The best MTB tyres are more than just rubber hoops, they’re transformative tools that dictate how a bike handles. Choosing the right tyres to suit your style of riding and local conditions is the cheapest and most effective way to drastically improve performance and ride feel.
Buy right and you’ll reduce punctures, spend less time wrestling with tyre levers, and ultimately be able to hit berms, booters, rocks and roots with a heightened sense of confidence. Forget about the electronic groupsets, Kashima-coated forks and carbon-fibre rims; if you really want to upgrade your bike, getting the right rubber should be your first port of call.
Unfortunately, it’s not a simple case of one size fits all. The best MTB tyres come in all sorts of widths, tread patterns and varying degrees of knobliness. Different tyres perform best in different conditions, but to keep things simple, we’ll look at the best all-round option for each of the key mountain-biking disciplines: XC, trail and enduro/downhill. We’ll also look at the best tyre for riding in mud.
Ready to take your riding up a gear and bag some KOMs on your local trails? Our selection of the best MTB tyres for every type of riding will hopefully help you to do exactly that.
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Best MTB tyres: At a glance
- Best XC tyre | Vittoria Barzo TNT
- Best enduro/downhill tyre |
- Best trail tyre |
- Best all-mountain tyre |
How to choose the best MTB tyres for you
What type of MTB tyres do I need?
Mountain biking is split into several disciplines, and which tyre will be best for you depends on what type of riding you do. The key thing that differentiates types of tyres is the tread pattern and width, which directly affect how the rubber rolls, grips, climbs and corners. Before buying a new set of tyres for your bike, first decide which of the following categories best describes your style of riding.
- XC: Cross-country (or XC) mountain biking is all about distance and speed. The terrain isn’t usually too technical, so the key requirements of a tyre are low rolling resistance, low weight and grip.
- Enduro/downhill: Enduro and downhill let gravity do (most of) the work. Terrain is often technical, with tight bermed corners, drop offs and lots of roots and rocks. The best tyres for the job need to be extremely robust, grippy and wide, but, in the case of enduro, still be capable of climbing back uphill without too much difficulty.
- Trail: Trail riding is all about enjoying the woods and what they have to offer. It incorporates a variety of terrain, ranging from technical downhill sections to long climbs, with fun features like rock gardens and jumps thrown in along the way. Trail tyres need to be able to handle a bit of everything, which means they have to be relatively fast rolling, grippy in a range of conditions, and not puncture too easily.
What features should I look out for?
One of the key features nowadays is whether or not a tyre is tubeless. Instead of a conventional inner tube, tubeless tyres use a special sealed valve, which stops air from escaping once the tyre is seated on the rim. A fluid, known as ‘sealant’, is injected into the tyre via the valve, and this solidifies rushes to punctures – with any luck, filling them before you even notice.
Consider the width of your tyres too. While it’s true that wider tyres provide increased grip due to the larger contact patch, they might not perform so well if your local conditions tend to be wet and muddy. In this case, a slightly thinner tyre will be better for cutting into the muck and gripping the ground that lies beneath.
How much should I spend?
MTB tyres vary in price a fair bit. A basic tyre might get the job done for a while, but spending a little more will get you exciting things like tubeless compatibility, higher-quality compounds that grip better and puncture less frequently, and increased durability, so that you don’t end up having to replace them after a couple of particularly gnarly runs.
1. Vittoria Barzo TNT: The best MTB tyre for XC
Price: From £34 |
There’s a reason Vittoria’s Barzo has a long-running reputation as the high-water mark for XC tyres. Lightweight and fast rolling, it cruises with the smoothness of a semi-slick, yet lasts longer and punctures less than any other XC tyre we’ve come across.
Solid sidewall protection provides peace of mind, and, ultimately, less time spent faffing with CO2 canisters and getting sealant all over your hands. This is a tyre you can fit and forget about for thousands of off-road miles, in all weather. The open tread pattern does a great job of shedding mud when riding in sloppy UK conditions, but it’s equally adept at hugging hardpack trails on dry and dusty summer days.
There’s no shortage of options when it comes to widths and wheel sizes either. The 29” version is available in 2.1, 2.25, 2.35 or 2.60, and 27.5” (and even 26”) wheels are well catered for too.
Key specs – Weight: 676g (29×2.25”); Compound: GRAPHENE 2.0 4C; Casing: 120 TPI Nylon TNT; Tubeless ready: Yes
2. Maxxis Assegai 3CT EXO+ TR: The best MTB tyre for enduro
Price: From £58 |
Maxxis’ Assegai is a world-class front tyre, and signature model of downhill legend Greg Minnaar. This super-grippy, updated version features the brand’s EXO+ casing, which is beefed up and offers increased toughness and durability over the standard EXO. This makes it a great option for those who really push their tyres to the limit, or who regularly ride trails with sharp rocks, but don’t want the added heft of Maxxis’ DoubleDown or DH casings.
When inflated, the Assegai has a square profile, but the shoulder treads are angled in such a way that there’s a good connection to the trail, even when leaning right onto them. It feels reassuringly stable and planted in a straight line, but doesn’t hesitate to tip in and out of corners either, making for a smooth, balanced, confidence-inspiring ride. Grip is exceptional at every angle, and while there are certainly faster rolling tyres on the market, it’s hard to beat the Assegai in terms of sheer control.
Key specs – Weight: 1095g (27.5×2.6”); Compound: 3C MAXX TERRA; Casing: 120 TPI; Tubeless ready: Yes
3. Maxxis Minion DHF Wide Trail 3C EXO TR: The best trail MTB tyre
Price: From £39 |
This beefed up version of Maxxis’ flagship aggressive trail tyre is a grippy, high-performance all-rounder that’ll have your back all year round. Optimised for 30-35mm internal rim widths, it has a nice round profile, even when run at low pressures, which equates to excellent cornering and a supremely planted feel out on the trail.
Tubeless ready and easy to fit, it pops onto rims without a battle and seats with minimal fuss. It’s also available in either 3C (triple compound) or DC (dual compound) versions. We prefer the former as it offers a good mix of damping and grip, admittedly at the expense of some durability (softer tyres wear faster – shocking stuff), but that’s not to say it’s not still tough as nails, and an excellent option for any red-blooded trail rider.
Key specs – Weight: 980g (27.5×2.5″); Compound: 3C Maxx Grip or 3C Maxx Terra; Casing: Single ply casing; Tubeless ready: Yes
4. Michelin Wild AM2 Competition Line: The best all-mountain MTB tyre
Price: From £34 |
If you can manage to wrestle it onto your rim, this new tyre from the king of rolling rubber is a highly versatile jack of all trades that’ll gladly turn its tread to almost anything the mountain can throw its way. It features a low-profile, blocky tread, with angled shoulder knobs that give it square-ish profile. In terms of handling, that means plenty of ground contact for a stable, planted ride.
The casing offers solid support at low pressures, which is great for comfort, and although damping isn’t the best, the Wild AM2 doesn’t exactly ping off rocks like a bouncy ball either. It could be argued that this tyre is a bit on the heavy side at just over 1,000g, but that’s a trade off we’re willing to take in return for excellent puncture protection and durability.
Key specs – Weight: 1070g (27.5×2.60″); Compound: GUM-X Dual Compound; Casing: Gravity Shield; Tubeless ready: Yes