The $50 American Classic Basanite is a solid trail tire
It seems tire brands have finally gotten the message: mountain bikers want grippy, tubeless tires that can withstand abuse, and we’re willing to pay some heft to get it. The new American Classic Basanite tire certainly fits the bill, and it looks like the brand has done its homework before getting into the increasingly crowded MTB tire business.
American Classic Basanite Tire Specifications
American Classic Basanite is available in 27.5 and 29 inch diameters, both 2.4 inches wide. This is a rear specific directional tire designed for most conditions and offered in trail or enduro versions. I tested the enduro construction, dubbed Stage EN Armor, which features two layers of 120 tpi carcass and three tire compounds “for improved damping and slow rebound.”
American Classic says the Basanite is at its best mounted on 30mm internal width rims. I tested mine on slightly wider 32mm rims and found the tire to be 59mm wide, or about 2.32 inches, which is less than the advertised 2.5 inch width ( 60mm). Presumably a 30mm rim would make the actual width even narrower, although I’ve done enough of this testing by now to know that in the real world most tires end up measuring narrower than listed. Maybe it’s time I got a new set of calipers.
Inside, the Basanite tires have a slightly raised honeycomb-like texture while the outside of the tire is also textured. Sturdy ramped side buttons are matched with alternating blocks of tall center buttons. My sample weighs 1190g, which is by no means lightweight territory.
I had no problem mounting the Basanite on my Reynolds carbon wheel. It went on without a tire lever and aired out with just a floor pump and a generous amount of sealant. For my tests, I ran between 12 and 18 psi.
On the track
I used the American Classic Basanite as my rear tire for about two months this summer in conditions ranging from dry to wet and hard to loose. The tire works especially well in loose conditions thanks to the widely spaced knobs that dig deep to find traction. I have found it also removes sticky clay based soils.
In terms of braking traction, the Basanite is excellent, barely stuttering or losing grip on slick surfaces like exposed rock and hardpack hardpack. While the center tread compound may not be as soft as the side knobs, it was very sticky in my testing. The triple compound construction seems to work as expected with relatively even wear across the tire after a few hundred miles of riding.
The Basanite transitions well between center and side buttons. In corners, the tire works well, feeling uncomfortable when leaned in either direction. While the side knobs are very soft and high for maximum grip, the sidewall support seems to be a bit lacking despite two layers of 120 tpi casing. The good news is that the dual-ply case has proven to be very durable with pinch-free flats or burps despite miles of jank and countless flat hucks.
Uphill traction is also good. The rubber compound grips dry rock and roots well while the large, angled knobs get the job done on loose, oily slopes. It looks like the textured casing between the buttons even adds a bit more traction in the wet once the bladed buttons bend and slide out of the way.
The American Classic Basanite feels draggy when it’s time to pedal, and it’s clearly not a low rolling resistance tire. The weight of the Stage EN Armor construction requires extra effort to turn and the large knobs are very buzzy on smooth surfaces. The result is that the tire stays planted at all times for maximum traction.
At the end of the line: The American Classic Basanite is a solid rear tire that most trail riders will appreciate thanks to its durable construction and thoughtful tread. It’s not a lightweight or fast-rolling tire, but at $50 it’s priced right.
- Excellent braking and good uphill traction
- Durable construction and painless installation
- Good price
Advantages and disadvantages of American Classic Basanite
- So-so take turns support
- Heavy and slow rolling