I guess this is a good time to start writing again. I've finished up work until the end of February, and now I'm preparing for my trip to NZ.
Today I got a very useful delivery, some awesome Maxxis tyres. Team Singular is sponsored by Maxxis, and as a result I've had the opportunity to try out a number of their offerings. The current winter tyre of choice is the Beaver, a real treat in the mud that's to be expected this time of year, as well as any other month of the year in England really, although I've mainly been using one on the front in combination with a rear Crossmark. That may have something to do with the fact that the Crossmark is a UST variant mounted on a Stans Arch rim, a ridiculously tight combination, one that I wasn't able to mount, but Sam somehow did. Regardless, I think this is a good combination, as in all but the sloppiest conditions, I have enough rear traction.
So, on to my tyre choice for my upcoming attempt at the Kiwi Brevet. I've been riding the Crossmark on the rear throughout the summer with an Ikon up front, and prior to that I had a pair of Ikons mounted. All of the guys on the team riding the Ikon have been impressed by their combination of cornering grip, predictability, and smooth rolling. It performs well on anything from loamy soil to loose over hardpack. The only thing I have had issues with is their reaction to flint. This was early season with freshly exposed flint, only an issue on the rear though. During my South Downs Way Double, I rode tubeless up front, slime tube in the rear, and had no punctures, I think they were both the EXC/EXO variant, but I'm not sure now. In any case, I don't think there are many tyres that can stand up to flint abuse, maybe the UST Crossmark with its heavy weight LUST sidewall. I have decided to stick with the Ikon 2.2 EXO/EXC on the front, and the slightly better rolling Crossmark 2.1 folding rear. The Brevet will cover large distances on coarse chip tarseal and gravel roads, so I think this is one of the best options on the market. I would not be keen running flyweight tyres nor cross tyres as I know some people will be. It's a personal choice, but the extra cushion a large volume 29er tyre affords is essential on these long distance rides. I will be running both tyres tubeless and taking two spare tubes, a repair kit and a colgate "tyre boot". More info to follow.