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I race on tubies. I've used Dugast and FMB tires for their supple casing, but you probably knew that already. BUT, I am building a new wheelset that will be my primary one for racing, and I wanted your highly educated opinion on tread patterns.

I raced this 09/10 season (two more races to go) with a FMB SSC Sprint 34mm in the rear, and a Dugast typhoon 32 in the front. I was blown away by how well that rear tire with file tread and side knobs stuck to grass and dirt, and did as good as anyone else in light mud. I race in northern California, so we race all but a couple races each year in fairly dry in grass and dirt (little sand, but nothing to dwell on), and never in snow.

Part 1 - Should I consider using a file tread up front as well? I'm mentally drawn to the tread in the front to prevent being thrown to the ground, but have no worries with a little powered spin & slide in the rear. The FMB has a fairly burly side knob, but should I trust it up front or get the "normal" pattern FMB or Typhoon for the wheelset. Anyone who uses a file tread up front please let me know your thoughts, or warnings.

Part 2 - Should I put a 34 up front to match the rear (assuming I go with 34 in back again)? In rereading the CX Magazine and other reports on rolling resistance, lower PSI is simply faster, and that's easier to do in a bigger tire. Bigger is also better except in snow, sand, or deep mud. Guess what I don't get to ride in? Bigger means softer tires, and potentially larger contact patch, though I know most manufacturers have the same tread with a slightly larger casing, so the placement of the side knobs aren't as much on the side on a 34 as they are on a 32.

Thoughts welcomed.

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Answering part 2 first, I definitely think 34 all around will be good for you. You've already established that the SSC Sprint tread works on the larger casing size (so no concern about knob positioning, etc. as mentioned) and I'd disagree about the narrower tires being better in snow and sand. You want to float on those. Mud is debatable and I still like a wider tire, but I do see the logic in narrower if it's _really_ deep - the kind of deep we don't really see in most North American venues.

I can't help with Part 1, except to say that I plan to try it myself next season (with some FMB Sprints in 34). This probably depends a lot on how you ride and on your position on the bike. If you have a lot of weight on the front and ride aggressively, the file tread up front is probably fine in any conditions that it works out back. If you sit back and lean through turns, you're going to lose the front end more easily...
I'm a big fan of fast-rolling rear treads and aggressive front treads. Most of your cornering traction comes from the front tires while most of your rolling resistance comes from the rear. I wouldn't consider a file-tread up front. Personally, I'd rather turn faster than try to gain a little bit of overall speed.
A front file tread has limited use in my opinion. I would not ride strictly file tread up front. Maybe add another SSC Sprint front to your arsenal including the Typhoon.

Having tire choice is key. I some times wonder why I've spent hundreds of dollars in tubular tires and wheels when I never use them but I am reassured when I encounter that day when I do need that other tire.
Going back to old school, pre-sofa bikes (full suspension), smoke and dart were the key, big 2.2 up front and a 1.9 in rear, I did the same thing last year 34 Fango up front and 32 in rear, worked very well even at Granouge which was pure hell for mud. I have also considered moving to the slick rear and bigger tread up front, but based on past logic, I would use a 32 or smaller rear, and a 34 Typhoon, or Fango up front or maybe a Rhino... Comfort and aggressiveness, in turns is key, but you need to be able to hook up after the turn to stay with the pack... just my .02.


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