Choosing a good bike tire may be quite confusing especially if you are a newbie. Hence I shall help you out with the instructions and reviews below. Hopefully, you will make a better-informed decision afterward. Read on!
For starters, you need to know a thing or two about what to look for in bike tires. The 3 main attributes that determine whether a tire is any good and suits your needs are puncture protection, rolling resistance, and weight.
Puncture resistance is about how easy it is to get a flat tire during your ride. Rolling resistance is the force you need to overcome to keep your bike going. Ideally, you prefer a low resistance – meaning you only need to pedal a little to get your bike moving. And last on the list is the weight. You would like the tires to be light so that your ride would be faster.
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Continental GatorSkin DuraSkin Tire 2-Pack
Coming first on the list is a model belonging to the famed Continental brand, GatorSkin DuraSkin tire. And as expected, this tire is very durable.
It is made from DuraSkin polyamide fabric integrated with wire bead that is not only light but also offers unparalleled sidewall protection. Added to that is a special Safety System that promises superior protection against punctures. You will worry less about getting a flat tire!
Yet DuraSkin does not compromise rolling resistance. The tire is fast-rolling allowing you to ride like a breeze. The tire is smooth in the center and grippy on the shoulders – assisting you with turning at corners without slipping.
It is highly versatile – being compatible with work, sport rides or even winter training rides. Finally, the tire can be folded to save up space.
- It is not so expensive, and lightweight
- The tire has a DuraSkin sidewall that repels foreign impact and punctures. It also has low rolling resistance and good cornering grip
- It comes in a few sizes
- GatorSkin is not ideal for very high speed, especially in very wet conditions.
Continental Grand Prix 4000s II Cycling Tire, Set of 2 Tires
Another model coming from Continental is Grand Pix 4000 S2. It is rated as the most popular road bike tires these days. It features the Vectran Breaker layer – which holds the current record for puncture protection: tougher than aramid belts, 5 times stronger than steel, and resist not only punctures but also water and cuts.
Similar to spider silk, Vectran is a liquid crystalline polymer (LCP). It originates from melted liquid Vectra and is further processed into a multi-strand thread. As a result, the material is highly resistant to tears and at the same time super light – all the qualities you hope for in a bike tire.
In addition, the rubber compound is BlackChili. The manufacturing process includes mixing synthetic rubber with natural rubber and topping off with carbon nanoparticles. It has a high performance – claiming to deliver 26% lower rolling resistance, 30% more grip, and 5% longer mileage. It can also clean by itself – leaving spaces between the beads so that dirt would come out easily.
The casing has 3 plies and 330 TPI adding extra reinforcement.
The tire also has tread wear indicators to help you know when to replace the tire.
- It has a 330 TPI providing the best grip and is also more flexible than most other tires
- The tire is extremely durable. You won’t need to purchase a replacement any time soon
- The price is probably the highest out of all tires reviewed. Also, there is a small unprotected zone therefore you need to take care to avoid sharp objects touching it.
Schwinn Mountain Bike Tire (Black, 26 x 1.95-Inch)
Schwinn – founded in 1895 – is an American company that is famous for producing the highest quality bikes and bike accessories.
This Schwinn model has a folding bead design that offers a good grip without compromising rolling resistance.
At a low price, these tires are indeed good value for money! Although taking about 15-20 minutes to regain their shapes (they arrived in folded shape), these tires perform well. They grip the ground as you ride and if you fancy, you may pull off some off-road performances with them.
- The price is very reasonable.
- The quality is good – covering grip and rolling resistance
- The tires may not last as long as those of other brands.
Continental Gatorskin Bike Tire – DuraSkin Puncture & Sidewall Protection, Road Bike Replacement Tire (23c, 25c, 28c, 32c)
Prioritizing puncture resistance above all else, Continental Gatorskin manufacturer incorporated car expertise into their bike tire making. This product employs PolyX Breaker technology to protect against flats.
A common attribute of the Continental Gatorskin model is its toughness. The tires are made from high-grade polyamide fabric intertwined with wire beads. DuraSkin sidewall has been tested under the most strenuous conditions. All of this hard work is to minimize your chances of getting a flat tire. We all know how annoying it is!
The tires can be folded easily to save space. This is particularly helpful if you want to carry spare tires along on your bike trip.
- It is light
- The tire has PolyX Breaker technology and DuraSkin sidewall that help repel foreign impact and punctures
- It comes in a few sizes
- GatorSkin is not ideal for very high speed, especially in very wet conditions.
Continental Ride Tour Replacement Bike Tire – Extra Puncture Protection, E-Bike Rated City / Trekking Bicycle Tire (12″, 16″, 20″, 24″, 26″, 27″, 28″, 700c)
Another item from Continental is Ride Tour. It delivers superb durability and is resistant to punctures. The tread compound is made from a mixture of high-quality rubbers that ensure the tire’s longevity.
The tread pattern is specially designed with the center tread being continuous (not separate blocks of treads) to minimize rolling resistance allowing you to experience a smooth ride – especially as you ride in a straight line. The pattern on either side helps provide much traction as you turn at the corners or if you ride on muddy roads or in wet conditions.
Added to that is a puncture belt reducing the chances of getting a flat tire. This tire caters for trekking and touring riders.
The shipment comes with a 3/108 TPI casing and offers many size options.
- The model offers many sizes to choose from meaning you will surely choose a pair that matches your bike
- The tires work well on any road conditions without the usual wear and tear
- If you ride really fast, traction may get compromised.
Goodyear Folding Bead Mountain Bike Tire, 26 x 2.1, Black
Featuring a folding bead pattern, this Goodyear item resists punctures and offers good cornering traction. The rolling resistance is low so that you can easily overcome it as you ride.
The material is from Kevlar fiber instead of metal wires like other models. Therefore you can easily fold the tires and put them in your backpack.
These tires are specially designed with small knobby treads that offer a good grip on any terrains. They cater mainly for mountain bikes and are compatible with rims measuring 26 inches.
From the manufacturer’s details, the width ranges from 2 to 2.125”. However, in practice, these tires can fit 1.5 – 1.75” easily.
Its rugged look reflects its long-lasting nature.
- It is foldable and can fit nicely into your backpack
- You need to wait for a couple of minutes before the tire regains its shape from its folded version.
Bell Mountain Bike Tires in Standard or Flat Defense
A distinctive feature of this Bell Mountain bike tire is a layer of Flat Defense Technology sitting on the inside. It adds 25% more strength and protects the tire better against flats.
The material is manufactured from high-grade rubber that ensures the tire will last for a long time.
The tread pattern is new and unique (with tall knobby treads) that offer good traction and superior control even when you are making difficult turns. In fact, it had the highest number of votes for having the best tread pattern that suits off-road adventures.
The carbon steel bead is made from steel enabling the tire to be folded without being damaged. Storage is therefore easier.
- The tire is foldable and easy to store
- Flat Defense Technology adds 25% more strength to the tire
- It only offers a limited number of sizes. You may have to consider other models if your bike wheel size isn’t accommodated.
Maxxis Ignitor Mountain Bike Tire
As stated in the model name, Maxxis Ignitor features an Ignitor tread pattern – it is evenly spaced minimizing rolling resistance as you ride in a straight line. There are also pentagonal knobs that are ramped to ensure superior traction when you turn at corners or ride in medium soil.
The model belongs to an aggressive model of mountain bike tires that run well on medium to loose surfaces and possess average rolling speed. In addition, they have superb braking traction and very good cornering grip. All of these qualities are mostly thanks to the eXCeption Series 62A compounds.
As a number of riders won the World Cup with this tire, it is highly sought after – especially among professional riders. You can confidently make difficult corner turns, or ride on tough terrains and these bikes still won’t disappoint you.
- The tire has good braking traction and cornering grip. You have good reasons to feel safe
- It may be a bit pricey for those who are unwilling to invest more in their bikes.
Continental Mountain King II Wire Bead Mountain Bike Tire
This Mountain King 2 model of Continental emphasizes on a grip that can withstand any kind of road conditions. The tread pattern alternates and leaves open spaces – which help the tire self-clean as it rolls.
The enhanced grip is a result of special tread geometry (consisting of wire beads) as well as the placement of center and side lugs. The shoulder lugs are large and strong and placed gearing towards the center lugs leaving some space between them. This is said to enhance cornering.
Despite all those added features, the tire is incredibly light.
- The tire has a good grip and cornering abilities. It is also light and can self-clean
- This model is not as durable as other brands. If you plan to invest long-term, look around other models as well.
Schwalbe Hans Dampf Snake Skin TL-Ready Mountain Bike Tire 26 x 2.35, 27.5 x 2.35, 29 x 2.35
Last on the list is the model Schwalbe Hans Dampf Snake Skin TL-Ready – Snakeskin for short. First brought to the market in 2011, the Hans Dampf (meaning handyman) model became popular for its good grip across various riding situations. It has evolved with time to keep pace with models from other companies and improved significantly ever since.
The thread profile is sophisticated with taller rectangular blocks arranged differently depending on their location on the tire.
In the middle, there are long-lasting double blocks that maximize braking power, and transition blocks that are elliptically arranged. Intertwined into those are spaces to enable low rolling resistance and self-cleaning. On either side are larger blocks to prolong the lifespan of the tire, and smaller shoulder blocks to ensure better grip and control especially when we ride on unstable grounds.
The sidewall features SnakeSkin that is light and resists punctures. The tire is tubeless-ready.
- It is tubeless ready so if you like that particular type of tire, this is for you
- The tread pattern offers good braking power, low rolling resistance, and better grip and control of the tires
- Under very bad conditions (like heavy rains), traction may get compromised.
The Ultimate Guide To Choosing Best Mountain Bike Tires In 2020
Having gone through the reviews above, you may still be unclear – especially about certain terms used. I will further assist you with some more clarification.
Bike Tire Components
A bike tire is composed of different parts and layers. I shall explain in simple terms the common terminologies.
The image above showcases the 9 main components making up a bike tire. Located on the top (making direct contact with the road during your bike ride) are tire treads with grooves. Tread is made mostly from rubber, and grooves serve to make way for water to escape.
Beneath the tread is belts. Made from steel, fiberglass, rayon or other materials, they sit above the pliers to hold them in place. They also help keep the tire flat as it makes contact with the road surface, and protects it from punctures.
Next are plies – which are polyester cords covered with rubber. They serve to strengthen the tire. The rubber part connects with the other tire layers and seals in the air. They usually run in a perpendicular or diagonal direction.
Another name for it is the thread, and threads per inch are TPI for short. High TPI means higher densities of threads translating into lower rolling resistance and higher flexibility. A drawback is less puncture protection. Therefore high TPI is suitable for light trail and cross-country riding.
Low TPI tires are more rigid, durable, and have good balance. They are suited for mountain, heavier trail, and downhill rides. The thresholds are 67 – 127 TPI for high thread and 60 – 67 TPI for a low thread.
On the sides, there are tire shoulders and sidewalls. The shoulder is the outer edge of the tread that wraps into the sidewall. And sidewall is a layer of rubber that protects the inner tire parts especially cord plies and features information such as tire size and type.
Last to mention is the tire bead – which is a loop made of high-strength steel cable coated with rubber. It sits at the bottom of the tire and right above the rim.
Aside from knowing the basic anatomy of the bike tire, you should also know about different tire types. There are 3 main categories of bike tires: clincher, tubular, and tubeless.
There are 4 main riding styles:
- Downhill riding
- Trail riding
- Cross-country riding
- All-mountain riding
Size And Width
Last but not least, you must consider size and width when you purchase a tire. A width range is compatible with a particular bike type. Below is a table showing that close connection.
Wider tires tend to be better as they offer better traction – especially as you ride over sandy trails. Also, they are shock-absorbent – which comes in handy as you ride over bumps. Having said that, you need to be cautious about whether or not there is enough space in your bike frame to accommodate such large tires.
What size is the best for mountain bike tires?
Currently, in the market, you have 3 options when it comes to the size of mountain bike tires: 26, 27.5 and 29 inches. Each tire has its own pros and cons and I shall provide you with a summary of those attributes.
26-inch wheels have been around the longest and as they are considered the standard size for the mountain bike industry. A clear advantage is your wide variety of options with the latest bike tire geometry and technology. Secondly, you get a low center of gravity compared with larger wheels and hence making it easier to make turns.
Lastly, as the weight of the wheel (aka its rotational mass) is closer to the center, you’ll get a higher acceleration rate (you get to a certain speed more quickly). A drawback is greater rolling resistance.
29-inch wheels are expected to supersede 26ers in the years to come. 29ers can rider over most things thanks to their large sizes as the obstacle hits the wheel at a lower point making it easier for the wheel to roll up and over it. A short-coming is worse maneuvering and lower acceleration rate.
27.5-inch wheels seem to pick the best from 26ers and 29ers with good roll-over qualities and somewhat preserved maneuverability. However, there are too few of them in the market as companies aren’t convinced enough about their benefits to mass-produce wheels of this size.
In summary, your best bet is probably either a 26er or 29er. Depending on your needs, pick one that suits you best.
How wide are mountain bike tires?
The width of mountain bike tires ranges from 2.25 to 2.4 inches.
What are the best Maxxis tires?
Maxxis tires have recently dominated the world of bike tires releasing so new designs with many becoming hits. When asked, more than half mountain bike rides said they intended to purchase Maxxis tires. Deciding which is best is nearly impossible as each model caters for different rider needs.
I shall give you a list of the best Maxxis models and briefly introduce them so that you can better decide which model to buy.
What is TPI in mountain bike tires?
As I’ve mentioned before, TPI stands for threads per inch – which is the number of threads or plies. They are layers made from polyester cords covered with rubber and serve to strengthen the tire. High TPI translates into higher flexibility and lowers rolling resistance (i.e. you ride faster more easily), whereas low TPI means tougher tires that resist punctures but are slower during a ride.