Teton Tested: Vittoria's Morsa Enduro and Mezcal XC Tires

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Not the best face I've ever made. It's raining. Root66 photo.

Vittoria rolled out some great new tire technology and designs this year—massively upping their game for both gravity and XC disciplines. TGR tested the Morsa AM Enduro and Mezcal XC tires. Of course AM and XC are just categories which bucket tires into weight and width—either can be used for all day, every day riding.

Technology

While riding, Vittoria's tires feel compliant when you need them to grab and hold steady (very steady) when flying through stuff and want absolutely no squirm. Their new tech sports three features:

4C Vittoria's exclusive rubber layup allows four separate compounds to be used to custom tune tread—so knobs, sidewalls and other tire sections can utilize multiple modulations of rubber. A knob can have a hard center to withstand deformation and a soft outer to grab features better. So tread flex, rebound, and base stability are tightly controlled.

G+ graphene compound moves the needle most feature-wise. Called G+Isotech, Vittoria's exclusively-sourced pristine graphene aligns carbon molecules into straight lines… somehow… and integrated those into a tire's rubber in thin, nearly transparent sheets two to eight atoms wide. The resulting rubber behaves bit like impact foam in protective gear, dynamically responding to forces. It will flex a bit when grabbing roots/rocks, or braking into corners—but firms up in fast-rolling cornering or straight-running situations. Crazy, right?

TNT is Vittoria’s sidewall protection technology. It’s supposedly as strong as a butyl insert but saves up to 100 grams of weight per tire.

MORSA

Doesn't everything look nice when it's new? GW photo.

The Morsa is 927 grams—respectable, compared to some monster 2.5-inch enduro tires out there—and is priced around $66. Its TNT sidewall has a thin shim just above the bead to protect against pinches, with no standard butyl insert.

There’s some pretty intricate siping on the Morsas. Ken Avery, Vittoria’s VP of product and marketing, geeks out pretty hard on siping. The cuts all run north-south on this tire.

Morsa's ramped center treads. GW photo.

I tested the 29” x 2.3” TNT sidewall Morsa on Reynolds 28mm internal width carbon wheels. The Morsa is meant for rough and slippery Enduro or AM riding and has an aggressive ‘flying V’ center pattern with a ramped leading edge. The tread pattern rolls fast, yet provides great grip in fast, straight-line running and climbing situations. The siping on the the back of the center section’s profile knobs suggest the wedges become more pointed as the the tire’s rotation speeds up and linear forces increase.

And the burly side knobs that hook up with confidence. GW photo.

The thing I love most is how this tire transitions from center to cornering. There are no transition knobs, so you lean the tire over, drift it to the side and then BAM, the big, square side knobs grab like king kong. You know exactly where you are with this tire.

They break predictably and evenly front to rear. I find that very confidence inspiring—knowing exactly where you are on a tire and where it’s going. Tires with knobs all the way across their surface (meaning more prominent ‘transition’ knobs between the center section and the cornering knobs) sometimes leave me wondering where I am on fast descents and where on a corner the tire might change its handling.

The Morsa's center tread looks low and fast compared to the sides, like a reverse mohawk. The tread design is also very open, so it doesn’t hold mud.

Nice open tread with just enough protection against pinch-flats. GW photo.

The Morsa performs quite well in the wet, and in fast cornering situations. It also climbs solidly. And I’d say it’s perfectly matched with an internal rim width from the upper 20’s to probably low 30’s. They were amazing on 28mm internal rims.

MEZCAL

The gray sidewall is cool, too. GW photo.

The Mezcal are are a fast-rolling low profile tire. Even though they do provide a bit more volume than your narrowest, twitchiest XC rubber. I was able to test the 29” x 2.25” TNT on Stan’s Arch rims with a 24.6 mm internal width in extremely slippery and wet, rooty conditions. While no tire can magically stop all slip and slide over greasy, humid rocks and roots in the rain, the Mezcal’s did remain predictable and solid. You knew what they were going to do over any given slimy feature. Which is great.

The tire is 690 grams. You can find lighter tires, but I'll always trade grip for weight. And 2.25 inches is wider than most XC tires out there. I love grip, and this tire has lots of it. Also, some of the weight is due to its very tightly packed knob profile, which reduces rolling resistance. Fast rolling is also good.

The center tread is nearly a straight stretch of rubber. GW photo.

The siping on the cornering knobs is similar to the Morsa, though the knobs are lower, and the tread pattern is more filled out.

The Mezcal have a center ridge tread which almost makes a continuous line, it rolls fast when you’re straight up and down. There’s an even, dense knob profile on the rest of the tire that grabs and rolls predictably at any angle. Which is good for an XC tire as you’re usually putting the power down at all times, no matter which way you’re leaning.

Last Word

Again, usually, I'm smiling. Root66 photo.

Both tires wear well, after a few months of consistent riding, neither are anywhere near needing to be replaced. Which is nice, especially given that both tires are priced reasonably to start.

Vittoria is not the biggest name out there, but if you’re looking for tires that perform great, are fast and wear well, try these out. The G+ tech and tread designs are truly top notch.

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