With so many different tyres in various different guises, picking the five best mountain bike tyres is no easy task. The ones we’ve selected here though are what we run on our own bikes for riding in typical muddy and rooty UK conditions.
Beware! Not all tyres are created equal, as you’ll often find cheap and nasty OE (original equipment) versions of well regarded tyres as standard spec on new bikes. While they may look like the real deal, they will be basically constructed using cheap materials. Our advice is to replace them as soon as you can, or better still do a deal for some decent tyres before you part with your cash.
The tyres we’ve chosen here are tubeless compatible and most are made with double or triple rubber compounds. This gives them a harder, faster rolling middle section and softer lugs towards the shoulders for better grip.
All these tyres come in loads of other versions, but these particular incarnations are the five mountain bike tyres we rate most highly.
Specialized Ground Control 2Bliss
Ideal for drier conditions or as a rear tyre, Specialized’s Ground Control has medium sized, low-ish profile lugs that give you a decent amount of grip and a really responsive feel.
Weighing in at just over 600g, they are fairly light but not massively thorn resistant. If you want a beefier sidewall, they are also available in a heavier Grid version.
Best for: Dry, fast trails
Schwalbe Nobby Nic Snakeskin TL Easy TrailStar
Nobby Nic’s have been around for an age and have a deserved reputation for being a great all-round tyre. The current incarnation is tough, light, relatively fast rolling and decently grippy too.
There’s several sidewall options and it also comes in a harder, faster rolling PaceStar compound that’s ideal for running on the rear, with the softer and grippier TrailStar rubber on the front.
Best for: All round performance
WTB Vigilante TCS Light/High Grip
The high volume WTB Vigilante is an excellent choice if you’re looking for an aggro front tyre. It comes in various options, but we reckon the Light/High Grip version best for all round trail use. The Tough/High Grip incarnation is also a great call if you’re looking for something bombproof, but it is around 150g heavier.
The fairly round casing rolls pretty quickly for an aggro tyre, but the tread doesn’t clear mud particularly quickly. Being a fair few quid cheaper than Maxxis’ offerings, it’s a great option if you’re after a gnarly tyre and you’re on a budget.
Best for: Rocky descents
Maxxis Minion DHR 3C Exo TR
This massively versatile tyre is perfect for typical muddy, sloppy and rooty British trail conditions, where the deep tread will give you grip when less chunky tyres would not. If the High Roller II isn’t aggressive enough for you, then the Minion DHF should do the trick!
The beefed up Exo sidewalls do a decent job of keeping punctures away and rolling resistance isn’t quite as slow as you might think from the aggro tread pattern, but it does have a hefty weight. The Minion DHR makes a fantastic front tyre for riding in properly loose, wet conditions, but we’d only consider running one on the rear if it was ridiculously sloppy on the trails.
Best for: Properly tough conditions
Best price £49.99
Maxxis High Roller II 3C FLD Exo TR
The aggressive side lugs and square shape of the High Roller II give it tons of bite and grip when you lean your bike over, while the open tread design clears mud pretty quickly.
While it’s a fairly heavy tyre and not the fastest out there, the High Roller II will give you dependable grip in loose and/or wet conditions. It makes a great front tyre, but it’s suitable for running at either end of your bike. Go for the softer Maxx Terra compound on the front and the faster rolling Maxx Speed to the rear.
Best for: Aggro rough riding