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Every bicycle needs a good set of tires. Without tires, you wouldn’t have any contact with the ground and that equals to you going nowhere. You can’t ever ride a bike on the rims, but you also can’t use just any tire either. There are a lot of different tires for various type of bicycling. For the mountain enthusiasts who take their bikes out to the unpaved trails, you’ll need the best mountain bike tires to conquer the terrain. 

Top rated mtb tires are fatter, thicker, and heavily treaded so that you can go over rocks, snow, sand, or mud with relative ease. The increased width of the tires also gives you more stability so that you can navigate any jumps or bumps. But not every tire has the same features, so it’s important that you take the time to find a set that suits your needs. 

In this article, we will guide you on the right path to finding your new all mountain tires. With our breakdown, tips, and tricks, you’ll have everything you need to find a great set of tires that will work hard to elevate your performance on the trail.

How To Choose A Mountain Bike Tire – Buying Guide

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Width

When you’re looking at top rated mtb tires, width is an important consideration because it will determine what type of terrain the tire is suited for, the balance of the design, and your overall stability on the trail. While all mountain tires have a heavier tread to tackle unpaved trails, the width of the tire can still change how well the tire performs on groomed or ungroomed tracks. 

Most mountain bike tires 26 to 29 inches will have a width that is a couple of inches wide, but some fat tire designs have widths up to 5 inches. The wider the width of the tire, the easier it will be to pedal across soft ground like sand, snow, or mud. But a wider tire also means more weight and slower speeds. 

However, for mountain bike riders, stability and balance is everything. With a wider tire, stability and balance will increase so that you can make precise corners without risking sliding out. It also means that you’ll have a solid base supporting all your needs on the trail.

The best mountain bike tires will be available in a variety of widths so that you can choose a design that suits your exact needs. But riders do need to be cautious about the width of their tire in relation to the size of their frame and fork. Riders need to ensure that the width of the frame and fork is wide enough to accommodate your tire. This is important because your tire needs to fit properly so that the suspension system can do its job and smooth out your ride. 

Related Post: How To Choose Bike Tires

Profile

The profile refers to the shape of the tire. While people think of tires as round, there are actually three different types of profiles: square, round, and medium. Square tires are slightly flat on top, which makes them better for finding traction on mud and while making corners. But the downside is that if you lean too much and loose the tires grip, the tires will break free from all contact, which can cause you to fall. 

Round tires will require that you lean more into your outer knobs as your pedaling and making turns. If you don’t lean correctly, the tire will loosen and break its traction. But with a better balance, these tires make it easier to feel the point where your tire begins to break away. Medium tires are a mix between the two profiles and are better for bikers who are traveling on mixed terrain. 

Tread

All mountain tires need to have tread. Tread is what gives you traction and keeps you connected to the ground. When you’re reading about the tread of a mountain tire, it will refer to the rubber knobs that are built into the tire and their position. The best mtb tires will have three different sets of knobs that are each expertly placed in the tire’s design. 

Center knobs are designed to give you an overall, stable traction while on the trail. This is what keeps you connected to the ground. But the design of the knobs can affect your speed. Center knobs with a ramped design will allow you to accelerate and maintain higher speeds.

Finally, the second and third set of knobs are placed on each side of the tire. The side knobs that run around the edges of the tire give you much needed grip as you make your turns and navigate corners. With knobs on each side and the middle, it means that you can easily transition your tire as you head left or right without losing any traction or contact with the ground. 

Many knobs may also have small cutouts, which only increases your tread further. But not all knobs are the same size and distance apart. The amount of tread your tire and the layout of the knobs can affect your performance on the trail. Larger knobs that are set further apart will dig into trail obstacles like rocks or roots to easily to give you the best traction. On the flip side, smaller knobs that are closer together are better for soft ground or wet conditions because the tires will cut through the muck instead of getting stuck.  

If you are having trouble determine how useful the tread will be in certain conditions, you should read mountain bike tire reviews. Many reviewers will tell you how they use their tire and in what conditions, so you can estimate how best to use the tires. 

Compound

The compound of a mountain bike tire refers to the rubber material that is used in the design and composition. There is not one type of rubber that is used for all mountain bike tires. Rubber is the main material, but some rubbers are made softer or firmer. 

A soft compound or rubber means that the tire hugs the trail more closely and gives you increased traction for a solid grip. But the downside is that it means a higher rolling resistance, which stops you from picking up speed. Softer compounds will also wear out faster because they are more flexible. 

While a stiffer compound won’t conform to the trail as well as a soft compound, stiffer tires are preferred by downhill and racing mountain bikers. This is because with less flexibility, you will be able to accelerate faster and maintain higher speeds. 

The best mtb tires will actually combine the best of both words and have a dual compound design. This means that the center of the tire is firmer, while the outer edges are softer for increased traction while cornering. 

The traction of a tire should be indicated in the product specifications of a product. Most tires will have a compound rating that ranges from 40A-70A. If the number is higher, it means the compound is harder.

Casing

The casing of mountain bike tires 29 inches or smaller refers to the layers that construct the sidewall. The best mountain bike tires will have a durable casing made out of a nylon or Kevlar fiber to increase the durability of the tire. Most tires will have a dual layered sidewall, but you can also find single or triple wall designs. 

While the tire should describe the makeup of their sidewalls, you can also look for a threads per inch (TPI) rating. This rating indicates the durability of the sidewall. Higher TPI ratings means that the tire is less durable because there are less layers in the construction. For casual riders, a high TPI rating is preferred because of the lower rolling resistance and lightweight feel. But when riders need a really durable design, they should look for a lower TPI rating. 

Tubes vs. Tubeless

Whether you want 26 or 29er mountain bike tires, there are two types of tires. Tube and tubeless tires are the two choices that riders have on the market. Tube tires are the most traditional design, which uses an inner tube to inflate the casing. For reliability, tube tires are the best because they are durable and long lasting. Tube tires are also easier to install or replace, should you ever get a flat. 

However, some riders are turning to a tubeless design because there are lighter weight and often deliver a better performance. Tubeless tires will not use an inside tube to inflate and instead need to have a special sealant applied to keep them connected with your bike rim. 

Tubeless designs are great for rocky terrain because they are ultra-durable and less likely to be punctured. However, the downside is that if you do get a flat, tubeless tires are harder to change out. In fact, it is almost impossible to change them when you’re out and about, so you’ll need to care a spare inner tube for emergencies. 

Some tire designs are actually compatible with or without tubes. The dual compatibility is often favored because it means you get the high performance out of the tubeless design, but in case you pop or rupture your tire, you can still ride out of the wilderness by inserting a traditional inner tube. 

Rolling Resistance

The rolling resistance of trail mountain bike tires refers to the effort you need to put into maintaining your speed. A lower rolling resistance, you won’t have to put as much energy into accelerating or maintaining your speed. A higher rolling resistance means that it is harder to pedal with the tire and it can be more difficult to quickly accelerate or maintain your speed. 

For most riders, rolling resistance really isn’t that important or a major concern. Most people will choose a low rolling resistance. But for racers, the ability to accelerate and maintain fast speeds is very important, so you should double check to ensure that your tires have low rolling resistance. 

Type of Terrain

While all around mountain bike tires are designed to conquer any type of terrain, it is still important to consider the design of your tires and think about what terrain they could truly conquer. Tires that are wider and have a thicker tread are great for soft terrain like snow, sand, and mud. But skinnier tires with moderate thread is great for casual bikers who will stay on groomed trails. 

FAQs

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Globo Surf Overview

Every bike needs a great set of tires to support their rider, but mountain bike riders need to be extra careful which design they choose. The features of the best mountain bike tires will not only keep you safe on the trail, but they will help you become a better rider. With reliability and functionality under your seat, you can ride confidently everywhere you go. Our article provides you with ten high quality tire designs so you can choose your perfect match. 

Do you own a set of mountain bike tires that made it onto our list? Let us know which mountain bike tires your favorite are in the comments section below.

Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!