observations on gear, adventure, and the world

Spring Tires or Stans Does Rubber

I’ve been using Stan’s sealant for years, and seen and heard good things about their wheels. Stans does rubber too. I’ve spent some time on two of their tires, the Crow and the Raven and I have some thoughts.

The two are different, but slight variations on the same super low profile theme. The tread on the raven is the same pattern as the Crow but 2mm higher.

Paired with a wider rim like all of the offerings from Stan’s, or the Bontrager Rhythm wheelset both models set up tubeless quite well.

The trick is that these tires are made to run at VERY low pressure on a wide rim. They are super supple and rely on the width of the rim to keep the casing from rolling in corners.

I ran the Crow for a full season as a read tire paired with a Schwalbe Racing Ralph as a front tire. The rim I used was the Bontrager Rhythm and they were tubeless. I’m a solidly built 6’3″ and weighed in between 190 and 200 the year I was riding these and found the 20lbs was plenty of pressure in the rear and 18lbs up front. With tubes on a narrow rim I’d never go that low. And on VERY rocky courses I’d go up to 20/22 front/rear with no flats though I did have to be vigilant about not letting the pressure get below those numbers especially up front.

When conditions are tacky (Think Ghost Falls in April or November if you ride the Corner Canyon trails in Draper, UT… which you should), these are the best tires I’ve ridden – light, low rolling resistance, high traction. As things dry up they stay fast and if you’re racing the Utah Intermountain Cup or another series in the West that hits low altitude courses in the spring before most of the dust hits and then heads for the ski resorts, this could be a perfect rear tire for whole season. If you’re prepared to baby it’s VERY specific traction needs in the few sections that expose it’s weaknesses, you’ve got to be prepared for a little surfing on loose descents and a lot of careful body positioning on steep loose sections. In my experience over a 2-4 hour race those moments of care loose you a handfull of sections while the tire gains you back minutes. Again, for the Utah riders, a race course like Sundance with wooded switchbacks and a long road climb is where this tire really shines. The low rolling resistance on the pavement and great traction on all of the buff single track will more than make up for having to feather your breaks coming into the one off camber gravel road turn on the course.

Oh, and slick rock, low pressure, low profile, sticky.

When is this tire over it’s head? The Park City Point to Point. Dust. Rocks. Gravel.

Everyone should think about this tire for the spring and fall quiver, but make sure you’re running it low pressure with a wide rim.

As far as choosing between the Crow and Raven the difference is small but I think that the 2mm on the Raven’s side knobs is worth it. I didn’t notice more anything on the rolling resistance but I did feel a little more bite in loose turns.

Last Thanksgiving The Girl and I paired ravens with Specialized Captains and hit the Saint George trails and LOVED them. Packed sand, rocks, they were perfect on the Green Valley ICUP course, the Zen Trail, and Prospector(?).

Mounting note: These mounted well on my Bontrager Rhythm rims, but I struggled to get them to mount on The Girl’s Easton Havens and my Stock Roval rims. Since they are folding beads I thought that this was from shipping/storage all folded up, but even after running a tube for a few weeks I couldn’t get them to mount with my floor pump. I’m sure a compressor would have solved the problem… but I live in an apartment so compressors aren’t nice to the neigbhors!


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