Vittoria Martello and Morsa review
If we've ridden together or spent any time talking mountain bikes, it's possible that you've heard me say "When it comes to tires, there's Maxxis......or Maxxis."
So yeah, I like Maxxis. But I do have the opportunity to talk with people about tires and mountain bikes quite often so I think it's important to expand my knowledge of other tires......so that I can sell Maxxis more effectively :)
Just kidding....mostly! I have heard some good things about Vittoria's tires and decided to give them a try and share my experiences. I wasn't sure about the antracite sidewalls at first but after seeing them against the white back drop of my bike, I like them.
I'll start with the Morsa as I found a super deal on the pair and had a chance to ride the pair front and rear. As you can see, at 27 psi on my 29 mm internal rim, the Morsa actually measures over the labeled 29 x 2.3 size. I didn't include a picture but this tire takes up ALL the space in the swingarm of my 2012 Kona Satori. I had considered a Maxxis Wide Trail back there but this tire convinced me otherwise!
The Morsa is a fantastic rear tire. I've spent considerable time on the Maxxis Minion SS and the Morsa is at least equal to the SS in outright traction and has very similar rolling resistance. Similar to the SS, the Morsa does slip a bit in some climbing situations when the bike is straight up and down. But lean it over into those big, soft side knobs and the Morsa has considerable bite.
I included the picture showing the distance between the center knobs and the side knobs as I believe this "dead spot" to be the reason why I did not like the Morsa as a front tire. If you are slow in the transition from upright to full lean, this dead spot produces a momentary lapse of traction every time. I can live with that on the rear, in fact it's quite fun. But high speed traction lapses from the front tire are scary. I never ended up on the ground but I was definitely left with some trust issues!
A few weeks ago, a came across another great deal on the Martello so I snapped it up and installed it on my bike. Widths shown are at 24 psi on my 29 mm internal rim. This tire only has one ride on it and I suspect that it will stretch some and reach the labeled size of 2.3".
"One ride? How can he draw any conclusions after one ride?" It's a valid question.
As you can see, there's no "knob dead space" on the Martello. Pair that with a generous helping of sipes in the tops of the knobs and there's never any momentary lapse of traction!
My one ride on Martello was at Irondequoit Bay Park West. If you've been there you may know that the soil is sandy and on the day I rode, there was a perfect amount of moisture in the soil. It's likely that nearly any tire would have thrived in that "hero dirt". I'll follow up after I've had a chance to log more miles in different places in different soil conditions.
There's certainly much lighter tires on the market. All the weight weenies probably just lost interest in this review when they saw those scale numbers. I remember that period in my life so I get it. Personally, I've reached the point in my life where I value traction over weight.
Based on the tubeless performance of these tires, that extra material seems to have gone to good use. These tires inflated easily without a single weep of sealant anywhere. On average, they lose less than 2 psi between rides.
Considering my findings so far and the $68.99 MSRP, these tires, at least initially, would seem to provide a really good value. Some careful shopping and you'll probably pay much less than MSRP. I have $90 invested in both tires.
The ultimate endorsement for these tires that I can make is that they are going to stay on my bike long term. I'm curious about puncture resistance and tread durability so I've got to put in the miles. I'd like to learn about wet grip from the 4C compound but all the people that know me well and my aversion to mud just collectively sighed and rolled their eyes :) Have a great 2019, see you on the trails!