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The tamest of the mountain biking disciplines, Cross country riding is characterized by flat trails and steep climbs. Cross-country tires put speed and finesse at the top of their priority list, with tires that feature lightweight casings, low rolling resistance, and small to medium-sized tread.
TRAIL / ALL-MOUNTAIN
The most popular subcategory in mountain biking, trail, and all-mountain riding can be summed up as a blend of cross country and enduro-style riding. Trail and all-mountain tires become wider, more durable, and often feature more aggressive tread patterns that have a balance between grip and speed.
Mountain riding taken to the next level. Enduro riding can be described as a blend of aggressive all-mountain riding with a touch of some downhill madness. Enduro tires feature aggressive tread patterns, with medium to large tread profiles, more durable casings, and rubber compounds that grip the dirt.
When sending it down is the only way to go. Downhill riding is as intense as mountain biking gets and is reserved for the steepest lines and roughest terrain. Downhill tires feature aggressive tread profiles with ultra-durable casings and rubber compounds that specialize in grip.
It can be argued that tires may be the most important (and most affordable) upgrades you can put on your bike. This rings true whether you are churning out miles on pavement, grinding gravel backroads, racing your local cyclocross course, or blasting dirt trails on your mountain bike. Getting the most out of your bike by matching quality compounds, impeccable construction, and cutting-edge tire tech is firmly rooted in the ethos of Specialized. Tires were the first product that Specialized offered and continues to be a fundamental focus of research and development for the brand.
Mountain biking is a diverse sport that ranges from full-out pedal fests to hard-charging gnarly descents. But, most riders find themselves riding somewhere in the middle; a mix of climbs, tech, descents, and fun jumps. As 2018 comes to a close, we compiled a list of MTB tires that fall in this range of riding and excel at what they do. We surveyed our employees and our customer reviews to determine each winner. Read on to find out which tires won and why? This guide of the best MTB Tires will help you find the right tires to put between you and the dirt.
Please select more than 2 or more bikes for comparison
Mountain Bike Tires
There’s arguably no better (and relatively speaking, more affordable) upgrade for your mountain bike than a fresh set of mountain bike tires. Whether you’re lining up at a local cross-country race, chasing world enduro glory, or headed out for an all-day backcountry epic, the right set of mountain bike tires can improve rolling speed, enhance traction, and generally boost your confidence and riding ability, especially when the trail turns loose or technical.
But selecting the right mountain bike tire requires research and careful consideration. Basic choices include diameter, which is most commonly 29” or 27.5, though there are still some standard mountain bikes out there rolling on 26” tires, which is also the most common diameter for snow taming fat bike tires.
Width and tread design are also an important factors when picking mountain bike tires. Cross-country bikes are typically spec’d with narrower tires in the 2.0” to 2.3” range with shallower, less toothy tread in order to maximize rolling speed while keeping weight low for easier climbing.
Mountain bike tires targeted at trail, enduro, and downhill bikes are progressively wider, more durable, and have toothier traction-enhancing tread blocks. Widths for these tires range from 2.3” all the way to 2.8” and even 3.0”, with the latter two widths referred to as plus tires, which are known for their superb traction. At the far end of the width spectrum are fat bike tires, which range from 4.0” to 5.2”, the wider tires delivering more traction in soft snow and loose sand. Just remember that some mountain bike frames have limited tire clearance, and that you can compromise tire performance if you run a really wide tire on a narrow rim or vice versa.
No matter the size, the vast majority of modern mountain bike tires are tubeless ready, meaning they will hold air without a tube inside, which in turn allows you to run lower air presser for better traction without the fear of pinch flatting. Just know that you will also want to add some tire sealant to the inside of your tire, which will help seal holes in the event of a puncture.
Construction and compound are also critical factors to weigh when perusing mountain bike tires. Tire manufacturers use all manner of jargon for their compounds, but generally you’ll be balancing factors such as puncture protection, price, weight, traction, grip, and durability when choosing between various tire compounds and construction designs. For instance a softer rubber compound will improve traction, but wear more quickly than a harder, less grippy compound. There are also some mountain bike tires that are made specifically for front or rear use.
No matter what type of mountain bike tires you’re looking for, JensonUSA has an expansive variety of options from top brands like Maxxis, Michelin, Vittoria, Kenda, Hutchinson, Surly, Continental, Goodyear, Schwalbe, Panaracer, and many others. If you have any questions about mountain bike tires, pick up the phone and call one of our Gear Advisors at 888-880-3811.