Now we’ve thrashed them it’s time check in with some observations.
As a quick recap, the Griffin is a fast rolling DH tire. It has DH side walls, aggressive but ramped nobs and comes in downhill compounds (3C Maxx Grip and Super Tacky). It’s available in 27.5″ and delightfully old-school 26″. The crucial thing about the Griffin is that the nobs are angled to roll more quickly than your usual DH tire – placing emphasis on reducing rolling resistance rather than maxing up the traction.
The Griffin is aimed at dry, hard packed trails or those with loose material over a hard surface. Not exactly year round UK conditions …
Above:Fort William’s steep, loose, natural trails were a great chance to push the Griffin (and me!) out of our comfort zones.
The Griffin is a funny old blend that (for downhill anyway) caters to a very specific type of trail. It has a tough, downhill side-wall that does a great job off warding of punctures and gives a very solid, planted ride. The nobs however are a total contrast. They’re much less aggressive than a Maxxis High Roller, Conti Der Kaiser or Schwalbe Magic Mary (all great DH tires) with ramped center nobs that cut rolling resistance right down so the tire zips along like rubber half it’s weight. The outer nobs on each edge of the Griffin are more traditionally “downhill” with aggressive edges to help cornering.
Yep – as a UK downhill tire the Griffin isn’t particularly useful. Even those trails that are hard pack and dry (maybe Bike Park Wales?) feature hefty sections of slippy stuff making a more all-round tire a more sensible choice for a consistently decent ride.
That said, on a trail or enduro bike the Griffin stands out as an altogether much more useful beast. Imagine a tire that rides over rough stuff like a DH’er, bats away punctures with ease and zips up the fire road and sprints along the trails without leaving you gasping? The Griffin pretty much does all of that. In these days of ‘enduro’ where we have to pedal up and still ride big, rough, technical tracks down it’s suddenly a great choice for riders that want a blend of grip, pedal and puncture resistance.
I’m not quite sure the Griffin is an excellent front tire. There’s a tendency for the front wheel to drift a bit more easily than I’d like and then snap back into grip. These little “oh shit!” moments usually come by surprise and have got me shopping around for more aggressive rubber to go up front. On the back wheel I’m a big fan. I can pedal as happily as I would on a much lighter setup, I only lose grip on climbs when I’m being lazy with my technique and the braking feels good. It’s not perfect for really loose, wet, stinky conditions but it’s certainly not bad at all given the advantages over the whole ride. Get some nobbier up front and you’ve got a great combination.
Forget the Griffin on your downhill bike, there’s better tires. Consider it seriously for the back of your aggressive trail or enduro bike. If you want downhill tire confidence whilst still being able to churn out longer rides then it’s a great choice. OK, it isn’t the lightest tire. You will have to invest more effort than a 2.35″ High Roller 2 but you’ll get used to it and you’ll go faster on the good bits.