This spring saw our first look at new XC race treads from MSC Tires as they were being ridden to a U23 World Cup win. Expanding on this year’s three modular trail offerings and single road tire, MSC is already refining their lineup for 2019 with streamlined compounds, casings, and a tease of more tubeless road & gravel tires on the way…
2018 MSC mix and match mountain bike tire lineup
MSC Bikes got its start on the European XC & DH race scene all the way back in 1999, with a number of French & Spanish MTB mega stars riding for the Barcelona-based team over the years. Together they developed their own bikes & components, as well as managing design, R&D, and testing for a major Taiwanese tire maker. So over those last two decades they honed their tire development skills, and decided three years ago to spin off their own tire lineup.
Instead of having a large number of condition- & discipline-specific mountain bike tires, MSC Tire CEO Ferran Marias opted for three broad tread patterns – the Roller, Tractor & Gripper – which could adapt to different riding by way of various sizes, different casings, and a range of rubber compounds.
With faster rolling rubber, supple 120tpi casings and more narrow 29″ x 2.1 or 2.2″ the tires can adapt for XC racing. Then at the other extreme, super sticky triple compound rubber, more durable & reinforced 60tpi construction, and sizing up to 27.5″ x 2.4 can transform the more aggressive tread into a proper enduro or DH race tire.
The thing that unifies these core tire designs are well-refined knob shapes & placement, and a variety of textures and sipes cut into and between the blocks.
Those textures mean additional edges for controlled grip in a wide range of conditions. But their stepped layout also provides useful tread wear indicators, as well.
2019 MSC mountain bike tire rubber compound & casing updates
MSC talks about how small changes in TPI, breakers, plies, beads, compounds & tread designs can make large performance gains within their tires. And that’s where they are building on years of experience both racing and bringing commercial tires to market.
On the mountain bike rubber composition front, Ferran says they are simplifying a bit for next year, having improved the compounds to make them ‘more resistant to cuts while still remaining their stickiness’. The current seven different multi-compounds they currently have for XC-DH will be dialed back to just three for 2019, plus a pair of single compound offerings. A 2C 62a/60a durometer two compound rubber & 1C 62a will handle XC and light trail, and a 3C 62a/48z/45a durometer three compound rubber, 2C 55z/50a & 1c 60a are suited for gravity-fueled enduro and downhill riding & racing.
For MSC, they say the change is all about making it less complicated for riders to pick the best performing tire for their riding/racing style.
On the casing side, the mountain bike tires actually will get twice the options for 2019. On top of their current ProShield for XC with just sidewall protection and SuperShield for enduro with sidewall protection and a butyl insert, come new EpicShield & XtremShield options. EpicShield expands on the lightweight protection, now bead-to-bead for marathon & trail riding, while XtremShield goes bead-to-bead with a DH-ready 4-ply casing and the heavy-duty butyl liner.
2019 MSC tubeless road & gravel bike tires coming soon!
The new off-road casings also bleed over to the road where a new bead-to-bead RoadShield casing will be added with a butyl insert for supple endurance road and gravel protection, and full tubeless compatibility. Now with three new tubeless road casings, MSC essentially teases three new road tires for 2019 – a slick single compound Road TLR Race tire in 25 & 28mm widths, a semi-slick single compound Road TLR Endurance tire in 25 & 28mm (& possibly a wider 32 or 35mm version), and a completely new fast-rolling single compound Gravel TLR tire with pronounced shoulder knobs in a 40mm width.
We’ll have to wait a bit longer for the full details on the 2019 tires when they are officially released.