neither the Why Cycles Big Iron nor the Enve Fat Fork had any issues with clearance with the Dillinger (or the Cake Eater for that matter).
Overall, the Dillinger’s offer a good compromise between rolling resistance and traction. They spin up to speed with ease and predictably hook up when cornering. Add in the fact, that they performed admirably in a wide variety of conditions, and that’s why I really liked this tire. I don’t view them as condition specific tire (unless you choose to stud them), and in that capacity, that’s why I thought they worked so well.