Thursday, September 1, 2016

Will Specialized Fast Trak 29 x 2.0 tires fit a Surly Cross Check?

The tires look meaty and tough on the bike, but neither wheel will roll without buzzing contact with the frame and fork.
Uhh... nope. Not quite. After his recent visit, Nick left me a pair of Specialized Fast Trak Sport 29 x 2.0 tires. Though a little worn, they're nice tires with plenty of rubber left and a fast looking tread pattern. It was the perfect opportunity to see if a skinny (by current standards) 29er tire would have a chance of fitting my 58 cm 2001 Surly Cross Check. I did a little preliminary research and found reports of some success in fitting 50 mm Schwalbe Big Apples, and a couple of random 1.95 inch 29er tires on Cross Checks, but couldn't find anyone on the whole internet who had tried Fast Trak 2.0s. So here I am to provide that public service.

The results: close, but no cigar. The tires mounted on 20 mm wide Mavic MA3 rims measured out to be almost exactly 50 mm to the outer profile of the knobs. Maybe if I shaved off all the side knobs and had perfectly true rims, there might be a millimeter or so of clearance on each side. I'm not willing to do that. Maybe. However, I've been wanting some fatter tires to replace the pair of nearly worn out Bontrager 38 mm tires (measures out to 34 mm mounted on my MA3s) that I've had on the Cross Check for a long time. Even though the experiment failed, it points to the likelihood that something in the 1.8" to 1.9" (approximately 46-48 mm) wide would be about the right amount of fatness. I could probably even fit fenders with the right tire. I know the 700 x 41 mm Surly Knard is a sure fit, and equates to about 1.6" wide. However, I'm convinced there's a skinny 29er tire out there that will have sufficient clearance, yet push the envelope just a bit more. We don't have a lot of mud here in Colorado, and I wouldn't be riding muddy trails on this bike anyway, so minimal clearance is fine in my book.
Fast Trak 29 x 2.0 on the front.

Mavic MA3, 20 mm wide, on both front and rear.

Plenty of top clearance, not enough side clearance in the fork.

Right fork leg.

Left fork leg. Tantalizingly close to clearing, if not for knobs.

Yep, still 2.0. No better luck in the rear.

Axle slammed rearward in the dropouts.

Close, but not quite clearing the chainstays. 

Seatstays close to clearing, but not. Less room below the brake bridge than below the fork crown, but still adequate.


  1. Those'll fit.
    Go to town on that steel frame, just heat it and beat it!
    Should give you plenty of room in the back.

    Fork lugs might require you to just take end nippers to the knobs to prune them back far enough.

    Or you could spring for some of Bruce G's Rock N Roads, I've loved em on my CrossCheck.

    1. I've done the heat and beat on a couple of steel frames in the past with good success, but I didn't hold onto those bikes long enough to know of any long-term effects.

      That's a good reminder of the Rock N Roads...

  2. Andy, Nate's "heat it and beat it" advice should also come with the warning that Nate breaks a lot of frames. I support the search for a nice 1.8-1.9" tire.

    1. I've had my Cross Check for a long time and probably wouldn't feel good about getting rough with it. Besides, I have other bikes with plenty of clearance and there's no need to push things too far with the CC. Just the right tires will come along at some point. I'm patient.

  3. To be fair every frame that I've broken has been aluminum, and I've never heated and beated an aluminum frame.

    Nick's advice is sound though, find a tire that actually fits.

    In other news I did drill a couple holes in my BigDonkey frame this afternoon to install a fork mount so I can easily tow an extra bike to or from elementary school.

    1. The good thing about broken frames is they're being ridden. Having an aluminum frame break under you can't be fun, though.

      Congrats on the Donkey mod. I've pondered the same with mine, but haven't gone beyond a modified car rack on a wideloader. It works well enough for kid bikes, though it probably doesn't tow as well as something in line like what you've done.

      Nice to hear from you Nate, BTW.