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The Best Tires for Your Mountain Bike

🕚 Updated August 2021

If you're wanting to upgrade your mountain bike, don't underestimate the impact a new set of tires can have on your bike's performance. No matter where or how you ride, the tires you choose can make a big difference in the traction, resistance, and overall durability.

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  Best for Racing Best All-Around Best Budget Most Puncture-Resistant Best Pair
ShieldWall Mountain Bike Replacement Tire
Ardent Dual Compound MTB Tire for All Mountain Bike Trails
Replacement Bike Tire
Minion Dual Compound MTB Tire
K847 Kross Plus Mountain Bike Tires 
Our SummaryThis mountain bike tire combines low resistance with a light weight that's ideal for races.This is a great tire for cross country, trail, and enduro racing.This is a great mountain bike tire option that won't break the bank.This mountain bike tire holds up against cuts and abrasions, making it great for those extra-rough mountain paths.An affordable pair of mountain bike tires that offers great traction and low rolling resistance.
ProsNumerous size and tread pattern options, lightweight.Decent size selection, great for professionals and beginners, durable.Highly affordable, long service life, stable traction.Extra protection against punctures, good balance of control and speed, dense yet lightweight.Great value, high tensile strength, also suitable for regular bikes.
ConsMight be too fast for some, offers less control.Price varies considerably by size, not a specialty tire.Not built for speed or racing, makes pedaling harder.Comes loose easily, too thick for some bikes.Narrow than most models, not great for super rocky terrain.
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The Best Tires for Your Mountain Bike

A man does a wheelie on a mountain bike on rough lakeside terrain.

Even if your mountain bike is brand new and won’t need a tire change for some time, it’s useful to keep a spare tire or two on hand so that you aren’t caught off guard if a tire pops unexpectedly. Here are some mountain bike tires that we recommend for you.

Buying Guide for Mountain Bike Tires

A mountain bike tire rests on top of fallen leaves on a path in the woods.

Why buy mountain bike tires?

If you plan to ride your bike on mountain paths or any other sort of rough terrain, mountain bike tires are a superior option for two main reasons. First, mountain bike tires provide much better traction than regular bike tires. More traction means more control. Second, mountain bike tires absorb shocks and jolts better thanks to their tread—a handy feature for trails with lots of roots, rocks, and other jagged objects that might be found along your path. Better shock absorption means a more comfortable ride for you on rough terrain.

What should you look for in mountain bike tires?

Here are the basic factors to consider:

  • Tire Dimensions: Make sure that you get the correct tire size for your wheel and your bike’s frame. Usually, MTB tires are either 26, 27.5, or 29 inches in diameter. Width also plays a considerable role in your tire’s grip on the ground. A wider tire is better suited for soft terrain and rocky roads than a skinnier one, but slim tires create less rolling resistance, which comes in handy on long-distance trips.
  • Tread: The tread is the outermost rubber of the tire. It’s designed with different knob shapes, sizes, patterns, and more, which all play roles in gripping, rolling, and braking. A tread with raised and spread-out knobs will be the superior choice for most mountain biking, as this type of tread tends to do well on loose dirt or muddy ground. If you want something with more speed or that does well on firmer surfaces, look for a tire with a shorter tread.
  • Purpose: Consider how you use your mountain bike most of the time. Do you use it for racing, cross country, trail biking, enduro, downhill, or just riding around the neighborhood? Or is it some combination of these? There are different types of mountain bike tires designed for different types of biking and terrains. Be sure to check a tire’s listing to see whether it’s intended for a specific purpose or whether it’s an all-purpose tire.

How much do mountain bike tires cost?

The price of mountain bike tires will vary considerably depending on the brand, model, size, material, and quantity. In general, they’re a bit pricier than regular bike tires since they tend to be larger and wider. A single mountain bike tire can run from around $25 to $100. Plenty of mountain bike tires are sold in pairs, ranging in cost from $50 to $140, and are thus more cost-efficient to you than if you bought one tire alone. Even if you only need to replace one tire, it’s worth keeping a spare on hand just in case.

Our Picks for the Best Mountain Bike Tires

Best for Racing

Continental Cross King ShieldWall Mountain Bike Tire - 26 x 2.2 Folding MTB Tire Black

This mountain bike tire combines low resistance with a lighter weight that's ideal for races.

Pros: The low rolling resistance alone makes this tire an invaluable choice for racing. On top of that, it’s incredibly lightweight, so it won’t drag you down or add extra weight. And with 12 different sizes and five different treads available, you can easily pick whichever version of this tire is right for your bike.

Cons: While the speed that this tire provides is great for racing, it might prove to be too fast for anyone who doesn’t want to race their mountain bike. The lower resistance means that it doesn’t provide as much control as some other mountain bike tires. The price varies considerably depending on which tread and size you pick. Some are more affordable, while others fall on the higher end of mountain bike tire costs.

Bottom Line: If you prefer speed over control and resistance, or you race your bike on mountain paths, then this is the tire for you. Between its lesser weight and low rolling resistance, you’ll be able to glide and speed along nearly effortlessly. However, if you want to feel more in control, you’ll probably want to pass on this tire.


Best All-Around

Maxxis - Ardent | 29 x 2.25 | Dual, EXO | Black

This is a great tire for cross country, trail, and enduro racing.

Pros: Unlike some mountain bike tires, this model works equally well for nearly all bikers, no matter what level they’re at. Professionals and amateurs and everyone in between will receive equal value and performance from this tire. And it doesn’t matter if you’re into cross country biking, racing, or trail biking, this tire will work admirably well for each type. Regardless of which size you pick, this tire can be bought alone or in pairs, depending on your needs.

Cons: The price of one of these tires is fairly inconsistent, depending on which size you buy. Smaller tires are quite reasonably priced, while the larger ones tend to cost on the higher end of the scale. While this is a great all-around tire, it isn’t the best specialty tire. For instance, if you’re a dedicated mountain bike racer, you’ll probably want to opt for a mountain bike tire designed specifically for racing.

Bottom Line: This is a great tire for beginners or for anyone who likes to mix up their mountain biking adventures. It would be ideal for, say, someone who likes to take their mountain bike on a cross country trip one week and then race with their buddies the next week. But if you’re dedicated to one specific type of mountain biking, you’re better off opting for a specialty tire made for your preferred style.


Best Budget

Schwinn Replacement Bike Tire, Mountain Bike, 26 x 1.95-Inch , Black with Carbon Steel Bead

This is a great mountain bike tire option that won't break the bank.

Pros: This tire is incredibly affordable. The price is slightly lower than even the generally more affordable mountain bike tires, so it won’t break the bank every time you need a replacement. Better yet, the steel bead construction and Kevlar body make it more durable, so you’ll also spend less money on replacements. Its tread is designed for stability and smooth sailing on even the most uneven or loose terrain.

Cons: The tread that makes this tire so great for uneven, unpredictable terrains also means that it isn’t built for speed. And even if you opt for one of the thinner tire sizes, its thick tread makes pedaling harder, especially if your bike has gears (as almost all mountain bikes do).

Bottom Line: This mountain bike tire is ideal for rocky trails, paths with loose dirt, or even the beach thanks to its wide tread. While not the best choice for racing or for those who value speed over stability, its affordable price tag makes it an appealing option for any other user.


Most Puncture-Resistant

Maxxis - Minion DHF Tubeless Ready Bicycle Tire | 29 x 2.3 | Dual, EXO| Black

This mountain bike tire holds up against cuts and abrasions, making it great for those extra-rough mountain paths.

Pros: While most mountain bike tires have some sort of puncture resistance, this model takes it up a level. It’s resistant to punctures, cuts, and abrasions. This means that you’re much less likely to get an accidental hole or an inconvenient flat tire in the middle of a course or path. This tire is also designed to work equally well on both wet and dry terrain, and it offers a nice balance of speed and control that makes it suitable for racing and downhill and cross country mountain biking.

Cons: Despite its fairly standard measurements, this mountain bike tire might be too thick for some bikes. It’s only sold as a single tire, so you’ll have to pay the extra cost of two tires at once rather than save money in a bundle or pair. Some users reported that the tires loosen from the frame over time.

Bottom Line: As long as you ensure that this tire will fit your bike properly, it’s a great all-purpose mountain bike tire. This is especially true if you want the peace of mind provided by the bonus abrasion resistance and cut resistance. Parents with teens who mountain bike will love these tires for that very reason.


Best Pair

Sunlite K847 Kross Plus Goliath 26x1.95 PAIR Mountain Bike Tires Urban/Trail

An affordable pair of mountain bike tires that offers great traction and low rolling resistance.

Pros: Not only are these mountain bike tires more cost-efficient simply from being sold as a pair, but they actually cost the same amount as one mid-priced mountain bike tire, providing an excellent value. And unlike some other mountain bike tires, these do just as well on more standard roads and bike types, making them more like hybrid tires than most.

Cons: Due to their balanced nature, these tires are thinner than most mountain bike tires, which means that their tread isn’t quite as strong as some others. You might not want to take them on super-rough or rocky trails for this reason.

Bottom Line: With two mountain bike tires for the price of one, this is a high-value bargain for most mountain bikers. And since they work well on smooth roads and regular bikes as well as on mountain paths and mountain bikes, they’re best for anyone who mountain bikes on occasion but mostly sticks to more conventional roads.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a mountain biker, it’s absolutely worth investing in a good set of mountain bike tires. This is true whether you race, cross country bike, do enduro courses, or enjoy any other sort of mountain biking. Mountain bike tires can provide enhanced speed, better traction and control, and better puncture resistance on rough roads to keep you pedaling.

Jonah Chin Jonah Chin
Jonah Chin is a freelance writer for LifeSavvy where he's able to openly share his thorough product considerations, critiques, and recommendations for you to benefit from. When he's away from the keyboard, he enjoys competing in sports like wrestling and playing instruments like the guitar. Read Full Bio »
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