During the early ’90s, the reign of Panaracer’s Smoke and Dart was unmatched by any other tire I remember. The new Panaracer Romero & Aliso are the companies latest front and rear-specific designs. They’re offered in both 27.5 and 29″ diameters in 2.4 and 2.6″. The combo is aimed solidly at the aggressive trail rider who whats a smooth-riding high volume tire with reasonable grip.
Comparing the Romero (front tire) and Aliso (rear tire) to others, they look very similar to popular Maxxis Minon DHF and DHR. The knobs are similar in shape, height and spacing. Below are Maxxis Minion DHR and DHF 2.3’s on the left and Panaracer Aliso and Romeros 2.6’s on the right. Both are on 30mm internal rims. The high volume Panaracer 2.6’s may benefit from an even wider 35mm rim as they are a bit more rounded than most tires.
The Panracer’s above have around 500 miles on them while the Minions have less than 50.
Panaracer Romero HO and Aliso HO | Size Tested: 29×2.6 | Actual Weight: Aliso 1016 grams/ Romero 1034 grams | 120tpi | $64.99
- Excellent value at $65
- Longer than average wearing – After 500+ miles, knobs are still looking good.
- High volume – the 2.6’s are quite large.
- Great feeling damped casing – Give the feeling of absorbing more trail chatter.
- The tires are very round and true. When riding at speed there aren’t any noticeable wobbles in the tire.
- Harder rubber compound not as grippy in softer conditions
- Harder to get to hold air when new
- Availablity – At the moment the tires are little hard to find in stock
Mounting the tires was easy. Getting the tires to hold air was a little more difficult. They seem quite porous and required some old school methods to hold air. Some shaking/bouncing and laying of the wheels on their sides were required to completely get the sealant to do its job. During the first couple of rides, the tires did lose enough air pressure that additional air was needed.
How They Roll
The 2.6″ Panaracer Romero and Aliso are aggressive trail tires that work well with bikes that allow high volume tires. My first impressions of the tire are that they rolled better than I thought they would and offer good small bump damping. When rolling over rocks and roots at higher speeds I noticed a more muted sound giving the feeling that the tires are absorbing a little more than others.
Rolling resistance wise they aren’t as quick as a couple of my favorite 2.6’s – the Schwalbe Nobby Nic and Bontrager XR4. The Panaracer’s roll more like Maxxis Minion DHF and DHR’ 2.5WT’s. They may be a little overkill for fast and smooth xc type trails but give them some rougher terrain and the added rolling resistance isn’t noticeable. If anything they might feel faster on the roots and rocks.
Cornering and Climbing Traction
At home in Pisgah, I found the corning grip limits sooner than expected with a couple o-shit moments. Both the Romero and Aliso seemed to lose traction a little bit sooner than Minions when being pushed hard into a corner. I associate the more rounded profile’s to me not being able to hold a corner quite as well. I did get used to this but in softer soil conditions and on wet roots and rocks, I was still a little more cautious.
On hardpack or loose over hardpack the tire rode better with its well supported harder rubber compound. In Sedona with lots of loose over hard and rocky conditions is where the tires worked best. The harder compound dug through the hardpack and maintained traction well.
The Aliso does a great job on the rear maintaining traction going up the steepest climbs. I was able to get up all my usual steep and rooty climbs with ease.
The Panaracers are definitely wearing very well. The rear Aliso (left) looking good at 500 miles and zero knobs are tearing off. Maxxis Minion side knobs (right photo) are tearing off at 70 miles.
I’ve been impressed by the wear and durability of both the Panaracer Romero and Aliso. The particular conditions that I subjected the tires to were not kind. In Sedona’s Western Gateway I definitely slammed some sharp edges and scrubbed the sides of the tires hard enough to remove the tire branding. I feel like I could take these anywhere and not have to worry about tears or punctures.
The Panaracer combo may not have quite the grip of the gold standard enduro tire but they shine in other ways. They do offer better wear and I also found them to be a fun tire to ride. The lively feel of the bigger 2.6″ tires gave more spring for my hops but also help mute rough terrain. I’ve found the Panaracer Romero and Aliso combo to be a durable high volume and high-value tire that I would easily recommend to friends.