I first heard about these tyres at a distributors product launch in 2018. We got to have a look and feel of them on demo bikes at the launch. I was definitely sceptical at first. There have been many tyre brands come and try and put their stamp on what is a market very dominated by one particular brand. I was vaguely interested but soon put them to the back of my mind for now.
First things first a bit of background about me when it comes to tyres. I am not putting it lightly when I say I am obsessed with tyres, it is a fact which I will openly admit. I f**king love tyres. To me they are the most important contact point on your bike and can transform the way a bike feels and the confidence you have on your bike. When I was racing DH in the early 2000's, tyres were garbage. But if you knew the right people and did some trading you could convince pro riders to sell you some of their old Michelin pro-only tyres. I went hard. I had a two piles of Michelin DH tyres in my bedroom 6ft tall! Comp 16's, comp 24's, comp 32's plus some other weird and wild prototypes which never made it to market.
Even half worn old pro Michelin tyres were better than anything you could buy in the shops and it was such an advantage to have them if you were racing.
"I am not putting it lightly when I say I am obsessed with tyres, it is a fact which I will openly admit. I f**king love tyres"
So needless to say ever since then nothing has changed. I love tyres and I am very fussy when it comes to them.
I first got on some Goodyears at the start of the 2018 summer. The NZ distributors Wideopen finally landed some stock and they were keen to get people on them for some feedback. I ordered a set of the Newton ST DH Ultimates to try. But before going into how they rode, first the tech jargon.
TECH PART - BEWARE!
So the current lineup for the Goodyear MTB tyres for the aggressive enduro/dh category are the Newton and the Newton ST. The ST stands for steering so is generally regarded as the tyres you would run on the front. It has quite widely spaced square nobs with a tall and aggressive side tread. The Newton is a more familiar looking pattern and would be generally the tyre you run on the rear as the ramped centre nobs are going to give a faster rolling speed and also there is a larger braking edge on them for slowing down when things get steep.
CASINGS AND ACRONYMS
Here is what you need to know straight from the horse mouth:
Premium - Utilizing a balanced, robust casing, our premium casing provides exceptional ride quality with outstanding durability.
Ultimate - Utilizing a smaller thread fabric, this casing uses less rubber - making the tyres more supple, faster rolling with improved traction.
EN - Utilizing a 1.5 ply constructed casing increases sidewall layers by 50% to provide addition support while maintaining a supple feel.
DH - Utilizing a 2 ply casing increases sidewall toughness by 100%, this along with a butyl insert, provides the ultimate. in support and durability for DH applications.
Dynamic R/T - Rugged-Terrain compound specifically formulated to balance grip, wear and efficiency.
Dynamic RS/T - Rugged Soft-Terrain compounded formulated for maximum grip.
WHAT DO ALL THESE ACRONYMS MEAN?
There are three offerings which use a mixture of the above terms to get the desired effect on the tyres, the DH Ultimate, EN Ultimate and EN Premium. I will keep it simple.
For aggressive riders or racers you will want to go for the DH Ultimate casing. This is the burliest casing they do, akin to a Maxxis DH or DD casing. It is also the only way to get the RS/T compound (the softest compound)
If you are less aggressive and want to save a bit of weight on your trail bike go for the EN Ultimate casing, still a good casing, comparable to a Maxxis Exo+ or Schwalbe Super Gravity. This is the lightest casing they do but light doesn't mean it's not tough.
If you are in the same category as above but on more of a budget, you have the EN Premium casing. This is slightly heavier than the EN Ultimate and the casing has less technology in it meaning a different ride quality on the trail. Essentially doesn't have the performance of the other casings but good for general hacking about.
Both the Newton ST and Newton come in 29 and 27.5 versions. You can get them in a 2.4 or 2.6 width for either wheel size.
I wouldn't be scared of going for the 2.6 version of these, they aren't a huge 2.6, more like a Maxxis 2.5, so they don't look like plus tyres once fitted to the bike. More so the 2.4 versions do run quite narrow so if you live somewhere rocky you will want the extra volume the 2.6 brings to the table to help protect your rims. That is something I would say for both the front and the rear.
ENOUGH TECH BLAH BLAH BLAH, HOW DO THEY RIDE
Well, going back to the beginning of this I said I wasn't super interested in these tyres when I first saw them, the reason being the compound felt quite hard and fast rebounding when I was giving the tread the old squeeze and twist test, and that was the supposed softest compound version, the RS/T. When you do this test on a "maxxgrip" maxxis tyre or Schwalbe ultra soft, you need a calendar to time how long the rubber takes to rebound back to its original shape. This soft rebound gives the tyre its grip as allows it to deform and mould to the rocks and roots and not ping back quickly to keep you planted. It also acts to deaden the vibrations and chatter a bit, almost like extra suspension. It is a great feeling. One down side to this though is to have tyres with this quality means they roll slower than a steamroller through quick sand. So it is a trade off you must think about.
"One thing I was told was to run the pressures slightly softer than what I would normally run, maybe by 2-3psi"
So I skeptically got a pair of Newton ST DH Ultimates 27.5x2.6 to put on my Airdrop Edit. I think only the ST versions were available to try at this point so ran them front and rear.
They mounted to my Santa Cruz reserve rims with no problem and they popped onto the beads with very little effort to be setup tubeless, with a comforting snap as they bead located. I have to admit I really loved the big Goodyear logos on the sidewall when they were all mounted up, was a big fan of how they made the bike look which is always a bonus.
One thing I was told was to run the pressures slightly softer than what I would normally run, maybe by 2-3psi. The tyres I had on my bike previously were Schwalbe Magic Marys, dh casing ultra soft front and dh casing soft rear. Which I would run at 22 psi on the front and 24psi on the rear. I am only 70kg and quite a light rider on my gear so get away with soft pressures.
I decided to set them up the same pressures I was used to just as starting point.
Rolling out the shop for that first ride the first thing I noticed before even getting onto a trail was how much faster the bike was rolling already. It was like free speed. It was so much less effort to cruise along. I figured this was down to the compound and the fact that the centre tread on the Newton ST aren't hugely tall. In my head this didn't bode well, as a fast rolling tyres surely won't have the grip that I am used to.
I boosted up to the skyline bike park and chose the trail Squid Run as a good test trail. It has got everything - rocks, roots, tight turns, hard braking, fast bits, slow bits, slippy bits but nothing to gnarly so you can really get a good feel for your bike.
"I also noticed how my ground speed was significantly faster than my old tyre setup, they just rolled so god dam fast"
Dropping in I was apprehensive and assumed I was going to be fighting these tyres for traction, I was ready to wash out on corners and get thrown off line over wet roots. As I got further and further down the trail, sections I thought I was going to have these moments kept passing by and the tyres never faltered. My confidence grew in them and I started getting into my normal rhythm, starting to push the tyres a bit harder each turn. I also noticed how my ground speed was significantly faster than my old tyre setup, they just rolled so god dam fast.
As I got further and further down the trail (which is a good 7-8 min descent if you are going well) I was hitting some corners and thinking to myself that the tyres were hooking up better than anything else I had ridden down here. You could really feel the tall exposed corner tread biting into the dirt. On wet roots and rocks they didnt grip like glue like the schwalbes but at the same time they weren't doing anything wrong.
I decided to do what was recommended and let some pressure out of them, so dropped the front down to 20psi and the rear to 22psi. Even though this is a soft set up when you squeeze the tyres with your hand you would struggle to tell that they were that soft. I think the DH Ultimate casing is just so burley it gives the tyres good support even at lower pressures.
Dropping the tyres to the lower pressures just upped them another level. The grip was increased again and the dampening properties of the casing came to life too. The casing on the dh ultimate goodyears really is quite brilliant and has changed the way I think about tyres.
"I have never ridden a tyre that has the combination of grip and rolling speed as these goodyears"
So despite the seemingly harder feeling compound of the tread, the suppleness of the casing seems to make up for it and as a result you get a tyre that not only grips really well but rolls fast too. I have never ridden a tyre that has the combination of grip and rolling speed as the goodyears.
The next few weeks was spent riding all my favourite trails, seeing how the goodyears coped in a variety of conditions and tracks. I was trying to find their weakness, but to be totally honest I just couldn't. I just couldnt get my head around it. They shouldn't be as good as they are with how hard the compound feels. But not once did I loose traction or have a sketchy moment I could put down to the tyres. If anything they were giving me more confidence on trails I was familiar with. The tall exposed side tread of the Newton ST just cuts into anything and gives you so much cornering grip, it is unreal.
I was sold.
I have been running the Goodyears for 18 months now. I have settled into running a Newton ST DH Ultimate on the front and a Newton DH Ultimate on the rear. It has been a vocal love affair and have been trying to get more people to give them a go.
In that time I have only sliced one tyre and that was in a race run on a rock that would have sliced and diced any tyre. I put a tyre plug in the hole and I am still running the same tyre with no probs.
The DH ultimate casing really is superb and is very confidence inspiring. Living in Queenstown most people choose to run DH casing tyres due to the type of riding we have. There is lots of lift accessed runs and lots of steep gnarly terrain where having a descent burly tyre set up gets you out of trouble and gives you less hassles. We are happy to put up with the extra weight penalty.
I would definitely recommend these tyres for people to try as an alternative to the other major brands. The rolling speed to grip ratio is hard to beat and its hard to go back to a slower rolling tyre after trying these. If you do, lay around with the pressures until you hit that sweet spot with these, its more important than other tyres, but once you get it you will be impressed.
Goodyear have entered the market swinging with these tyres and I cant wait to see what else they come up with in the future.