Sometimes it’s hard to find the correct tyre for the terrain or task in hand.
Chunky tyres are great for grip but can be bad for rolling resistance ie. being draggy.
Slick tyres are rapid rollers but they can flounder and wash-out when cornering. It’s also hard to find a slick tyre that has a sturdy carcass that can withstand aggressive riding.
Sometimes you require the tyre equivalent of a mullet; shallow in the middle but knobbly at the sides.
There are a few tyres out there that come like this – the Schwalbe Rock Razor or the Specialized Slaughter for example – but even they won’t be exactly to everyone’s tastes or requirements.
As it’s impossible to add knobbles to an existing slick tyre the answer here is to remove knobbles from an all-over-knobbly tyre.
Cutting tyre tread is something that is fairly common on the downhill race scene. The most common practice is to take a full-on DH mud spike tyre and trim down the centre knobs. The resulting tyre has a tough carcass, good cornering performance but rolls a lot faster when upright and is less deflection-prone on rocky sections.
Sharp wire cutters or some other sort of workshop snippers used to be the only option. You can still use these tools if you wish but the results will be irregular in height and finish.
Schwalbe have recently released a specific tool for trimming tyre knobbles down – the Schwalbe Tyre Tread Cutter. Essentially it’s a chunky snipper with a height/depth gauge that can be set to a specific point for consistent trim results.
It costs about £25. It’s not a tool that very many people will be rushing out to buy but if you fancy this sort of thing – go for it.
By the way, you can also use to the tool for trimming/removing side knobs as well as centre knobs. This is useful if you have a tyre that you generally like but are finding it lacks a bit of corning bite in loose or sticky terrain – trim alternate side knobs and you’ll be rewarded with improved cornering performance.