Tips for Choosing the Best MTB Tires for You

If you are like the rest of us and have become an adrenaline junkie after a few rides of the ol’ mountain bike trail, you might be looking into taking your ride to the next level. One way to do that is to upgrade your bike. While mountain bikes are generally sold as one unit, there are a number of parts that can be customized. For example, you can customize your bike chain, pedals, handlebars, tires and more. Some of these changes may be largely for cosmetic purposes, but changing your bike’s tires will directly affect the performance of your bike.

For mountain bikes, there are a variety of factors that way into which tires you should be using. There are tires for different seasons, different terrains, and even different ride styles. With a little help from the folks over at REI, we have put together a list of tips for you to consider when purchasing new tires for your mountain bike.

MTB Tire Size and Width

The first step is to identify your tire diameter. Once you have identified the size of your tires, you are going to need to select a certain width. For optimal performance, you are going to want to select a tire width that fits your most common riding terrain. We have listed some examples below.

  • Cross Country: 1.9″ to 2.25″ width range.
  • Trail and All-MTB: 2.25″ to 2.4″ width range.
  • Downhill: Tires up to 2.5″. Meant to absorb impact from drops and rock patches.
  • Fat Bikes: Used for all season trail riding and a width 3.7″ to 5″ or more.

When researching new tires, it is important to keep your riding style in mind. If you are someone that is looking for more traction and tires that will absorb the blow of a drop, wider tires will better suit you.

 MTB Tires by Riding Style

Another factor to consider when purchasing mountain bike tires is your riding style. We have listed a few riding styles below.

  • Cross Country: If you are a cross-country rider, you are going to want lightweight tires that roll fast. Lightweight tires will make it easier for you to climb up and down hills.
  • Trail riding: For trail riding, it is recommended that your purchase an all-around tire.
  • All-Mountain: While you have to ride to the top of the mountain, the focus here is on the ride down. For this riding style, it is suggested that you look for tires that can maintain speed, have traction on turns, and can withstand impacts.
  • Downhill Riding: For downhill riding, you are going to want tires that can take some abuse. Generally, these trails will have a lift that takes you to the top, so the main focus should be on tires that will get you down the hill quickly and withstand impacts from drops.

MTB Tires by Tread

You know those little bumps on your tires? Yea, well, they are called “lugs”, and they have an effect on the performance of your bike. Below, we have a list of the common tread patterns and what they do.

  • Big widely spaced lugs: Best for mud or loose dirt. The wide spaces between lugs will make it easier for the mud or dirt to be released.
  • Small, closely spaced lugs: This type of tread is for more speed. The small lugs offer little resistance and an average grip.
  • Ramped lugs: These lugs are in usually in the center of the tire and offer little rolling resistance.
  • Side lugs: Provide extra grip when going around corners.
  • Transition lugs: Located between the center and side lugs. They are intended to increase grip as you turn around tight corners.
  • Sipes: Little slits on the lugs themselves. Sipes are good for getting more grip on harder surfaces.

Now its Time for you to Buy Some New Tires

So, we have provided you with the beginner’s guide to mountain bike tires. Now it’s time for you to go out and get a pair of your own. Have fun and safe riding!