Just as you wouldn’t run a marathon in flip-flops, you don’t want to line up for an extreme-style race with the wrong rear rubber on your bike. Trials tires have typically been the benchmark for nasty terrain, but with a number of competitive organizations (including EnduroCross) banning trials tires altogether on big bikes, elite race teams have settled on the solution of a trials-like compound in a moto-style tread pattern. It used to be that these one-off units were only available to the factory stars, but thanks to Italian tire manufacturer GoldenTyre there’s now a competitive option for the rest of us.
The GT216X features an extremely soft carcass with a traditional knobby pattern that is uncharacteristically flexible. The knobbies and carcass are squishy and should be used with a mousse foam insert; GoldenTyre hopes to have a bundle-priced tire/mousse combo available soon. The size of the GT216X is 140/80-18, fairly large for our Honda CRF250R test bike but still perfectly suited to nasty obstacles.
It’s completely accurate to say this is the most trials-like production knobby tire we’ve ever tried. The GoldenTyre squats well, sticks to tricky angles and doesn’t deflect at all. Traction is outstanding on wet or slippery sections. There’s a bit of side-to-side roll, but not much. Compared to a normal knobby, the GoldenTyre feels “weighted” even when it’s not — treat the throttle right and the GT216X will hook up everywhere. It seems that the GoldenTyre doesn’t “warm” as well as a trials tire, so spinning it in order to heat it up did not prove to be incredibly effective. Because the sidewalls settle so much, the GT216X was a holeshot machine on both hard-packed and loamy dirt. The excessive size and squish of this rubber gave the bike a feeling of faster rebound; we consistently went two clicks in from stock when swapping back and forth between a normal tire.
Durability-wise, the GoldenTyre lasted for multiple all-day practice sessions and three separate EnduroCross races, but it was completely beat at the end. Both the mousse and the carcass were so hammered that the bead would pop down on occasion. The knobs all chunked and wore away, with jagged rocks taking the biggest toll on the treads. We think this tire is well worth the money for racing applications, but you also need to remember that a true trials tire will last at least 1,000 miles off-road and provides a similar level of traction, making it a better choice for the regular rider than this GoldenTyre. While we wouldn’t recommend the GoldenTyre for everyday trail riding (unless you enjoy spending money in $150 chunks), this is certainly a top-notch competition tire that is perfectly legal for EnduroCross racing and absolutely stands out in terms of performance.
New performance 28/30
Used performance 19/20