If there’s one thing holding fat bikes back, it’s probably the price of the tires. So much of the ride quality is directly proportionate to the tires, and the better they are, the more expensive. Like really expensive. Depending on your quiver of bikes and how you’re using your fat bike for the Summer months, a spare set of tires can be an excellent idea. After all, snow doesn’t wear out tread nearly as fast as dirt and rocks. Not only that, but if your Summer fat biking consists of cruising the boardwalk and the beach a different tread pattern might be beneficial.
That’s exactly why we were excited to try out the Origin8 Captiv8er UL. Inexpensive fat bike tires usually mean heavy, cheap, poor performing rubber – but at first glance the Captiv8ers look to change that…
Over the years the Captiv8er name has covered some very different tires in the Origin8 line. As J&B Importer’s premium house brand, Origin8 has been available to a number of dealers for years. Recently though, the company has started to reshape the brand with an improved website and value priced products that are actually pretty nice. The latest Captiv8er UL certainly falls into that category with a light weight tire that’s still light on price.
On the outside, the Vee Tire Co. Speedster DNA is impossible to ignore, which makes sense as Vee manufactures the tire for Origin8. As part of the UL series, the Captiv8er uses a 120 tpi casing with a folding Kevlar bead matched to the Speedster tread pattern. The only difference that we can discern from the Speedster, is that the Captiv8er may not have the Silica Rubber compound that gives the Vee tires improved grip and durability. If that is the only difference than the Captiv8er is an absolute steal at $51 a piece. A light weight fatty that’s cheaper than some standard mountain and road tires? Amazing.
Sized as a 26×3.5, the Captiv8er feels more like an oversized beach cruiser tire than an undersized fat bike tire – and that’s OK. The tire absolutely screams on pavement and hard pack compared to traditional fat bike tires, but still offers plenty of grip. Out on the beach, low pressures certainly helped but the tire performed fairly well. In really deep, fluffy sand something with paddle tread will perform better, but on mid – hard packed sand the Captiv8er held its own. As a hard pack trail tire the Captiv8er speeds along as well, though the thin light weight casing left us leery of punctures. Fortunately, during the entire testing (ongoing) we haven’t had a single flat.
Mounted up to a pair of HED Big Deal (review coming very soon!) and a pair of Vicious GFS 80mm rims, Captiv8er ULs had a fairly low profile. More importantly though, both times the tires seated very easily without any wobble which has been an issue with cheaper fat bike tires in the past. Quality on the Captiv8ers is as good as we’ve seen.
The only thing to really consider before fitting a pair of the Captiv8er ULs is that they will quicken the handling. Most fat bikes are designed for at least a 4.0″ tire, so fitting a smaller tire especially on wide rims will result in a slightly lower ride height and the fork input seems amplified. That meant that with the Captiv8ers installed you had to be mindful of taking your hands off the bar. Otherwise, the zippy feeling of the faster tires was fun when cruising around boardwalks, bike paths, and the shoreline.
J&B Importers is also stocking their own fat bike tubes from SunLite which is great news for shops without a QBP account. At 426g a piece, the benefits of going tubeless are apparent, but combined with the 1044g Captiv8er UL, you get a pretty light weight set up.
When you consider the Captiv8er UL tire’s low price, low weight, and Summer shredding speed, the tires seem like a no brainer for anyone looking for some Summer shoes for their fatty. There are definitely better tires out there for single track (fat bikes are great on summer trails too!), but as a street/beach/hardpack/cruiser tire, Origin8’s Captiv8er ULs are an impressive value.