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Terrene Tires Johnny 5 Review


Terrene Tire created an aggressive new tire designed to give ‘the Surly’ Bud & Lou and Vee 2XL a run for their money as far as holding the title as the biggest and most aggressive fat-bike tires available (in the WORLD!) It’s been a while since we published our first look, so we’ve inserted some of the initial measurement information that we collected at the time along with an update of tire width after any stretch that might have occurred.

The Terrene Johnny 5 (26 x 5.0) by the numbers:

Weight – 1820g, 1802g

Flat Bead to Bead – 266mm

Flat Tread to Tread – 147mm

Just after mounting (tubeless) the casing measured 123.25mm wide. The tires expanded to 123.43 by the next morning. Both measurements were taken with the tire pressure at 10 psi

Mounted to HED 100mm rims at 10psi

Tread – New – 122.41mm — Current – 123.1

Overall Height – 30.1996 inches

Overall Front Wheel Weight – 2930g

Tread Depth

Outer Shoulder Knobs – 6.6mm

Middle Knobs – 6.25mm

Center Knobs – 5mm

The photo to the (right) is a side by side comparison of a 26×5.0 Johnny 5 and a 26×4.8 Surly Lou with both tires mounted to HED 100mm wide rims and inflated to 10 psi. The Johnny 5’s are 1.4mm wider and .1429 of an inch shorter than the Lou. That’s what I would call very similar in size.

I had to see how these bad boys look on Ten Beers (photo below). The shoulder lugs on this tread pattern are the biggest that I’ve seen and the center chevrons have a cut out that makes them look like they’d gouge into the ground with righteous fury and maximum levels of traction!

Ten Beers plus two Johnny Fives equals ______.

Johnny 5’s fit fine in the Corvus FLT

The True Detective Dime Novel Johhny 5 Tire Review

Back in 2018, these tires came out with some serious hype, like they were the next (Beatles) or Bud & Lou. We sent them over to Michigan and Mother Nature decided to shut off the lake effect bands for a spell so we missed out on the snow criteria that our product tester was looking for and the tires never received an official F-B.c review. I did discuss the Johnny 5 tires with Greg Matyas from Fatback Bikes up in Anchorage on the premiere episode of the Danger Gnome Podcast. This is what he had to say.

These tires have such insane hook-up. I can’t imagine there’s a better tire for grip!

Greg Matyas

At long last, Mother Nature, in a bi-lateral agreement with gnomes, has leveraged the jet-fresh-flow, which means that we’ve received enough snow to actually require grooming. Well…maybe if you’re riding a lesser tire mounted to mere 80mm wide rims. Our J5’s are mounted tubeless to a set of HED 100mm rims that are laced to Onyx Racing Hubs. That’s BIG on BIG ladies and gentlemen! With this setup, I have no problem riding in six inches of ungroomed snow. I went out and did what we used to call ‘free-forest thrashing’ which amounts to riding through the woods picking your own lines around large deadfalls, following deer paths. This kind of low speed ‘stomping’ is popular with some of my Iowegien amigos and a nice thick layer of snow actually helps the situation, The J5’s performed admirably with maximum flotation and excellent traction!

The day after the first six-inch blanket of snow fell, I went out to our local singletrack and laid down first tracks, essentially, grooming the two loops the ‘old school’ method. That first pass was hard but doable and with every pass after, it just got better! The next big storm produced eight-inches of snow along with a little freezing precipitation that formed a fragile crust on top. So with melt-back, etc. we ended up with 8-10″ of high moisture snow in a layer cake sort of set-up, In those conditions, the Johnny 5’s could still make a go of it on the flats, but as soon as I’d hit a climb, it was ‘hike a bike’.

After riding in that first six-inch layer of snow, it reminded me of why fat-biking became much more popular (and fun) after trail grooming became more prevalent. Back before trails were machine groomed, I’d always go out and snowshoe my local loop. After a couple of freeze-thaw cycles, if you catch it while frozen you’ve got tight ridable trail. After the second storm created the layer cake, my wife and I went out and snowshoed one pass on the two loops and the next day, I went out and rode a few laps. The j5’s at 5 psi soaked up all of the irregularities that are inherent from snowshoes and locked in climbing traction just as Greg Matyas had described. I did manage to push the front tire hard enough to wash out a couple of times on flowy downhill corners. It’s hard not to make a mental comparison to how a Bud might perform in a similar situation. At 5 psi, there’s room to drop a little air and possibly eke out additional cornering traction but IMHO the Surly Bud retains a slight edge vs the J5 (as a front tire) and it would be too close to call as to how the J5 would compare to Lou as a rear tire.

One of my regular routes consists of a variety of surfaces that include some pavement. I almost always start that loop with 10 psi and lower the pressure as needed. One of the more surprising characteristics of the J5’s is their relatively low rolling resistance for such a large and aggressively knobbed tire.

Our set of test tires have spent a couple seasons on both sides of Lake Michigan and had plenty of time to settle into their true stable volume. Johnny Five measures 123mm. (that’s 4.8 inches) so the J5 is still the same size as the Surly Bud & Lou and definitely not a five-inch tire like the Vee 2XL. That being said, this is probably more tire than anyone needs 98% of the time. (at least in the Great Lakes where we have high moisture content snow). That percentage might change if you ride in a region that gets more powdery snow. You have to decide for yourself the practicality of purchasing a super-fat aggressive tire based on the kind of conditions that you ride.

Have the Johnny 5’s replaced the Surly Bud& Lou or the Specialized Ground Control tires as the best 26 x 4.8 tire option? When this long-ass test started, the J5’s held the advantage of being tubeless-ready over the competition. This summer Surly released the tubeless versions of Bud & Lou so that became a wash. The J5’s still have the advantage of having the ability to accept studs. The thing that has us wringing our hands is the fact that Terrene hasn’t returned any of our attempts to contact them since the spring of 2019 (almost a year) and we’re hearing from trusted sources that we’re not the only people that have been getting zero responsiveness from them. The last that we heard, Terrene is moving their offices to Duluth and they’ve hired a new person to run sales, but we can’t publish any sort of full-throated endorsement of any company’s product if they choose to operate that way. So if you decide to purchase any tire from Terrene, you (or the bicycle shop that you bought them from) may have a difficult time getting any support after the sale. I hope that situation changes because we have a ton of respect and admiration for their brand and the people that are behind the brand…however we also take our responsibility to give our readers the kind of information that will help them make well-informed buying decisions just as seriously.

The bottom line is the Johnny 5 is a great high volume aggressive 4.8 inch rear tire. It’s good…but not as great as Bud as a front tire. I love big fat 4.8″ tires, but lately, I find myself riding 4″ tires more often.

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8 Responses to Terrene Tires Johnny 5 Review

  1. Erv Spanks February 3, 2020 at 11:40 am #

    Glad to see they finally got reviewed! How do you think Johnny5 would have handled the trail conditions experienced on the Duluth Field Trip? I’m still itching to try this tire, upfront and studded, paired with one of my Wazias out back.

    Cheers!

    • Gomez February 3, 2020 at 1:33 pm #

      They would have been nice to have at Piedmont and maybe even at Spirit MTN….but definitely Piedmont!

  2. Tim Krueger February 3, 2020 at 1:30 pm #

    Thanks Gomez!

    Yes, we did go through some growing pains this year, and as a startup company, we are founded by a product guy, and engineer, and a photographer. We know that communication was a weak point of ours, and like you mentioned, we just hired a full time person to drastically improve this for the company. We appreciate your honesty here, and we don’t deny that it was a weak point for us in the past. And as a growing startup, we have identified it as an issue as well, and are on the path to correcting it.

    • Corey February 4, 2020 at 12:36 pm #

      Credit where credit is due, accepting what has happened is huge for a company. I have been looking at J5s for a while and this review definitely has helped push getting some. Looking for more awesome things from Terrene (compete with Vee for a supple 5+ incher!).

  3. James February 14, 2020 at 11:34 am #

    “The Johnny 5’s are 1.4mm wider and .1429 of an inch shorter than the Lou. That’s what I would call very similar in size.”

    Holy metric/english whiplash!

  4. Jeff Shamansky February 27, 2020 at 11:56 pm #

    Anyone try one on a 2016 Fatback Rhino? 2XL’s won’t fit on/in the rear. Hopefully Johnny will, or guess I have to buy a new frame…

    • Gomez February 28, 2020 at 7:05 am #

      They should fit. They’re the same size as a Surly Lou 4.8″ wide.

      • Jeff Shamansky March 3, 2020 at 10:59 pm #

        Thanks Gomez. Would you say the J5’s are high volume similar to the Jumbo Jims, or less volume similar to the Maxxis FBR’s 4.8? Just trying to decide what to do with this rear tire. Im running a 2XL up front, at least for the winter months. Looking to put something that just fits in the rear.
        Cheers!

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