Best mountain bike tires

In the last 10 years I have tested countless tires for mountain bikes and what I can say is that the tire must be chosen specifically for the type of trails you ride. Fortunately, there are a few all-rounders to consider, but in principle it is impossible to buy a tire with large studs, with extremely high grip on difficult terrain, but with a high rolling speed. At the same time, on the other hand, it is impossible to have a tire with a high rolling speed, but which will offer you serious protection and excellent grip in difficult conditions. So, if you have a fairly clear vision of where you have been riding, you will know exactly if you need a quick tire or one that offers maximum protection and grip. As a general rule, a lighter tire has smaller studs and low grip, but with a higher running speed. On the other hand, a heavy tire has large studs, thus providing maximum grip in almost all conditions, it is built with a softer compound to mold better on surfaces, while providing very good protection in case of bumps (with stones or roots for example), but it suffers not only in terms of weight but also in terms of roling speed. The difference in weight between a light and a heavy tire can be up to 800 grams, which means a total of 1.6 kg for two tires, a significant difference that hangs heavily on the scales. In this top I will present you some variants, the best ones, from several manufacturers and for various segments, Cross Country, All Mountain and Enduro.

1.Maxxis Ikon

Weighing in at 680 grams, Maxxis Ikon is somewhere in the middle of the standings, but manages to effectively combine running speed with grip. If we take into account that it is also offered in the Skin Wall version – which is attractive to many nostalgic riders because it reminds us of the old MTB tires – then it turns into an attractive option. It is a dry-condition tire, with medium studs and a width of 2.2 inches in format 29 (of course, there are many other variants of IKON). Dedicated to Cross Country bikes, they are offered for 35 euros / piece.

Weight: 680 grams
Price: 35 euros

2.Pirelli Scorpion M

Pirelii has recently entered the market for mountain bike tires, and this version, Scorpion M, comes with a mixed compound, which means that they can be used on hard ground, sand, small stones or roots. It is a fast tire, with small to medium studs, which offers a more than decent traction, both on climbs and the expected grip on descents, as long as the terrain does not become too difficult. With a width of 2.2, they are ideal for MTB marathons, in dry conditions. They can also be purchased with a width of 2.4 inches, for those who seek for an improved comfort.

Weight: 715 grams
Price: 40 euros

3.Continental Mountain King

These are the tires that I consider to be the best all-rounder on the market at the moment. They feature in the all-mountain category, but can be used without problems on any type of trail, as I discovered myself. As long as the action takes place on dry land, everything is perfect, starting to show its limitations in humid conditions. The fact that they are wide, 2.3 inches, helps a lot to absorb shocks, makes them more stable, and thanks to the lateral studs placed on the housing, it offers reliable grip where it is needed. The roling speed is average given the height of the studs but it is a trade fair that I accepted quickly. The weight is not too much either, those 773 grams being absolutely decent for a tire that also comes with protection, ie with thickened side walls. However, the purchase cost is normal, because the quality costs: 48 euros / piece. Ideal for any kind of route, thanks to the medium studs on the top and the largest ones on the sides.

Weight: 773 grams
Price: 48 euros

4.Schwalbe Racing Ray / Racing Ralph

At the launch of these tires, in 2018, the industry was impressed by the fact that a manufacturer thought of a set of tires with two different formats of the studs. They can be sold as a set, but Racing Ray has a design, while Racing Ralph, another – different. The difference between the two is very clear: the front tire has the studs arranged dynamically, facing forward for a very good roling speed, but with medium side studs for good grip when cornering, while the rear tire has the studs arranged for traction, being more horizontal. However, the weight of both tires is similar: 625 grams. The size in which they are offered is 2.25 inches and can be purchased with a more expensive compound (which I also recommend – Evolution) or with a slightly lighter one (Performance version). The price is not negligible, 116 euros, but the performance for XC, XCO or XC Marathon routes is absolutely mindblowing.

Weight: 625 grams / tire
Price: 116 euros (set)

5.Schwalbe Hans Dampf

I could easily recommend other tires in the enduro segment, especially those from Maxxis, but the Hans Dampf here are some of the most versatile in the segment. They are relatively light, with their 850 grams (in the size 29×2.35!) And at the same time, they offer a very good grip. Moreover, they manage to offer an absolutely decent roling speed, but they have not among the most powerful housings on the market. It handles most difficult conditions, such as rocky trails, roots, jumping, including in humid conditions, which is noteworthy. You can also use them in a longer enduro lap, where you will also have climbs, because as I mentioned, they run acceptably.

Weight: 850 grams
Price: 53 euros

Carlos G. Hill

Carlos G. Hill

Carlos joined TireReview in 2019 after seven years of living and working in Dubai. He has been a journalist for over a decade and has worked for a wide range of publications, including Rolling Stone, Time Out, iQ and Loaded. After starting out on the automotive team as deputy editor of Engine Technology International, Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International and Transmissions Technology International, he has been an editor since 2015, and began editing Tire Technology International in 2018. In 2020, he was appointed editor-in-chief of Tire, Professional Motorsport World, Electric & Hybrid Marine Technology International and Crash test Technology International

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