Blackrock Off-Road Tyres
We were very excited to get the chance to test a new set of tyres
from Blackrock , and I drew the lucky straw to test them out.
We received a set of medium compound tyres, 80-100x21 for the
front and 110-90x19 for the rear. Once we'd opened the packet
and sniffed that new rubber smell for a while (I sat them next to my
desk while I worked - I like new rubber), we had them bolted on to
the test bike and headed out as soon as we could.
Being an all-terrain type tyre, we headed for a spot in the bush that
has constantly changing terrain and grip levels - soft sand, rock,
hardpack, gravel - if you're gonna test traction you've gotta make it
Most of the guys hadn't set eyes on a Blackrock tyre before, and the aggressive tread pattern and softer compound
had a few eyebrows raised in anticipation.
We'd had a long discussion between ourselves about tyre pressures, and because the Blackrock's had softer
sidewalls than we were used to, we decided to run a few extra PSI at first, then let them down to normal pressures
as the test went on.
Straight off the trailer, we had a little tool around on the hardpack, just to warm the bike up and get a feel for the new
rubber. A couple of blips on the throttle lofted the front wheel way easier than expected, and I realised I'd have to be
careful getting to know my new-found traction.
Once everybody was suitably kitted out and warmed up, we headed up a notorious loose gravel track, to the top of
a small hill. Although I started out fairly slowly at first, the traction provided by the Blackrocks was superb in the
dusty conditions. That particular track would be a lot less notorious if I'd had that level of grip in the past.
Back down the hill we turned onto a favourite high speed section, mainly hardpack with a few looser sections. I
noticed a bit of a wobble at higher speeds, which turned into full-blown headshake at max speeds, and although I
didn't come off, my confidence took a bit of a blow. We thought maybe it was the higher tyre pressures and
reduced them accordingly. In fact, we dropped them lower than usual as it seemed to improve the situation,
although I didn't hit top speed again that day. As it turns out, it had nothing to do with the tyres, or the pressures, it
was a problem with a front wheel spacer malfunction. Lesson learned - check your bike meticulously after
someone's worked on it. The reduced tyre pressures worked fine, the softer sidewalls don't seems to have a
negative influence at all, and I had no problems even when jumping.
With super high speeds out for the rest of the day, we hit some extremely technical, bottomless sand, single wheel
tracks. I'm actually quite a fan of these types of track, but good drive is the key in deep sand. You simply have to be
able to pull that front wheel out of whatever hole it's digging for itself. Before we got this set of tyres I had been
putting up with a less-than-perfect rear tyre, and I hadn't enjoyed our last couple of runs on these tracks. Again the
Blackrock's performed admirably and I re-found the speed and agility that I'd lost.
After few little fun loops around the place and a healthy bbq lunch under our belts, we headed for the farm's gravel
pit. It hasn't been used in a while and there are some nice little to medium step-ups to hit. Being that it's been a dry
winter and we've hammered the place in the past, the jump faces are almost bare, smooth rock covered in gravel
dust. Being steep to go with that (they're more vertical launch ramps than jumps), traction is always an issue with
these babies. The first time I hit one showed just how much these Blackrock tyres grip. I cruised up in second, well
under band (remember how steep I said they are) and accelerated up the face, just as I always do. Now I'm no
expert in tyre compounds, but I guess the softer rubber grips hard stuff heaps better than hard tyres. I launched off
the top of the ramp and I didn't think I was ever coming down, at least not in one piece! I did land, on both wheels
somehow, and rode away with a stupid grin from ear-to-ear. In that messy, dust covered pit, I certainly had the lion's
share of the traction.