We picked up a set of Vee Tire Co’s new enduro mountain bike tire, the Snap Trail, at the Winter Bike Connection event in Italy. The guys at Vee had gone above and beyond, printing each media outlet’s logo onto the tire’s sidewall. A nice thought. But how does the tire actually perform?
We published a First Ride review shortly after our trip to Italy. We liked the tire’s super soft TOP40 compound with its low rebound qualities from the get-go, but how has it performed in the long-term? We brought it back home to Scotland where it has been tested in all conditions, from dusty hard pack trails, to muddy ruts and slick wet loam. Here’s how the Vee Tire Snap Trail held up.
Long Term Review: Vee Tire Snap Trail Enduro Core
Seating the bead
We seated Vee’s Snap Trail Enduro Core tires to Crankbrothers’ Synthesis alloy wheelset, with a tubeless set-up. The front and rear wheels have a different internal rim widths; 29.5 mm at the treat and 31.5 mm out back.
Neither tire-rim combo was particularly tight-fitting. These 2.35″ tires went onto both rims super easily by hand, without the need for tire levers. I seated the tires onto the rim with the use of an Air Shot canister. The process was mess- and hassle-free.
The first notable feature of Snap Trail is its ultra-sticky TOP40 compound. If you take hold of one of the side knobs and twist it out of shape, it takes a long time – maybe one or two seconds – for the knob to return to its original shape. That’s what low rebound looks like.
Next up, the Snap Trail isn’t a true 2.35″ tire. We measured it at 2.4″ on both the 29.5 mm and 31.5 mm internal width rims.
I spent around two weeks on the Vee Tire Snap Trail tyres before the UK went in lockdown. Along with lockdown came the closure of our local trail centers and advice from Mountain Rescue charities not to take any unnecessary risks in the mountains. Hospitals certainly didn’t need mountain bikers with broken collarbones on top of everything else.
Fear not, since the end of those restrictions, I’ve been able to test the Snap Trail tyres properly on the local technical enduro tracks. Our tracks are very steep, with much loam and muddy ruts aplenty.
Snap Trail: The good stuff
I’m pleased to say that my initial good impression of the Vee Tire Snap Trail has carried through this long term test period. On the dry, dusty tracks of Tuscany, I was impressed with the grip offered over rock faces, and through flat loamy turns. I never found the edge of my grip, even when pushing hard on trails that were new to me.
But how does that transfer to the wet trails in Scotland? Very well. The grip offered by this tire is exemplary. It tracks incredibly well through turns. I haven’t once “washed out” the front wheel in flat corners. I can confidently lean the tire onto its edge with no hairy moments on the way in. The tire encourages me to commit every time.
There are three things that I think contribute to the excellent performance of the tire. Firstly, that TOP40 compound sticks like proverbial manure to a blanket. Second, there’s sufficient flex in the side knobs, but not too much, that allow them to deform and mold to the trail without completely folding over.
Thirdly, the narrow 2.35″ (2.4″ actual) tyre profile is one that suits my riding style very well. As a lightweight rider (60 kg) I feel the benefit of “narrow” tyres. Though a lot of enduro bikes are spec’d with 2.5″ tires these days, I’m not convinced that on the whole “the wider, the tire, the better the grip”.
In my experience, a narrower tire offers lighter riders more precise front end handling. I haven’t looked into this is any particular depth, but I’ve the feeling that the shape of the contact patch may have something to do with this. With the 2.35″ Snap Trail I don’t experience anywhere near the degree of under-steer as I do on a wider tire such as the Maxxis Assegai 2.5″, for example. The Snap Trail corners like a dream.
Of course, a narrower tire also cuts through mud better than a wider tire, something that is super important for my local trails that run like filth for most of the year. While the tread did clog up with mud easily, it also shed that mud very quickly.
Over fast rough terrain however, I was aware of the reduced girth of the tire. I didn’t notice any ill effects of the tire’s profile on these sections flat-out sections but I reckon a wider tire may have provided a bit more damping on impacts. That said, the low-rebound properties of the TOP40 compound go a considerable way to damping trail feedback.
The mold-ability of the Snap Trail knobs allows the tire to track through rough sections of rooty/rocky trails with no drama. I never once got that “pin-balling” feeling out of the front end of the bike that you sometimes get with tires of a much harder-wearing compound.
Is there anything bad about Vee’s Snap Trail?
Sadly, yes. That first-rate grip offered by the soft, sticky TOP40 compound comes at the (huge) expense of rolling-resistance. This tire is certainly not fast rolling. I could tell this was the case less than 100 metres into a tarmac section cycle path.
At the end of the test period I swapped out the Snap Trail for Vittoria’s Mazza tire that uses their hard-wearing Graphene 2.0 compound. The difference in rolling-resistance was like night and day. The Snap Trail makes the bike feel sluggish on smooth tarmac and fire roads while the Mazza makes you feel like you’re on a motorway in comparison.
I ran Vee’s Snap Trail tire for four and a half months. I haven’t counted the mileage but it’s safe to assume it’s high as I rode six days per week for 2-3 hours per day. Towards the end of this period I started to notice some instability in the centre-tread and side knobs.
How does it climb?
The Vee Tire Snap Trail tire is an average climber. The knobs aren’t super aggressive so they don’t bite the trail as much as, say, a WTB Judge does. But on weight along with other characteristics, these two tires aren’t really comparable.
It’s narrow profile helps it cut through muddy climbs but when the trail surface is ultra mushy the Snap Trail struggles for traction and will start to spin out.
Vee Tire Snap Trail: The Bottom Line
The Vee Tire Co Snap Trail Enduro Core tire offers unfathomable grip over all-terrain owing to its super soft and sticky TOP40 Compound and relatively narrow profile. That grip comes at the expense of rolling resistance so the tyre can feel very sluggish when pedaling on tarmac and on hard-pack climbs.
I’d be happy to recommend the tire to those whose top priority is grip, and aren’t too concerned about how fast their tires roll. Durability wise, the Snap Trail is on the lower-end of the scale.
Pricing & Availability
At $65, the Snap Trail is priced fairly as a well performing tire. It is offered in both 27.5″ and 29″ versions, in an enduro and gravity core casing.