Types of mountain bike tires

Enjoying mountain biking is closely linked to the configurations of our bicycle and the terrain where we usually ride frequently. Dry ground to wet ground is not the same, therefore it will not be the same “grip” or traction of the tire.

We must first clarify three terms that we need to define and clarify: wheel, set of wheels and tires (tires). In some countries these or other terms can be used differently, so we clarify.

The wheel – It is made up of several components that together will make a bicycle roll. This is; a hub, several spokes or spokes, a hoop or rim and a tire or tire.

The set of wheels – It consists of two wheels; A front and a rear. The rear wheel being a key part for the traction of your bicycle because the cassette of steps is installed on it.

Tire or tire – The tires or tires are the contact point of the bicycle with the ground. There are different types of technologies that will give us different characteristics of traction, speed, grip, etc. Therefore, it is important to choose the right one according to the terrain; from rolling on pavement to rolling in wetland areas.

Explained these concepts in this article we will only see the different types of tires and at another time we will see what types of wheels there are for MTB.

That said, let’s return to the topic of our article:

Types of tires for mountain biking

The first thing we are going to tell you is that there is no perfect tire for all terrain . When buying a tire we want it to serve us both in dry and wet terrain; that does not generate too much friction to be fast, but that in muddy terrain it has a perfect grip on wet roots or stones.

Forget, it does not exist. When a tire is very good for some condition, it will surely not work otherwise. That is, if a tire is effective for a dry road, it will not be the same for a muddy road.

Ideally, find something balanced for the type of area and climate in which you roll in the MTB discipline. You must opt ​​for a tire or tire that suits the conditions where you live, in addition to adapting to the type of mountain biking that you will practice regularly. That is to say; The tires for dry terrain will be different for a cross-country bike as well as for a downhill bike.

We can find covers with different widths, with different sizes of blocks or segments, as well as different internal structure and technology that make the roof lighter or heavier.

Tire widths for MTB

Wide tires (2.0 ″ onwards)

These tires or tires provide greater comfort and safety. Visually they look coarser.

They have an excellent grip. Against we will have greater weight; more resistance to rolling, therefore its rotational mass will feel slower and “stuck to the floor”. These covers are safer and more stable for technical descents and loose stones. Because of their width they absorb and cling more to the irregularities of the terrain. They are made to roll with less pressure to meet their grip characteristics.

Wide tires are generally used for the All Mountain and Downhill modes.

Thin tires (1.95 ″ to 1.70 ″)

They are lighter and open less in the rim therefore they look “thin”. Its main characteristic is to have less resistance or friction with the ground. Which translates into greater speed on smooth terrain and stretches of asphalt. Against: having a little width they have less grip on dry roads and full of stones. They need more pressure therefore they are less stable in the face of irregularities in the terrain.

These are generally used in the Cross Country (XC) mode.

Type of tacking and drawing

Depending on the type of tire width you choose, you will have to choose what type of TACO or tacking you need for the terrain where you usually wheel. We can find a rain and mud block for a thin tire as well as a wide one.

Visually the tires have either tight or separate studs, as well as aggressive to medium and medium to small.

Tight tacos

They work best in compact and hard terrain. Since it will have many tacos together that will give you more contact surface.

Separate tacos

By presenting more separated tacos between them they are better for wet, muddy terrain, or land with loose stone and roots, since separate tacos evacuate or remove excess mud. That way you won’t end up with a mass of mud in your tire.

Strike of aggressive to medium

The studs will look outstanding on the tire. They are big and long. They give better grip on land with abundant loose soil as well as in mud. There are different types of drawings that will help us to have a different grip in the area of ​​roots or stones. Many times the drawing and design of the tacking will depend on the brand you choose. In hard terrain the aggressive cue becomes slow to roll for extra effort in pedaling. This due to excessive friction by aggressive tacking. You will see this blockage more often in wide tires, however there are also for thin tires but with a not so outstanding blockage. With regard to pressure, they are handled like wide tires, as they are more flexible and can withstand low pressures,

Some brands have mud covers specifically, where the drilling even exceeds the surface / long centimeter. This type of tacking is used almost exclusively in Downhill or Enduro competition, where climatic conditions ensure a track full of mud and possibly rain on the descent.

Medium to small tackling

Small tacking will give us less friction, therefore on hard or dry terrain they will roll faster; even in most areas. In loose gravel they will be less stable, as it offers less security in the grip. But in difficult conditions such as loose sand or excess mud or wet roots they usually skid easily.

This type of tacking is widely used by most cycling brands, the bicycles we find in stores generally come with this type of tackling due to their versatility.

If you roll in both dry and medium wet terrain, they will be your best option but you have to be careful, with the grip depending on the terrain conditions.

Wide tires with semi-slick tacking

Some revolutionary brands in the field of mountain bike tires continue to innovate with better technologies, compounds, drawings and combinations. And they have created a tacking mix using both aggressive and small. This combination of tacos is known as semi-slicks.

These tires have small studs in the center that will make a tire with less friction and on the sides they have a more aggressive plug. This combination of taqueado and a different drawing have been positioned for the modalities of Trail, All mountain and Enduro.

On a dry or hard floor while there is no loose gravel they will have an ideal grip and low rolling resistance, becoming tires that will allow you greater speeds. The aggressive lateral block helps very well in curves and cant. However, on land with loose stones or excess mud, they usually skid easily.

Not to be confused with semi-slick city tires, these are of a thin and smooth width of the center with a small taqueado on the sides. This would be the worst option for the mountain. Most of the time these decks are used more for city or pavement than for complex terrain.

Basic tires for mountain biking

These are intended for beginner cyclists or mountain recreational bicycles. They have a different taqueado more towards the small, with little relief and with varied drawings. This type does not stand out in goodness, they only fulfill their neutral function to support rugged terrain. Its compound is very basic and without much technology in between and can even be heavier. Therefore these tires are more accessible prices.

Rims with flexible or rigid structure

The carcazas or ring that has the tire gives it rigidity. There are two types of hoops:

  • Flexible or kevlar ring (aramid), also known as folding or folding, are the lightest mtb tire option, rolling and easy to assemble.
  • Steel hoop, its material makes them last a long time, they are easily recognizable because they always keep their original round shape, it is hard to assemble them due to their excess rigidity and their weight is much higher than those of kevlar.

Tubeless rims

Tubeless tires are those tires that do not house a camera inside. The tire or tire, in addition to its own function, acts as a camera.

Its advantages:

  • Lower number of punctures
  • Grip sensations
  • Traction are greater and better than with common tires.


  • Tubeless tires are somewhat more expensive than normal tires.
  • When riding depending on the type of wheel you have, you will need a compressor so that it inflates quickly and has no air leak and can throw away the eyebrow of the tire and it stays in place.
  • If your wheel is for a tubeless tire, it probably inflates well with a floor pump.

Not all wheels can be mounted with tubeless tires or tires. You need your wheels to be specifically for tubeless or in their specifications say that it can be converted with a respective tubeless ring kit.

In order for a tubeless tire to work in addition to air, it needs a sealing liquid that guarantees and is responsible for sealing the punctures “automatically” when they occur. This liquid should be replenished periodically, usually every three to four months.

It is important to mention that bringing tubeless in your ring does not mean that you will never strike out or make it lighter. If you are one of those who strike a lot, surely you will continue to strike but you will not have to be changing or patching camera. The sealing liquid will be responsible for sealing the puncture, but if instead of a puncture a stone bites the tire, all the air may escape, regardless of whether you bring a lot of liquid, therefore it deflates almost completely. That is why we recommend carrying a Co2 tank, since that pressure can inflate your tubeless tire and get you out of trouble. Also do not forget to bring your camera spare. On weight, a tubeless tire is not necessarily lighter. This is because when carrying sealing liquid depending on the amount it can even weigh the same or more than a camera.

Last but not least, choosing the ideal tire will depend on your driving style, frequent terrain and mountain biking modality. Sometimes we need to try several until we find the tire that suits you. That is why your friend can work one but it does not necessarily work for you.

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