Things to Consider Before You Buy Mountain Bike Tires
Now that you’ve seen some of the best mountain bike tires on the market, how can you choose the best tire for your needs? All of these tires have high TPI, great durability, and the features you need to stay safe and ride on many types of terrain. So the best way to choose the right tire for you is to consider what type of riding you are doing.
If you like to race or go on long cross-country trail rides, you need a tire that is very lightweight. This gives you more speed, and won’t tire your legs out on the long haul. Racing tires should also have a low rolling resistance, and if you can find a narrower tire, you’ll have an easier time getting the speed you want. If you are riding cross-country, be aware that the terrain is likely going to shift often, from rocky to loose soil to mud, and more, on any given ride. So choose a tire that is going to be able to handle multiple types of surfaces.
If you like to mountain bike in the winter, you need a wide bike tire. Also called fat bike tires in the market, these are the best for handling snow and icy conditions. The more surface area the bike tire has, the more it can grip and plow through a lot of imminent weather. This keeps you safer and helps prevent your legs from doing all the work. These tires are usually run with lower air pressure. Keep in mind that these types of tires are often very pricey.
Enjoy riding downhill? This is a type of mountain bike racing that has become a popular hobby as well. You’ll be going down steep hills that could be rocky, sandy, or anything in between. You definitely need a lot of slip resistance to stay safe, but you also need durable tires that can handle sharp rock points. Choose wider tires with no tubes for this style of riding.
Related: How to Measure a Bike Tire
A Quick Note on Mountain Bike Tire Tubes
What does the tube have to do with anything? You’ll notice in the reviews above that some of the tires we mentioned are tubeless, while others are “tubeless ready”. What does that mean, and why does it matter?
Tubeless tires are the most popular option for mountain bike tires today because they tend to be more durable, and they often experience fewer performance issues. They are built with no tube inside the tire casing; instead, the tire’s air is held by the casing itself. They tend to offer a faster ride, and it’s a bit easier to customize the tire pressure for the type of riding you are doing. Finally, it’s nice to not have to worry about the tube getting punctured when you are trail riding.
However, there are some definite pros to using a tire with a tube. These are built with a thin rubber tube inside the tire casing that holds the tire’s air. The biggest reason to get one of these tires is that they are much easier to change on the go if you get a flat. You can simply change out the tube, reinstall the tire, and be on your way. Carrying an extra tube takes up no space and weighs next to nothing. A tubeless tire change means you’ll need to have an entire extra tire with you.
Finally, a “tubeless ready” tire is one that comes with a tube, but can be used without the tube if you prefer. These are the most versatile option, and are becoming very popular on the market. For the most part, though, you’ll still see more tube tires than anything else simply because tubeless tires are a newer option.
Related: Best Mountain Bike Wheels
Front and Rear Tires
Another thing we mentioned in our reviews was whether or not a tire was suited for both the front and the rear tire of your bike. Usually, no rider will use the same type of tire for the front and rear of the bike, because you want these two tires to do different things. The tread pattern in the front should usually be more aggressive to help plow through difficult terrain, while the tread pattern on the back should be slightly less aggressive to help you get more speed and offer more slip resistance. Look for the label DH-F (front) and DH-R (rear) when deciding if a tire is best for either position.
Time to Replace Your Mountain Bike Tires?
Generally, mountain bike tires need to be replaced anywhere between 2,000 to 5,000 miles. Unless you are buying very high-end tires, you’ll need to start looking for a quality replacement near 2,000 miles. Once you see the treads starting to wear smooth, or you see cracks along the side of the tire, it’s time to replace the tires regardless of the mileage. This will keep you safe and prevent you from being stranded on a remote trail with a flat or blown out tire. Use this article to help you determine the best mountain bike tires for you, and how the top 10 tires on the market could meet your needs as a rider on any terrain.