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VEE Tire Co. Flow Rumba Tire

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Tested: VEE Tire Co. Flow Rumba

Rating: Vital Review

Review by Fred Robinson // Photos by Fred Robinson & @luca_cometti_photo (action)

Not long ago, looking for an aggressive 27.5 Downhill worthy tire was a chore, but now that the industry has fully committed to the tweener wheel standard for DH, we're starting to see more and more viable options pop up. Enter VEE Tire Co, a company that has been in the industry for over thirty years and strives to offer affordable, yet innovative products in an effort to provide you all out performance while keeping your wallet happy. We recently got the opportunity to try out VEE's newest tire, the Flow Rumba, which VEE themselves files under their "All Mountain" category of tires, but states it was designed with 80% of Downhill terrain in mind and was developed in collaboration with the Swiss Downhill Syndicate team. For you die-hard 26-inch fans, this tire is also available in a 26-inch version. That said, how does the newest addition to VEE's line of tires stack up? Read on to find out.

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Flow Rumba Tire Features

  • Tackee Compound 48A
  • 2 Ply 120 TPI Casing
  • Tubeless Ready
  • Kevlar Folding Bead
  • Gravity Core and Synthesis Technology
  • Recommended Pressures: 22.5-50 PSI (1.6-3.5 bar)
  • Weight: 27.5" - 1,220-g // 26" - 1,160-g
  • MSRP: $64.90 USD (both 27.5 & 26)

Initial Impressions

Folding bead and only 2.35" wide, hmmmmm. We're not used to seeing a tire primarily slated for Downhill folded up on its own display packaging, and we're also not used to seeing a Downhill tire with its width at only 2.35". Both these things had us a bit concerned when we first received the Flow Rumba tires in the mail. But, once we mounted these tires, it became quite clear that the Flow Rumba is a meaty, aggressive and burly looking tire, and when we put them next to a Maxxis Minion 2.5 for a comparison in size, the Flow Rumba was surprisingly slightly wider, go figure. Another mention right off the bat would have to be the Flow Rumba's weight, at only 1,220-grams for a full sized DH tire, these tires are definitely on the lighter side for a gravity tire. How that will fare on the trail, we'll let you know in the next section.

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On The Trail

We tested the Flow Rumba's exclusively in Southern and Central California over the past couple months, and if you've been paying attention to our weather recently, we're in an extreme drought. Our trails are hammered, dry as a bone and in some areas, straight up sand at this point. Conditions like this, of course, can push any tire past the point of traction, but as locals to the area, we've become quite aware as to which tires work and which tires are simply not worth using out here.

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To be blunt, we struggled with the Flow Rumba in these conditions, specifically when cornering and fighting off-chamber sections of trail. There's a distinct fall off of traction when leaning the bike or trying to utilize the 11-o'clock and 1-o'clock positions of the tire, causing us to push through that initial slide by leaning the bike further than we normally would in order to get the side knobs to start engaging. During hard cornering, leaning the bike further than normal became something we adjusted to over time, but when slight off-chambers like ruts or shoots came up quick, it was never a natural or snap adjustment for us to lean the bike over to prevent the tire from loosing traction, making those situations unpredictable. Now, was this due to the rubber compound or the tread design? We feel it's a bit of both. We're used to a tire with sparse intermediate knobs with a distinct fall off in traction between the center and side knobs, and with some proper siping and knob trimming, we're betting we could get a bit more out of the Flow Rumbas, but, there's not much we can do about rubber compound. Despite VEE's description of using a Tackee 48A tire compound, these tires are quite hard, and, coupled with a lack of lateral siping on the side-knobs, we think VEE missed out on a few simple opportunities to improve the cornering traction of these tires.

We ended up dropping our pressure roughly 3-4 PSI from our normal setup in an effort to combat this, and while it did allow the tire to hook-up slightly better in these situations, it did so at the increased risk of pinch flats and rim pings. It's worth noting, we ran these tires tubeless and despite running lower pressures than normal, we never flatted or burped the Flow Rumbas, a testament to VEE's Gravity Core and Synthesis Technology. For a lighter weight tire, we were pretty surprised by this. We did, however, hit rim a couple times, but no damage to either the tire or the wheel occured.

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Since we brought up running these tires tubeless, we will say they were extremely easy to setup. We were able to get the tires on the rims without the use of levers or soapy water, and they inflated and seated with just a floor pump. This was perhaps the easiest tubeless setup we've ever done, and we've done hundreds.

In terms of braking, the Flow Rumba's perform nicely. During our time on them we actually haven't seen much wear in the braking edge out back like we're used to seeing on a tire after a short amount of time. Due to that, the braking bite has stayed consistent and nearly as good as when the tires were completely fresh.

Another area they really shined was when getting up too speed, likely due to how light these tires are when compared to other DH tires. Now, a lighter tire can have some drawbacks, specifically when it comes to durability, sidewall stiffness and deflecting off rocks (which lighter, high-volume tires tend to do). We're happy to report that none of those problems have really surfaced with the Flow Rumbas. The sidewalls feel just as sturdy as your average dual-ply DH tire, and while we did notice a bit more sidewall flex due to running slightly lower pressure than normal, we don't feel it was an unreasonable amount due to that decreased pressure. In terms of rolling resistance, once the bike is up to speed, it tended to hold it well and never felt sluggish or speed-robbing.

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Long Term Durability

The VEE Flow Rumbas are holding up fantastically. As we mentioned, we're running lower pressure than typical, and the sidewalls are showing no signs of wear due to the increased sidewall flex under heavier cornering. The tread is also holding up well, with no signs of the side-knobs tearing or premature wear from grabbing tons of brake (or skidding down the street). These tires seem like they'll last a bit longer than your typical gravity rubber.

Things That Could Be Improved

As we stated earlier, we think VEE missed a few simple opportunities that could have really improved the Flow Rumba's performance. The tread pattern itself could use a few key siping applications on the side-knobs, and with some experimentation with the center-knobs and a pair of end-cutters, there's potential to ease that transition from center to side knob traction. Beyond tread modification, one of the easiest improvements to the tire would be offering it in a softer compound, as it's almost certain plenty of gravity riders will sacrifice longevity for superior traction.

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What's The Bottom Line?

We feel like VEE is close with the Flow Rumba, but just not there yet. The overall profile and design of the tire left us feeling like the tire could work, but, unfortunately just came up short of what we want out of a tire designed primarily with Downhill terrain in mind. The areas in which we found the Flow Rumba to really shine though, is in the overall weight vs. volume, the durability of the rubber and the lack of rolling resistance despite an aggressive knob pattern. That said, for the Enduro specialist, this would make for a decent front tire on their 160-mm rig, as it's relatively light for its volume and size yet still holds up well to aggressive terrain and general abuse, but for the full blown Downhill Racer, you might be better off running Downhill dedicated rubber.

For more details, visit veetireco.com


About The Reviewer

Fred Robinson, a.k.a. "Derf-Doge," has been on two wheels since he was two years old. He picked up a mountain bike in 2004 and started racing downhill in 2006. He has seen moderate success racing but focuses his efforts on building, maintaining and riding his local trails. He's deceptively quick for a bigger guy and likes steep, fast trails where he can hang it off the back of the bike. As a SoCal native he mostly rides trails covered with loose, traction-less turns and sharp, immovable rocks. Besides downhill, he rides trail bikes, road, and also enjoys the occasional dirt jump session.

Specifications

Product VEE Tire Co. Flow Rumba Tire
Riding Type Trail, Downhill
Wheel Size 26x2.35 // 27.5x2.35
Tire Width
Tubeless Compatible Yes
Bead Folding
Durometer Takee 48 A
Sidewall Gravity Core and Synthesis Technology
Weight N/A
Miscellaneous
Price $64.90
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