Vittoria Agarro 2.6 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Fast-rolling, great for logging miles, reasonable weight, grip on hardpack and rock
Cons: Not the best in wet or loose conditions, thinner casing
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Agarro is a perfect example of a tire that performs well within its intended application. Vittoria describes this tire as having "more grip than an XC tire, but with less bulk than an enduro tread." This hits the nail on the head. As a result, it is fast rolling with predictable cornering and braking traction in the right conditions. If you are looking for a fast-rolling rear tire for slaying buff and hardpack flow trails or improving your efficiency during long rides, this is a great choice. If you like charging hard through gnarly rock gardens, we feel there are better options.
The Agarro was a bit of a mixed bag in terms of cornering abilities. On the one hand, it held an edge pretty well for such a fast-rolling tire. On the other hand, it was one of those tires that didn't react well under braking forces through corners, particularly in loose or mixed conditions. We recommend the Agarro as a rear tire, as we feel it doesn't have enough bite for front-wheel duties for aggressive riders.
The Agarro has relatively mellow shoulder knobs and a rounded side to side profile. The rounded profile and relatively tightly spaced tread design make it roll smoothly onto edge when leaning the bike over in a corner. There is no confusing the cornering tread for some gnarly, brawler of a tire with a super substantial row of side knobs. The shoulder tread lugs are somewhat close together and are of an interesting quasi-trapezoidal shape. The lugs are in an alternating pattern with larger blocks closer to the edge of the tread with slightly smaller ones set back several millimeters. These shoulder lugs are vertically siped to help the tire conform to the trail when you're leaning them over. Even at first glance, it is clear these shoulder knobs aren't designed to trench corners, though they provide excellent traction on smooth and hardpacked conditions.
On the trail, the Agarro performed dutifully. On loam and hardpack, you could carve through corners fairly well, if the corner was bermed, even better. There is no doubt the Agarro has the personality to rip flow trails at high speed. It hooks up very well on firm dirt surfaces and rock slabs with generous siping on all of the tread lugs. One caveat is this tire is a little sensitive to air pressure given the less substantial sidewall. Unlike tires with super stout and burly sidewalls, we found anything less than 25-PSI caused the sidewalls to feel less supportive and washy through hard corners.
Due to the low-profile tread, the Agarro can be a little squirrelly under braking forces through corners, especially in loose conditions. If you're a little heavy-handed with the rear brake, this tire is likely to slide on you. It is all well and good when it is intentional, and you can slide into a corner. That said, when you aren't expecting it or you're working through some less-than-perfect corners, it can catch you off guard. In loose or gravely corners, the Agarro can feel a little vague due to its lower profile tread knobs. You really need to pay attention to a clean entry and smart weight distribution. Things can get wonky in a hurry if you try and push this tire beyond its limit. The transition from the rolling knobs to the corner knobs is exceptionally smooth and predictable, but when you are on that edge of control, it is easy to push this tire beyond the limit.
The Agarro has reasonable amounts of pedaling traction. It fits in line with many of our faster rolling rear tires. We wouldn't quite put this tire into the semi-slick category, but it isn't terribly far off. Still, for this style of tire that prioritizes rolling speed, we found it to have a decent pedaling bite.
The center tread is relatively compact and closely spaced. There are three different sized tread blocks, ranging from quite small to mid-sized. The front edge of the tread is stepped, an alternative to a ramped tread which has a little stair/step in the middle of the front-end of the center tread lugs. This is intended to increase brake and pedal bite while retaining some of the rolling speed of a ramped design.
When you're working uphill in a calm, seated position, this tire rolls pretty well. It doesn't feel draggy, and it feels quite light. 950-grams is reasonably light for a 29-inch rear tire, and you never feel like you're hauling extra weight. On steeper, nastier, climbs, the Agarro holds its own as long as you remain in the saddle. It scurries over rock and mixed conditions well. When you stand up to punch up a steep portion of trail, it helps to pay attention to weight distribution. This tire does have a tendency to spin out when things get gravely and loose. It is critical to properly and deliberately weight the rear wheel.
The Agarro is not our first choice for wet conditions. The lower-profile and tightly spaced tread pattern tends to pack with mud and doesn't have the bite we look for in a wet conditions tire. It should also be noted that our 2.6-inch test tire measured closer to 2.4-inches on our 30mm rim and 2.5-inches on a 35mm rim. If you are expecting a massive, meaty tire with a gigantic contact patch just know they run a little narrower than advertised. Running this tire on a wider rim certainly helps.
The Agarro delivers solid levels of braking traction in the right conditions. It is not the best for shutting down high speeds through mixed or loose conditions. It fares best in the hardpack setting absent of too much dust, moisture, or looseness. Enduro riders will be better off looking elsewhere.
The same tread blocks that offer decent pedaling traction deliver solid braking traction. The tightly packed center and intermediate tread lugs shut speed down quite effecively with lots of edges to bike onto the trail surface. Some of the lugs have horizontal sipes in them that spread to add extra braking bite. This is definitely an XC and trail-focused tire that doesn't prioritize emergency speed dumps. Yes, it will brake pretty well on a rolling trail ride on smoother and more hardpacked conditions. If you're pointed down something steep or riding in loose conditions, the ower profile tread is more prone to sliding and skidding than more aggressive tread designs.
The Agarro is certainly a fast-rolling tire. We were impressed by how efficiently this tire could motor through fast and flowy trails. It has a similar rolling speed to a semi-slick tire while still having decent enough tread to offer decent braking and climbing bite.
The center lugs are small and stepped with tight spacing which helps the Agarro maintain speed. Our 29 x 2.6-inch tire weighed a mere 950-grams. This is exceptionally light for such a wide tire. We should remind you that our tire actually measured closer to 2.4 inches on a 30mm rim, so it isn't a true 2.6-inch tire. Regardless, it is quite light for a rear tire of this size, and it is noticeable when you are cruising down a flow trail. With the Agarro, low weight and low-drag deliver a swift ride.
During our test period, we observed very little wear on our test tire. We ripped off some of the hairs, and that's about it. If we look extremely closely at the inside of the shoulder lugs, you can see a little bit of deterioration in the rubber. It isn't cracking or burning quickly, just a normal amount of wear from a handful of rides. Due to the more flexible and thinner feeling sidewall, we feel that it could be susceptible to puncture or tearing if ridden aggressively in super chunky rocky terrain. However, we didn't experience that type of damage during testing.
We expect these tires to have at least an average life length. We have no concerns about these burning up in ten rides.
The Agarro was extremely easy to install. The pliable sidewall was incredibly easy to pull into position. Some of the thicker carcasses on heavy-duty tires can be quite difficult to muscle into place. The Agarro went on easy with our bare hands and zero tire levers.
We used a ToPeak Joe Blow Booster pump to set this tire up tubeless. The bead snapped on in one shot with about ten supplemental pumps to fully seat the bead. This was one of the easier tires we have ever installed.
The Agarro is a decent value with a retail price right about average for a quality mountain bike tire. This tire delivers stellar performance for the right buyer and conditions. Pair that with a reasonable price, and it's hard to complain.
The Vittoria Agarro is a fast-rolling rear tire at a relatively low weight. It has low rolling resistance and offers predictable cornering, braking, and pdealing traction in the right conditions. This tire is great for logging miles and shredding smoother and flowier trails. It works very well within the context of XC style and lighter duty trail riding and compares favorably to other similar models we've tested.
This tire is available in the 29 and 27.5-inch wheel sizes. Both wheel sizes come in a 2.35-inch and a 2.6-inch width.The Agarro only comes in the lighter weight Trail casing. It is not available in the Enduro/EMTB casing like most of the other Vittoria tires.
— Pat Donahue