Originally Posted by cliffy109
I've seen a few people suggest this combo and I guess I don't get it. Shouldn't the rear tire be the one with the big tread blocks for better grip on wet, muddy surfaces?
Seriously, I really don't claim to understand so don't take this as a question of your experience. I would very much like to learn from the experiences of others. It just seems counter-intuitive to me. Please educate me. I do mostly pavement but would like to find a combo that allows me to get off road a few times a year without compromising too much of my handling and performance the rest of the time.
In dirt riding where most of your turning is done by counter-balancing, it's more important to have the front have a good grip on the terrain. Hence the knobby up front. It makes the bike easier to control. Fronts also wear slower than rears so they tolerate knobbies better. In the dirt a rear slide is easier to control because the bike tends to be more upright. In street riding where the tires have much, much more grip and you can lean the bike over to corner, most of your grip comes from the back tire. Having a less aggressive tread gives you more grip on the pavement. The smaller spaces and lower tread flexes less, puts more rubber on the road, give more grip and thus feels more secure. Wet performance is also related to compound and drainage. The front is primarily used to change direction so it doesn't need ultimate grip. This is obviously different from racing where you can spend a lot of time finding the optimal balance between front and rear grip on a predictable course that has a minimal amount of variables and distractions.
With the Heidenau's the tread construction is a good middle ground for dirt and street but the compound (and the bias-ply carcass) tends to be a little hard hence the complaints about grip. The tradeoff is it's very long wearing. I'd like to see the K60 in a radial. That might solve some of the grip issues.