The Full Explanation of MTB TIRES (and Which Tire to Choose)

Tires – As I made clear in the article on the most important MTB upgrades,I strongly believe that tires are one of the most important and most impactful items on the bike.

And it’s no use picking a 300-man tire if it’s fit for one thing and you’re using it for another.

This way, today I will talk about the choice of MTB tires, explain their differences and present 3 steps to choose them.

It is worth mentioning that I will deal only with land-based Mountain Bikes – XC, Enduro, Downhill – without addressing the issue of hybrid tires for asphalt and bicycle tires.

Okay, let’s start with the first step in choosing a MTB tire:

1- Bead

Tires can come with its side edge – also called Bead – in kevlar or aramid. The truth is that Kevlar is an aramid compound, but with structural differences that make it more flexible than what we usually call “aramid” on the MTB.For practical purposes, let’s call it kevlar and aramid.

The main differences between the two models is that the Kevlar, in addition to being slightly lighter, can be folded.

This “folding” brings with it the fact that the tire can be transported much more easily, but it becomes a little more difficult to install it on the wheel.

The wire model, however, is a bit heavier and can not be folded, but its installation is easier.

It should also be said that the wire tire is considerably cheaper than Kevlar and that some models of more expensive tires offer only the kevlar version.

2- Choose the width

2.2, 2.0, 1.95 … Which one to choose? As a rule, the smaller the width, the faster the tread, but also the less grip the tire will have on the ground. On the other hand, wider, more resistance of the tire in the running, which makes it more stable and consequently slower. Enjoy the page of the Aventrilha on Face:

The page you have

My recommendation (disregarding the Plus Size tires mentioned earlier):

  • 2.0 inches or less: for cross country on hard roads without many technical stretches;
  • From 2.0 to 2.3 inches: Mountain bikers that pedal on boulders, single tracks and require more of the tire;
  • Above 2.3 inches: Cyclists of Gravity modes such as Downhill and All Mountain where what matters is grip!

Important : Always choose the same width for the rear and front tires.You can understand why I said in this article that explains that a narrower rear tire than the front does not have advantages for a mountain bike.

3- Treadmills

Perhaps this is the most important aspect in choosing a new tire.The tread – tire tread that stays in contact with the ground most of the time – varies greatly depending on its function.

A road bike tire, for example, has a completely smooth band, as the asphalt is in charge of maintaining the tire’s grip with the ground.

In mountain biking, however, the layout varies greatly.Now we are on a hard and soft road, now we are on a slippery gravel descent.In general, mountain bike tires can be divided into 3:

Quick tires

They have tread bands with many blackheads, but small and very close to each other.

With this shape, they outperform gravel and small rocks with speed and stability, but they are not designed for mud and do not “stick” to the ground.

Its design is special for competitive cross country cyclists and pedal mainly on dirt roads or has priority on pedal speed!

In the photo, we have the Crossmark, Maxxis’ fast tire

Other examples of fast tires are:

  • Maxxis Aspen
  • Specialized Renegade
  • Continental Race King
  • Kenda Small Block Eight

Tires, intermediate

For those who take MTB on the trails, they live in mountainous regions – and therefore downhill that require a lot of tires – but still spend a lot of time on the roadside, the choice of intermediate tires may be ideal for you.

Intermediate tires already have slightly larger spaced and larger blackheads, which allow better mud elimination, and pass through obstacles like roots and loose stones more easily.With that, as we have seen, they lose in running.But when it comes to MTB it’s like that: win there, lose it.

Here they would fit in some All Mountain/Enduro tires.

In the photo we have Schwalbe’s Rocket Ron Tire.Other examples of intermediate tires are:

  • Maxxis Ignitor
  • Continental X-King
  • Kenda Nevegal
  • Specialized Eskar

Gravity/DH Tires

If your business is skipping craters and getting off as fast as possible, Downhill tires (usually categorized as Gravity in English) are certainly the right ones.

They have very large, spaced-apart blackheads with the aim of clinging to what they can, making them essential to Downhill’s bike – or even All Mountain / Enduro (there are differences between Downhill and All Mountain gravity tires , But is subject to another article).

Do not put them on your bike if your goal is not performance in decides.The purpose of these tires is not to rotate over open dirt roads and single tracks of low technical difficulty.

In the photo we have the Wetscream, from Maxxis.Other models are:

  • Continental Kaiser
  • Schwalbe Magic Mary


If you follow the Aventrilha you must have noticed how I am an unconditional fan of Tubeless for Mountain Bike.There are many tires that accompany the “Tubeless” brand on the side, to indicate that it was created precisely to meet this technology.

Some tires without the Tubeless brand accept the conversion, but not all.I had a bad experience with Kenda’s Nevegal tire, which, even though it was a fantastic tire, featured several sideband bubbles over time:

If you want to learn more about tubeless tires and tubeless conversion, I have two articles on the topic here:

  • How to convert your wheel to Tubeless (with only $ 30);
  • Top 10 biggest myths about tires and tubeless wheels .

Remember if:

When I published this article, I emailed to those who signed up for that week’s newsletter (01/26/17) telling me which are my 3 favorite tires.If you no longer want to lose this type of article, sign up for the newsletter below.

And finally I leave some final tips:

  • Pedal on rough terrain, take trails, but would you like to prioritize a little speed?Test put a faster type of tire back with an intermediate in front;
  • Do not forget to keep the front tire diameter equal to the back;
  • Tire expensive does not mean anything.Remember the treadmill is ideal for the use you will make of the tire;
  • Remember to subscribe to the newsletter

Hugs and good pedals!