Choosing Mountain Bike Tyres

A Guide to selecting mountain bike tyres for your bike and rides

Obviously this can be a complex decision as a result of the number of possible factors that determine MTB tyre performance in any particular type of riding. However we've tried to cover some of the key areas to think about when you are choosing.
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Frame and brake clearance

This may seem a bit obvious, but given that an MTB tyre is likely to be considerably wider than its rim, you should check how much clearance you've got on your bike.

That means checking brake and fork gaps. Even if you've got clearance a muddy trail can cause problems if there is a narrow gap between the tyre and parts of the bike.

Testing and experimenting with MTB tyres

Reading reviews and the manufacturers descriptions is going to give you a good general idea of whether an MTB tyre is suitable for your racing.

However, when you consider that a very competitive mountain biker might have several thousand pounds worth of bike, it makes sense to perhaps test a few tyres on your bike, even if that results in scrapping a few or just using them for leisure.

This is particularly important when you consider that the individual bike, the rider and the riding style have an effect on the tyre performance.

Once you're down to a shortlist the final selection may just be a matter of personal feel, particularly with how much confidence the tyres give you under braking and cornering.

The surfaces you ride on

If you are going to participate in a variety of rides on a wide variety of surfaces and in varying trail conditions then inevitably you have to compromise in your choice of MTB tyre, unless you go to the expense of buying separate ones for separate conditions and events. Many competitive mountain bikers do.

If you are going to see a variety of terrains on a single event, then you're stuck with a single tyre choice so above all look for all-round performance often indicated by the "all mountain" label.

Be careful to look in reviews for any weaknesses on particular surfaces, particularly skidding on tree roots (most tyres struggle but some are much worse than others) and puncture resistance against rocks.

On the other hand, if you know your surface and its condition (dry, hard-packed, tree-rooty etc), then selection is much easier, as the manufacturers categorise their tyres quite well.

Weather and climate

This is a bit obvious, so we won't bore you with weather talk; we all get enough of it anyway!

Just bear in mind that if you have got used to choosing tyres for the variable UK weather and you're planning an overseas MTB trek, you could well find yourself cycling in consistent conditions e.g. dry and dusty.

So you could be safe choosing a specific tyre for those conditions and you won't be wasting your money.

Types of MTB Tyre

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