Mountain bike tyres explained
A mountain bike tyre is specifically designed for off-road riding, and features raised knobs or "lugs" that are;designed to dig into loose material and provide grip on all terrain. A good mountain bike tyre will provide low rolling resistance, ample grip and provide a degree of cushioning that will enhance the quality of your ride.
Here at Wiggle, we stock a wide range of mountain bike tyres, in all of the popular wheel sizes (Ed:- even in 26"? YES!); so if you ride 26 inch tyres, 27.5 inch (650b) tyres or 29 inch tyres, then don't worry - we've got you covered!
Key factors to consider when buying a mountain bike tyre
Wheel size: Tyres, like wheels, come in three different sizes for mountain bikes: 29 inch, 27.5 inch (650b) and 26 inch. Make sure that you get the right size tyre for your wheelset. The manufacturer's label on your wheelset should detail the size of tyre that they will take.
Tyre width: Tyre width is a key factor in the feel and performance of your bike. A wider tyre gives greater stability when cornering and when moving fast; the higher surface area in contact with the ground improves grip and traction. However, wider tyres reduce mud clearance between the tyre and the frame, and the higher friction also affects speed. Therefore a compromise has to be met: cross country mountain bikers tend to use tyres with a width of 1.8-2.2 inches, whilst more aggressive 'All-Mountain' riders and downhill racers use tyres of 2.1-2.4 inches width.
Front and rear specific tyres
Many manufacturers have front and rear specific tyres; this doesn't mean that you can't use a "front" tyre on the rear, or visa versa; it is just the tread and design of the tyre has been optimised to provide the best performance if you do use them on the intended wheel.
Front tyre features
Typically, a front tyre will have a slightly wider profile than a rear tyre; they also tend to have higher side lugs, but lower central lugs - to provide cornering confidence, but a lower rolling resistance.
Tyres like the Maxxis High Roller II Tyres are particularly popular as front tyres.
Rear tyre features
A rear tyre tends to feature more horizontal spanning knobs; these help to improve traction, and avoid the rear wheel from spinning in wet or muddy conditions. A rear tyre can also be narrower - to improve mud clearance when the tyre begins to carry a lot of debris.
The Continental X King Protection 29er Folding MTB Tyre is a fantastic rear tyre.
What tyres should I get for my riding style?
Cross Country (XC) riding
Cross country riders tend to look for fast rolling tyres, with smoother/smaller knobs and a narrower tyre width.
These tyres maximise performance in conditions that are not overly demanding i.e. normal trails and grass.
In wet conditions, XC riders may look at changing their tyres to narrower profiles - to increase mud clearance. They may also move to larger profile knobs to increase traction.
Mountain bike tyres like the Schwalbe Racing Ralph Evo Liteskin Folding 29er MTB Tyre are made for the XC racer.
Trail and Enduro riding
Trail and 'Enduro' riding requires tyres with more grip and more durability than cross country tyres.
These tyres tend to use softer compounds that "stick" to rocky surfaces better; as well as wider profiles to handle more extreme cornering.
The Schwalbe Hans Dampf Snakeskin Folding TL Easy 650B Tyre is one of the best trail tyres you can get! This particular model offers fantastic sidewall protection against punctures.
What is the recommended off-road tyre pressure?
Off-road tyres are usually marked with a pressure range: from the minimum that will support a rider of average weight, to the absolute maximum the tyre can hold. Do not exceed the maximum when tyres are marked with a range!
If your tyre does not have sidewall markings, then consult a tyre pressure chart from the bike tyre manufacturer; then make your own calculated decision based upon the tyre selection and rider weight.