What it is
A cross between a long-lasting knobby and a sticky trials tire.
Motoz, known for long-lasting off-road tires has a new tire that blends a trials tire and a serious off-road knobby. This new design uses what the company calls a flexible tread concave and lock system to give increased traction while avoiding punctures at low inflation pressures. The Motoz Mountain Hybrid is a DOT off-road tire made from 100% natural rubber to provide awesome traction in a wide variety of conditions. It keeps the 120/100-18 dimensions of an off-road tire to maintain the bike’s handling characteristics using tread block with deep sipes for extra trial-like grip and is reversible as well.
How it works
Finds hidden traction in the dry and crappy conditions.
The weight has some disadvantages and some advantages too.
Wears like iron–this is a 2500-3000 mile tire for most riders.
The first thing you will feel with the Mountain Hybrid is that it is a heavy tire. Very heavy at 16-pounds (16.3-pounds to be exact) which is about 3-5 pounds heavier than most standard tires of the same size. We originally had an early production tire but were later shipped an updated version (one of the reasons this review has taken some time) that was claimed to be lighter and with a different construction to address the weight as well as some traction issues. Well the revised tire was 15.9-pounds so it is still heavy.
Weight aside, the Mountain Hybrid mounts up fairly easily and seats properly and securely on the bead of the rim. It has a fairly soft rubber compound and the siping allows the knobs to flex and move quite easily. The center block is larger than most trials-type tires and the spacing between just a little more open.
We ran the tire mostly in western conditions, largely in the desert and mountains that were dry most of the time. We started out running at 12 PSI but were quickly dropping the pressure to 10 PSI and often 8 PSI for better and better traction and also better bump compliance. After going lower than 8 PSI the wallow and rolling in on side-load turns was a little too much for most of the testers to feel confident.
Traction-wise the Motoz tire is one of the best grabbing tires we have ever used on a very common hard ground with a sandy layer on top of it. Where standard knobbies break loose easily, the Motoz grabs and holds more horsepower before it spins up. Then when it does the spin the sliding characteristics are top notch as long as the ground is not too bumpy. Here is where the weight comes into play. In turning loads the tire is good and consistent till it really gets laid over then the side knobs might be just a little too close together for the softer dirt you need to get the tire this far on the edge. When it lets go it does so in a predictable manner, not all at once like some trials tires.
As heavy as the tire is, it has some benefits and some downfalls that go along with the weight. It does not like choppy bumps or bouncing on whoops. You feel the mass of the tire working on the suspension and especially if you are turning on bumps the tire likes to bounce and sometimes step out. Especially at higher pressures where the tire’s weight adds to the bounce. When the tire is at a high speed it gains a lot of inertia and likes to keep going straight and tracking true, lowering the pressure aids in this to a point. Additionally it is heavy enough that our picky riders made suspension adjustments (usually slowing the rebound) to compensate for the feel.
The tire is pretty impervious to wear and the traction does not really fall off that much for the first half of the tire’s life. And that is a long time. Because if we were to rate it on a miles scale, doing mostly dual-sport heavy on the off-road, this is tire is good for 2500-3000 miles. As it gets down deeper than the sipping is cut into the center knobs, the tire spins up a little easier and spins more when it gets going. When you are left with about ¼ of the center knob’s height left the traction really falls off as the load is spread across a pretty wide space and it here there isn’t the bite that the tire has when new. It is a call to replace it, really. The tire will break off small chunks but they are minimal and did not compromise the grip. We never lost whole knobs, just pieces in sharp rocky ground.
In good soils with a lot of traction the Mountain Hybrid is definitely a step behind a true knobby in outright bite and grip. The same is true in wet conditions where the rubber compound is a step more slippery than a specific trials tire. But in sand or mud the wide footprint of the Motoz works excellent and it is actually harder to get it to spin that you would believe for such a closed knob pattern, especially at lower speeds. When you are going fast on sand or mud the tire tends to be a little more skatey, especially when turning as it floats or planes more than it digs in. On the brakes it does not like to skid and will also plane and slide a little much, but it is a little better than most trials tires here. It can also be ridden on for a little while if flat, a rarity in trails tires, yet it has proven to be the most flat resistant tires we’ve tried due to the beefy sidewall and thick carcass.
One of the awesome features of the Mountain Hybrid is its DOT compliance. And you can burn miles on the pavement and this tire does not care. It wallows minimally on the street and actually provides decent grip and a lot of safe lean. Knobs are impervious to speeds, even above 70 MPH for extended periods of time. And in reality we did not notice much difference between the first tire and the later version we tried except a slight increase in traction on pure rock or when hitting roots or logs where the revised tire had just a bit more grip. Like all closed-pattern tires the Motoz does not like to be spun on purpose. If you are stuck, spinning it to warm the tire does not have incredible results like on some trials tires. And be leary of rising in snow or ice, yet we would not hesitate to throw a few sheet metal screws into this tire, it would handle them.
Overall as a long lasting DOT compliant trials tire, we feel the Mountain Hybrid is the new king of the trail. It is a great tire for those week-long riding trips weather in the mountains or dashing down through Baja. It has the durability and tread wear that is better than anything out there and it doesn’t really suffer that much in traction. You get used to the weight. It’s performance is on par, especially on dry and slippery (read: crappy) conditions, with any other tire. And it’s price is excellent considering the life of the tire. It may not be the most grippy tire out there but it is certainly in limited company in the wear department.
One of the longest lasting tires we’ve ever used.
Floats on sand and mud and rewards those with good throttle control.
The big footprint grabs traction in dry and slippery hard-packed conditions.
The mass helps give the rear end of the bike a planted feel.
At 16-pounds it is one heavy tire.
Only one size available. Smaller displacement bikes will suffer with the tire’s size and weight.
Writer: Jimmy Lewis
Photographer: Jimmy Lewis