Last October I ordered the 505 Hybrid Cheater in the 120/100-18 profile and paired it with a Shinko MX216 Fat Tyre in 90/100-21 up front. After mounting up the 216 I noticed that it seemed a lot wider than my previous tire of the same size. My previous rear tire was a little bit wider than the Cheater and after riding such a wide tire I was skeptical about the traction I would get from a visibly narrower tire.
Installation of both the front and rear tires required the normal amount of effort from a standard tire iron set. I also used a bead buddy and a generous amount of PalmOlive. A rider with proper tools, a minimal amount of mechanical aptitude and a little bit of time on their hands should be able to do the install of these tires and save themselves a little bit of money.
My first ride on the 505 Cheater was in the rain on a trail that I had never ridden before. The opening move was right off the fire road and consisted of going through a short steep ditch into a steep incline with a rain-soaked, mossy off camber rock face. I didn’t feel comfortable going into it and I thought I would have to take a couple of runs at it to make it work.
Surprisingly, the sticky rubber of the 505 Cheater hooked up well and rather than slipping sideways and getting tossed off the bike, I rocketed forward up to the next rock face. The 505 Cheater propelled me and my bike up wet rock face after wet rock face without a hiccup. My skeptical frown was instantly turned into a smile, bordering disbelief. Once I reached the top of the climb I turned around to assess what I had just ridden up. Curious to see how the tire would handle brake input and traction on the way down, I decided to point the front tire back down the rocks and see if I could keep it upright. Under braking I found that the Cheater worked almost as well as it did while climbing. After my virgin exploration, it was time to hit some of my more regular test trails.
Most of the trails that I ride have a mixture of hard packed dirt, gravel, sand, rocks and loam. My riding zone is steep and tight and the only time I find 4th gear is on a fire road or sections of double track. The 505 Cheater is designed to be ridden in these conditions. Somehow this narrow tire finds grip in places where other tires spin out. The soft, sticky rubber finds traction on rock faces, slick roots and loose sections.
The tire accelerates well and puts power down and forward on whatever it comes in contact with. Almost equally impressive, the 505 Cheater offers lots of control on steep slow descents. Even in wet conditions, it gave me confidence on downhills that I usually find intimidating. When I did get to open the bike up and reach higher speeds, the Cheater slows down well and offers plenty of bite.
The 505 Cheater also performs well on gravel roads but it will chunk out quickly when ridden aggressively. The soft rubber is not designed for quick starts on pavement and gravel roads or being heavy on the throttle. I have tried my best to go easy on the throttle while riding gravel roads or pavement sections so I can try to save the tread for what it was built for.
Although I am quite impressed with many of the tire’s characteristics there are times where I found that the 505 Hybrid Cheater fell a little bit short. It is not the best at slower speeds in deep sand or deep loam. Instead of pushing forward it tends to dig down and sink a bit. I found that I really had to give it a lot of throttle to get it moving or had to carry a lot of speed into those sections. Depending on your local terrain that could be a major issue.
While the rear tire was the standout of the review, the MX216 is pretty impressive in its own right. It is a beefy front tire. The MX216 looks much wider than tires of similar width and Fat Tyre is the perfect name for this tire. The split tread pattern keeps the tire clear of mud and debris giving the tire loads of traction, even if the conditions are messy. There was never a time where I felt that the front end wasn’t going to hold a line or slide out. Despite my best attempts I don’t think I’ll ever be able to lean the bike over enough to use all of the side lugs on the MX216.