Without mountain bike tires, you’re obviously not going anywhere. But without the right tires, your ride isn’t going to be as enjoyable. Having the best mountain bike tires for every situation will determine what you can do with your bike.

Your racing tires would do you no good in the winter in the same way your fat bike tires would make you miserable in a race. Whether you ride on rocks, snow, simple trails or trails with every kind of terrain, there’s definitely a tire for you.

Tires are some of the most important pieces of a mountain bike, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the right ones and that you treat them right.

 

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. QUICK ANSWER

2. INDIVIDUAL PRODUCT REVIEWS

3. COMPARISON TABLE

4. HOW TO CHOOSE MOUNTAIN BIKE TIRES

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE TIRES – QUICK ANSWER

  1. SCHWALBE HANS DAMPF
  2. MAXXIS MAMMOTH 
  3. MAXXIS MINION FBF
  4. MICHELIN WILD RACE’R
  5. SCHWALBE RACING RALPH
  6. CONTINENTAL TRAIL KING
  7. SCHWALBE ROCK RAZOR
  8. WTB WOLVERINE
  9. MAXXIS ARDENT
  10. NEVEGAL PRO

 

 

 

 

MOUNTAIN BIKE TIRES REVIEWS

1. SCHWALBE HANS DAMPF

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonJensonUSA

BEST FOR: Those who ride on a variety of terrain

WHEEL SIZE: 27.5 inches

TUBELESS: Yes

PROS: Great grip even on hard terrain, making it high in safety

CONS: Not as durable as other tires, not at all meant for on-road riding

A great all rounder tire for anything from winter mud to dry, loose loam. At lower pressures it grips well on wet roots and conforms to the ground while the big lugs deep deep for heaps of grip. Add more air for use in harder or rocky terrain and you will find that it does not have as much resistance as you would expect from the profile.

The sidewall has protection to prevent tears from sharp rocks and a variety of compounds are on offer. Slow on the road, but that the off road performance is what counts.

 

 

 

2. MAXXIS MAMMOTH

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AmazonJensonUSA

BEST FOR: Winter riding and hard-pack trail riding

WHEEL SIZE: 26 inches

TUBELESS: Yes

PROS: Can be used during the winter but are light enough to use on hard-pack dirt, great for cornering

CONS: Pricey

A fast (for fat bike standards) rolling tire for mostly dry conditions. The Mammoth is the first tire that Maxxis produced. It offers a dual compound with the smaller profile center tread having a harder compound than the shoulder knobs. This means it is fast rolling in a straight line and you can lean it over on the shoulder knobs for more grip in the corners.

The Mammoth performs best in dry and hardpack conditions. You can take it on sand but you will lose traction and spin out faster than you like. The same happens even faster on snow so look elsewhere if you are a fat biker who enjoys the snow.

 

 

 

3. MAXXIS MINION FBF

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AmazonJensonUSA

BEST FOR: Winter riders who handle trickier trails, high-end riders

WHEEL SIZE: 26 inches

TUBELESS: Yes

PROS: Specifically designed to handle corners better than other fat bike tires, slip resistant

CONS: Like most fat bike tires, these are fairly expensive

The legendary Minion is now available in a fat bike format and offers the same ride anyway attitude of its smaller brothers. Push it into snow and mud and it will keep you on course, even when cornering aggressively. It holds up equally well on dry trails and the high TPI help to keep it rolling fast.

The Minion FBF performs best as a rear tire as the length of the center knobs will help keep you rolling in the direction that you want to be going, and not sliding sideways. You can also use it up front but if you spend lots of time on snow you will probably want something with a bigger profile up there.

 

 

 

4. MICHELIN WILD RACE’R

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonJensonUSA

BEST FOR: Racers who ride on rocky courses

WHEEL SIZE: 29 inches

TUBELESS: Tubeless-ready

PROS: Rear tire traction allows for quick cornering in races, long-lasting

CONS: Fairly expensive as far as racing tires go

A fast rolling tire to help you race in dry conditions, regardless of if the terrain is hard or loose. The shallow, hard compound center knobs keep the rolling resistance down, allowing you to accelerate fast and hold you speed in a straight line. The softer shoulder knobs are bigger and dig into the corners, giving grip even in loose conditions.

The sidewalls are not reinforced, so you cannot run as low pressures as with other tires. Still great choice for racing or long distance rides. If you are expecting any mud at all, then choose something else.

 

 

 

5. SCHWALBE RACING RALPH

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonJensonUSA

BEST FOR: Racers looking for speed over durability

WHEEL SIZE: Various sizes

TUBELESS: Tubeless-ready

PROS: Great for cornering, slip-resistance

CONS: Not the most durable

A somewhat legendary fast tire for fast racers. A huge variety of wheel sizes, width, carcasses and compound options are available, so everyone can find the exact tire that they need. There are faster tires available for all out speed on dry trails, but the Racing Ralph offers support through patches of mud and loose corners that faster tires cannot.

The softer compounds give faultless grip on dry trails and rocks but they will wear out reasonably fast. The light carcasses available will help you accelerate like a demon and help you put in great race times.

 

 

 

6. CONTINENTAL TRAIL KING

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonJensonUSA

BEST FOR: Riders who find themselves on rocky terrain

WHEEL SIZE: 29 inches

TUBELESS: Tubeless-ready

PROS: Handles well on nearly all terrains

CONS: Not the best for muddy riding

If you rarely see mud and ride everything else from hardpack to rocks and loam, the Trail King is an aptly named tire to see you through. Continental’s BlackChilli compound allows the tire to be soft and conform to the terrain, while being remarkably fast rolling and durable.

The knobs do not look like the biggest but on top of the big volume and wide tire, they give surprising amounts of cornering and braking grip. Try to keep your Trail Kings on dry trails. As soon as mud turns up, you will start sliding around.

 

 

 

7. SCHWALBE ROCK RAZOR

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonJensonUSA

BEST FOR: Slower riding on rocky trails

WHEEL SIZE: 26 or 27.5 inches

TUBELESS: Tubeless-ready

PROS: Great on rocks

CONS: Slips frequently during breaking quickly

This is the first semi-slick tire designed for downhill and freeride use. Intended to be used only as a back tire, the slick center profile allows you to accelerate fast and hold speed on dry or rocky terrain. When it is time to corner, the bigger shoulder knobs will provide a bit more grip.

Push it hard and it will break free quite easily into a drift. Whether this is a good or a bad thing depends on what you like. One man’s pleasure is another man’s absolutely terrifying cornering experience! Do not even think about using it in mud or loose soil.

 

 

 

8. WTB WOLVERINE

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonJensonUSA

BEST FOR: All-around, simpler mountain biking

WHEEL SIZE: 26 or 27.5 inches

TUBELESS: Yes

PROS: Great on a variety of trails

CONS: More advanced riders might opt for a more durable tire

A good all round tire for the average rider that does not push too hard. The Wolverine has a light carcass and a flat profile make it fast rolling and easy to turn. The shoulder knobs hook up well on loose but not deep surfaces and provide reasonable grip on wet trails. Push it hard into corners and you will lose traction.

For general trail riding in good weather conditions the Wolverine is a great choice. It is fast, but not racing fast and provides enough grip to keep you happy on a day out to your local trail center.

 

 

 

9. MAXXIS ARDENT

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonJensonUSA

BEST FOR: Cross-country riders on a budget or less advanced racers

WHEEL SIZE: 26 or 29 inches

TUBELESS: Tubeless-ready

PROS: Great traction, particularly around corners

CONS: Cheap, so not as durable

The Ardent strikes a great balance between lightweight XC tires and reinforced enduro beasts. It is intended to be fast rolling but able to cushion bigger impacts and deal with more abuse in rocky terrain than a proper XC racing tire. The broad center knobs and soft shoulder knobs provide great braking and cornering traction but the trade off is that it is slower to accelerate.

Use the Ardent all year on the back and on the front in dry summer conditions with reasonably high air pressure. A great choice for all round riding in mixed conditions.

 

 

 

10. NEVEGAL PRO

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonJensonUSA

BEST FOR: All-around riders on a budget

WHEEL SIZE: 26 inches

TUBELESS: Tube or Tubeless-ready

PROS: Consistently rated the best budget tire, great traction

CONS: Cheap, so not as durable

Budget all round tires with an award winning tread pattern. Mountain Bike Action Magazine like the tread so much that they rated it as the best two years in a row. The big knobs are designed to dig deep in loose terrain to find the traction below. Shoulder knobs hang on during cornering and intermediate knobs support you in between.

The strengthened sidewall allows you to run low pressures for more grip without the tire folding or getting squirmy. The Nevegal pro hold up well in damp conditions but once you get beyond the tacky stage and the real wet or mud appears, you will need something bigger.

 

 

 

 

COMPARISON TABLE: FIND THE BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE TIRES FOR YOU

PICTURE
TIRES
BEST USE
SIZE
TUBELESS
PRICE
RATING
PICTURE
TIRES
BEST USE
SIZE
TUBELESS
PRICE
RATING
Schwalbe Hans Dampf
Cross-country
27.5 in.
Yes
$$
4.8
Maxxis Mammoth
Winter
26 in.
Yes
$$$
4.8
Maxxis Minion FBF
Winter
26 in.
Yes
$$$
5.0
Michelin Wild Race'R
Racing
29 in.
No
$$
4.8
Schwalbe Racing Ralph
Racing
Various
No
$$
4.7
Continental Trail King
Downhill
29 in.
No
$$
4.8
Schwalbe Rock Razor
Downhill
26 or 27.5 in.
No
$
5.0
WTB Wolverine
Budget
26 or 27.5 in.
Yes
$
4.5
Maxxis Ardent
Budget
26 or 29 in.
No
$
4.5
Nevegal Pro
Budget
26 in.
No
$
4.7

 

 

 

 

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE TIRES

1. CROSS-COUNTRY TRAILS

For cross-country riding or racing, you’ll want a tire that’s both light and able to endure more advanced terrain than on-road riding.

Cross-country racing involves a variety of disciplines including racing, rocky mountainous terrain and desert terrain. It also frequently involves a lot of mud. You can probably see why you want a tire that offers a good grip but isn’t so heavy that it exhausts you halfway through your ride.

 

 

2. WINTER CONDITIONS

Winter mountain biking is an up-and-coming sport that requires a totally different type of tire: fat bike tires. These tires are the only ones out there that can handle the snow and ice. You don’t want to take your chance on winter trails without these tires as even the best grips don’t stand a chance.

These tires are very thick, heavy and often slightly deflated, which can travel through snowy woods or even in fat bike races. Think of motorcycle tires on a bike and that’s what closely resembles fat bike tires.

The major drawback with mountain biking in the winter is that these tires and even the bikes are more expensive than any other mountain bike discipline. This is why winter riding is often reserved for more experienced riders.

 

 

3. RACING

Racing tires can be similar to cross-country tires, but you’ll want them to offer more speed. There are a variety of disciplines in racing, but speed is a key factor in nearly all of them.

Race tracks are mostly gravel and hard-packed. This means you need a tire that’s more rugged than an on-road bike, but not as heavy as a tire used to ride down the sides of mountains.

Any tire claiming to be narrower than average and has a low rolling resistance is your best bet when racing. These tires have speed and cornering in mind.

 

 

4. DOWNHILL TRAILS

Downhill riding is a branch of racing, but many people also do it on their own. It’s an intense form of riding that often feature steep and rocky trails.

You’ll want tires that offer slip-resistance and can handle jagged rocks. Wider tubeless tires are your best bet against rocks. They’re less likely to get punctured. Wider tires can also offer better traction.

 

 

5. ROLLING RESISTANCE

If you’ve ever looked up mountain bike tires, you’ll likely see that sellers discuss the rolling resistance. The exact definition of rolling resistance is this: “the energy that is lost when the tire is rolling”.

What does that mean in layman’s terms?

You want the ability to put in as little energy as possible to keep the tires turning and the bike going forward. So, it’s a good thing if a tire has a low rolling resistance. It means you lose less energy when the tire is rolling.

Low rolling resistant tires are best for racing or riding on the hard-packed ground because they allow you to go faster without exerting unnecessary energy.

 

 

6. TREAD

Mountain bike tires have specific treads that allow for better connection with the ground, making sure you don’t slip.

A tread with closely space knobbies (yes, you can laugh) is best for racing or any type of mountain biking where your main concern is speed. You’ll likely find these on narrower tires.

If you do any other kind of mountain biking, wider spaced or thicker knobbies will help protect against slippage on rocky or muddy roads.

 

 

7. TUBES OR TUBELESS

 

WHY TUBELESS?

Tubeless tires are all the rage these days and for good reason. Tubeless tires tend to get flat less often, offer a smoother ride and best of all, provide more speed.

Mountain bike tires are often tubeless because they offer more speed and smoother rides. Also, they tend to be less apt to get punctures (although it’s more of a pain when they do).

Puncture-resistance is especially important for riders who spend their time on rocky mountains. Many riders are opting to pay extra for entirely tubeless tires.

 

WHY TUBES?

There are plenty of good reasons to stick with traditional tires. First of all, there are more of them on the market. There’s also less maintenance involved. Most riders want a tire they can change themselves and tube tires are easier to change than the tubeless one.

 

WHAT’S TUBELESS-READY?

Typically, if your mountain bike tires are not tubeless, they’ll be tubeless-ready. This they can easily be made into tubeless tires if necessary.

 

Best Mountain Bike Tires - Best Mountain Bike Gear Articles – MTB Equipment and Accessories for Men, Women and Kids – Mountain Biking Products Articles and Reviews

About The Author

Mountain Biking Junkie

Christopher is a poet, an avid camper, mountain biker, and craft-beer connoisseur. Outside of his freelance writing career he explores trails in the U.S., mostly in his home state of Maine, which offers many great trails and a whole lot of moose. He dreams of one day traveling across the country with nothing more than his bike, camper van, and beat up laptop so he can start writing the next Great American Novel.

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