There’s an old quote that the things you should invest in the things that separate you from the ground. Shoes, your mattress, and your mountain bike’s tires are all excellent examples of the wise old words. Finding the right tires for your riding ability and style will make for more pleasurable rides and minimize unnecessary wear and tear on your bike itself. Whether you’re a beginner biker or an experienced rider looking to take the hobby to the next level, the right set of bike tires is out there for you! Read on to see what to look for in a set of mountain bike tires and what’s currently the best on the market.
Note: Most of the tires below can be ordered in 18″-29″
Continental Mountain King II Fold ProTection Bike Tire 27.5″
- BLACK CHILI- Features Continental's revolutionary Black Chili Compound which reduces rolling resistance by 26% improves grip by 30% and adds 5% more mileage out of your tire.
- PROTECTION SYSTEM- Continentals ProTection system with an additional puncture protection layer, is 25% lighter and offers 30% more puncture protection.
- PRO TREAD LUG DESIGN- The tread lug arrangement was developed in collaborations with pro mountain bikers, resulting in an easy rolling and versatile tire.
- HANDMADE IN GERMANY-Continental has been hand making their tires since 1871, maintaining the integrity of tradition, while evolving with the most advanced technology.
- PROTECTION TUBELESS READY- The ProTection equipped tires are compatible with UST and tubeless ready rims, and when combined with Revo Sealant offer excellent tubeless performance.
Continental is a huge automotive company based in Germany that started back in 1871. The mountain king 11 MTB tyres are made of Continentals’s new black chili compound which can provide upto 30% more grip along reduces rolling resistance. Here’s how the black chili compound stacks up against Continental’s other compuands:
Note: These tyres come tubless ready
Maxxis Minion DHF EXO TR MTB Tire
- Compound:3C Maxx Terra
- Size: 27.5 x 2.5 in
- Type: tubeless, clincher
- Casing: EXO TR
- TPI: 60
A premier tire set for those riding in muddy, wet or clay dirt conditions! Place your trust in this tire to never slip or skid when the trail gets rough. The Maxxis Minion DHF EXO TR MTB Tire delivers in sketchy conditions and guarantees a consistent, safe ride. If you have a need for speed, this tire might not be the right one for you. The larger than usual siped knobs that provide the traction can reduce speed and make getting up to a racing speed difficult. On the flip side – they’ll also help you to really grab your line and power up the hill in good time. The Minion tire comes as an update to a previous loved model and Maxxis took rider’s feedback to heart. The updated tread pattern gives more grip without having to take as much of risk when leaning into an iffy section of the trail or a turn. As an added benefit, the tire is designed for use as both a front or back option. Beginner and experienced riders alike will be able to appreciate the grip and security this Maxxis MTB tire set provides.
Schwalbe Rock Razor 2.35 PaceStar EVO
Speed demons rejoice! Leave the competition in the dust (quite literally in the right conditions!) with Schwalbe’s Rock Razor 2.35 PaceStar EVO’s rear tire’s magical abilities. Invest in this rear tire, and you’ll feel a new level of thrill next time you decide to hit the trails. Inspired by old-school tires which were designed purely for speed, some new school tricks like the stout side cornering knobs come in to balance out some of the crazy. Beginner and intermediate riders beware, this tire’s speed privileges come with the risk and advanced knowledge that if you need to brake in a jiffy, don’t count on this tire to do so. By the time you see that rock or a last-minute change in terrain, it will be too late to react. Extreme caution must be used with wet trail conditions as the speed will test your skills to the limit. Nevertheless, Schwalbe’s Rock Razor tire deserves its spot on the list for being an expert in the speed class. Fighter jet-like speed is so irresistible!
Specialized Slaughter Grid’s 2Bliss
Looking to invest in a set of tires that will provide reliable performance for the long haul? Slaughter Grid’s 2Bliss rear mountain bike tire aims to do precisely that. Walk into a local shop, and you’d be pressed to find a pro who doesn’t have a good thing to say about it. Oversized side knobs let you rip into turns and rack up the speed on the straightaways. With an extra cap ply, the tires are exceptionally durable which is why so many choose to outfit their bike with it. Riders sporting the 2Bliss report finishing the ride with great happiness to find that the tire held up to sharp trail conditions without the need for maintenance. Durability aside, the tire has won several awards from magazines and trade shows for its control ability. That control comes with a bit of a catch that beginner riders might not like. Hesitation to lean into a turn and trust that the tire will perform means that you won’t reap the sweet benefits that so many love about this model. If you are ready to trust and commit to the thrill of the sport, you won’t be let down.
Schwalbe Hans Dampf 27.5″ MTB
- Type: tube or tubeless
Material: [tire] rubber
Size: 27.5 in x 2.25 in, 27.5 in x 2.35 in
Recommended Use: all-mountain
Manufacturer Warranty: limited
Unsure of the type of terrain you’ll be riding on? Lucky enough to have multiple options available? Continually switching tires to fit the ground can quickly become a chore. Schwalbe Hans Dampf tire is a winner for handling all types of terrain with grace and style. From thin, fine clay like dirt to thick and sticky winter mud, your riding experience will be a pleasurable one. Thank the extremely tacky grip paired with the carefully thought out knob design for pushing you up the mountain with ease. Intermediate and advanced riders are a fan of this tire as it is nimble and lightweight, keeping your bike’s footprint to an absolute minimum. It isn’t known for being overly durable, and won’t be a tire you cherish for seasons upon seasons, but many repurchase as the benefits greatly outweigh the cons.
The XC Specialist Tire
- SnakeSkin, TL Easy
- PaceStar/Gatestar Compound
- 580 g (26 x 2.25)
- epi - 67/ load 110kg
XC mountain biking is rising in popularity, and Schwalbe’s Nobby Nic Evo PaceStar SnakeSkin tire is happy to help you coast across the world. It’s a nice lightweight tire that offers not only the cross-country riding ability but the one to race as well. Siped, square blocks work to shed excess mud and boost acceleration during a straightaway downhill run. This tire is a little beefier than other cross-country options but surprisingly doesn’t add more than a few grams to the overall weight. If you have been looking for something a little more substantial but want to stay focused on your bike’s footprint, this is the best option on the market. Riders warn that grip control may be an issue on trails with heavy leaf coverage or softer trail conditions. Use it as a front, rear or both MTB set and benefit from the tubeless design’s added reliability on the trail. You’ll spend more time riding and less time dealing with bike tire maintenance.
>> You might also like our guide to the best glasses for mountain bike riding
General Advice for Mountain Bike Tire Selection
Riding with a bike that isn’t fit for you leads to unpleasant handling issues, a rough ride and a higher risk of injury. The hobby should be all about adventure and fun, not fear of an injury. Spending a little extra time to find the right tires can ensure you are as safe as you can be while riding. Start here with learning the lingo and a bit of what goes into a good tire and how to best compare two mountain bike tires before making your final purchase.
Consider Trail Conditions and Location
Tire tread is more than a fun pattern or cool looking design. Engineers carefully develop patterns that are designed to perform in all types of terrain. Traction, power, force, and energy down to the molecular level all go into a reputable company’s design for a tire and location is everything. Riding on sand is a vastly different experience than riding on all mountain terrain that’s been compacted by other riders on a course. Add some of these all-terrain courses to your must ride bucket list.
A tire’s compound ingredients go back to those carefully researched materials and engineering plans. Soft tire compounds or firm tire compounds are the most common on the market. A soft compound offers up a lot of grips but can wear quickly, making them expensive in the long run. Firm tire compounds offer the durability and longevity but won’t grip as well. A variety of tires on the market are made with dual compounding technology to balance out the pros and cons of each type a little more effectively. These tires feature a firm tire compound on the outside with segments of the softer compound on the inner track to deliver the grip riders require.
Tubeless vs. Innertube Tires
Hand in hand with compound comes tubeless vs. innertube. Choosing a tubeless tire means that you’ll have fewer flats on the mountain and can adjust your pressure for a less rugged ride. To protect yourself further against flats or wear and tare, browse for a tire that offers Kevlar technology. Frequently found in bulletproof vests, it has a remarkable ability to deflect threats from your tire’s structural state. The fancy technology does come with a higher price tag that beginners or casual riders would shy away from. The cool perk makes for easier tire patching mountainside which ultimately means getting back to doing what you love faster. If it is within your budget to consider an MTB with Kevlar, you won’t have any regrets! Here’s an excellent resource on what repairing a tubeless tire entails.
Front, Rear or Dual Capability
As you browse through different mountain bike tire listings, you’ll notice that some mark precisely where the tire is supposed to go on your bike. A rider could benefit from mixing and matching tires to find the perfect set for their most frequent riding condition. Having a grippy tire as your rear makes for an easier climb up the mountain but a tire designed for speed up front offers better steering control when it matters most. Experts recommend beginners start with a matching set before dabbling with mixing and matching. Once you are in tune with your preferences and riding goals, you can switch out the rear tire and explore custom combinations for your ride.
Common Mountain Bike Tire Sizing
The sizing of your bike itself and the tires largely depends on your height and riding goals. Mountain bike tires are either 29”, 27.5”, or 26” in diameter. Different from the bike itself, your tire width size changes based off of the style of riding you wish to partake in. Thinner width is ideal for cross-country riding, and fat bikes (a term used to describe a width over 3.7”) are your classic all season riding option. Largely speaking, you shouldn’t have much of a problem using your desired width on any type of mountain bike you have. All are cross compatible but could be an initial hassle to mount onto the bike.
Learn Some Tire Tread Lingo
In many of our reviews, you’ll see some words to describe the tread that you might not be familiar with. Lugs relate to the design on the tire itself, specifically the knobs. Side lugs are larger and offer greater control. Sipes refer to the spacing or slits between the lugs. Tinier lugs that are closer together are designed for speed.
It’s not about the destination with tires; it is all in the journey. There’s a set of mountain bike tires out there to fit everyone’s ability and goals within their riding journey. Options are available in every price range, and the mountain bike tire market as a whole is delivering high-quality options like never before. It’s a privilege to be apart of your gear journey, and we appreciate the consideration as you build your dream mountain bike.
Watch how an MTB tire is made at the Continental Factory
Taking the time to do a little bit of research sets you up for riding success before you even hit the trails. Use this guide to determine your riding style and needs and then apply them to some of the top-rated tires listed above on the market. After ripping down the mountain, come back and let us know what you think of your mountain bike tire selection! Your feedback will help other riders just like you who are looking into new tires. Have a tire you love that didn’t make our list? Drop us a line and let us know! We are always looking for the feedback on the latest releases and from real riders on the trails.