I like to think I’m an open-minded person. When new things come my way I’m open to at least giving them a try. That said, I’ll admit that my expectations were extremely low for these tires. Forgive my hypocrisy but when I got a reflective tire with blue urban camo coloring I just didn’t expect it to be, in any way, off-road ready.
Fresh out of the package the tire has a strange look to it. After asking some questions I found out they are actually wrapped in the reflective, graphic print. Interesting. The tires went on my XC rim quite easily but after inflating them to about 42 psi(I like my tires to have a small footprint) I was astonished at the width of them. No way these are 2.1s!! I looked on the side of the tire for the 1.9 size indication but sure enough…2.1. They are strikingly skinny which added to my apprehension about this tire. None of the pictures I had really seemed to show the true width…they’re skinny I tell you!
The treads are comparable to WTB Exiwolfs, which are very low rolling resistance tires. Ah, a glimmer of hope! I tested these out on an XC race hardtail to show their true worth, or lack of. As it turned out the former was more correct. I started out on level, rolling fireroads. With a high Psi and such a small contact patch, this tire absolutely rocketed down and up the trail. This tire laughs at any type of hardpack but is still predictable through sandy patches. It does slide, obviously, due to the smaller tread pattern but the tires cut through sand and anything else in their path with quickness and ease.
Speeding through twisty singletrack and high speed turns is where this tire impressed me. It hooked up all day and never lost traction or washed out. Mind you this tire was on a hardtail too. Any tire that can stay connected with no rear suspension, over chattery downhills, has a spot reserved on one of my bikes. I’ll admit I had a, these-tires-are-a-gimmick, attitude when I put them on. Honestly, can you say you thought these tires would be a performance tire? I didn’t either but the Nightwing 2.1 proved me wrong…dead wrong. It’s sits in the same class as higher priced, well-known rubbers. They even shed mud with ease. Granted they got pretty squirrely going through a mud patch but it’s obvious they’re not specified for those conditions.
The reflective wrap did wear off after one ride, but only on the tread knobs. No big deal. You still have the entire sidewalls to reflect light. So what do I need a reflective mountain bike tire for? I feel like this tire would be absolutely perfect for night rides, especially if your local trail runs through parts of the city as mine does. And if you happen to run any night races or 24 hour races, I’d check out this tire. I didn’t run into any flats through multiple rides so no troubles there. This tire has it all, serious performance, durability, and the reflective safety factor.
If you can get past the fact that everyone will stare at you as you ride by, you’ll find this is a top-notch, no nonsense tire, despite it’s clownish looks. Be warned…if your buddy sports this tire, you may find yourself staring, and you may get left in the dust. Kudos to Sweetskinz on putting in the time to create a quality, high-performance mountain bike tire instead of settling on looks alone.