Best Mountain Bike Tires

Choosing your next mountain bike is one thing but deciding upon the tires that you want, that is an entirely different decision altogether. It is similar to buying new tires for your vehicle. No matter the model you have, the excellent fuel economy, terrific horsepower, etc., if you have balding tires (especially in the winter) then the driving experience will not be at the level it should. Same applies to your bicycle tires and that is precisely why this list is created, to present you with what to look for in mountain bike tires and to show off some of the more impressive versions.

With how important the decision is for your mountain bike tires we have created a top ten list in the market today to help you decide which tires are best suited for you. When it comes to a mountain bike ride you will need durable and strong tires to withstand the terrain. To make sure you get the proper tire we have stated the criteria for each product and the pros and cons to each tire option.

Last Updated: June 27, 2018
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By Melissa Coleiro:

This list has been updated with the most recent and high quality version of each product on the market today. We have updated the introduction, final thoughts, added in a FAQs question & answer, and a new product the WTB Wolverine Amazon link to the top ten mountain bike tires list.

Maxxis Minion
  • Maxxis Minion
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • EXO protection
  • Versatile
  • Price: See Here
Maxxis Aggressor
  • Maxxis Aggressor
  • 4.9 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Durable
  • Great weight balance
  • Price: See Here
Michelin Wildrock'R2
  • Michelin Wildrock'R2
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Reinforced technology
  • Wide terrain range
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Mountain Bike Tires

Maxxis Minion Front Exo

If you are looking for an aggressive tire that is suitable for nearly any terrain you can think of, then the Minion Front Exo Tire from Maxxis immediately comes to mind. In addition, its EXO protection is a highly flexible fabric that offers great sidewall protection.
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Tread Pattern
For increased grip and a low rolling resistance, Maxxis incorporates ramped knobs and channel-cut knobs into the tire. This will also give you straight-line control and precise turning when cornering.

Durability and Protection
To enhance the longevity, the Minion features the 3C Maxx Terra compound and this uses three separate compounds in the outer layer. In addition, the tire has EXO protection that offers superb sidewall protection and prevents cuts and abrasions.

Width and Size
The width and size that are available on Amazon are 2.3-inches and 27.5-inches, respectively.

Ideal Riding Conditions
It really does not matter what terrain you ride this tire on, loose or hard or dry or wet, it holds up well. In fact, this tire is actually designed for loose and muddy conditions.

Tubeless or Tubed
The Minion does have a tubeless set-up and does require the use of a liquid sealant. But, this delivers the benefits of a tubeless tire without sacrificing weight in any way.

Overall
Some users may feel that this tire is overly aggressive and not smooth enough but really, the Minion is utterly fantastic and nearly perfect. Without question, its durability and ridiculous grip should be enough to sell you.
Pros
  • The channel-cut knobs offers exceptional grip around corners
  • Features EXO protection to prevent cuts and abrasions on trails
  • It is ideal for a wide range of terrains
Cons
  • May be too aggressive and could roll a little better

 

Maxxis Aggressor

This solution is about as good as it gets for dry terrain with its amazing combination of durability, rolling resistance and weight. But, you will want to forego riding these tires in wet or muddy conditions and the tight knob spacing does not properly accommodate it.
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Tread Pattern
Due to the advanced knob shaping, you are delivered a terrific amount of grip. Plus, the channel that is located in-between the side knobs and center is not too wide resulting in easier finesse when turning.

Durability and Protection
Again, Maxxis utilizes an EXO casing to prolong the lifespan of the tire and to protect it from jagged rocks on the trails. Past this, the side knobs have been reinforced.

Width and Size
Two sizes are available for you to choose from, either 27.5-inches or 29-inches, but only one width of 2.3-inches.

Ideal Riding Conditions
While this tire can handle all sorts of terrains from heavy riding to simple cross-country courses, it is limited in this respect. Thanks to the tight knob spacing, this is not the best option for riding in wet and muddy conditions.

Tubeless or Tubed
Right from the word go, this is tubeless ready and can be utilized as such. Thus, you receive the advantages of puncture resistance, speed, and grip.

Overall
Honestly, the only reason to be disinterested in the Aggressor is if you regularly plan to ride in wet conditions. This is truly the only caveat as everything else is nearly perfect and above and beyond what you would expect.
Pros
  • Features EXO casing to protect the tire
  • User-friendly around corners and easy to finesse the tire
  • Balances traction, durability and weight extremely well
Cons
  • Due to the tight knob spacing, not ideal for wet or muddy conditions

 

Michelin Wildrock'R2

Michelin knows a thing a two about the tire manufacturing business and their WildROCK’R2 could be the best tire they have ever produced. For a long-lasting lifetime, Michelin implements their reinforced technology into this tire that improves the casing protection.
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Tread Pattern
To create high-pressure areas and improve the overall grip, there are numerous sipes that have been comprised in the tread. Also, the immense lateral blocks create a ridge for great gripping.

Durability and Protection
Michelin implements their genius here and they improve the casing protection by adding an additional layer from bead to bead.

Width and Size
The three most common tire sizes are all available and this includes 26-inches, 27.5-inches and 29-inches. Each one comes with the option for a 2.35-inch width.

Ideal Riding Conditions
No matter the terrain you plan on riding on, rocky, dirt, sand, and even wet, this tire performs admirably in all of them. Heck, even in trails that are covered with wet leaves, they still hold up well.

Tubeless or Tubed
Much like all the other elite mountain bike tires, these are tubeless ready and offering all the advantages that have been previously mentioned in other tires.

Overall
At this point, you are probably pondering how this is not number one on this list. Everything is practically flawless but, and you knew this was coming, they are quite a heavy tire. Perhaps, too large in mass for some riders.
Pros
  • They hold up in a wide range of terrains
  • Features reinforced technology to improve the casing protection
  • Comes in three different sizes
Cons
  • For a mountain bike tire, they are quite heavy

 

Michelin Wild Race'R

Michelin Wild Race'R
Being a part of the Fast Terrain line-up of tires, you can bet that the Wild Race’r is ready for speed and racing. However, it can also survive in wet conditions and the tire may get covered in gunk, but it still delivers enough grip to brake and turn normally.
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Tread Pattern
There is only a minimal amount of tread in the center of the tire. What this means for you is when you reach a tight corner, the tread and tire will stick fast to the ground and you will need to properly adapt to it.

Durability and Protection
If you veer off the intended path and encounter some rough and rugged terrain, this tire should provide ample protection. With a reinforced edge to edge layer of the material, it will do a superb job of shrugging off impacts and rocks.

Width and Size
This is a 29-inch tire but for the first time on this list, you can choose from two different widths. Either select 2.1-inches or 2.25-inches in width.

Ideal Riding Conditions
Of all the design features, this may be where the Wild Race’r shines the brightest. It performs well on rugged terrain with roots and rocks or even in areas where it rained the night before. Even though it may be soaked in mud, it still provides the grip and traction you need.

Tubeless or Tubed
If you are starting to get the gist of things, the best tires are tubeless. Michelin follows in the footsteps of all the other high-quality mountain bike tires and provides a tubeless-ready set-up.

Overall
Just like their previous tire that made its way on this list, the Wild Race’r is a heavy tire and may be too immense for some. Despite this, the quality and workmanship can’t be denied and everyone can appreciate this.
Pros
  • It is tubeless and sealing it is a piece of cake
  • Intended for speed and racing
  • Still maintain their grip even in wet and muddy conditions
Cons
  • Again, a bit heavy for a mountain bike tire

Schwalbe Rock Razor

Schwalbe Rock Razor
While the Rock Razor tire is a little bit limited in terms of the terrain you can ride on, it is tubeless ready given it all the advantages that this possess. This includes clear enhancements in puncture resistance, comfort and grip.
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Tread Pattern
The combination of the fast and flat studs with the sturdy lugs is enough to provide you with excellent cornering grip and traction overall.

Durability and Protection
Schwalbe adds their own unique protection technology: SnakeSkin fabric. Not only does this only add around 40 grams in weight but it is practical for protecting the tire from sharp rocks and potential abrasions.

Width and Size
The choice is yours from either a 26-inch tire or a 27.5-inch tire. However, the width remains 2.35-inches for both variations.

Ideal Riding Conditions
Against rugged and jagged terrain, the Rock Razor does hold up fairly well. However, if you plan on riding on this type of terrain regularly then you may want to look elsewhere as it may not have enough bite for you.

Tubeless or Tubed
To offer enhancements in grip, speed, comfort, and durability, this tire is tubeless ready and ready to go.

Overall
Due to the lack of bite, this is limited in the type of terrain it is suitable for. With that being said, the SnakeSkin protection enables the Rock Razor to hold up to sharp rocks or any object that can potentially penetrate the tire.
Pros
  • There are no tubes and this is tubeless ready
  • Features a low rolling resistance and minimal weight
  • Holds up very well against punctures and potential abrasions
Cons
  • Limited in respects to the terrain it is suitable for

WTB Wolverine

WTB Wolverine
As a starting tire to explore different terrains and to get your feet wet a little, the Wolverine from WTB is an ideal choice. It may not be as fast or have as much grip as other tires, but it absolutely excels in durability and longevity.
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Tread Pattern
The tread is moderately spaced throughout the tire which will allow it to cling to the surface and the outside knobs enable it to shred corners with ease.

Durability and Protection
The Wolverine is designed to last for miles upon miles of use. One reviewer documented that they could realistically put around 1000 miles on one set of these tires; while rotating the tires halfway between their shelf life.

Width and Size
No matter, the width of this tire measures 2.2-inches. But, you can select the size and your options are either 26-inches or 27.5-inches.

Ideal Riding Conditions
WTB markets their Wolverine as an all-conditions XC race tire. This indicates it can hold up and perform in any terrain and overall, it seems to hold up to this label. Meaning, this could be feasible for trail riding or cross-country riding.

Tubeless or Tubed
This tire is intended to be used as a tubeless tire and we will not continue to spew the same rhetoric of the performance advantages that these hold compared to tubed tires.

Overall
It is just the manner in which this tire is designed that makes it suitable for almost everyone, but specifically those who are looking for a well-rounded tire. It may not be the best at anything but it is stellar in almost every respect.
Pros
  • Great for exploring different types of terrain
  • Excellent durability and longevity
  • Due to the open-tread pattern, it sports admirable stability in wet conditions
Cons
  • They do not brake hard and will not stop your force right away
  • May not be suitable for high-end bikers

Schwalbe Racing Ralph

Schwalbe Racing Ralph
So many of these mountain bike tires are eerily close in quality and such is the case for the Racing Ralph Tire. Despite the fact the sealant you apply oozes out everywhere and that they may not be suitable for all terrains, the tire rolls smooth and the SnakeSkin reduces flats.
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Tread Pattern
As the name of the tire implies, Racing Ralph, this is a great tire for speed. Thus, the tread is very low in depth and is able to accommodate speed with a low weight.

Durability and Protection
Once again, Schwalbe utilizes their SnakeSkin casing to provide enhanced durability. This provides you with a tire that has exceptionally strong sidewalls and an overall high-tolerance to punctures.

Width and Size
Variety is the spice of life and you are provided with three different sizes and widths. The sizes range from 26-inches, 27.5-inches and 29-inches. Meanwhile, widths are available from 2.1-inches, 2.25-inches, and 2.35-inches.

Ideal Riding Conditions
The tread pattern, while adapting for high speeds, is also responsible for the limited amount of terrain that this tire is suitable for. Granted the trails you are riding on are halfway decent, in terms of its condition, you should be fine.

Tubeless or Tubed
Indeed, the Racing Ralph is another tire in the near-infinite line of tires that incorporate a tubeless design.

Overall
While not the best for people who enjoy riding on rough and rugged terrain, it certainly adapts for those looking for a high-quality build with exceptional speed.
Pros
  • Features a fairly easy tubeless set-up
  • They climb very well and roll smooth
  • Thanks to the SnakeSkin, the chance for flats are significantly reduced
Cons
  • Decent trail conditions are required for adequate traction
  • The sealant you apply tends to ooze out everywhere and you may have to double the applicant

Maxxis Mammoth

Maxxis Mammoth
If you can live with the fact that the Mammoth requires a healthy dose of self-steering on your part, you can enjoy the tire for what it is. And that is an extremely puncture resistant tire that is feasible to use in nearly all conditions (even light snowfall).
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Tread Pattern
To meet the requirements of a fat bike, the tread pattern has been modified and widened from that of the Maxxis Ardent. In addition, the low-center tread will minimize the rolling resistance.

Durability and Protection
With Maxxis tires, you are almost guaranteed a tire that is built-to-last. Of course, this is thanks to the EXO protection carcass that will prolong the shelf life of the tire itself.

Width and Size
The Mammoth is a 26-inch tire and its 4-inch width easily classifies it as a fat bike tire.

Ideal Riding Conditions
Because of the relatively open tread pattern, when you encounter wet terrain the grip will not be compromised too much. As such, this tire is feasible for use in all four seasons and even during a moderate snowfall (not heavy snow).

Tubeless or Tubed
Now, this is not a tubeless- ready tire. However, that does not mean it can’t be used as a tubeless tire. Just know, it will not be so upon arrival.

Overall
Unlike the other tires on this list, the Mammoth is quite different as it has a 4-inch width (which is nearly double most of the others). While this requires a lot of self-steering on your part, it is a brilliant all-year tire.
Pros
  • Has a very high-tolerance to abrasions
  • Suitable for use in all seasons, but very light in the winter
  • For a fat bike tire, the speed is quite impressive
Cons
  • Not very good rolling resistance at high air pressures
  • Requires a strong amount of self-steering

Schwalbe Hans Dampf

Schwalbe Hans Dampf
While not Schwalbe’s most impressive creation, their Hans Dampf tire is still great in its own right. With all-out grip around corners, a tubeless design and several different sizes available, this is still a worthy tire.
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Tread Pattern
Overall, this is a very balanced tread pattern; providing you with a strong flow on single tracks and full control on rough and jagged terrain.

Durability and Protection
The Apex protection integrated on this tire does add stability and puncture resistance over the long haul. But, some reviewers have questioned its durability and claimed it wears faster than other tires.

Width and Size
You do have the option to choose the size, with selections of 26-inches, 27.5-inches, and 29-inches, but the default width is 2.35-inches.

Ideal Riding Conditions
Over a wide variety of terrain, the Hans Dampf tends to hold up sufficiently. But, it is worth noting that when you ride over softer surfaces, this tire tends to dig rather quickly.

Tubeless or Tubed
To keep with the theme, this is indeed tubeless.

Overall
No doubt, there are some legitimate concerns that you must assess with the Hans Dampf. However, do not let those overshadow the fact that this tire still deserves recognition for its impressive tread pattern and tubeless design.
Pros
  • Provides precise traction on the rear
  • Literally no dead zone during corners and nothing but grip
  • Comes in three different sizes
Cons
  • Rolls slow and tends to dig into sand and loose terrain
  • Some users have noted that they do wear faster than other tires

Continental Trail King

Continental Trail King
Continental integrates their revolutionary Black Chili Compound into this tire. The result is a tire that has improved grip, enhanced durability and a reduction in the rolling resistance. Despite this, the sidewall tends to wear faster than elite tires and this holds it back a bit.
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Tread Pattern
Continental produced their unique rubber tread mixture in Germany and it possesses a multitude of small knobs that will virtually guarantee adequate traction on any bike trails.

Durability and Protection
By utilizing an improved compound, the casing is able to better withstand the abuse that tires endure. Also, it is topped off with added rubber at the bead. But, some users have noticed the sidewall wears down quicker than other mountain bike tires.

Width and Size
The basic tire sizes are present for you to select from including 26-inches, 27.5-inches and 29-inches. Also, you can choose between widths of 2.2-inches and 2.4-inches.

Ideal Riding Conditions
For the most part, the design of the Trail King allows it to hold up to many land types. Because it has a light and agile footprint, in conjunction with its minimal weight, it is able to achieve this.

Tubeless or Tubed
Besides the fact that this is another tubeless-ready design, it is also very easy to set it up.

Overall
With its great combination of the Black Chili Compound, for improved grip and a reduction in rolling resistance, and small knobs for great traction on difficult terrains, this is a suitable for tire for anyone who calls themselves a bicyclist.
Pros
  • Implements Continental’s Black Chili Compound
  • Ideal for a multitude of terrains
  • Features a tubeless-ready set-up
Cons
  • As compared to other tires, the sidewall tends to wear quicker

Criteria Used For The Evaluation

The Tread Pattern and Design

No matter how ignorant you are when it comes to tires, you have most likely heard people refer to the tread on their tires. So, you should at least have a basic understanding of why they are on tires. But, what should you look for and are certain tread patterns better than others? It is not as if certain patterns are superior, it just depends on your preference. For example, tires with long and pointy knobs will deliver enhanced grip and traction if that is what you prefer. But, the spacing of the knobs is also important as it too can affect the grip.

Generally speaking, you will see tread patterns fall into basic categories. For starters, you have tread patterns that adapt for low rolling resistance for slicker tires. Then, you have tread patterns that are designed to adapt to all terrains and situations. Also, as mentioned earlier, you have tires with huge lugs that provide maximum grip and aggressive downhill riding. Just remember, the center knobs are going to take the most abuse on tires and the side knobs will mostly be used when you corner.

How Durable They Are and Their Protection

Durability is always going to be important but it deserves special recognition when you assess tires. Why? What is the nature of their design? If you answer this question, you will easily be able to answer the previous. Tires are going to take a ton of abuse, so the protection provided to the sidewall and overall durability is paramount. One of the key areas you want to analyze is the carcass on a tire, which is the fabric portion of the tire. Manufacturers, such as Maxxis with their EXO protection, sometimes integrate their own protective technology to add a great amount of tolerance to the unknown nature of the roads you traverse.

On bike trails, you never know what you are going to run into; jagged rocks, small pebbles, glass, etc. If the carcass is not made of high-quality material, or there is not proper casing protection for it and the sidewall, the tires will be more prone to punctures. In turn, this will lead to you repairing your flat tire over and over again. That seems like an unnecessary hassle that you should avoid.

The Width and Size of the Tire

This one is a no-brainer so never forget to consider it. What good is a tire that will not fit on your current mountain bike? The most common sizes for mountain bike tires are 26-inches, 27.5-inches and 29-inches. Make sure that you are knowledgeable about the current requirements of your bike and as long as you do that, you can pick the correct size. However, just as a side note, if you ever see a bike that is labeled in centimeters, it is probably not a coincidence and it is probably referring to a road bike and not a mountain bike.

But, you also have to pay attention to the width of the tire. This comes into play when you think about the performance of the tires. Generally speaking, tires that are skinnier in width will roll faster and have a lower resistance. On the other hand, wider tires can absorb more impact and probably have durability advantages.  In addition to all of this, also note that your bike may not be able to handle a certain width of the tire. If the tire is too wide, it may not allow enough clearance and may not fit on your bike.

The Type of Terrain It Can Handle

If there is anything you can learn from mountain bike tires it is that not all are designed to handle the same terrain. Do not expect each tire to handle the same exact conditions because you will be disappointed. You should not ever need to worry about how a mountain bike performs on roads and clean pavement, it is more when they ride on bike trails and wet terrains. Given that these are mountain bike tires, they are designed to withstand more abuse than traditional tires. Still, some are not designed to handle wet and muddy conditions. Be sure that you know what you are buying and if you want to travel in all types of weather, ensure the mountain bike tire is suited for it.

If It Is Tubeless or Not

It can’t be overstated enough the advantages that a tubeless tire design provides for you. First off, because there is no friction between the tube and the tire, the rolling resistance is significantly reduced. This will then lead to enhanced speed and even as compared to ultralight tires, may have even lower rolling resistance. Secondly, tubeless tires can still be used at lower air pressures without sacrificing the performance in the slightest. Why is this important? Well, this will offer increased comfort and also control when you are riding on rough trails. Lastly, it is impossible for tubeless tires to have a sudden loss of air through bursting tubes (as there are none) and therefore, the resistance to abrasions and punctures is also increased.

But, even if the tire is not marketed as tubeless-ready it does not indicate that it can’t be used as a tubeless tire. Granted that they have a UST marketing label, they can be used in conjunction with a tubeless wheel set-up. However, a tad bit of trial and error may be necessary for this instance.

FAQs

Q:   How Much Air Should Your Mountain Bike Tire Have?

Perhaps a better way to word this question would have been to ask if too much air pressure is possible. With every single tire in the world, there is a proper amount of air pressure that they should have and you do not want to be too low or too high. But, what is this pressure? Of course, it is going to vary a bit but when this question is associated with bike tires, it could actually vary a lot. Air pressure is measured in pounds per square inch (psi) and most generally, mountain bike tires will need to be filled anywhere from 25 to 35 psi.

However, you are going to need to factor in your body weight. Clearly, the heavier you are the more pressure you should apply to your tires. At the end of the day, though, consult the manufacturer to ensure the correct amount of pressure you should be putting in the tire.

Q:   Can You Use a Tubeless-Ready Tire with a Tube?

It has been emphasized a few times that tubeless tires hold advantages over tubed versions. However, with a tubeless-ready tire, this does not mean that it is mandatory to use it as so. If you feel the need, you can use the tire with a tube. This will not vary from model to model as no matter what, all tubeless tires can be used with a tube. But, why would you want to? Honestly, the main reason why you may prefer to stick with tubes is that of the hassle that tubeless tires can give you. Due to the stiff bead designed that grips the lip on the rim, tubeless tires can be difficult to both install and remove when necessary.

Q:   Should You Buy Two of the Same Tire for Both the Front and Rear?

When deciding which tire you want to invest in, it may have crossed your mind that you need two tires: one for the front of your bike and one the back. Question is, should you simply buy two of the same tire and apply both on your bike? The short answer is no but before that is addressed, you will always know whether a specific tire is designed to work at the front or the back. If you see a bike labeled as DH-F, it is designed for the front. Thus, DH-R is reserved for rear tires.

Now, here is why it matters. You may want the tread patterns to be different depending on what you want. A more aggressive tire in the front will lend its hand to enhanced handling, while a less aggressive tire in the rear will adapt for faster rolling.

Q:   What Do You Need to Fill up and Seal Tubeless Tires?

If you do decide to go with a tubeless set-up, there is some minor preparation that you need to partake in before you take the tire out on the trails. Besides the obvious need of tubeless-ready rims and tires, you will also need a tire sealant, a new valve stem, and rim tape. For the sealant, many users have claimed that Stan’s works very well. Now, here is the unfortunate aspect about all of this, applying the sealant and properly applying the tubeless tire is not an easy process. Hence, why some people stick to tubed.

But, if you know a local bicycle shop that will do the work for you, pay them to do it. Yes, it will cost you more money but would not your rather know it is applied correctly by professionals? It will just ease your mind and save you the hassle in the long run.

Q:   How to Maintain Tubeless Tires?

Tires will not last forever and they are also not a perfect creation, just like everything else. As such, specifically with tubeless mountain bike tires, they may be a little maintenance required on your part. Unlike actually installing and sealing them, this is nothing you should fret over as it is fairly basic stuff. First off, always make sure to check the tire pressure of the tires before you take off. But, remember that lower air pressure can actually aid in control. Next, if you are noticing that the tire will simply not hold air, you may need to remove it, clean the wheel rim and reinstall the sealant. If you took your bike to a shop, inform them of what a terrible job they did!

Q:   When Is It Time to Replace Mountain Bike Tires?

Ah, the question that you hope never needs to be an issue for you. But, do not be naïve and think this will never be a reality for you. After all, you are here today and that means you are either looking for an upgraded tire or your current one is a piece of junk. As far as when you need to replace them, it just depends on how long the manufacturer designed them to last and how long the casing protection lasts. Higher-end tires may get you upwards of 5000 miles but you can probably expect around 2000 miles.

But, how can you tell? Here are a few warning signs that will sign it is time to replace your current tire. First off, if you see any threads or fabric through the rubber that indicates it is time as they are starting to wear significantly. Next, check to see if there are any slashes or cracking along the sidewalls. Of course, if your tire also looks irregular and there is hardly any tread left, come back to this guide as you need a new tire.

Final Thoughts

Consider the mountain bike tires the foundation for your bike. Without them, everything else will truly not work or allow you to even ride the bike. More specifically, without a good pair, the entire experience could be negatively affected. Do not skimp on your tires, either, as the investment is more than worth it. Now that you have read the top ten best mountain bike tires in the market today you have a good idea which one suits your needs best. For your next bike ride, you will be able to have a smooth ride with better durable and strong tires.

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