Tested: Bikepacking on the Vee Trax Fatty 29+ Tire

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With tapered and ramped center knobs, the Vee Trax Fatty 29+ proved to be a fair bikepacking option for hardpack, sand, and grainy singletrack…

The Huracan 300 seemed as good a route as any for testing out a fresh pair of tires. The route is comprised of fast granular singletrack, spots of mud, long crushed limestone roads, pavement, and plenty of sand…the perfect proving ground to judge the VTF’s performance in many different conditions.

Vee Trax Fatty 29+ Tire Review

The Trax Fatty has a single compound tread with a tubeless-ready bead, all wrapped up in a 120 TPI casing.

Vee Trax Fatty 29+ Tire Review

Initial Impressions

The actual size and volume of the Vee Trax Fatty initially appeared substantially smaller than that of the Surly Knard 29×3. But as with the Dirt Wizards, with some use they seemed to bulk up over time. Upon mounting the tires on a pair of Rabbit Holes, I was slightly concerned that they might fall short in the traction department. The VTFs have two rows of tightly spaced main tread that are square in profile to the riding surface. The lack of beefy side knobs and odd shaped casing creates an overtly deep V shape which adds to their smaller appearance. But, that being said, I had been riding a pair of Dirt Wizard 29+ tires and the rounded profile of the VTFs, narrow tread, and small side knobs had a much less aggressive character than the DWs. Ultimately the tires performed well, especially in the sand.

Vee Trax Fatty 29+ Tire Review

The Vee tire next to the Surly Dirt Wizard 29.

I had heard rumblings that the weight of the VTF was substantially less than that of the Surly Knard 29, but after further inspection the difference in weight is only a little over 100 grams per pair (versus the 120 TPI Knard). I definitely noticed that the VTF had a bit less rolling weight in comparison to the 27 TPI Knard, which I had spent a fair amount of time on while in Africa. While the 120 TPI Knard was never an option for multi-day bikepacking trips due to its thin sidewall, the 120 TPI casing of the VTFs seemed beefy enough. However, I might consider using the 72 TPI version for long distance romps; it weighs in at around 1,025 grams.

Vee Trax Fatty 29+ Tire Review

The profile of the VTFs appears deep due to the lack of chunky side tread.

Following Trax

The Trax Fattys are definitely fast rollers. My trip started with an epic stretch of well-worn singletrack; with the tires inflated to a scant 12 PSI they seemed to roll quickly with minimal noise. On the road it was no different; for longer paved stretches I added a bit of air and the tires felt similar in comparison to Knards, which I also find to roll surprisingly well on tarmac. One thing that threw me for a loop (literally) was a bit of squirreliness while cornering. With a squared main tread and an overtly deep V profile, the VTFs exhibit an exaggerated transition when leaning into corners… almost as if they oversteer. After getting used to this awkward, albeit interesting, phenomenon, the quick turning became kind of fun in the tighter sections of singletrack. I found myself whipping around corners, sliding into embankments, and grinning along the way. However, this is not always a welcome trait… it can be a bit of an annoyance on the pavement.

Vee Trax Fatty 29+ Tire Review

While researching the Huracan route, I ran across repeated references to stretches of thick sand that would need to be walked. The sandy trenches were no problem for the Trax Fatty. I was extremely impressed with their ability to roll through sections that would turn a typical 29er into a hiked bike. The deeper profile created by the shallow side knobs seems to dig in to the sand while the sheer volume creates enough float to power through it. Although I don’t think 29+ tires could ever stand up to thick beaches or dunes, The VTFs seem to be a great all around option when sand is part of the equation.

Vee Trax Fatty 29+ Tire Review

Deep into the route there were also plenty of mud pits and flooded areas that initially gave me pause, but this is where the VTFs surprised me. While definitely not a mud tire, they performed better than I anticipated. The traction was nothing to write home about, but overall, they kept rolling and seemed to shed the clay mud fairly well. In addition, on sections of bumpy dry clay, the VTFs seemed to eat up bumps in a similar fashion as the Dirt Wizards (maybe slightly less than the bulkier round Knards).

Huracan 300 Bikepacking Route, Florida

Vee Trax Fatty 29+ Tire Review

The Vee Trax Fatty mounted on Rabbit Holes.

Overall I was impressed with the Vee Trax Fatty. There was some concern that the lightweight sidewall and single compound tread would show wear and deterioration from a big ride, but after a few hundred miles, the tread is just slightly rounded and the sidewalls appear to be in fine shape. The shifty profile of the tire is definitely a strange characteristic, but not a deal-breaker. While it may not be the ideal choice for rugged mountain terrain, the VTF certainly makes a fine all-around tire for bikepacking on routes that involve hardpack, sand, and moving fast.

Vee Trax Fatty 29+ Tire Review

Specs

Here are the specs of the tires I tested:

  • Size: 29×3” 120TPI casing
  • Compound: Single, Silica Rubber
  • Bead: Folding, Tubless Ready
  • Weight: 920 Grams/tire

Vee Trax Fatty 29+ Tire Review

The rear tread after a few hundred miles of gravel, sand, crumbly singletrack, and tarmac.

Tags

  • Axe Skot

    If you had to pick one for mixed terrain and in the snow (VTF or Knards), which would it be?

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Knards. Although I am also interested in testing the Maxxis Chronicle… hopefully soon.

  • http://www.gypsybytrade.wordpress.com/ Nicholas

    Have you mounted either the DW or VTF tubeless to any of your rims yet? Think the tire profile would improve on a narrower rim? The phenomena you speak of sounds familiar, something I first experienced on Big Apples on 65mm rims, and then on Knards on any fat rims, both only on pavement. It should go away if you pump up the tires more.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Haven’t taken the time to mount them tubless yet. I tried different pressures… it sounds like it’s pretty common on Vee tires because of the profile. It probably would be better on a narrower rim. I didn’t experience anythink similar with Knards.

  • http://www.gypsybytrade.wordpress.com/ Nicholas

    Ah, I meant Black Floyds on fatbike rims, not Knards. You can ship them to Cairo for tubeless testing and long-term review. The casing size looks just right for a rear tire between a double Shimano crank. Looks to be long-wearing rubber too (i.e. kinda hard and not that nice, like some other Vee tires I have seen).

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    I’d probably do the 72 tpi casing on a long trip… I saw a post somewhere where the butyl shreaded on the sidewalls of one of these. Are you in Cairo now??

  • http://www.gypsybytrade.wordpress.com/ Nicholas

    Next week.

  • mcys

    I am loving the Chronicle on my Krampus. For my needs a much better all round tyre than the Knard. I look forward to your review.

  • Patrick Dowd

    Has anyone had success mounting these tubeless? I haven’t been able to get mine mounted. They are setup with tubes atm (on Blunt 35s). I’m hoping the tubes will give them better shape and they’ll mount better next time. Thanks for the review!

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    I haven’t [yet], but I read somewhere where a guy did it on 35s with a floor pump. I’ll reply here when I set them up…

  • Patrick Dowd

    I’ve been waiting for your follow up actually! I’m hoping to get some compressor help next week and see what happens.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    I never set the VTFs up tubless, but I did set my dirt wizards up without any issues using gorilla tape over the rim strip…

  • Enzo N.

    Is it safe to pump the Trax Fatty up to 35 PSI on Rabbit Holes for road use?

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    I don’t have a set on hand, and I can’t remember their max PSI, but I think it was 35. That said, sure… why not. I think there are probably faster rolling options out there, such as the Knard, but these should work fine.

  • Dylan Boyle

    29×3 (120tpi) mounted to wtb asym rims i35 and I think they look much better on a smaller rim…though I could be biased. Tubeless set up super easy with Gorilla tape and a compressor. I’ve been riding these at about 15 psi, and I have a Bluto fork on a ’15 Salsa Mukluk. Also ride a Surly ECR with the knard (pic w/ two tires). The Trax Fatty tires are much more aggressive, yet their rolling resistance is about the same as the knard. This is the most fun I’ve ever had on a bike.

  • Dylan Boyle

    29×3 (120tpi) mounted to wtb asym rims i35 and I think they look much better on a more narrow rim…though I could be biased. Tubeless set up super easy with Gorilla tape and a compressor. I’ve been riding these at about 15 psi, and I have a Bluto fork on a ’15 Salsa Mukluk. Also ride a Surly ECR with the knard. The Trax Fatty tires are much more aggressive, handle much better in wet/muddy conditions yet their rolling resistance is about the same as the knard. I’ve heard good review about the Bontrager’s Chupacabras though

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