Product Courtesy of Jofi Cycle
Intense Tyre System has been around for several years, but they have been traditionally associated more with the downhill and freeride crowd. In the past couple of years, Intense has been putting out some lighter tires for the cross country and enduro fraternity. One such tire is the CC 2.25, a large and wide 2.25 cross-country tire for intermediate, soft and muddy conditions. Made from an exclusive C3 rubber compound, it is touted to offer superior grip and control while being hard wearing..
The tires come packaged in the kind of mesh netting bag, the kind used to hold knee/shin guards. Despite being called a cross-country tyre, it seems more suited for light weight trail/enduro bikes with it’s claimed 720grams weight. The current trend of cross country tires have been moving towards the larger 2.25 sizes but with weight maintained at the low 600gram range, so this tire is abit of on the heavier side. The marketing blurb on the tag proclaims an exclusive C3 rubber compound made from natural rubber, a lightweight 72 threads per inch construction and a folding kelvar bead.
Mounting up the tire to a Mavic 819 was rather tight, but manageable with a couple of tire levers. The tires has a large roundish casing and the knobs are widely spaced, particularly the shoulder knobs. The centre row of knobs has a groove in the middle, supposedly to help with improving rolling resistance. The middle rows have a dimple in each knob to increase the biting edges, but the shoulder knobs are simple L-shaped affairs with a buttress on the outside to hold the knob during cornering.
Two interesting thing to note is that firstly; the shoulder knobs are spaced much further apart than most tires, at about 1 inch in between knobs. The rubber compound feels rather hard to the touch despite the claims of a natural soft rubber compound, but more about that later. Secondly; this is one of the few tires that does not reverse the rotational direction between front and rear useage. That is, it is mounted in the same direction irregardless whether it is to be used in front or rear.
RIDE IMPRESSIONS OF THE TIRE
First impressions on the road, this tire is far better rolling than either it’s width or weight would suggest. While not as fast as some of the semi-slicks or knobbies with a continuous centre ridge, this tire can easily and quietly maintain a good clip of speed. Rolling resistance of this tire is superbly low for something this knobby. Cornering on the road does produce noticeable rumbling sensation, probably due to the widely spaced shoulder knobs. Even though this tire is meant for all terrain cross country, riders who have to ride the road to the trailhead won’t be unduly tired out with this tire. Just keep it at around 40psi for the roads and go.
In its cross country element, and with the tires down to a more reasonable 25~30psi, this tire is remarkably grippy across most terrains. Even wet and muddy terrain doesn’t really faze it, except for slick hardpack when wet. Slow climbing on muddy/ rooty terrain allows this tire to show its strengths as it doesn’t require the momentum to clear obstacles like other tires with smaller/lower knobs. Grip on wet rocks and roots is decent but not exceptional. However, the old cliché of ‘Intense by name, Intense by nature’ rings true with this tire. This is one tire that doesn’t like to corner slowly. Due to the lack of shoulder knobs, slow cornering on off camber terrain will occasionally make the front tire wash out without warning. Find the minimum threshold speed and stay above it, and the tire grips and rails tenaciously. Leaning into a corner also produces predictable grip, thanks to the row of intermediate transition knobs that prevent the tire from sliding suddenly.
In loose conditions, the hard knobs can easily dig into the terrain to find purchase in both hard pedalling and braking situations. The knobs seem to be none the worse for wear despite lots of offroad and road distances covered on it. The compound is living up to its promise of being very long lasting and still provide decent amount of grip.
When the mud gets extremely thick and clay-like, you will appreciate the widely spaced nature of the knobs. Mud doesn’t really stick between the knobs, but any riding buddies following behind you will find out the hard way about it’s mud shedding capabilities. Once the ride is over, this tire just needs a spray of water and whatever little bit of mud left on it will just be gone.
This is a very interesting tire from Intense Tyre Systems. It has the ability to be a good trail tire, offering a wide footprint and large volume while keeping rolling resistance to a minimum. It can probably even function as a lightweight All-mountain or freeride tire in a pinch when the situation demands. Better yet, the compound seems to last very well. The only fly in the ointment is probably the weight as there are many other tires easily 100grams lighter in the same size range. One more interesting fact is that you probably won’t be able to find the System CC 2.25 tire in the Intense Tire website, because it’s somehow confusingly called the System 5.