I stuck 1.75 Smart Sams on the Road Rat last week, took off the front mech cos it fouled the tyre and stood back for a look. The idea was that it might give it more ability on the rocky stuff without hitting road and hardpack speed too badly.
Hmmm.... in reality it seems to be bloody horrible. First, compared to Maxxis Raze cross tyres, the Smart Sams drag on tarmac. Next, while they're more comfortable on rocky terrain, you're still on a rigid drop-bar bike and you still know it. And it looks sort of horrible cruising the borderline between monster cross and drop-barred 29er in an ugly, drunken, badly-proportioned sort of way.
The one place where it did seem to make sense was barreling down a hard, gravelly, easy bit of trail where it rolled fast enough and took some of the ping out of the terrain. I guess if I lived somewhere composed of miles and miles of gravel track, it might make sense, but for me, living here, proper cross tyres seem like a better, faster, more versatile compromise and have the bonus that you don't look quite such a niche twat.
Anyone want to buy a pair of barely ridden Smart Sam 29er tyres in 1.75" size?
Missed a trick though, it could have been so many twattish niches in one bike - imagine, a fixed, singlespeed, monster-crossed, drop-barred, steel-framed 29er, with 'alternative' Midge drops and cable disc brakes. Dodged a bullet there... or maybe an RPG round.