Selecting Mountain Bike Tires

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You should change your bike tires when the time comes, just as you would replace worn-out running shoes. And just as you have options when buying new shoes, so too do you when buying new tires. Even if you want to make sure they fit properly, you may want to upgrade for increased speed, toughness, or overall performance.

Selecting Mountain Bike Tires

Selecting Mountain Bike Tires. A tire upgrade gives a lot of value if you’ve been mountain biking for a long and feel like it’s time to move it up. You ask how?

Gain grip or reduce rolling resistance: Investing in a tire with more traction boosts confidence, which leads to more enjoyment and quicker riding advancement. But if you require speed, you may think about giving up some grip to improve rolling efficiency.

Using no-tube tires reduces flats: Although tubeless sealant won’t stop all flats, it may cure some on the spot, and you won’t ever experience the terrible pinch flat (since there is no tube to squeeze!). Additionally, you may ride with much lower tire pressure, which will provide you a smoother ride and a greater sense of the path. Discover additional advantages of going tubeless.

Sometimes the psychological advantages of going lighter outweigh the physical ones as tires only make up a small fraction of your bike’s overall weight. However, since you need less energy to move heavier rotating components (such as wheels, tires, and cranks), reducing their bulk might pay off.

Check out our post on how to choose bike tires before you go shopping to learn more about tire specifications.

Size and Width of Mountain Bike Tires

You should choose your width after determining your tire diameter (29″, 27.5″, or 26″):

Tires on a cross-country bike will typically be between 1.9″ and 2.25″ wide.
The tire width for trail and all-mountain bikes will be between 2.25″ and 2.4″.
Downhill bikes often have tires up to 2.5″ wide since they are designed to resist the damage of drops and rock gardens.
Tire widths on fat-tire bikes, which may be utilized for year-round trail riding, range from 3.7″ to 5″ or more.
Keep wider tires in mind: Wider tires are heavier but provide higher grip, which is beneficial in sand and gives you a more secure feeling. Additionally, they take in greater air volume to cushion bumps. You have two options: use a bigger tire on your present rim or purchase larger rims to fit even wider tires.

Always check clearances: Before buying a new tire, particularly one that is wider, be sure your frame has enough room for it. See our article, Bike Wheels: How to Choose, for additional information on wheel, tire, and frame compatibility.

Mountain bike tire selection based on riding style

Check out our overview of mountain biking if you’re not sure how to categorize your riding style. Since no tire is exceptional in every area, you should concentrate on the features that are most crucial for your riding style.

When riding cross-country, climbing effectiveness is more crucial than traction or added durability, so you should look for tires that are light and roll quickly (look for smaller, more densely spaced lugs).

For trail riding, an all-around tire makes sense. You need traction, durability, and speed in a modest amount.

Although you must ride to the summit, all-mountain riding is more about the descents. When turning quickly, you need tires that have good traction, as well as tires that can sustain mild impacts (look for bigger side lugs).

In order to enjoy the excitement of downhill riding, which involves being lifted to the summit, you need a robust, resilient pair of tires. You need tires that can withstand some punishment, land awkwardly, and navigate turns.

Performance Effects of Tire Tread

The knobs or lugs on a pair of knobby mountain bike tires come in a broad variety of designs. It will be easier for you to match your tires to your riding style if you understand how these and other tire attributes impact performance.

Wide channels are effective in releasing the mud, while large, widely spaced lugs effectively bite into soft, muddy ground.
Those few, closely spaced lugs provide just fair grip and little rolling resistance (more speed).
Ramped lugs (slanting rearward): These are usually in the middle and reduce rolling resistance to let you go more quickly.
Side lugs: Usually larger, they provide more traction in turns.
Transition lugs: These lugs, which are between the center and side lugs, provide more traction when you lean into a turn, allowing for a more seamless change from the center to the side lugs.
Sipes: These slots inside the lugs increase their traction on rough, slippery terrain.
Notably, many manufacturers categorize or define their tires based on the terrain they are designed for.

Other characteristics of mountain bike tires

Rubber Compounds

New rubber formulations are the subject of significant time and financial investment by brands. Good grip, extended wear, and low rolling resistance are competing objectives that they attempt to balance. A stronger rubber will last longer and provide you with reduced rolling resistance, while softer compounds will provide you with more grip.

Race tires often have a single composition that provides the most traction. However, after a few rides, these single compound tires are often worn out.

A dual-compound rubber is a typical design choice for non-racing tires. To make the tire roll more quickly and last longer, they feature firmer rubber in the middle. A softer rubber is used on the tire’s sides, the part of the tire that is most important for cornering, to increase traction.

Damage Resistance

Many seductive pathways are lined with thorns and have sharp edges. For this reason, a lot of riders are willing to pay a little more weight for a lot more increased security.

Durable rubber is helpful, but the casing’s inside design holds the key to puncture resistance. The use of 2-ply tires is one strategy. Another is using Kevlar® and other protective material reinforcements. Some tires include protection in only the sidewalls, which are most susceptible, while other tires are strengthened up from bead to bead.

Shopping Advice for Mountain Bike Tires

While racers use tires for various scenarios, you may begin with a single pair of brand-new tires. Consider where and how you often bike. Then concentrate on the most demanding sorts of riding and terrain you wish to face.

If you wish to mix and match, decide: It all depends on what you like. Some cyclists like tires that provide better traction up front and less rolling resistance at the rear. Some riders like uniform sureness throughout. Try it one way right away, and then the following time, try it the other way.

Speak to a REI bike expert there: The professionals there are familiar with the terrain in your region and may advise you or purchase customized tires to fulfill your requirements.

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