Best Mountain Bike Tires – 2021 Picks

Anthony
| Last Updated: June 29, 2021

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You need the best mountain bike tires for comfortable rides and improved cycling performance. The right tire should allow you to cruise over nearly any terrain with ease.

With so many choices on the market, it becomes difficult for most cyclists to tell them apart and settle on high-quality tires that will perform well and last.

Your search ends today - In this article, we will review the top mountain bike tires. Each mtb tire that made our list is built to last, deliver a smooth ride and enhance your cycling performance. 

Let's get started. 

Comparison of the Best Mountain Bike Tires

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Ramped center knobs for straight-line control
  • Channel-cut grip edges offer cornering precision
  • Lower pressure for amazing grip and bump compliance
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  • Easy-rolling, versatile profile adapts to any surface
  • ProTection Tubeless Ready insert offers puncture resistance
  • Ideal competition tire boasts reduced mileage
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  • Best for the Money
  • Tested for durability - used by amateurs and pros
  • Sidewall technology has cut resistance and increased abrasion
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  • Best 29er Mountain Bike Tires
  • Extra side grip keeps you locked in loose corners
  • Minimal rolling resistance, lightweight, and race ready
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  • Best 26 Mountain Bike Tires
  • Easy-rolling, versatile profile adapts to any surface
  • ProTection Tubeless Ready insert offers puncture resistance
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  • Best 27.5 Mountain Bike Tires
  • Rugged construction and traction ensures stability
  • Great in dry conditions over sand, rocks, and roots
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  • Best Downhill Mountain Bike Tires
  • Tested for durability - used by amateurs and pros
  • Maximum corner grip and brake traction on muddy terrain
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How to Choose Mountain Bike Tires

You can overcome any confusion when buying a mountain bike tire by checking the following:

Tire Orientation

The tire can be front or back-oriented. The role of a front tire is to ensure control and stability during maneuvers. As such, the front tire should be tougher and thicker to offer better performance. 

The rear tire maintains the power of your bike. This tire should have sufficient traction to help it roll forward as you increase the speed. 

Tread Patterns

It's important to pay attention to tread pattern. The most common options are square or round-shape patterns. 

A good tread pattern enhances traction, balance, and rolling resistance. A square-shaped tread block pattern is ideal for off-road riding and rough terrain. Round-shaped treads are most suitable for a road bike that most often rides over smooth surfaces. 

Photo credit: Dirtmountainbike.com

Rubber Material

You should select a trail tire with high-quality rubber materials. The kind and quality of rubber used affects rolling friction, traction, hydroplaning resistance, and price. 

Dual-compound rubber tires have a good blend, last a long time, and can be used for rough terrain without compromising performance.

Review of the Best Mountain Bike Tires

You get the best ride when using the right tire for the terrain. For instance, if you are operating off-road, you should always choose tires with square-shaped treads. If you are lost on what tire to choose, the review below solves your problems right away. For every terrain or cycling need, there is a tire suitable for different users. 

Best Overall:
Maxxis Minion DHF

Maxxis Minion DHF 3C/EXO/TR Tire - 27.5 x 2.6

pros

  • Excellent tread patterns for balancing rolling speed and grip
  • Reliable width that supports low-pressure operations while maintaining stable grips
  • Have EXO protection that reinforces sidewalls from abrasion and slashes
  • Sturdy material construction that supports rolling resistance and tread longevity
  • Large cornering knobs for maximizing grip and straight-line-control

cons

  • Insufficient grip on boggy and sloppy surfaces
  • Requires intensive pedaling, especially when climbing steep hills

What Recent Buyers Report

Most recent consumers express satisfaction with the reliability of this Maxxis tire. It has aggressive tread patterns that enhance the grip on most regular surfaces. The tires rotate steadily at a uniform rate. For most users, this becomes an advantage when they are cycling in wet and slippery areas where they have to maintain a firm grip while still maintaining a uniform speed if they are to remain on track.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Maxxis Minion DHF has a voluminous width, allowing one to run on a lower pressure without compromising the grip. Despite the larger width, it remains within the proper tire size limits so you don't have to use too much energy while pedaling.

The tire has EXO protection, which reinforces sidewalls from abrasion and slashes as you move across stretches that have roots and rocks. The tire has the 3C Max Terra compound, a softer rubber layer for tacky grip and control.

Bottom Line 

Maxxis Minion DHF is a favorable product thanks to a continuous, predictable grip that works in all weather conditions. The sticky rubber material is sturdy enough to withstand the maneuvers when you are cycling through areas with protruding roots or rocks. leaning on roots or even rocks. The tire is most suitable when used at the front.

Runner-up:
Continental Der Kaiser Projekt

Continental Mountain Bike ProTection Tire - Black Chili, Tubeless, Folding Handmade MTB Performance Tire (26', 27.5', 29'), 29 x 2.4, Der Kaiser Projekt

pros

  • Tubeless design ensures reliable puncture resistance
  • Black Chilli rubber compound delivers proper rolling resistance
  • Optimized tread patterns ensure efficient rolling and outstanding grip
  • Versatile tire with a comfortable rolling profile that adapts to any surface
  • Tubeless construction for reduced weight

cons

  • Not suitable for riding in muddy areas
  • Relatively pricey for users on a tight budget

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers recommend the Continental Der Kaiser tire for its superior performance across different terrains. They love its dependable grip when pedaling in slippery and wet conditions.

The tire maintains proper traction and low rolling resistance to enable the rider to cycle smoothly and quickly. Most buyers say the tire is easy to clean as it only requires the use of water and ordinary soap.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Continental Der Kaiser Tire has a continuous Protection tubeless design that offers airtightness and grip. It also features a Black Chilli compound for efficient rolling and sturdy grips. The compound also enhances the rolling resistance by more than 26% compared to activated Silica compounds.

The tire protects sidewalls and treads to offer more puncture protection than earlier models. It also has a reinforced casing for more durability while running on low tire pressure.

Bottom Line

This tire is suitable for users who like riding on rocky terrains. The tire offers excellent puncture resistance, especially on sharp protruding rocks. Since it is a tubeless tire, you don't have to worry about punctures happening when you least expect them.

Best for the Money:
Maxxis Minion DHR II

Maxxis Minion DHRII 3C Exo Tubeless Ready Folding Tire, 29x2.30inch

pros

  • Uses EXO protective sidewall technology that enhances resistance to abrasion and cuts
  • Maxxis Minion DHR II uses dual-compound technology that ensures durability and low rolling resistance
  • An ideal choice for both amateurs and professionals 
  • Patterned tread block design with good grip to weight ratio
  • Offers a good grip even on wet surfaces

cons

  • Not compatible with some rims
  • Lacks warranty against factory defects

What Recent Buyers Report

This tire boasts heavy-duty construction that offers users incredible traction. Most buyers use it to easily cycle over loose rocks, wet soil, large rocks, and roots. The sturdy construction makes it cost-effective for most users since it lasts a long time and does not need to be replaced frequently.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Maxxis Minion DHRII tire is a durable product, thanks to its heavy-duty construction. The tire uses the EXO protective sidewall technique that helps enhance resistance to abrasion and cuts.

The tire also has dual-compound rubber technology to provide more grip and reduced rolling resistance across difficult terrains. It has a ramped knob design, which is ideal for directional stability.

These tires have a self-cleaning ability even as you ride over dirt. The improved puncture resistance makes it a good buy for the money, as you won't have to pay repair costs regularly.

Bottom Line

This tire is for you if you want a reliable lifetime. The designer uses reliable, long-lasting construction materials so you don't have to buy another tire any time soon. The two rubber compounds offer low rolling resistance and a sturdy grip even on slippery surfaces.

Best 29er Mountain Bike Tires:
Maxxis Aspen

Maxxis Aspen Tire - 29 x 2.25, Tubeless, Folding, Black, Dual, EXO

pros

  • Has good traction and grip suitable for stability when negotiating a bend
  • Durable dual-compound rubber that also enhances the grip
  • Has strong bead that supports more weight even at a low pressure
  • Suitable tire for the front position
  • Fast-rolling tire since it is a lightweight tire

cons

  • Loses grip on softer terrains
  • Loses color easily after a few washes

What Recent Buyers Report

This tire is light and easy to mount. Most buyers attest to better riding experiences since the lightness makes it easier to pedal and the tire rolls fast. It performs well on hard packs and hard rocks. The tire has a good traction and delivers excellent control while negotiating corners.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Maxxis Aspen is a race-ready tire that offers minimal rolling resistance. It can roll for miles at top speeds without wearing out easily. The presence of EXO protection helps in preventing chances of side punctures due to the strong sidewall support.

The tire also has a dual-compound construction, which features a fast-rolling rubber within the center to maintain the rider at the top speeds. Additionally, there is extra grip on the sides to keep one locked into loose berms.

Bottom Line

Maxxis Aspen is an affordable option for users on a budget who want increased performance. It has a versatile tread design, making it suitable to ride on either smooth or rough terrain. It is light and fast, making it a good all-around option for racing competitions.

Best 26 Mountain Bike Tires:
Continental Trail King

Continental Mountain Bike ProTection Tire - Black Chili, Tubeless, Folding Handmade MTB Performance Tire (26', 27.5', 29'), 26 x 2.2, Cross King

pros

  • Has a Black Chilli Compound that delivers efficient rolling and better grip
  • Has a puncture-proof design thanks to the Protection tubeless feature
  • Optimized tread patterns to promote good traction
  • A durable tire that works well on all terrains
  • Pocket-friendly pricing for users on a limited budget

cons

  • Rampant reports of air leakages
  • The mounting process is difficult for most users

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers like this tire because of its versatile design. They love it as an option for urban riding on light-duty gravel surfaces. Riders find the tire a good fit for their bikes since it is light and reduces the drag and rolling resistance that comes with thicker and wider tires.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The tire boasts tubeless-ready functionality and unrivaled airtightness for a comfortable ride. It has a reinforced casing, which promotes durability even when frequently you operate on lower inflation pressures. This tire has optimized tread patterns to enhance the grip when cruising over different surfaces with varying friction and traction levels.

Bottom Line

The Continental Trail King tire is a versatile product that does well on multiple surfaces as it grips firmly and maintains good stability during riding. The black Chilli rubber compounds contribute to its durability and promote a better grip and rolling efficiency

Best 27.5 Mountain Bike Tires:
Maxxis Aggressor

MAXXIS - Aggressor | 27.5 x 2.3 | Dual Compound, EXO Puncture Protection

pros

  • Sturdy casing that withstands high speeds as you run on low inflation pressures
  • The rear tire offers enhanced performance over dry and rocky conditions
  • Softer side knobs ensure stability when negotiating bends
  • Has a rugged construction to serve users for a long time
  • An affordable option for bikers on a budget

cons

  • Not an ideal choice for wet surfaces since it keeps slipping
  • Slightly heavier than similar models

What Recent Buyers Report

The most attractive aspect for most recent customers is the affordable price relative to its quality. The high-quality design means that the buyers can effectively use the tire on various common trail terrains like rocks, roots, and coal dirt without skidding or excessive friction challenges.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Maxxis Aggressor has high-quality material construction that provides a firm grip when riding on different surfaces. It is a tubeless-ready tire with a lightweight EXO casing to provide enough protection against punctures. Despite the quality build, it doesn't come with a premium-tire price tag.

Bottom Line

This Maxxis Aggressor tire strikes a good balance between rolling resistance and traction, so you can enjoy easy pedaling even over high-friction surfaces. The tire is lightweight and durable. This affordable, multipurpose tire works well across different terrains and is suitable as a rear tire, especially in dry conditions. If you do most of your riding in summer or on dry days, the Maxxis aggressor is an excellent choice for the money.

Best Downhill Mountain Bike Tires:
Schwalbe Addix Evolution Downhill Tire

SCHWALBE Magic Mary Addix Folding Addix Ultrasoft Downhill 2x67TPI 20-46PSI 1410g Tire, Black, 275' x 20/35'

pros

  • Sturdy tire suitable for both downhill rides and extremely rough terrain
  • Has intermediate treads that promote maximum braking traction
  • Puncture-proof tire to offer lateral stability for a smooth ride
  • Durable construction saves you money that you would otherwise spend on repairs
  • Suitable for negotiating bends due to its reliable slip-resistance

cons

  • Loses color and fades easily after a few washes
  • Relatively expensive compared to models with similar capabilities

What Recent Buyers Report

Most buyers agree that this tire is easy to mount even for beginner bikers. It is a durable tire that serves buyers well for a long time when regularly cleaned and polished. Buyers love the stability and traction it provides when riding down steep hills where a strong tire with rough treads is ideal for sustainable braking.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Schwalbe Addix is a flexible tire that is suitable for use on various trails but one that is best for downhill rides where riders require extra stability and strong braking force to remain on track. As such, it is a good choice for use in cycling competitions.

The tire boasts rough intermediate treads that provide optimal braking traction. It has a good cornering grip and allows riders to cycle downhill and negotiate bends safely with no risks of skidding or falling off.

Bottom Line

If you regularly participate in professional or casual riding competitions where the track usually runs down steep hills, this is the best tire for your bike. It offers good traction, stability, and braking when riding down steep hills since it has rugged treads that grip well on the riding surface.

Best Tubeless Mountain Bike Tires:
Schwalbe SB11601102

SCHWALBE Magic Mary Addix 29''x2.60 tire

pros

  • Has an excellent grip on both dry and wet surfaces 
  • Low rolling friction while accelerating forward
  • Sturdy construction makes the tire cost-effective as it requires fewer repairs
  • Enhanced sidewall for balanced cornering and moving stability
  • Reliable tread patterns to promote enhanced grip

cons

  • Not the most durable option
  • Relatively expensive compared to our other picks

What Recent Buyers Report

Most recent buyers affirm the fact that the tire has excellent traction and low rolling resistance. The three-ply casing has a snakeskin insert covering to protect the sidewalls against cuts. This feature is widely celebrated since it means riders do not have to use tire sealants to prevent deflation.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Schwalbe SB11601102 is a suitable choice for any track. The tire has intermediate treads to ensure maximum braking traction. The user also enjoys excellent cornering grip even in muddy terrain courtesy of the aggressive and open tread design.

The puncture-proof design saves users money that would otherwise go into frequent repairs. It also uses the Addix Ultra-soft rubber compound, making it an excellent front tire on an enduro bike. The tire is self-cleaning and easy to maintain.

Bottom Line

The tire offers good braking traction and is suitable on multiple terrains. It provides an aggressive tread pattern that generates an excellent cornering grip, even on soft ground.

When to Replace Mountain Bike Tires

You should replace the tires of your mountain bike if you notice the following signs:

  • The tire holds pressure only for a short time

  • The tire bulges out or dents inwards at some spots

  • The knobs on the tire become rounded

  • The threads beneath the rubber become visible

  • The treads crack or become too smooth

You should take immediate action and replace the tire when you notice one or several of the signs outlined above. Any delay in replacing defective or worn-out tires poses a safety risk because their braking and traction are impaired. Worn out tires could get you into a serious collision or fall.

How Long Do Mountain Bike Tires Last?

Service life depends on the quality of the tires, your riding style, and the nature of the surfaces you usually ride on. For instance, the tires can last for long if you are running on smooth roads. 

On average, most tires last between 3200 and 8000 miles, with tires that usually cruise on smooth surfaces at the upper end of that range. The good news is that you can still repair the tires to continue enjoying comfortable rides before they wear out.

Photo credit: Hobbybiker.com

What Size of Tire Do I Need For My Mountain Bike?

Wheel size is a vital element when selecting a tire for your mountain bike. The diameter should range between 26 inches to 29 inches. The width can differ depending on the specifics of the bike. Most mountain bikes have a tire width range of between 2.25 inches and 2.4 inches. Generally, you should consider using wider tires because they provide more traction and allow more space for more air volume to help with shock absorption. 

How Are Mountain Bike Tires Measured?

The first crucial measurement on the bike tire is the diameter, which is also the height of the tire. This is measured in inches. Since the type and size of the mountain bike you have determine the diameter of the tire you choose, you should first measure out the required diameter on your bike. You can use a simple foot for this and memorize the measurement as you look around for a good tire.

Another important tire measurement is the width since it determines how much of the tire is in direct contact with the ground. The width is also usually measured in inches. Thinner tires have less rolling resistance and are more suitable for long-distance riding.

Mountain Bike Tire Comparisons

Here are some tire comparisons to help you decide. 

Tube vs Tubeless Mountain Bike Tires

A tubeless tire does not require inner tubing to remain inflated. One great advantage of using a tubeless tire is that it repairs itself when a thorn or nail punctures it. It has a liquid sealant that fills the hole immediately when the air begins to escape. 

A tubed tire is one that has tubing inside it into which air is pumped to inflate. Tube tires are a cheaper option and are compatible with most mountain bike rims. The one major disadvantage with tubed tires is that you have to repair punctures.

Too many punctures will weaken the tube and you have to buy a new one. However, spare tubes and patches are available in most places at low prices.

Photo credit: Cyclingtips.com

Fat Mountain Bike Tires vs Skinny

A fat bike tire is a wider tire that works well on soft and loose terrain like sand or snow. They allow the rider to cycle smoothly and evenly regardless of the weather. The wider surface means that lesser pressure is exerted on the cycling surface and as such, the tires do not sink into the soft surface. Fat bike tires require little maintenance. If you are a beginner, then fat mountain bike tires offer better balance. 

Skinny bike tires bite deeper into softer cycling surfaces and are thus most suitable for use on hard and dry surfaces. They flatten out less, so they have less surface area for contact with the ground. As a result, they generate less friction and higher rolling speeds. They are best used as a road tire.

Mountain Bike Tires vs Road Tires

Road tires are much narrower than mountain bike tires. Such a design means that you will encounter less rolling resistance when using road tires.

The wider mountain bike tires offer better grip, traction, and comfort. They also have more aggressive tread patterns to overcome slides and skids when riding on slippery and delicate surfaces.

2.6 vs 2.8 Tires

2.8-inches tires are ideal for riding on loose or soft surfaces like sand and snow since the wider surfaces ensure there is more contact between the tire and the riding surface. This enhances the grip and stability. 

The 2.6-inches tires are a good option for racing competitions and usage on harder riding surfaces since they exert more pressure on the surface. The reduced contact between the ground and the tire implies that there is lesser friction so the rider can maintain higher riding speeds. 

29er vs 26     

Most users credit 29er tires for providing a smoother ride than the 26-inch hardtail since the 29er has a lower rolling resistance. The 29ers have a larger diameter than the 26er and thus exert less pressure on delicate surfaces. The 26er takes the lead when it comes to weight. They are lighter and hence more energy-efficient when pedaling. Due to the larger size, the 29er is more suitable for bikers with larger body sizes, while the 26er best fits riders with smaller body sizes.

How to Set Up Tubeless Mountain Bike Tires

Setting up tubeless tires can be intimidating. Here's how you perform the task:

Materials

You will need the following items:

  • Tubeless sealant

  • Lire levers

  • Rim tape
  • Floor pump 

  • Tubeless compatible rims and tires

  • Tubeless valve 

  • Air compressor 

  • Scissors 

  • Screwdriver
  • Photo credit: Bicycling.com

    Procedure

    1. Ensure that the rims and tires are ready for mounting

    2. Disconnect the wheel from the bike

    3. Remove the tire and the tube from the rim

    4. Remove the rim strip to make it tubeless compatible

    5. Tape the rim using a suitable rim tape

    6. Using a screwdriver, drill a small hole where you will insert the valve stem. 

    7. Insert the tubeless valve stem into the hole and use the washer to secure it

    8. Put the tire on the rim

    9. Apply the right amount of tubeless sealant into the tire

    10.  After mounting the tire, roll it on the ground to disperse the sealant

    11. Inflate the tire by using compressed air for the tire to seal quickly

    12. Bounce the tire on the ground to disperse the inner sealant

    13. Replace the wheel and spin it for some time

    14. Ride the bike to ensure the sealant spreads evenly.

    For a deeper overview of the process, we have just described, be sure to watch the video below.

    Conclusion

    If you were lost on which tire is best for your mountain bike, we hope that our review has made your quest easier. For all types of users and different mountain bikes, our list features a suitable tire that will offer you comfortable rides and serve you for a long time. Be sure to pick a favorite by checking the size, tread patterns, and resistance to punctures.

    People Also Ask

    Most customers seek answers before they finally buy a particular mtb tire. This section answers some of the common questions users ask before buying.

    What PSI for Mountain Bike Tires?

    You need the right PSI to allow the bike to roll out quickly, avoid flats, and ride smoothly. Mountain bike tires require 25 to 35 pounds per square inch (PSI) to perform optimally. Ensure you stick within the recommended range for a good balance between speed and traction.

    How Much Are Mountain Bike Tires?

    Mountain bike tires are becoming more popular due to their multipurpose utility. The market offers a range of different tires that usually cost between $30-$99. Such tires offer good all-around traction for most mountain biking. If you want a high-end tire, then you should consider digging deeper into your pockets. 

    How Wide Are Mountain Bike Tires?

    Most mountain bike tires have a considerable width that ranges between 2.25 inches and 2.4 inches. Such thin tires are a good option for riding on harder surfaces and for racing competitions. Wider tires are more suitable for riding over sand and softer surfaces as they offer more surface area for contact and thus improved stability. They also accommodate additional air volume for enhanced shock absorption.

    How to Inflate Mountain Bike Tires

    To inflate your mountain bike tire, locate the valve and have in mind the recommended PSI for the tire. Use an air pump and inflate the tire until you attain the recommended amount of pressure. If the PSI is not specified, keep pressing the tire lightly as you pump until you feel that no more air can be accommodated. You can now remove the pump and return the rubber cap on the valve to ensure it does not escape.

    How Do Tubeless Tires Work on Mountain Bikes?

    Tubeless tires create an airtight seal between them and the rims such that you do not need any tubing to trap air in the tire. The inflating process is similar to that of tubed tires. To ensure the tire remains airtight, a sealant is applied and spread around the tire such that there is no room left between the rim and the tire through which air could escape.

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    Anthony

    "I'm Linda's husband. We got married in 2018 and are loving life together. We met in one of my many competitive races and hit it off right away. Our best dates are when we're riding down a trail enjoying each other’s company in the beautiful Colorado weather. I enjoy writing about everything pertaining to bikes. "