The products mentioned in this article are selected or reviewed independently by our journalists. When you buy through links on our site we may earn an affiliate commission, but this never influences our opinion.

Best mountain bike tyres in 2022 | Top-rated tyres for XC, downcountry, trail and enduro riding

Our pick of the best mountain bike tyres for trail, enduro and downhill riding

Mountain bike tyres best list

Getting the best mountain bike tyres for the type of riding you do and the conditions you typically encounter can be a real headache.

Advertisement

Get it right, however, and tyres – which you’ll need to match to your mountain bike wheel sizes – can make a big difference to how your ride behaves. You can spend all you want on the best mountain bike wheels, but they won’t fulfil their potential without suitable tyres.

Why is it so tough to find the right tyres? First, there’s a lot of assumed knowledge with MTB tyres.

You’re expected to know what a mud tyre should look like and where it will perform best. The best winter mountain bike tyres are worth considering if you ride a lot in the wet.

You need to know what type of tread pattern works well on smooth or bumpy terrain, and you need a decent knowledge about carcass thickness and rubber compound.

But, fear not, we’ve done the leg work for you.

For each tyre we’ve added what that model is good at, what it’s designed for, whether it’s available with different rubber compounds or carcass thicknesses, and which discipline it’s most suited to.

What to look for when buying mountain bike tyres

You can’t overstate the importance of a good set of tyres. They drastically affect how your bike rides, so skimping is a false economy. Finding the best tyres for your needs is far from straightforward though.

Although the range of tyres on the market may at first seem overwhelming, it’s never been easier to buy a set of tyres that are suitable for your preferred style of riding.
Russell Burton / Our Media

Width

Width is crucial. Wider tyres roll faster over soft or bumpy terrain – in timed tests we’ve consistently ridden DH tracks faster on them – so many brands now offer 2.6in options. But a fatter tyre won’t suit everyone, because they can have a bouncy ride feel and won’t fit all frames.

Tread

Tread pattern is a key consideration too. Tall, widely-spaced knobs are ideal for muddy or loose terrain, while shorter tread blocks tend to be faster – rolling and more predictable on hard surfaces.

Tyres can make or break a bike’s ride quality.
Andy Lloyd / Our Media

Compounds

Most MTB tyres are available in several rubber compounds. Softer compounds grip better on roots and rocks, and have a more ‘planted ’ ride feel, because the rubber absorbs more energy from bumps. The downsides are that they wear faster and have more rolling resistance.

Casing

Many tyres come with a choice of casings too. Our guide to mountain bike tyre carcass construction has all the detail.

But in short, thicker carcasses are less likely to puncture. Due to stiffer sidewalls, they can usually be run at lower tyre pressures without the sidewall collapsing when cornering. They also provide more damping, so are less bouncy over bumps.

Thinner casings roll faster, especially over bumpy ground, and transmit less feedback at a given pressure.

Be aware that there are front- and rear-specific tyres.
Russell Burton / Our Media

Front or rear

Tyres are becoming increasingly specialised for the front or rear wheel. Rolling resistance and puncture protection are more of an issue on the rear, as it supports most of the rider’s weight, whereas grip is more important up front, to stop your front wheel sliding out.

That’s the basics covered but we’ve also added an in-depth buyer’s guide and glossary at the end of the article, to help you find exactly what you need.

Many of the MTB tyres we’ve tested recently, and have been impressed by, have been orientated towards trail and enduro riding, and this is reflected in our current list. We have more tyre reviews in the pipeline, and will only recommend tyres we’ve tested and that are current models.

Best mountain bike tyres

Best cross-country tyres of 2022

Cross-country tyres are optimised for tamer trails than their downcountry, trail, all-mountain and enduro counterparts. They are typically lighter weight, given that this is a keen focus for cross-country racing.

Schwalbe Racing Ray Addix Speed

5.0 out of 5 star rating
It’s a great, fast-rolling and grippy front tyre.
David Arthur / Immediate Media
  • £51 / €58 / $65 as tested
  • 692g claimed weight
  • 29×2.25in tested
  • A fast-rolling tread pattern
  • Best as a front tyre

The Racing Ray is a lightweight, fast-rolling option that corners well. It has a front-specific tread pattern and is designed to be used in tandem with a Racing Ralph rear tyre. The Addix Speed Rubber compound is designed to balance optimum grip, speed and durability. The tyre works very well in most conditions, be it dry or damp. It has great straight-line rolling speed, offers a reassuring feel on corners and is confidence-inspiring when braking.

Schwalbe Racing Ralph Evo TLE

5.0 out of 5 star rating
It’s got a real focus as a race-day tyre with low weight and fast-rolling qualities.
David Arthur / Immediate Media
  • £51 / €58 / $65 as tested
  • 697g
  • 29×2.25in tested
  • Exceptional traction and control
  • Best as a rear tyre

The Racing Ralph excelled with its fast-rolling ride with class-leading traction and control designed for cross-country racing. Although it’s best to use on the rear, you could run the tyre on the front in dry conditions.

The low-profile tread is designed to reduce weight and keep rolling resistance as low as possible. A red stripe around the tyre’s circumference denotes the Addix Speed compound, designed to provide less drag, more grip, durability and damping. The Racing Ralph Evo TLE is a versatile tyre and grips well in all conditions, great for everyday riding and big distance epics.

Specialized Ground Control

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The casing means it’s possible to push limits on an XC bike.
David Arthur / Immediate Media
  • £49 / €49 / $60 / AU$65 as tested
  • 791g claimed weight
  • 29 x 2.3in tested
  • A versatile tyre that is capable in a wide range of conditions
  • Using as a front or rear tyre

We were impressed with the versatility of the Ground Control due to its tread pattern and Gripton compound, which would also make the tyre a good trail riding option. The Ground Control’s are fast-rolling in the dry and they stick to slippery roots and rocks for longer than most lighter cross-country tyres.

Vittoria Barzo TNT

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Our Barzo test tyre has got tan-coloured sidewalls.
David Arthur / Immediate Media
  • £55 / €60 / $65 / AU$75 as tested
  • 676g claimed weight
  • 29×2.25in tested
  • A fast and aggressive tyre for technical courses
  • Using as a front or rear tyre

The Vittoria Barzo makes for a strong choice on technical courses with its carefully aligned centre blocks, particularly on intermediate to muddy terrain. The open design of the tread pattern helps shed mud quickly and you could use them for trail riding too. The trade-off is that the Barzo suffers on drier terrain.

Schwalbe Rocket Ron Super Ground SpeedGrip

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The test tyre inflated on tubeless rims without issue.
David Arthur / Immediate Media
  • £67 / €65 / $60 as tested
  • 687g claimed weight
  • 29×2.25in tested
  • Focused on speed but decent amounts of grip
  • Using as a front or rear tyre

The Rocket Ron is a fast, grippy tyre that is versatile enough for a range of uses and trail conditions. You could use it for anything from cross-country racing to marathon riding. This particular tyre has Super Ground SpeedGrip casing, signified by the blue stripe on the tyre’s circumference.

This model also foregoes the additional Snakeskin layer – which would denote better sealing, lateral stability and sidewall protection properties – for ultimate weight saving.

Continental Race King BlackChili ProTection

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The ProTection sidewalls give the casing a beefy-feel.
David Arthur / Immediate Media
  • £60 / €69 / $76 as tested
  • 626g claimed weight
  • 29×2.2 in tested
  • A lightweight option
  • Using as a front or rear tyre

Continental’s Race King is an extremely lightweight tyre, even with the ProTection sidewall reinforcement. This tyre is best for dry and hardpacked trails and suffers on the worst of mud due to its closely packed tread pattern. It offers a smooth ride over chattery imperfections and encourages tight lean angles.

Best downcountry tyres of 2022

Downcountry tyres are a little heavier than cross-country tyres, since weight is not the main focus. They are optimised for slightly burlier terrain and would also be a good choice to fit on a cross-country bike if you want to take it on more technical terrain.

Schwalbe Wicked Will Super Race

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Closely packed across the width of the tyre, but relatively spread out along its length, the square blocks roll fast yet grip well.
Tom Marvin / Immediate Media
  • £62.99 as tested
  • 816g actual weight
  • 29×2.4in tested
  • Lightweight and versatile
  • Can be used as a Winter-ready XC tyre, as a Summer front tyre or as a rear all-year round

Schwalbe’s Wicked Will Super Race tyre rolls fast and grips well, and proved easy to install on a range of rims. Acceleration and braking are excellent. Its tread consists of a series of square blocks that are relatively closely packed and not too deep in construction.

The Speed Grip rubber isn’t the stickiest, although it’s only slimy rocks and roots that will cause it to slip up, and it’s not the most confident tyre on corners.

Maxxis Ardent EXO TR

4.0 out of 5 star rating
These aren’t the best tyres for outright speed, but more than make up for that with their versatility.
David Arthur / Immediate Media
  • £50 / €54 / $61 as tested
  • 839g claimed weight
  • 29×2.25in tested
  • Tough and reliable
  • Best as a front tyre

Although we’ve classed the Maxxis Ardent EXO TR as a downcountry tyre, it could also serve as a lightweight trail option too. It’d be on the heavy side if you were to use it for cross-country racing.

The Ardent impressed us with its assured cornering and fast-rolling ride. The sidewalls are beefed up for puncture protection. Their stability is noticeable when sprinting out of corners and building up speed over crests and climbs. They maintain their momentum well once up to speed. The shoulder blocks are massive compared with cross-country tyres, allowing you to take more chances in corners.

Best trail tyres of 2022

Trail tyres are heavier than cross-country and downcountry tyres and are designed for improved grip and control on more technical terrain. There are a range of trail tyres for different purposes and conditions.

Schwalbe Magic Mary Super Trail Addix Soft TL Easy

5.0 out of 5 star rating
The Magic Mary lives up to its name.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media
  • £62 / $89 as tested
  • 1,244g claimed weight
  • 29×2.4in tested
  • Impressive cornering predictability
  • Best as a front tyre

This iteration of the Magic Mary seriously impressed with their best in-class cornering, surprisingly low rolling resistance and well-damped carcass.

They feature strong shoulder knobs for cornering and grip to all terrain types, from mud to hardpack. The sticky compound glues to hardpack terrain whereas larger knobs dug into softer ground. They were easy to set up and a true fit-and-forget option. We can’t fault them.

We’ve also tested the Schwalbe Magic Mary SuperTrail Addix UltraSoft EVO which scored 4.5 stars. We found these tyres also offered amazing grip but at the expense of rolling speed and durability.

Tioga Edge-22

4.5 out of 5 star rating
There’s no denying how much predictable traction was on offer, especially when pushed hard.
Alex Evans
  • £64.99 / $65 as tested
  • 905g claimed weight
  • 27.5×2.5in tested
  • Predictable cornering
  • Best as a front tyre

Another tyre with excellent cornering predictability, the Tioga Edge-22 is lightweight and easy to control. Its blocks closely resemble a Maxxis Minion DHF front tyre, with a large central channel. We’d like to see more casing and compound options to suit a greater variety of trail conditions.

Read our full Tioga Edge-22 tyre review

Maxxis Shorty 3C Max Terra EXO

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Maxxis’ Shorty 3C EXO TR is becoming a classic winter tyre in the UK.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media
  • £60 / $75 as tested
  • 1,028g claimed weight 
  • 29×2.5in tested 
  • Class-leading mud-shedding ability 
  • Best as a front tyre

The Maxxis Shorty 3C Max Terra EXO is a mud-specific tyre that offers exceptional levels of grip thanks to its tall, aggressive blocks that bite through soft ground.

Despite its large blocky tread, the Shorty still grips fairly well once it dries out. We’ve seen downhill and enduro racers use the Shorty in completely dry conditions with deep dust.

WTB Verdict TCS Light High Grip + Slash guard

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Aggressive tread and soft compound make the Verdict a solid performer.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media
  • £50 / $71 as tested
  • 1,139g claimed weight
  • 29×2.5in tested
  • Ideal for the gnarliest conditions
  • Best as a front tyre

Built for the muddiest, softest conditions, the WTB Verdict has chunky and widely-spaced knobs. The impressively soft compound stuck to rocks and roots predictably, regardless of speed. Braking traction was great and the light casing was well-damped. It took several attempts to seat the bead correctly on our test tyre though.

Best all-mountain tyres of 2022

All-mountain bridges the gap between trail and enduro. The tyres here are adept in technical terrain but will also be a solid choice for all-day pedalling.

Maxxis Minion DHF EXO+ TR 3C MaxxTerra

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Minion DHF’s tread is iconic.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media
  • £75 / $79 as tested
  • 1,239g claimed weight
  • 29×2.5in tested
  • Great for cornering
  • Best as a front tyre

The Minion DHF has been long been a versatile stalwart of the Maxxis range and its latest edition continues that trend. The tread pattern is designed for cornering prowess and rolling speed. The side knobs angle slightly outwards, increasing cornering capabilities and predictability.

We found the Minion DHF to have excellent grip, particularly on hardpack. That said, the MaxxTerra compound suffers in wet conditions and it’s not the best tyre for braking traction. The Minion DHF in this variant is ideal as a dry-weather, speed-focused tyre.

Best enduro tyres of 2022

Enduro tyres are designed for more gravity-focused riding and they need to instil confidence and control on rough, technical downhill descents. They also need to pedal well uphill, but there is less of a focus on this aspect compared with trail and all-mountain riding.

Maxxis Minion DHF Wide Trail 3C TR EXO

5.0 out of 5 star rating
Maxxis’s Minion DHF Wide Trail 3C TR EXO 2.5in tyre.
  • £65 / $85 as tested
  • 980g claimed weight 
  • 29×2.5in tested 
  • Great for hardback, dust, rocks and roots 
  • Best as a front tyre

Arguably the benchmark of performance for the best mountain bike tyres, the Maxxis Minion DHF Wide Trail 3C TR EXO is a favourite with gravity-fed DH and enduro riders and all-day trailblazers alike.

Its time-proven tread pattern offers predictable grip on a wide range of trail surfaces and the large centre blocks mean it rolls well to boot. The Minion DHF’s lack of grip in properly sloppy and boggy conditions is its only pitfall.

We tested the triple-compound 3C version of the DHF, which offers the ultimate mix of grip, damping and suppleness, but there’s also the cheaper, dual-compound DC version, while the DD is reinforced for flat-out downhill riding.

Maxxis Minion DHR II 3C MaxxGrip DD

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The DHR II combines the DHF’s cornering tread with larger central blocks for better braking.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media
  • £70 as tested
  • 1,239g claimed weight
  • 29×2.4in tested
  • Great damped feel with predictable grip
  • Best as a rear tyre but could be used on the front if you’re riding trails that are very steep with lots of braking

The Maxxis Minion DHR II impressed with its ride feel and high grip in almost all conditions. It has an assured feel under braking and easily attainable lean angles. This is largely due to the fact that the DHR II’s side knobs are shared with the Minion DHF.

In Double Down casing, which is what we have here, they will handle a serious amount of abuse. The one thing to be aware of is that the tyre clogs in thick mud.

Schwalbe Magic Mary SuperGravity ADDIX Soft

4.5 out of 5 star rating
There’s plenty of sidewall support from the SuperGravity casing.
Andy Lloyd
  • £65 / $98 / AU$99 as tested
  • 1,340g claimed weight
  • 29×2.6in tested
  • Fantastic traction in all conditions
  • Best as a front tyre

Schwalbe’s Magic Mary scored highly for their exemplary traction and are particularly well suited to soft mud (although they’re not quite as confident in sticky mud, compared with dedicated mud tyres). The tyre has great amounts of braking grip due to the tall tread pattern. There is plenty of edging tread and a generous gap to the centre tread to help bite into corners and off-camber slopes.

Schwalbe Hans Dampf SuperGravity ADDIX Soft

4.5 out of 5 star rating
It’s brilliant through rocky descents, especially under braking.
William Poole
  • £59 / $98 / AU$99 as tested
  • 1,168g claimed weight 
  • 29×2.35in tested 
  • Grippy and fast-rolling
  • Best as a rear tyre

Best-suited to rocky, hardpack terrain, the Schwalbe Hans Dampf SuperGravity ADDIX Soft has great straight-line grip with impressive rolling speed. It’s also predictable when leaned over for cornering thanks to its bulky side knobs and the ADDIX Soft rubber is well damped.

It’s not quite up there with the best-performing mountain bike tyres on soft, boggy terrain, though.

Vee Tire Co Attack HPL Top 40 Compound Tubeless Ready Enduro Core

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Super tacky and super aggressive, the Attack is all about grip.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media
  • €59 as tested
  • 1,151g claimed weight
  • 29×2.5in tested
  • Fantastically predictable on corners
  • Best as a front tyre

Vee Tire Co’s Attack proved impressive on corners with its excellent carcass strength and provided great grip, no matter how hard they were pushed. The sidewall is tough and the tread compound satisfyingly tacky.

The downside to stability and grip are slow rolling speeds on flatter sections, despite the rounded profile.  Our sample also leaked air, requiring constant top-ups while riding, which was unfortunate.

Vee Tire Co Snap Trail Top 40 Compound Tubeless Ready Enduro Core

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Top40 compound offers plenty of grip on a host of terrain types.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media
  • £55 / $65 as tested
  • 1,050g claimed weight
  • 29×2.35in tested
  • One of the grippiest tyres out there
  • Best as a rear tyre

Vee Tire Co says the Snap Trail Top 40 can be used for all disciplines except lightweight cross-country. On the trails, we found these to be one of the grippiest tyres out there and it was nigh-on impossible to force it off line. It has great turning ability and braking performance. The tyre features a rounded profile that increased lean angles, allowing more predictable turns. We also found they sealed easily on installation.

They are though quite slow rolling on most terrains, and that is the price paid for the exceptional grip.

WTB Judge TCS Tough Fast Rolling

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The tough casing and fast-rolling compound are a formidable rear tyre combo.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media
  • £58 / $84 as tested
  • 1,352g claimed weight
  • 29×2.4in tested
  • An aggressive tyre with plenty of traction
  • Best as a rear tyre

WTB’s Judge is the most aggressive rear tyre the brand offers. Even with Fast Rolling compound, there is plenty of traction on offer. This is thanks to the large central knobs that alternate between long and wide to blend braking performance and reduce rolling resistance. WTB recommends pairing with a Verdict up-front.

The Judge has a fairly rounded profile, which helps to provide consistent and predictable cornering grip. The traction is so assured that our tester struggled to ride off-line. They provide all-round grip for different terrain types and work well in slimy terrain too.

The only negative is that we couldn’t achieve a permanent seal on our sample.

Schwalbe Big Betty EVO Super Gravity Addix Soft

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Big Betty is a seriously aggressive rear tyre with large central blocks.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media
  • £65 / $94 as tested
  • 1,396g claimed weight
  • 29×2.4in tested
  • Great grip on all terrain other than wet roots
  • Best as a rear tyre

The tread pattern of the Schwalbe Big Betty EVO features large, widely-spaced central horizontal blocks to create plenty of braking traction and clear mud. There are also side knobs for improved cornering grip.

We found the carcass to be well-damped over rough terrain, offering plenty of braking traction. The tyre would only drift when pushed to the limit. They grip well on rocks but they’re not a fan of wet roots, despite the soft compound. We found the tyre tricky to mount but it fully sealed once inflated and held air over the test period.

WTB Verdict 2.5 TCS Tough High Grip

4.0 out of 5 star rating
On the trail it has a comfortable, well-damped feel over rocky terrain.
Immediate Media
  • £58 / $84 as tested
  • 1,345g claimed weight 
  • 29×2.5in tested 
  • One of the grippiest tyres for sloppy conditions
  • Best as a front tyre

The WTB Verdict 2.5 TCS Tough High Grip offers fantastic wet-weather grip, especially if the trails are sloppy and soft.

WTB also makes a Wet version of the Verdict with even bigger knobs, but we never felt like the standard one needed more to contend with the best mountain tyres. Its compound makes it stick to wet rocks and roots, too.

It doesn’t roll very fast though, and isn’t very grippy or predictable on hardpack trails, or when you’re leaning the bike over in turns.

Mountain bike tyres buyer’s guide

Your tyres make a massive difference to the character and ride of your bike. We bring you the lowdown on what to look for when buying new mountain bike tyres.

Should I use tubeless tyres?

Most bikes come specced with tubeless-ready rims and tyres.
Alex Evans

Traditional tyres use an inner tube to keep them inflated, but how do ‘tubeless’ tyres work?

Tubeless tyres ditch the inner tube in favour of a tyre that’s specifically designed to be airtight, either through the use of an additional layer of rubber or the use of a latex-based tubeless sealant.

Mavic’s UST (Universal System Tubeless) system uses a thick side-walled tyre that locks into a specific sealed-bed UST rim. The advantage is an airtight seal with or without a sealant liquid inside, and very stable, pinch puncture-resistant, low pressure performance.

The downsides are that these tyres are more expensive and also heavier.

Most mountain bike tyres on the market today use some sort of ‘tubeless compatible’ system. These tyres use a tubeless bead but require sealant in order to make them airtight. They also require rim tape to seal the spoke holes off.

The benefit of this system is that it is lighter than a full UST system and offers the user a wide variety of tyre choices.

The downside is that there is not an established standard between the various tyre and rim manufacturers, so some rim and tyre combinations work better than others. Even so, this is the most common tubeless option you’ll encounter.

What is better, light or heavy mountain bike tyres?

The Minion DHF has great turning performance and is suited to most conditions until it gets really muddy and boggy.
Andy Lloyd

Weight has a big effect on the agility and acceleration of your bike. Light tyres are much easier to spin up to speed, change direction with and even stop, so make sense for cross-country use.

Heavier tyres are generally thicker, which means they resist punctures and pinch flats better and are less likely to flop and roll off at low pressures. Heavier tyres also increase the gyroscopic effect of the wheel, making the bike more stable on the ground or in the air.

At the really heavy end, reinforced-carcass downhill tyres are designed to be run at low pressures without popping or tearing off the rim, and rely on the help of gravity to get their 1kg-plus weight moving.

What width mountain bike tyre should I use?

Maxxis Assegai tyres were designed with input from Greg Minnaar.
Steve Behr

There’s a massive range of tyre widths available from 1.5in to 5in fat bike tyres. The majority of mountain bikers run tyres in the 2.2in to 2.5in range, and more recently up to 2.6in has become commonplace.

Tyres in this range offer good protection and grip for more aggressive riding. Narrower tyres offer less cushioning and have less ‘footprint’ to grip with.

Pinch flat resistance is lower, too, unless narrower tyres are running higher pressures. They are lighter and roll faster though, and often cut through sticky mud and gloop better.

Square-profile tyres have more edging grip but are harder to lurch into corners. Rounder tyres roll more easily into corners and slide more predictably. Edge grip isn’t as aggressive, though.

There’s a massive range of tyre widths available, from 1.5in to 5in fat bike tyres. The majority of mountain bikers run tyres in the 2.2in to 2.5in range, and more recently up to 2.6in has become commonplace.

Cross-country tyres are likely to be at the narrower end of the scale, while trail/enduro tyres tend to be a little wider. Tyres in this range offer good protection and grip for more aggressive riding.

Narrower tyres, on the other hand, offer less cushioning and have less ‘footprint’ to grip with. Pinch flat resistance is lower on narrower tyres, too, unless they are being ran at higher pressures, which in turn could negatively affect grip.

Narrower tyres often cut through sticky mud and gloop better, though.

Ultimately, the ideal tyre width depends on what you’re riding, where you’re riding and how you’re riding. Weighing up all three aspects will help you find the right tyre.

For a more in-depth explainer on the subject, head to our ultimate test on mountain bike tyre size to determine the fastest width for trail mountain bikes and enduro riding.

How grippy are mountain bike tyres?

Addix Ultra Soft is the enduro and downhill compound found in the Magic Mary and Dirty Dan.
Russell Eich / Immediate Media

This depends on the profile of the tyre, tread pattern, its durometer rating (how soft the rubber the tyre is made from is) and the overall build of the tyre.

Bigger gaps between tread blocks help a tyre shed mud, while taller spikes grip better in soft conditions. This type of tread has more rolling resistance than a lower-profile, more tightly-spaced design though, and can squirm on harder surfaces.

A tyre with a square-profile will have more edging grip but is harder to lurch into corners. Rounder tyres roll more easily into corners and slide in loose terrain more predictably. Edge grip isn’t as aggressive, though.

It’s a slightly simplistic summary, but a tyre that grips well because of a sticky/softer rubber compound and tall square-edged knobs will have more drag than those that don’t. But within this generalisation there are some notable tyres that reduce drag with a slight sloping of tread patterns, multiple tread compounds or the use of a ‘fast’ carcass.

Conversely, some tyres that have barely any tread actually bite as well as some mid-knob rubber.

Some tyres use different compounds for the centre and edge tread blocks, to balance rolling resistance, grip and durability.

All of this depends on your local terrain as well – a super chunky aggressive tyre won’t be as useful on the slick rock of Moab as a lower profile tyre.

Advertisement

Glossary

  • Shoulder: The edge tread that provides off-camber and cornering grip
  • Sidewall: The bare side of the tyre, between the tyre tread and rim bread. Double or ‘two ply’ on DH tyres for extra stability and pinch flat resistance; airtight on UST tyres for tubeless running
  • Damping: Ability of a tyre to absorb energy as it rolls over a bump. More damping means the tyre rebounds slower, giving a less bouncy ride with better grip and control but more rolling resistance
  • Bead: The steel wire or Kevlar cord at the base of the sidewall that locks into the rim lip to keep the tyre in place. Kevlar or Aramid fibre beads are lighter and let the tyre fold, but are more expensive and the tyre is more likely to detach from the rim if flatted
  • Carcass: The fabric body of the tyre made from overlapping nylon threads encased in rubber. A more supple carcass enables the tyre to deform around lumps for extra grip but is less stable at low pressures. A reinforced carcass is more protective and less wobbly at low pressures but heavier and less comfortable. Lighter carcasses are more likely to get punctures too
  • TPI: The number of threads per inch in the carcass. Tyres with more threads are generally higher quality with a more subtle feel, but companies such as Tioga use a smaller quantity of fatter threads
  • Multi-compound: Tyres that use different rubber compounds; dual compounds are normally harder in the centre or underneath for fast rolling and long life, but soft on the shoulders for cornering grip. Schwalbe and Maxxis now do triple-compound tyres too
  • Durometer: The softness rating of the rubber; 70 and above is hard, 60 medium and anything below 50 is soft. The softer the tyre, the stickier it is on rocks and so on, but the faster it will wear out
  • Ramps: Ramped tread blocks have a leading edge which is angled like a wedge to decrease rolling resistance
  • Sipes: Small grooves cut into tread blocks to allow them to splay out like a goat’s hoof. Siped tyres offer increased grip, especially on wet surfaces
  • Squirm: Lateral movement of a tyre as the sidewall or tread folds during hard cornering