.. Bike cycling is one of the most interesting and exciting sports activities. It is a diverse sport that is more than just traversing down the paved trails or mountains.
As the enthusiasts of bike riding are busy developing their shredding skills, the manufacturers of mountain bike tires are also trying their best to improve the traction and durability of these tires.
What most people don’t take note of the impact that a tire has to any bike riding experience. A tire determines the easy of maneuverability, breaking and the level of grip just to mention a few.
If you are a cross-country rider, you may know what I am talking about.
Tires just like any other equipment are designed with features that suit certain uses more than others.
If you are a rider that makes your way through the rocky paths you need a more aggressive tire that won't disappoint you in the middle of anywhere.
Tires are designed to provide an ample grip, enhance cushioning and reduce the rolling resistance. These features vary depending on the intended use of the bike.
For instance, tires with hard rubber compounds are known to roll faster and last longer but their grip is not as awesome as that of soft tires.
If you like exploring your riding skills and often practice sharp cornering, you need a tire whose side knobs are buttressed.
On the other hand, you may be that novice who wants a tire that has it all. In this case, you may go for an all-around model that strikes a balance between excellent traction, stability, cushioning and a low rolling resistance in any condition.
There a number of factors you need to have in mind before buying a bike tire. Getting the best fit whose quality is impeccable isn’t as easy as you may think.
This is why I have put up this guide to help both the novice and the pros in making the most out of their money.
The Factors You Should Consider Before Buying Mountain Bike Tire:
Diameter and Width:
Knowing the correct dimensions of your bike tire is perhaps the most important consideration. Don’t get yourself into the mess of buying a tire that can’t fit your rim.
Mountain bike tires have dimensions imposed by the sidewall of the tires.
The dimensions look like this: 27×2.25, which implies that the diameter is 27 inches while the width of the tire is 2.25 inches.
I strongly advise that you keep a record of the model of your bike and the dimensions when the bike is new. If knowing the exact measurements blows your mind, try out the following:
- Go to the website of the manufacturer and dig into the specifications of your bike model. You will find the exact measurements;
- Try and trace the manual of your bike and fetch the details of the tire dimensions;
- Look for an expert who deals with bikes. He will be able to recommend to you the right size upon seeing your bike;
In addition, note that some manufacturers usually have a standard measurement across a given brand. Some models also have their wheels sized in metrics.
The tire width creates a lot of variation regarding bike riding experience. Tires with a smaller width tend to have a low-level grip.
They are however very good for any folk that prefers a faster acceleration. The major drawback is that they offer less protection to the rim when one is riding in a rocky terrain.
Front Vs Rear:
Some manufacturers produce specific rear and front tires. This implies that the thread pattern and overall design of the front tire are different from that of the rear.
Most bike riders ignore this consideration because they can’t strike the difference between the two tires. However, this doesn’t imply that the rear tire can’t be used as a front tire.
The reason as to why it is advisable to use the correct tire for the intended wheel is because of performance optimization as well as maintenance. Some tires will wear out faster when seated on the wrong rim.
Just as it is the case with tire dimensions, check the specs given by the manufacturer and determine whether your bike requires front and rear specific tires. If you have trouble differentiating the two try and look for these features:
Features of the front tires-
- Have more directional knobs;
- Tend to have more grips;
- In most brands, the front tire tends to have a larger width;
Features of the rear tires-
- Have horizontal spanning knobs for enhanced traction;
- Most of them are narrower to enhance mud and debris clearance;
Note: The above features are general. They may not hold for all bike models. User discretion is more important when identifying the front or rear tire.
Tube Vs Tubeless:
Most riders are slowly drifting away from tubed tires to the tubeless make. Before giving your personal preference priority, check the sidewall of your tire or read the manual to determine whether your bike model is tubeless specific or not.
Tubed tires are cheaper though not very efficient enough for a modern bike enthusiast. Most riders are a big fan of tubeless tires because of the following advantages:
- No pinch flatting the tube;
- The liquid sealant on the inside seals the tire;
- It is possible to blaze through a rough terrain when the pressure is low;
- They have a low rolling resistance and a better grip;
It is good to think about your riding style before cashing out for any mountain bike tire. If you use your bike within the neighborhood or take a few rides down the hill, your choice won’t be the same as that of XC rider.
In case you do a mix of both or just want a tire that can tackle any form of terrain in any weather conditions, go for something that is aggressive.
Cross country riders are time conscious and therefore need a tire that will allow the highest possible acceleration.
These tires tend to have smaller knobs and a narrower width. On the other hand, trail and standard riders prioritize grip and durability more than speed. These types of tires tend to be soft and sticky.
Threads Per Inch (TPI)-
In their body structure, tires too have their skeleton and flesh. The amount of skeleton or carcass embedded into the rubber is measured in terms of Thread per Inch (TPI). Most tires have their TPI ranging as shown below:
- 27 - low;
- 60 - Medium;
- 120 - High;
Tires with more TPI have a superior quality and are lightweight. The downside of these tires is that they are prone to punctures.
However, they are the best that fast riders opt for because of their low rolling resistance. Low TPI tires are durable but feel stiff. Your riding style will also help in determining your choice here.
This is the art part of tires. Some tires have pointy and larger knobs that enhance grip while others have smaller smooth knobs.
Based on your preference and riding style, you should opt for the tire with the right thread pattern. Thread pattern also helps in identifying a front or rear tire.
Other Considerations :
There are other factors that one may personally consider other than the above. One may, for instance, be interested in a given brand. You may also have the following at the back of your mind when buying a mountain bike tire:
- The weight;
- Specific traction such as cornering;
- The lowest pressure of the tire;
The 5 Best Mountain Bike Tires Review:
1. Schwinn MTB Tire With Kevlar 26 Inch
Schwinn MTB is good all-rounder tire that fits most of the 26” bikes. One amazing feature of this enviable brand is the Kevlar utilization that makes the quality superior. Measuring 26” × 1.95”, the MTB tires hold up to the rim amazingly and they can never disappoint you.
Their 1.95” width ensures that these trail beasts strikes a balance between performance and grip.
The built-in flat resistant layer offers the ultimate rail protection that any bike enthusiast desires. In addition, the MBT also employ ultra durable steel bead in their structure providing an excellent traction. I highly recommend the Schwinn MTB tires for aggressive riding on any terrain.
- Great traction;
- Seating the tire on the rim is a bit challenging;
2. Bell Mountain Tire
If you prefer tackling a rough terrain as you adventure into the unknown then the Bell Mountain tire is what you should give top priority. This is because of the Kevlar layer that makes the tire puncture-tolerance.
Featuring an aggressive tall and knobby tread design, the bell tire offers a superior traction more than any other brand in the 26” category. It is highly suitable for smooth trail and technical single track riding experience.
This butcher offers a superior lightweight performance and fits bikes whose tire width requirement is within 1.75”-2.125”. The Bell Mountain features a carbon steel bead that enhances storage convenience.
You don’t have to worry about the tire no matter how folded it appears. The strength and the extra puncture resistance are some of the features that make the Bell Tire a rugged trail tamer that gets the job done.
This is one of the few excellent brands that will give you an amazing biking experience, full of confidence.
- Superior traction;
- Extra puncture resistance;
- It is slightly heavier;
4. Kenda John Tomac Signature-Series Nevegal Mountain Bike Tire
If sharp cornering and deep climbing are your callings then the Kenda John Nevegal bike has it all. The best part of these tires is the incredible adhesion that delivers optimal bike control when blazing through loose grounds.
Featuring DTC and STICK-E compound, this high-quality specialized butcher is suitable for cross country rides or anything that is more aggressive.
The tires are integrated with Butyl and STICK-E in order to provide extra strength and durability. The Kenda Nevegal STICK-E has a top-grade wear resistance and provides a firm grip in any loose condition.
Whether you are riding through loose, rocky or gravel packed trails, the Kenda version offers a higher traction than most traditional tires. I highly recommend the Kenda Nevegal to those riders that have to deal with loose and muddy conditions.
- Excellent Cornering Traction;
- Better grip in loose conditions;
- Rolling resistance is a bit higher;
5. WTB VelociRaptor Mountain Tire Special Edition
The WTB VelociRaptor is an incredible Front/Rear specific tire that hits the mark as far as outstanding trail performance is concerned. It boasts of its ability to handle anything that comes its way.
Featuring directional tread patterns, the WTB tire offers exceptional cornering and climbing traction.
It is a special edition whose rear tire offers powerful breaking vengeance while the front tire clears the air with its soil clearance and precise steering control capabilities. One great feature of this butcher is its Aramid tread reinforcement that optimizes puncture resistance.
Apart from the ability to provide tenacious traction in any condition, this dominator features a casing that accelerates faster than most trail butchers.
If you prefer riding on a legendary tire that beats the rest, I highly recommend that you consider the WTB VelociRaptor Mountain tire.
- All-round butcher;
- Great at cornering;
- Excellent traction;
- It is slightly heavier;
Final Verdict and Recommendation
Choosing the best tire involves a lot of technical considerations and shouldn’t be taken lightly. The above guide is not only informative but also lists the best tires from some of the World Renowned Tire Manufacturers.
The above brands offer an excellent traction and ground grip in all conditions. I can guarantee that your ride will be smooth as long as you stick to the above tires.
I highly recommend them to anyone willing to explore and elevate his biking riding skills to a higher notch.