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Versus Tires

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Direct-to-Consumer Tires: Versus Mountain Bike Tires Long-Term Tested

New tires from a new brand. They were 'Made to Challenge' and we can confirm Versus has pulled it off. Dig in for our impressions after several months of testing.

Rating: Vital Review
Direct-to-Consumer Tires: Versus Mountain Bike Tires Long-Term Tested

Another tire company?! Yes. Versus Tires is a direct-to-consumer brand hitting the ground running with great pricing on fresh rubber. While Versus is entering a well established market with some dominant brands, they're coming at it from a unique angle with an excellent product. Versus reached out over eight months ago with the chance to ride some prototypes and then the final version. Our extensive testing proved that these are not simply catalog tires with fancy branding, these are well-thought-out, premier level tires. We have no doubt that Versus is coming into the mountain bike tire world with the right attitude at the right time to shake things up.

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Strengths

Weaknesses

  • An excellent tread pattern for nearly every type of terrain
  • Fast rolling
  • Excellent cornering feel from an innovative tweak to the design of the cornering knobs
  • Climbing and descending are both excellent, on par with the best of what you're familiar with
  • The right casing options
  • The right rubber compounds for grip and durability
  • Direct-to-consumer sales and pricing
  • The Trail casing can be a little tricky to seat with its folding bead
  • Doesn't self-clean well in sticky mud conditions
  • Yellow splatter option is a slightly firmer rubber compound

Highlights

  • Direct-to-consumer at ~$65 USD per tire
  • 29 x 2.4-inch sizing (27.5-inch planned for summer 2020)
  • Single-wall Trail casing: Folding bead, 60 TPI, dual-compound tread (63/59)
  • Double-wall Gravity casing: Wire bead, 60 TPI, dual-compound Grip tread (58/52)
  • VERSA Woven Layer: Bead-to-bead, rubber-impregnated mesh layer for durability and air retention
  • Side Knobs: Engineered fold line on the leading edge and a solid trailing edge
  • Designed for ~30mm rim widths
  • Colors: Black // Yellow splatter Trail option
  • Weights:
  • 29" Trail, Black: 1,130g (2.5 lbs, claimed) // 1,159g (2.6 lbs, actual)
  • 29" Trail, Splatter: 1,030 (2.3 lbs, claimed) // 997g (2.2 lbs, actual)
  • 29" Gravity: 1,300g (2.9 lbs, claimed)

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From a technical perspective, there are a few things that help Versus stand out in the crowd. The first is the clever triangular siping on the cornering knobs, which gives a noticeable improvement in feel and grip. There is also a bead-to-bead rubber-impregnated mesh layer that gives the casing added puncture resistance and durability. The rubber mesh layer has a second benefit as well, it holds air better! Our bikes with Versus tires on them would go much longer in the garage without needing to be pumped up.

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Look out gum-wall tires, neon splatter is back!? The splatter yellow tire option is going to be polarizing, but it makes your bike stand out and will match your Pit Vipers. Shy riders rest assured, you have a standard black option available as well.

Initial Impressions

The Gravity casing is stiff and sturdy, like a cross between a Maxxis Double Down and DH casing. This casing definitely felt tough and strong. The Trail casing is very compliant and much lighter. It compares to a Maxxis EXO to EXO+ casing range in terms of feel and flexibility.

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Mounting the Gravity casing tire was a cinch and they paired well with our 155mm travel bike park/enduro shredder. The Trail casing was light and compliant with its folding bead, but a bit trickier to seat on carbon Santa Cruz Reserve and RideFast Hotwire rims. A compressor and some special mechanic tricks were required, including soap spray on the bead before inflating. On our Stan’s and Mercury Alloy rims this struggle was less, but a compressor could be a handy tool. We mounted another Trail set with CushCore without any trouble.

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Inflated to 25psi on 30mm internal width rims, the tread measures 2.34-inches while the casing at its widest point is 2.4-inches. A hair narrow but pretty bang on.

On The Trail

There is nothing quite like rolling out on a fresh set of tires. All the pebbles that fling up and all the confidence provided by razor sharp knobs makes it a joy. We'd argue that fresh rubber is one of the most important and easiest ways to revitalize your bike.

When you lean into the cornering knobs they rotate ever so slightly, creating a better angle of attack and a broader contact surface.

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Versus tires feature side-knobs that stand apart from most tires. The triangular-shaped sipes on the leading edge of the cornering knobs cause the knob to deform unevenly under load. When you lean into the cornering knobs they rotate ever so slightly, creating a better angle of attack and a broader contact surface. This results in a little extra special feel when you really push into them. It's a confidence-inspiring feeling that has allowed us to be more comfortable leaning into any surface. While other brands have done similar looking things, the execution here is particularly effective.

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These tires handle all aspects of trail and all-mountain riding very well. The height and shape of the centerline knobs seems just right – big enough to provide the braking support demanded by an aggressive rider, but not so chunky that you feel like you are always riding in sand. We've ridden tires with better braking performance, but they were definitely slower-rolling tires. Versus has found an excellent balance of speed and braking. This and the rubber compounds give the Versus tires excellent characteristics to push in any terrain. We loved the casing feel, cornering confidence, and rolling speed.

Over the past eight months we've put miles on the Versus tires in every imaginable condition and terrain. Summer, fall, and winter rides were had as well as desert, alpine, and loam.

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We did not expect them to be a mud tire, but the one place they definitely found the limit was in sticky mud conditions where they packed up and got sketchy (like so many do). On wet trails, when transitioning from dirt to rock, the tires pick up a layer of debris and carry it onto the harder surface causing some tire slippage. This too is not unexpected as most tires will encounter the same issue. Slippage on wet hard surfaces is as much a tire compound issue as it is a rider position issue in our book.

On dry and wet roots the tires perform well. At 25/27psi, the Trail casing well and helps maintain traction through multi-root sections. As always, you must stay off the brakes and let the tires do their job to get this benefit! The Gravity casing is stiffer and didn’t conform to roots quite as well, especially at lower speeds. At higher speeds while descending they did a better job. They just need a little more force to conform to the roots. Like an F1 car, if you drive it too slowly, you will crash it.

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As far as rear tire pressures, casing support, and puncture resistance go, at 190-pounds we confidently ran the Gravity casing at 25psi without a tire insert and the Trail casing at 25psi with an insert and 27psi without. We never had a flat.

Overall, these tires are excellent. We rode them in all kinds of terrain and found them to be what we needed in nearly every situation. Unless you are a professional racer changing tires to be on exactly the right tread and compound to find tenths of a second on race day, the Versus tires are worthy of being a go-to for broad range of rides.

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Things That Could Be Improved

The neon splatter option is a slightly firmer rubber compound, but it's also a bit lighter. If we are going to get truly nitpicky, the finish work on the splatter version was not perfect with some odd-looking rubber fins on the centerline, but this did not affect the ride quality or the general quality of the tire.

Not something to improve, but something worth noting again is that the Versus tires were not up to the task in properly muddy conditions that would traditionally call for mud tire. This is expected though, as there is no tire that is great in the mud and still 100% rideable in every other condition. Other than that, these tires were excellent and handled everything we threw at them.

These are quality mountain bike tires with tech that matches up against any other.

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Long Term Durability

In our testing period we had zero flats with and without rim protection installed. As the tires wear there is not any significant undercutting of the cornering knobs and braking surfaces. They did round out a bit and chunk a little, but the overall structure of the knobs was intact and still more supportive after months of use than some other tires we've ridden. The dual-compound tread helps ensure better life. Overall, we believe you will be completely satisfied with the life of Versus tires. They hold up as well as any other high-end mountain bike tire.

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What's The Bottom Line?

Every version of the new Versus tires impressed us. They are premier-level products for people who ride often, with all the qualities we look for in proper mountain bike tires. There is some innovation in the triangular siping on the side knobs, they hold up well, and are offered in Trail and Gravity casing options. Most of all, they make us confident when schralping turns.

As a direct-to-consumer company, Versus will be able to offer incentive programs, referral discounts, and/or bulk-buying options that make things more affordable – something very enticing for a type of product that wears out over time.

Keep an eye on www.versustires.com for more details. The brand launches May 1st.

Vital MTB Long-Term Rating: 4.5 stars - Outstanding


About The Reviewer

Matt Fisher - Age: 39 // Years Riding 25: // Height: 6’0" (1.82m) // Weight: 190lbs (86.1kg)

Matt discovered mountain biking in 8th grade. It was a welcome escape from becoming an overweight, TV-addicted adolescent statistic. After a long, slow climb through the downhill racing ranks as fitness and skills improved, he landed in the Pro class and was able to make a go of it for 8+ years, winning some local and regional races and qualifying to race as pack-fill in the World Cup Series. In addition to a lifetime of riding and racing bikes, he has worked his entire career in the bike industry, starting as a shop rat sweeping floors at age 15. From there he has held jobs as a mechanic, salesperson, sales manager, global warranty manager, tech manual writer, demo team manager and more. Now he is a trail rider who doesn’t turn pedals against the clock very often, instead choosing to spend his time seeking out new trails and adventures wherever he happens to be. He'll never give up on going fast and playing in the margins.

Photos by Marc Bergreen

Amazing tire

Rating:
The Good:

Grip amazing
Durable
Effortless Tubeless installation

The Bad:

Nothing I have encountered

Overall Review:

I’ve been running versus for a year now after I got asked to test the prototypes. I rode them just about everywhere up and down the west coast including whistler, park city , mammoth and Squamish . I rode all summer on one set of tires and they held up beyond my belief !! Solid tires and my new go to! 

Specifications

Product Versus Tires
Riding Type
  1. Version 1:Enduro / All-Mountain, Trail
  2. Version 2:Downhill, Enduro / All-Mountain, Freeride / Bike Park
Wheel Size 29"
Tire Width 2.4 inches
Tubeless Compatible Yes
Bead
  1. Version 1:Folding
  2. Version 2:Wire
Durometer
  1. Version 1:Dual-compound tread (63/59)
  2. Version 2:Dual-compound Grip tread (58/52)
Sidewall
  1. Version 1:Single-wall Trail casing, 60 TPI
  2. Version 2:Double-wall Gravity casing, 60 TPI
Weight
  1. Version 1:2 lb 8.9 oz (1,159 g)
  2. Version 2:2 lb 13.9 oz (1,300 g)
Miscellaneous
  1. Version 1:Colors: Black // Yellow splatter
    Designed for ~30mm rim widths
    VERSA Woven Layer: Bead-to-bead, rubber-impregnated mesh layer for durability and air retention
    Side Knobs: Engineered fold line on the leading edge and a solid trailing edge
  2. Version 2:Colors: Black
    Designed for ~30mm rim widths
    VERSA Woven Layer: Bead-to-bead, rubber-impregnated mesh layer for durability and air retention
    Side Knobs: Engineered fold line on the leading edge and a solid trailing edge
Price $65
More Info Version 1:

versustires.com

Version 2:

versustires.com

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