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The 9 Best Mountain Bike Tires

We put the best mountain bike tires from Maxxis, Specialized, Vittoria, Michelin, WTB, and others to the test
Best Mountain Bike Tires
Credit: Jeremy Benson
Monday November 14, 2022
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In the market for the best new tires for your mountain bike? We researched nearly every tire on the market before buying 28 models for side-by-side testing. There are countless options to choose from, and we know that finding the right tires for the conditions, terrain, and your riding style can be a challenge. While riding, tires make the only intentional contact with the trail and play a major role in your bike's ride quality, handling, and overall performance. Throughout our rigorous field testing, we rode each tire as much as possible while focusing on important performance metrics in an effort to help you find the tires that best meet your needs and budget.

Tires are a great way to improve the performance of your ride, but to have the best bike gear setup, you may need a few more items. Our testers have also reviewed components from dropper seatposts to pedals (both clipless pedals and flat pedal styles) and accessories like bicycle helmets and both men's bike shoes and women's bike shoes. No matter what type of rider you are, we can help you find what you need.

Editor's Note: This review was updated on November 14, 2022, with the addition of the Continental Kryptotal Fr and Re and the latest version of the Maxxis Forekaster.

Top 28 Product Ratings

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Awards Editors' Choice Award   Editors' Choice Award  
Price $52.99 at Amazon
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$58.90 at Backcountry
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$49.66 at Amazon
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$50.21 at Backcountry
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Overall Score
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Pros EXO sidewall protection, excellent cornering grip, good on front or rear, dual compound increases longevityFast rolling, lightweight, EXO protectionFast-rolling, good in a range of conditions, predictable in cornersVersatile, affordable, great all-around use, intermediate tread height, fast rollingFast-rolling, great for logging miles, reasonable weight, grip on hardpack and rock
Cons Not the best for hardpack, high rolling resistance, requires good techniqueModerately aggressive tread, not great in loose conditionsSide knobs wear quickly, less braking traction than more aggressive optionsNot the best braking tractionNot the best in wet or loose conditions, thinner casing
Bottom Line One of the most popular tires ever, and for good reasonA fast-rolling tire that excels on hardpack and is a go-to for XC style ridingA versatile and fast-rolling tire with predictable cornering mannersA versatile and well-rounded do-it-all rear tire for any kind of ridingA solid rear tire best suited for logging miles on XC style or lighter duty trail rides
Rating Categories Maxxis Minion DHF 3... Maxxis Ardent EXO Maxxis Dissector Maxxis Aggressor 2.... Vittoria Agarro 2.6
Cornering (25%)
9.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
Pedaling Traction (20%)
8.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Braking Traction (20%)
9.0
6.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Rolling Resistance (15%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
Longevity (15%)
8.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
7.0
Installation (5%) Sort Icon
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
Specs Maxxis Minion DHF 3... Maxxis Ardent EXO Maxxis Dissector Maxxis Aggressor 2.... Vittoria Agarro 2.6
Size tested 29" x 2.5" WT 29" x 2.4" 29" x 2.4" 29" x 2.5" WT 29" x 2.6"
Weight as tested 954g 895g 906g 950g 950g
Front, Rear, or Both Front, Both Both Rear, Both Rear Rear, Both
Casing Tested EXO EXO EXO EXO Trail
Compound Tested 3C Maxx Terra Dual 3C Maxx Terra Dual 4C Graphene 2.0
Bead Folding Folding Folding Folding Folding
Tread Count (TPI) 60 60 60 60 120


Best Overall Front Tire


Maxxis Minion DHF 3C/EXO


84
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Cornering 9.0
  • Pedaling Traction 8.0
  • Braking Traction 9.0
  • Rolling Resistance 7.0
  • Longevity 8.0
  • Installation 9.0
Size Tested: 29" x 2.5" WT | Weight: 954-grams
REASONS TO BUY
Excellent cornering grip
Works well front or rear
The dual-compound increases longevity
EXO casing is durable and lightweight
REASONS TO AVOID
Not the best on hardpack
Moderately high rolling resistance
Rewards good technique

The Maxxis Minion DHF is our top recommendation for a burly and aggressive front tire. This beefy model is one of the most popular tires of all time and is considered a benchmark against which all other tires are compared. It inspires high levels of confidence and is most at home when leaned into a turn aggressively with a substantial row of large side knobs that grip through corners. The feel of this tire may take a little getting used to for some, but once you experience the sensation of it locking into a turn, you'll have a hard time going back to anything else. Its sturdy EXO casing and mix of tread compounds provide ample sidewall support and exceptional grip, even at lower pressures. A relatively square profile, squared-off edges, side knobs, and sidewalls all contribute to the overall quality and performance of this tire.

We love the DHF up front, but it's also suitable for use as a rear tire. As a rear tire, it has excellent pedal and braking traction but has a relatively high level of rolling resistance. The aggressive tread of the Minion DHF might feel a bit overkill on super buff and hardpack dirt, but that's not the arena this beast was designed to fight in. The DHF is offered in all-wheel sizes and a huge variety of widths, casings, and rubber compounds to meet a broad range of user preferences.

Read more: Maxxis Minion DHF review

mountain bike tires - best overall front tire
Few tires are as popular as the Minion DHF, and for good reason.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Best Bang for the Buck Front Tire


Specialized Butcher GRID Trail T9


82
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Cornering 9.0
  • Pedaling Traction 8.0
  • Braking Traction 9.0
  • Rolling Resistance 6.0
  • Longevity 8.0
  • Installation 8.0
Size Tested: 29" x 2.6" | Weight: 1,123-grams
REASONS TO BUY
Affordable
Super damp ride quality
Great cornering and braking traction
REASONS TO AVOID
Moderate weight
Not the fastest rolling

Specialized recently updated their ever-popular Butcher tire with an all-new T9 rubber compound. We tested the Butcher Grid Trail T9 in both 2.3" and 2.6" widths, and while the tread pattern hasn't really changed, this feels like an entirely new tire. The T9 rubber is the grippiest that Specialized uses, and while it isn't exactly super soft, it's been designed to rebound slowly to reduce deflection and enhance grip. The result is a well-damped ride quality that feels very well connected to the trail surface. The tall center tread lugs with open spacing provide excellent braking traction, while the substantial row of shoulder knobs grip very well through corners. Specialized's Grid Trail casing feels supportive enough while remaining supple and surprisingly resistant to punctures or tears. It's also one of the least expensive tires we tested, and we feel it is an excellent value.

While we really loved most aspects of the performance of the Butcher Grid Trail T9, it isn't the fastest rolling tire. It's moderately heavy at 1,123-grams in the 29" x 2.6" we tested, and the aggressive tread, open spacing, and grippy rubber put up a bit of rolling resistance. That said, it's no worse than most similar tires, and a trade-off for its otherwise excellent traction and super smooth feel. Beyond that, this affordable tire is an excellent front tire, or both, for trail and all-mountain riders.

Read more: Specialized Butcher Grid Trail T9 review

mountain bike tires - best bang for the buck front tire
The Butcher T9 offers impressive performance at a reasonable price.
Credit: Laura Casner

Best Overall Rear Tire


Maxxis Aggressor 2.3 EXO


79
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Cornering 8.0
  • Pedaling Traction 8.0
  • Braking Traction 7.0
  • Rolling Resistance 8.0
  • Longevity 8.0
  • Installation 9.0
Size Tested: 29" x 2.5" WT | Weight: 950-grams
REASONS TO BUY
Versatile
Affordable
Great all-around performance
Relatively fast rolling
REASONS TO AVOID
Outperformed in super loose conditions
Not the best braking traction

The Maxxis Aggressor is a great rear tire with a versatile tread pattern that gives it broad appeal and functionality across a wide range of conditions. The center tread has a well-designed pattern of medium-height knobs with sharp, unramped front edges that provide ample bite and traction with surprisingly low rolling resistance. A substantial row of side knobs handles well when tipped on edge through corners, with a supportive and durable EXO casing. Our test tire weighed in at a lighter-than-advertised 950 grams, and if you want even more peace of mind, it's available in Maxxis's heavier casing options as well. We felt this tire was the best balance of rolling resistance, grip, and traction offered in the entire test, a true all-around performer.

However, this isn't the most aggressive tire on the market. You may prefer another option if you often find yourself riding in loose or wet conditions. While the medium-height tread is efficient and capable for most situations, there are better options for braking traction when the terrain gets super loose. Having said all that, we still feel the Aggressor is the most versatile rear tire.

Read more: Maxxis Aggressor review

mountain bike tires - best overall rear tire
The Aggressor is impressively versatile and works across a huge range of conditions.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman


Best Bang for the Buck Rear Tire


Specialized Eliminator GRID Trail T7


78
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Cornering 8.0
  • Pedaling Traction 8.0
  • Braking Traction 7.0
  • Rolling Resistance 8.0
  • Longevity 8.0
  • Installation 8.0
Size Tested: 29" x 2.3" | Weight: 945-grams
REASONS TO BUY
Affordable
Semi-aggressive, versatile tread
Relatively fast-rolling
Good, predictable performance as a rear tire
REASONS TO AVOID
The casing may be too supple for some riders
Moderate braking traction

The Specialized Eliminator T7 is a semi-aggressive rear tire that we feel is a great, affordable option for trail riders. This tire uses Specialized's T7 rubber compound that prioritizes rolling speed and longevity over all-out grip, and the medium height center tread with moderate spacing helps further reduce rolling resistance. At the same time, the sharp edges of the tread knobs bite well into firm to moderately loose, dry conditions while pedaling and braking. A closely packed row of taller shoulder lugs provides good cornering traction and a predictable feel until things get super loose. We found the T7 rubber to be long-lasting with even wear, and the Grid Trail casing stood up to our abuse during testing. It pairs nicely as a rear tire with the Specialized Butcher in the front.

While the Eliminator T7 is a well-rounded and versatile tire, it sacrifices a bit in the braking traction department in exchange for rolling speed. When conditions get really loose, it is easy to break this tire into a skid, drift through corners , spin out while climbing. We also found the Grid Trail casing to be a bit squirmy under hard cornering forces, and that we had to get the pressure exactly right to not burp it. This casing may not be supportive enough for super-aggressive riders. That said, we feel this is a great rear tire option paired with something a little more aggressive in the front, and an affordable one at that.

Read more: Specialized Eliminator Grid Trail T7 review

mountain bike tires - best bang for the buck rear tire
The Eliminator is a well-rounded rear tire at a reasonable price.
Credit: Laura Casner

Another Great Front Tire


Vittoria Mazza


83
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Cornering 9.0
  • Pedaling Traction 8.0
  • Braking Traction 9.0
  • Rolling Resistance 7.0
  • Longevity 8.0
  • Installation 8.0
Size Tested: 29" x 2.6" | Weight: 1090-grams
REASONS TO BUY
Great cornering and braking traction
Long tread life
Reasonable price
Works well in a range of conditions
REASONS TO AVOID
May be too aggressive for some riders/locations
Moderately heavy

The Vittoria Mazza is an excellent, aggressive tire that rivals the performance of the most popular models on the market. Vittoria may not have the same level of brand recognition as some other manufacturers, but we feel that it is liable to change if they keep making amazing tires like this. We loved the Mazza as a front tire where it excels in the corners with a stout row of well-supported side knobs that grip well in a huge range of conditions. The transition from the center tread to the side knobs is smooth, and once on edge, it bites and holds with confidence-inspiring and predictable manners. Braking traction is another highlight, and the large knobs with open spacing grab well on most surfaces when it comes time to slow things down. Lots of lengthwise siping on all of the knobs allow them to really conform to the trail surface, and it holds well on firm surfaces, off-camber terrain, and rock slabs. The Trail casing we tested offers a good blend of support and suppleness, and Vittoria's 4C Graphene rubber was surprisingly resilient with an above-average tread life.

Due to the Mazza's tread design, it has a bit more rolling resistance than tires with a less aggressive tread. We also found it to be a touch heavy when compared to similarly aggressive tires of the same size. Beyond those concerns, we feel the Mazza is an outstanding tire that rivals the best of the best. We'd highly recommend it as a front tire for aggressive trail riders who are looking to try something different.

Read more: Vittoria Mazza review

mountain bike tires - another great front tire
It's hardly a coincidence that many of the best front tires look similar. The Mazza mixes it up with the best of 'em.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Best Rear Tire for Aggressive Riders


Maxxis Minion DHR II


81
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Cornering 8.0
  • Pedaling Traction 9.0
  • Braking Traction 9.0
  • Rolling Resistance 6.0
  • Longevity 8.0
  • Installation 7.0
Size Tested: 27.5" x 2.4" | Weight: 917-grams
REASONS TO BUY
Braking bite
Cornering abilities
Confidence-inspiring
REASONS TO AVOID
Rolling resistance
Expensive-ish

The Maxxis Minion DHR II is an aggressive rear tire with terrific cornering grip and excellent braking traction. Aggressive riders who frequent loose, chunky, and rowdy terrain are the best candidates for this beefy and durable tire. It sacrifices some rolling speed in exchange for boatloads of braking traction and cornering prowess. This tire has a large and stout row of side knobs, like those found on the Minion DHF, to dive into corners and hold a line on off-camber sections. Braking bite is superb, thanks to the wide paddle-shaped knobs of the center tread. Many bike brands spec the DHR II as a front and rear tire on complete builds.

The Minion DHR II was originally designed for use as a rear tire, and paired with a Minion DHF up front, we think it's the ultimate combo in loose conditions for aggressive trail riders. Other rear tire options will roll noticeably faster than the DHR II, but that's a trade-off you'll need to consider for a tire with the cornering grip and braking traction it provides.

Read more: Maxxis Minion DHR II review

mountain bike tires - best rear tire for aggressive riders
The DHR II has great braking traction, and it works very well for climbing in loose conditions.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Best for Cornering Traction


Maxxis Assegai


79
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Cornering 10.0
  • Pedaling Traction 7.0
  • Braking Traction 9.0
  • Rolling Resistance 5.0
  • Longevity 7.0
  • Installation 8.0
Size Tested: 29" x 2.5" WT | Weight: 1109-grams
REASONS TO BUY
Incredible cornering traction
Braking traction
Durable supportive sidewalls
REASONS TO AVOID
Heavier weight
Rolling resistance
Expensive

The Maxxis Assegai is a gravity-oriented tire from Maxxis that was designed in collaboration with World Cup DH racing legend Greg Minaar. It is available in numerous casings, including DH, EXO, and EXO+. It is one of the best cornering tires our testers have ever used. Despite its square profile, it rolls easily into corners and hooks up and grips in all conditions thanks to the tall row of burly side knobs. It also provides heaps of braking traction, providing some of the best control you could ask for. It was originally only available in the DH casing which was super heavy, but now its versatility has been expanded to the rest of the market with the lighter options. We've tested this tire on both the front and rear of the bike, and it performs outrageously well in both locations.

This type of traction, cornering performance, and durability come at a slight weight penalty, and the tacky rubber and tall tread knobs also result in some serious rolling resistance. That said, this tire is meant to be pointed down the hill, and it rewards the rider with outrageous levels of grip.

Read more: Maxxis Assegai review

mountain bike tires - best for cornering traction
The Assegai hooks up in corners no matter the conditions.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Best for XC Trail Riding


Specialized Ground Control Grid T7


76
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Cornering 7.0
  • Pedaling Traction 8.0
  • Braking Traction 7.0
  • Rolling Resistance 9.0
  • Longevity 7.0
  • Installation 8.0
Size Tested: 29" x 2.35" | Weight: 867-grams
REASONS TO BUY
Fast-rolling
Lightweight
Reasonably priced
Good cornering and braking traction compared to similar tires
Grid casing
REASONS TO AVOID
Outperformed in very loose conditions
Not ideal for super aggressive riders or terrain

The Specialized Ground Control Grid T7 is a tire that bridges the gap between cross-country and trail riding, call it down-country if you like. This lightweight model tips the scales at just 867 grams in a 29" x 2.35" size, contributing to their zippy feel. Like most cross-country tires, they are very fast rolling, but unlike a typical XC tire, they provide better cornering and braking traction than you might expect. The tread consists of lots of moderate-height lugs in the center and intermediate zone, with a fairly substantial row of shoulder knobs. We found it provides excellent cornering traction across the spectrum of lean angles in all but the loosest of conditions. The tread design also contributes to controlled and predictable braking performance that outshines other models in its category. The T7 rubber compound offers a nice blend of grip and longevity, and the Grid casing feels relatively robust and durable while remaining lightweight.

While we were truly impressed by the performance of the Ground Control Grid T7, it is important to keep in mind that these tires do have limitations. Given this tire's impressive rolling speed and moderate height/relatively tightly packed tread knobs, it can't compete with more aggressive tires in loose conditions. Likewise, while the Grid casing feels fairly tough for an XC-ish tire, it's a little under-gunned for super rough and chunky trails. That said, we feel it is an excellent option for aggressive cross-country and light trail riding for riders seeking a lightweight and fast-rolling tire for their down-country rig.

Read more: Specialized Ground Control Grid T7 review

mountain bike tires - best for xc trail riding
If you want a light and fast rolling tire that still hooks up, the Ground Control is our recommendation.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Another Great Aggressive Front Tire


Continental Kryptotal Front 2.4


82
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Cornering 10.0
  • Pedaling Traction 8.0
  • Braking Traction 9.0
  • Rolling Resistance 6.0
  • Longevity 8.0
  • Installation 4.0
Size tested: 27.5" x 2.4" | Weight: 1,012-grams
REASONS TO BUY
Unrivaled cornering performance
Great braking traction
REASONS TO AVOID
Heavy-ish
Difficult installation process

The Kryptotal Fr impressed our testers and proved that Continental is back at the top of the game with their new generation of tires. This is one of our favorites as a front tire for aggressive trail riding because of its incredible traction in corners and its durability. We rode the 2.4" Trail casing, endurance compound tire and it was truly an inspiration on the front wheel; holding like a rail through corners, and delivering superb braking performance in a range of conditions. Continental has several new models in their lineup, with the Kryptotal intended as the all-arounder for aggressive riding in mixed terrain and conditions. Despite its do-it-all intentions, it has a relatively aggressive tread design with tall, stout side knobs and similarly tall and aggressive tread in the center and intermediate zones that inspire confidence in corners and on the brakes.

We struggled to get the trail casing of the Kryptotal Fr and its counterpart (the Kryptotal Re) to seat, as a result, we might not recommend it to those who have more of a convenience-reigns, Laissez-faire approach to bike maintenance. It's possible your local shop might even curse getting these inflated. Other than what might be chalked up to a singular incident of difficult installation, we have little to complain about with this burly front tread.

Read more: Continental Kryptotal Front 2.4

mountain bike tires - another great aggressive front tire
Continental's new tires can compete with the best in the business.
Credit: Joe Stanwyck

Best WTB Tire


WTB Vigilante 2.5 & 2.6


81
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Cornering 9.0
  • Pedaling Traction 8.0
  • Braking Traction 9.0
  • Rolling Resistance 6.0
  • Longevity 8.0
  • Installation 7.0
Size tested: 29" x 2.5" | Weight: 1,152-grams
REASONS TO BUY
Great cornering performance
Performs well in loose conditions
Solid braking traction
TCS Light SG2 casing is much lighter than the Tough casing
REASONS TO AVOID
Moderately heavy
Not the fastest rolling

If you ride aggressive terrain and loose conditions, the WTB Vigilante is another great option to consider. We tested the TCS Light SG2 casing with High Grip rubber, and while it isn't the lightest tire in the world, it weighs a lot less than the Tough casing we've tried in the past. Despite the reduced weight, we found the tire to provide adequate sidewall support, and the Slash Guard (SG2) insert stood up to all the abuse we could dish out. With a relatively squared-off profile, an aggressive open tread design, and the tacky High Grip rubber, the Vigilante eats up the corners and excels in loose conditions from dust to loam. Likewise, braking is controlled and confidence-inspiring, and should you choose to run it on the rear, it hooks up very while climbing. We preferred it in the front, paired with something a little faster rolling in the back.

The Vigilante's aggressive tread design comes with a slight penalty in the rolling resistance department. This tire isn't the fastest-rolling, but that's a tradeoff that we expect most aggressive trail riders are willing to accept. It's also still moderately heavy, but that's the price you pay for the performance it offers. If you're an aggressive trail rider looking for a tough and grippy tire, we think the Vigilante is an excellent option to consider.

Read more: WTB Vigilante review

mountain bike tires - the vigilante provides excellent traction and control is nearly all...
The Vigilante provides excellent traction and control is nearly all conditions.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Another Great Rear Tire


WTB Trail Boss 2.4 & 2.6


79
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Cornering 8.0
  • Pedaling Traction 8.0
  • Braking Traction 8.0
  • Rolling Resistance 8.0
  • Longevity 8.0
  • Installation 6.0
Size tested: 29" x 2.4" | Weight: 996-grams
REASONS TO BUY
Well-rounded performance
Good cornering traction
Relatively fast rolling
TCS Light SG2 casing reduces weight and still feels tough
REASONS TO AVOID
Tighter fit in the rim during installation
Not the best for muddy conditions

We've tested the WTB Trail Boss before, but were always a little turned off by its heavy weight. This time around, we tested the TCS Light SG2 casing, dramatically reducing its weight while still providing a robust feel thanks to the Slash Guard (SG2) insert. We feel the Trail Boss is best suited to duties as a rear tire when paired with something a little more aggressive in the front, although it is also an effective front tire in the right conditions. A relatively squared-off profile and a stout row of shoulder knobs give it excellent cornering manners, while the moderately spaced center and intermediate tread do a fine job of providing traction when braking and climbing in most conditions. Despite its cornering and braking chops, the tread design still rolls fairly quickly and efficiently.

The tread design of the Trail Boss seems optimized to work in dry conditions, and the tighter spacing of the knobs seems a bit more prone to packing up with sticky mud. While it provides good braking traction in most situations, the knob spacing also doesn't bite quite as well as more open tread designs in super loose conditions. Those concerns aside, we feel this is a great, well-rounded rear tire for aggressive trail riding.

Read more: WTB Trail Boss review

mountain bike tires - the trail boss works great as a rear tire with great cornering...
The Trail Boss works great as a rear tire with great cornering performance and fairly low rolling resistance.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
84
Maxxis Minion DHF 3C/EXO
maxxis minion dhf 3c/exo mountain bike tire review
$93
Editors' Choice Award
83
Continental Kryptotal Rear 2.4
continental kryptotal rear 2.4 mountain bike tires
$65
83
Vittoria Mazza
vittoria mazza mountain bike tire review
$81
Top Pick Award
82
Continental Kryptotal Front 2.4
continental kryptotal front 2.4 mountain bike tire review
$65
Top Pick Award
82
Specialized Butcher GRID Trail T9
specialized butcher grid trail t9 mountain bike tire review
$70
Best Buy Award
82
Michelin Wild AM2 2.4
michelin wild am2 2.4 mountain bike tire review
$80
81
WTB Vigilante 2.5 & 2.6
wtb vigilante 2.5 & 2.6 mountain bike tire review
$77
Top Pick Award
81
Maxxis Minion DHR II
maxxis minion dhr ii mountain bike tire review
$107
Top Pick Award
79
WTB Trail Boss 2.4 & 2.6
wtb trail boss 2.4 & 2.6 mountain bike tire review
$77
Top Pick Award
79
Vittoria Martello 2.6
vittoria martello 2.6 mountain bike tire review
$81
79
Maxxis Aggressor 2.3 EXO
maxxis aggressor 2.3 exo mountain bike tire review
$89
Editors' Choice Award
79
Maxxis Assegai
maxxis assegai mountain bike tire review
$90
Top Pick Award
78
Specialized Eliminator GRID Trail T7
specialized eliminator grid trail t7 mountain bike tire review
$70
Best Buy Award
78
Michelin Wild Enduro Front 2.4
michelin wild enduro front 2.4 mountain bike tire review
$74
78
Schwalbe Hans Dampf HS491 Addix
schwalbe hans dampf hs491 addix mountain bike tire review
$103
77
Michelin Wild Enduro Rear 2.4
michelin wild enduro rear 2.4 mountain bike tire review
$70
77
Bontrager SE5 Team Issue 2.6
bontrager se5 team issue 2.6 mountain bike tire review
$85
77
Schwalbe Magic Mary Addix
schwalbe magic mary addix mountain bike tire review
$92
77
Maxxis Dissector
maxxis dissector mountain bike tire review
$101
76
Specialized Ground Control Grid T7
specialized ground control grid t7 mountain bike tire review
$65
Top Pick Award
76
Maxxis Forekaster 2.4
maxxis forekaster 2.4 mountain bike tires
$82
75
WTB Convict
wtb convict mountain bike tire review
$80
75
Michelin Force AM2 2.4
michelin force am2 2.4 mountain bike tire review
$83
74
Specialized Purgatory GRID
specialized purgatory grid mountain bike tire review
$60
72
Maxxis Ardent EXO
maxxis ardent exo mountain bike tire review
$82
72
Bontrager SE4 Team Issue 2.6
bontrager se4 team issue 2.6 mountain bike tire review
$85
70
Vittoria Agarro 2.6
vittoria agarro 2.6 mountain bike tire review
$81
69
Vittoria Syerra
vittoria syerra mountain bike tire review
$80

mountain bike tires - we put in lots of time and miles while testing mountain bike tires.
We put in lots of time and miles while testing mountain bike tires.
Credit: Laura Casner

Why You Should Trust Us


Our mountain bike tire review is led by our Senior Mountain Bike Review Editor, Jeremy Benson. Benson is a competitive gravel and mountain bike racer, highly experienced tester/reviewer, and published author. Benson's mountain bike roots trace back to New England in the early 1990s, and he has seen and experienced the evolution of mountain bike tires. An avid racer, Benson competes in endurance gravel and XC races throughout northern California.

Pat Donahue also contributed to this review. This native New Englander is particularly obsessed with tire choice and is constantly on the hunt for the elusive perfect tire. Pat owns a bike shop in South Lake Tahoe and is passionate about rough and rocky trails.

Ian Stowe recently joined our tire test team and brings a wealth of experience from working in the cycling industry and as a lifelong rider. Ian is able to ride year-round from his home in Santa Cruz, California with a wide range of trail options to keep him busy. From laps on the steeps to sessions at the pump track, Ian knows a thing or two about riding mountain bikes and knows the importance of having the right tires for the job.

We researched nearly every tire on the market before purchasing the 28 models in this review. Next, we identified the main areas of concern when evaluating a mountain bike tire. We chose metrics like cornering abilities, braking traction, pedal traction, rolling resistance, and ease of installation. We tested each tire as much as humanly possible and ranked them based on these metrics. We did our best to use consistent testing trails that offered a variety of features and soil types.

Related: How We Tested Mountain Bike Tires

We weigh each tire when it&#039;s brand new for consistency.
We weigh each tire when it's brand new for consistency.
We ride hundreds of miles on each test tire to analyze its important...
We ride hundreds of miles on each test tire to analyze its important performance characteristics.
We closely examine the tread and sidewalls at the end of testing to...
We closely examine the tread and sidewalls at the end of testing to assess their longevity.

Analysis and Test Results


When buying a complete bike, it comes with whatever tires the manufacturer chooses. This may not always be the ideal tire for your riding style, your trails, or the conditions you encounter most frequently. Additionally, it is safe to assume that they might sometimes take a cost-effective approach to stock specifications. Whether you have roasted the original set of rubber or need to purchase the right tires for your local trails, this comparative analysis should help you make a decision.

Related: How to Choose Mountain Bike Tires

With that in mind, we set out to review the best tires for all-mountain and trail riding; you can even call it enduro if you like. The truth of the matter is, trail riding is the most common style of riding that most people participate in. We pedal up the hill to ride back down it. More often than not, the emphasis of trail riding is on the downhill, and the uphill is a necessary, and often just as enjoyable, part of the total experience. Again, the tires you choose should complement how and where you ride and the terrain and conditions you typically encounter to enhance your riding experience.

Value


Before the rubber hits the dirt, you'll be laying out some coin for said rubber — make the most of it. We're dealing with a product category here that is prone to specialization, so if you're looking for something other than an all-arounder, make sure to read up on our award winners for tires that do specific jobs well.

Mountain bike tires are expensive. Some are much more expensive than others, so we do our best to identify which models represent the best value. Despite costing less than most of the competition, the Specialized Butcher Grid Trail T9 and the Specialized Eliminator Grid Trail T7 are highly rated and are our picks for an affordable front and rear trail riding combo.


Types of Mountain Bike Tires


Front Tires

The front tire is primarily responsible for cornering and needs to respond appropriately to your input in order to remain on your intended line. For this reason, many front tires feature tread designs with large side knobs that aid in maintaining cornering grip. Front tires often feature directional tread patterns to improve rolling resistance, although a front tire does not support as much weight as a rear tire and consequently doesn't suffer as much drag. Therefore, it is quite common to see riders opt for more aggressive tread designs for the front where their cornering grip and braking traction is a benefit, with less detriment to rolling resistance. Tires are currently trending wider, and a wider front tire can help maintain traction as they have a larger contact patch on the rolling surface, and you can run lower tire pressures to enhance this even further.

mountain bike tires - front tires are responsible for more of the steering and cornering...
Front tires are responsible for more of the steering and cornering duties, and they do a fair amount of the braking work as well.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Rear Tires

Many tires can be used as either a front or rear tire, while some are designed with rear use in mind. In general, a rear tire has more of a focus on pedaling and braking traction, and tread designs often reflect that. Horizontal knobs with edges that run perpendicular to the direction of travel are often employed to enhance braking traction. Squared-off edges and siping on tread knobs also help to grip and bite under pedaling forces. Rolling resistance is often more of a concern for a rear tire, and some tires feature low to medium height center tread knobs that roll faster than more aggressive designs. Side knob designs vary, with slightly less emphasis typically placed on the rear tire's ability to corner.

mountain bike tires - the rear tire is responsible for the brunt of pedaling and braking...
The rear tire is responsible for the brunt of pedaling and braking traction.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Semi-slicks

The emergence of enduro racing has helped drive innovation in all aspects of bike manufacturing. This includes tires, and a resurgence in semi-slick tire designs has occurred in recent years. Semi-slick tires have a pared-down center tread to reduce their rolling resistance, framed in by larger side knobs to maintain strong cornering performance.

mountain bike tires - semi-slick tires have lower profile treads in the center to decrease...
Semi-slick tires have lower profile treads in the center to decrease rolling resistance with sturdy side knobs for confident cornering.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Criteria for Evaluation


Wheel Size

Modern trends have dictated that all of the tires in our test are either 27.5 or 29-inch. Our selection of test tires is split between the two wheel sizes, and in many cases, our testers have experience riding them in both sizes. Based on that experience, we feel that the performance of a tire between different wheel sizes will be roughly the same.

mountain bike tires - tires are trending wider and so are our test models. wider tires...
Tires are trending wider and so are our test models. Wider tires have more air volume and provide more damping and traction.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Tire Width

We selected tires in the 2.3 to 2.6-inch width range. As tires continue to trend wider, so too are the tires in our test. We now have several models in the 2.5" and 2.6" widths that are becoming much more common in the current mountain bike tire market. We mounted tires to 30mm internal diameter wheels. We feel this rim size to be very representative of current wheel selection without falling into the narrow or overly wide end of the spectrum.

Sidewall Protection

Each manufacturer has its own technology and name for how they choose to protect a tire with its casing. Whether it be EXO (Maxxis), Tough (WTB), or ProTection (Continental), a robust casing helps to add abrasion and puncture resistance, as well as support to the sidewalls of a tire. Often, the more durable and supportive a casing is, the heavier the tire becomes. Lighter-weight tires often have less protective and resilient sidewalls, while those that weigh more can usually withstand a bit more abuse. Many tires come in more than one casing option, so you can make that decision for yourself based on how you ride, your trail conditions, and terrain.

mountain bike tires - a tire&#039;s performance is the corners is one of its most important...
A tire's performance is the corners is one of its most important attributes.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Cornering


Front Tire

The Maxxis Minion DHF features a pronounced transitional zone and scored among the highest for cornering. It has a distinctive locked-in feel, though it may take a little getting used to for some riders. Going from the center tread onto the side knobs, the rider may notice a "dead" zone about halfway through the lean while passing over the channel between the tread knobs on the crown of the tire on the way to the big side knobs. This tire rewards good technique with predictable and confidence-inspiring cornering traction. The DHF's more aggressive sibling, the Assegai has even more grip in the corners. This DH tire has more tread in the transitional zone, softer rubber, and an even more robust casing that makes it unflappable. The Assegai is the best cornering tire we've ever tested.

mountain bike tires - the maxxis minion dhf is arguably the most popular tire ever thanks...
The Maxxis Minion DHF is arguably the most popular tire ever thanks mostly to its cornering prowess.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

With a tread design that looks strikingly similar to the Minion DHF, the Vittoria Mazza also boasts impressive cornering traction. This aggressive tire has a row of well-supported side knobs and a predictable locked-in feel when on edge. Vittoria's 4C Graphene rubber provides a tacky feel, and longitudinal siping on all the tread knobs further enhance their grip and traction in all conditions we encountered while testing. Specialized's Butcher T9 is at the top of the heap in the corners as well. The aggressive open tread is great in a range of conditions, but it's the new T9 rubber compound that's most impressive. While the rubber doesn't have the tackiest feel, its dampening properties give it an especially smooth, glued-to-the-ground ride quality.



Likewise, the Michelin Wild Enduro Front is a top performer in the corners. One look at the Wild Enduro Front, and you can see why. This tire has super tall and aggressive shoulder lugs that bite into nearly any trail surface. Wet, loose, loam, this tire rips into the soil. You can lean as hard as you want into this tire, and the casing is supportive. Similarly, we found the new Michelin Wild AM2 to rip through the bends. This tire relies on its aggressive tread pattern to do most of the work, with well-supported shoulder lugs and a supportive yet supple Gravity Shield casing.

Continental's latest tires deserve praise in the metric, and the Kryptotoal Fr represents a new era for the brand. This tire performs as well as the best cornering tires we've tested. The WTB Vigilante also earns an honorable mention in the cornering metric. We found performance to be right there with the Minion DHF and the Wild Enduro Front. This burly and mean front tire can stand up to aggressive movements, committed riding, and all types of terrain.

mountain bike tires - the vittoria martello delivers excellent cornering abilities along...
The Vittoria Martello delivers excellent cornering abilities along with killer rolling speed.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Rear Tire

If we were forced to pick one rear tire to ride for an entire year, knowing we'd be experiencing a huge range of conditions, trail types, and weather, we'd choose the Maxxis Aggressor. We feel this tire provides a great combination of traction and rolling speed and has a huge bandwidth in terms of conditions. While other tires may handle specific conditions better, the Aggressor rarely leaves us wanting more. The medium profile center tread allows for exceptional pedaling efficiency and low rolling resistance, all while offering adequate bite for climbing and braking traction. The side knobs are stout enough to rail corners but not so burly that they resist flicking the bike's rear end into corners and breaking traction when the mood hits.

The Maxxis Dissector is another of our favorite rear tires. Its moderate height center tread is fast-rolling, yet it has a substantial row of side knobs that provide excellent grip in the corners. This versatile model performs well in all but the loosest of conditions. Similarly, the WTB Trail Boss rolls relatively quickly, but its stout row of shoulder knobs hook up and rails through the bends.

mountain bike tires - the wtb trail boss provides excellent cornering traction in the rear...
The WTB Trail Boss provides excellent cornering traction in the rear of the bike.
Credit: Heather Benson

Those who want a relatively fast-rolling rear tire that maintains good cornering abilities might consider the Specialized Eliminator T7. The Eliminator has a semi-aggressive center rolling for speed, but it still has good braking bite and cornering traction. Likewise, the Michelin Force AM2 is a fast-rolling tire, but it has aggressive shoulder lugs that help it corner better than other fast-rollers.

For the more aggressive rider, the Maxxis Minion DHR II is our favorite option. The Michelin Wild Enduro Rear is right there with the DHR II when weight is less of a priority and cornering abilities and traction are emphasized. While neither of these tires is light, they're both impressive when the going gets radical.

mountain bike tires - those wide paddle-shaped lugs in the center tread of the dhr ii dig...
Those wide paddle-shaped lugs in the center tread of the DHR II dig in effectively, especially in loose conditions.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Pedal Traction


Front Tire

Pedaling forces are applied through the rear tire while the front tire is pushed along, guiding the bike along its journey. In essence, we describe the behaviors of the various front tires as they navigate the terrain. The Maxxis Minion DHF is our favorite tire for all-conditions riding. The majority of our testing took place in dryer California conditions. Trails were often loose, blown out, and rocky. The Maxx Terra compound on the Minion DHF is an excellent balance of grip, rolling resistance, and longevity. The side knobs molded to rock faces just as well as they clawed for traction in the rubble.


There are better choices than the Minion DHF if you ride firm ground almost exclusively due to the fact that the knobs are on the aggressive side with a fair amount of spacing between them. The Maxxis Ardent, Michelin Force AM2, Specialized Ground Control, and Vittoria Martello perform better in these cases with smaller knobs that don't give the rider a feeling of riding high off the ground. The even tread pattern of those tires also feels more predictable on firm ground as the transition across the tread is smooth the whole way through.

Rear Tire

With rear tires, you'll find huge variances in traction, depending on the type of terrain and the surface conditions. If the mission of the day is to climb up a ridiculously loose fire road with golf ball-sized rocks loosely embedded in the surface and soil that is so loose you're leaving a wake in the sand behind you, something knobby like the Minion DHR II will "get 'er done."

mountain bike tires - the michelin wild enduro rear sure ain&#039;t light. but it delivers...
The Michelin Wild Enduro Rear sure ain't light. But it delivers excellent pedaling traction.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

The Maxxis Aggressor provided us with excellent pedaling traction on a huge range of surfaces and conditions. We found the Aggressor works best on hardpack, rock, and loam. When things get loose and steep, the Aggressor can't match the DHR II's more aggressive tread. Similarly, the Specialized Eliminator and WTB Trail Boss provide balanced traction across a wide range of surfaces and conditions.

When conditions are firm, some of our fastest rolling tires perform exceptionally well. Lower profile tread designs like those of the Maxxis Ardent, Vittoria Agarro, and Michelin Force AM2 grip very well on hardpack and slabby rock, though they tend to falter when the surface conditions are super loose.

mountain bike tires - braking traction is hugely important in a tire. your needs will vary...
Braking traction is hugely important in a tire. Your needs will vary based on where and how you ride.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Braking Traction


Braking traction is a crucial element of any mountain bike tire and one that varies dramatically between the different models and tread designs. In general, the size, shape, and orientation of the center tread play the biggest role in how well a tire slows and stops your forward momentum.


Front Tire

It varies with the conditions, but more often than not, a tire with a more aggressive tread design is going to brake better. The height, shape, and orientation of the knobs all play a role in how they bite into the trail surface as you apply the brakes. In terms of front tire braking traction, the more aggressive, the better, and tires like the Michelin Wild Enduro, Maxxis Assegai, WTB Convict, and the Schwalbe Magic Mary have got your back when you want to shut it down. We also particularly like the 2-knob, alternating paddle tread running down the center of the WTB Vigilante. The simple, no-nonsense tread design uses square, horizontally siped knobs that splay to increase friction and surface area. When things get a little damp, the somewhat open tread design sheds mud quite well to ensure a clean braking surface. The Maxxis Minion DHF, Vittoria Mazza, and Continental Kryptotal Fr use deep, open tread designs with tall knobs that dig well into just about any soil type. While testing, we always felt confident that they would hook and grab hold when it came time to slow things down.

mountain bike tires - we like to be in control and we assume you do too. we suggest...
We like to be in control and we assume you do too. We suggest getting a tire that matches your terrain and riding style.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Rear Tire

As with front tire braking traction, rear tire braking traction is also dependent on the size, shape, and orientation of the tread knobs. As a general rule, the more aggressive the tread design, the better the tire will perform in loose conditions. Taller knobs with wide spacing can penetrate deeper into loose surfaces, and braking edges that face perpendicular to the direction of travel will most help slow your roll when it's super loose. The Maxxis Minion DHR II has an aggressive tread pattern with wide paddle-shaped lugs that offer great braking traction on most surfaces, including soft and blown-out corners.

Fast-rolling and semi-slick tires get their speed from small, low-profile tread blocks. Unfortunately, this has an adverse effect on braking traction on anything but firm conditions. There is less to bite into the soil, and on loose, dusty, or wet trails, these tires tend to slide under braking forces. That said, the Maxxis Aggressor, Maxxis Dissector, WTB Trail Boss, and Specialized Eliminator T7 offer decent braking bite given their rolling speed.

If braking power is high on your list of priorities, running some of the tires we primarily tested as front tires on the rear wheel is a great option as well. Running a Maxxis Minion DHF or Asegai, Vittoria Mazza, or WTB Vigilante front and rear might not be the fastest rolling choice, but it would definitely stop you in a hurry.

mountain bike tires - despite its somewhat aggressive appearance, the specialized ground...
Despite its somewhat aggressive appearance, the Specialized Ground Control is a very fast-rolling tire.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Rolling Resistance


More often than not, the more aggressive a tread design is, the more rolling resistance it has, and vice-versa. For this reason, the tires with the lowest profile center treads and the semi-slicks garnered top honors in rolling resistance or lack thereof. For highly skilled riders that can push the pace while maintaining some semblance of control, these tires are a fast option.

One of the fastest-rolling tires in the test was the Specialized Ground Control. This isn't much of a surprise given its cross-country pedigree. It carries speed exceptionally well and performs precisely as intended. It should also be noted that this tire also delivers pretty solid cornering abilities given its impressive rolling speed.


The Maxxis Ardent is another fast and efficient tire that will appeal most to the XC crowd. The Ardent has a low-profile tread design that prioritizes rolling speed. The Vittoria Agarro and Michelin Force AM2 have a similar tread design to the Ardent and are great options for those looking to minimize rolling resistance. The Maxxis Aggressor, Dissector, and WTB Trail Boss offer more traction while still maintaining impressive rolling speed.

mountain bike tires - the ardent is a fast-rolling tire.
The Ardent is a fast-rolling tire.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

More aggressive treads and softer rubber compounds have a tendency to roll more slowly. Tires like the Schwalbe Magic Mary, Michelin Wild Enduro Rear, WTB Vigilante, and Maxxis Assegai slay corners, but they also roll much slower than most of the competition.

mountain bike tires - examining a worn-out dhf nearing the end of its lifespan. you can...
Examining a worn-out DHF nearing the end of its lifespan. You can see the deterioration of the shoulder knobs.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Longevity


There's no way around it; mountain bike tires are pricey. We want our tires to last, and we get the feeling you do too. That's why we put each tire through rigorous testing of heavy use before examining the wear on the tread and casing to assess durability. Manufacturers use different rubber compounds and casing constructions, so some tires are more durable than others. Softer rubber compounds tend to wear quicker, while thinner sidewalls and casings are easier to flat. How fast a tire wears out can be subjective and a function of how much, how hard, where, and what conditions you ride in.


We were thoroughly impressed by the tread life of the Vittoria Mazza. Vittoria uses a 4C (4 compounds) rubber that is infused with Graphene. We can't speak for the science behind it, but we found the Mazza's cornering knobs to have above-average durability. The Michelin Wild AM2 and Force AM2 feature Gum-X rubber compounds and the Gravity Shield casing. Both of these tires really impressed us with their long-lasting tread and resilient sidewalls. From a casing standpoint, we were impressed by the TCS Light SG2 casings on the WTB Vigilante and Trail Boss. Despite their Light designation, these tires proved to be tough with a Slash Guard (SG2) insert that stood up to our abuse.

mountain bike tires - some tires are easier to install than others.
Some tires are easier to install than others.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Installation


For the majority of these tires, we were able to install and seat the bead on our rims without the use of a high-powered compressor. We used our beloved Joe Blow Booster floor pump to successfully set the bead on many, while a standard floor pump proved to be powerful enough for several of them. A select few of the tires, mostly the Schwalbes and the Continentals, required the use of a powerful compressor to finally seat the bead on the rim's flanges.


A multitude of mountain bike tires can easily be mounted onto a rim with just your bare hands. For other models, you may find it necessary to use a tire lever or two. Heavier tires with thicker sidewalls can be a little tougher with less pliable casings, while lighter and more flexible tires are slightly easier to handle.

Some of the more burly casings are more difficult to work with. The stiff carcass on the Michelin Wild Enduro Front and Wild Enduro Rear were both tough to pull onto the rim. They inflated and seated easily, but it required two tire levers just to pull the tire into position. A couple of the toughest tires we've ever installed are the Continental Kryptotal models. These tires put a fight to get seated, but once mounted we never had further issues.

mountain bike tires - the most important thing you can do is get tires that suit your...
The most important thing you can do is get tires that suit your riding style, terrain, and conditions.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Conclusion


There is a lot to consider when researching tires. With plenty of jargon and technical terms, things can get confusing awfully quickly. One thing is for sure: tires are a relatively cost-effective way to improve your bike's handling and all-around performance. We hope our detailed comparative analysis helps you find the right tires to meet your needs, budget, and riding style.

Jeremy Benson, Pat Donahue, Ian Stowe


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