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10 Best MTB Tires

Our staff has often argued that a fresh set of mountain bike tires with an appropriate tread pattern for your trails is one of the best–and most affordable–upgrades you can make to your bike. However, with all the tire companies and their various offerings out there, it can be hard to know where to start. Well, wonder no more! During our reader’s survey conducted this summer, we asked you to tell us what your favorite treads are. Below are the top 10 picks, according to the results from that survey. While one company in particular dominated this list, the mountain bike tires our readers picked span the spectrum of trail conditions. Some of the tread patterns may be better suited to your trails or riding style than others, but you can’t really go wrong with any of them.

Without further ado, here are the best mountain bike tires of 2016, as chosen by our readers.

10. Schwalbe Racing Ralph Tire: $45-$100

schwalbe racing ralph

It doesn’t take an astute reader to discern the intentions of this tire–the Racing Ralph is all about maximizing speed. To do so, the center tread blocks are low and closely-spaced. Currently in its third generation, Schwalbe offers the Racing Ralph in a dizzying array of casing, compound, and size options.

Diameters available: 26″, 27.5″, 29″

Widths available: 2.10″, 2.25″, 2.35″

Schwalbe Racing Ralph Evo LiteSkin Folding 650B MTB Tyre - 2.25" 27.5"
$33.95    Wiggle   AD 

9. Kenda Nevegal Tire: $40-$65

screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-3-15-56-pm

The Nevegal has been the do it all, aggressive trail tire in Kenda’s line for about as long as I can remember. As such, the Nevegal has chunky cornering knobs and large center knobs which are heavily ramped in an effort to reduce rolling resistance. Kenda also offers a DH version of the Nevegal for those that need ultimate durability.

Diameters available: 24″, 26″, 27.5″, 29″

Widths available: 2.10″, 2.20″, 2.35″, 2.50″, 2.70″

Kenda John Tomac Nevegal Mountain Bike 26" x 2.35 DTC Folding Tire
$33.52    ebay   AD 

8. Maxxis Ikon Tire: $55-$100

maxxis ikon

With small, tightly-spaced knobs, the Ikon from Maxxis is another mountain bike tire intended for XC racing. It’s certainly not limited to buff trails, though, particularly if you opt for the larger, 2.35″ width. The high volume casing gives a comfortable ride, which is especially beneficial on a hardtail. One of the traits I like best about the Ikon is that it’s very predictable. The tire loses traction gradually, which allows you to correct before you end up on the ground.

Diameters available: 26″, 27.5″, 29″

Widths available: 2.00″, 2.20″, 2.35″, 2.80″

NEW - Maxxis Ikon 29 x 2.2 EXO/TR 60 tpi Tubeless Ready Tire
$35.00    ebay   AD 

7. Maxxis Minion DHR II Tire: $61-$105

maxxis dhr II

How can I say this? The original Minion DHR was, um, well, it sucked. Thankfully though, the second generation DHR II is an excellent tire. Essentially, the tread pattern is a mashup of two of Maxxis’ other standout tires–the High Roller II and Minion DHF. The center tread is similar to that of the HR II and the side knobs are copied straight from the DHF, with a little boost in size. If you have shied away from the DHR II because of a bad experience with the original, fear not. It’s a wholly different tire, and that’s a good thing.

Diameters available: 26″, 27.5″, 29″

Widths available: 2.30″, 2.40″, 2.80″, 3.00″

Maxxis Minion DHR II 3C EXO TR 650B Folding Tyre - 2.3" 27.5" Black
$43.38    Wiggle   AD 

6. Schwalbe Hans Dampf Tire: $46-$97

schwalbe-hans-dampf

Schwalbe bills the Hans Dampf as a jack-of-all-trades mountain bike tire. It’s not the fastest-rolling or the best-cornering, but it does both fairly well. Since it works across a variety of conditions, many companies who use Schwalbe spec the Hans Dampf on their trail bikes. Personally, I like it better as a rear tire than a front since it has a tendency to feel vague at the limit.

Diameters available: 26″, 27.5″, 29″

Widths available: 2.25″, 2.35″

Schwalbe Hans Dampf Tubeless 26X2.35 EVO Trail Star Super Gravity Side Wall TLE
$32.00    ebay   AD 

Click to page two for #5-#1.

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# Comments

  • Chris Daniels

    Cool to see the HRII on top. Great tire. True about getting the side knobs hooked up. I’m not good enough to intentionally lean it over far enough, but instead, it usually bails me out of a messy corner (usually one that I’ve messed up).

  • Greg Heil

    This spring I switched my front tire over to the DHF and man, I’ve been cornering like there’s no tomorrow all year! I have to totally agree on the high marks it received. Also, I’m running a HRII in the rear, so I guess I have two of the all-time-best tires covered.

    • mongwolf

      I’ve tried a variety of Specialized tires and also the Nevegals (old and new). I guess it’s time to step over and give the Maxxis a try — the DHF in front and HRII in the rear. I’ve been considering this for while. In Specialized I had settled with the Butcher Grid in front and have liked that tire a lot. So I think jumping over to the DHF shouldn’t produce too much surprise. On the rear I currently have the newer Nevegal (but not the XPro). When I bought the tire, I put it on front at first and hated it, but once on the rear, it shines imo — very consistent and good follower. The biggest issue with it – and it’s a big issue – is that I couldn’t get it to set up tubeless and neither could a couple of mechanics. So I’m running tubeless in front and tubes in the rear this season. Yuck. I’ll be really happy to get out of the rear tubes next year.

  • mongwolf

    Does anyone have experience with both the Butcher and DHF as front tires? They are so similar it seems with the Butch being a copy cat essentially — at least in the tread pattern. As I mentioned above I am running a Butcher Grid in front right now and like it. But I think I’ll give the DHF a try next.

  • Joel DH

    Um…Where, the heck, is Specialized on this list? This is a list of the most popular tires, not necessarily the best. To determine the best, look at the tires DH racers are riding. Then again, everybody seems to have their own definition on what a good tire is. Some prefer speed, others grip, some mud clearance. One would have to decide which factor is the most important in a tire, and then test many different tires to assess the capability of each product. Only then will we have the true “best” tire.
    One of my personal favorites is the Specialized Captain tire. It rarely “steers” me wrong.

    • Aaron Chamberlain

      Okay let’s do that. Here are the results from the 2016 World Cup Elite Men by tire:

      Round 1:
      1. Maxxis
      2. Maxxis
      3. Maxxis

      Round 2:
      1. Specialized
      2. Specialized
      3. Hutchinson

      Round 3:
      1. Maxxis
      2. Maxxis
      3. Maxxis

      Round 4:
      1. Maxxis
      2. Specialized
      3. Specialized

      Round 5:
      1. Maxxis
      2. Maxxis
      3. Maxxis

      Round 6:
      1. Maxxis
      2. Maxxis
      3. Specialized

      Round 7:
      1. Maxxis
      2. Maxxis
      3. Specialized

      World Championships:
      1. Maxxis
      2. Maxxis
      3. Schwalbe

      Final tally:
      Maxxis – 16 podium spots (67% of the time)
      Specialized – 6 podium spots (25% of the time)
      Hutchinson – 1 podium spot (4.2% of the time)
      Schwalbe – 1 podium spot (4.2% of the time)

      So, even by your criteria, Maxxis comes out on top.

    • Greg Heil

      Hahaha yes!

    • Joel DH

      You got me. You have exposed my Specialized bias. I think (gasp!) I may try a Maxxis tire. We shall see…

    • Deeperrin

      Think the author was going for a more XC list and not a DH comparison or there wold be more Specialized on the list.

    • Aaron Chamberlain

      The operative words here are READERS’ CHOICE. This has nothing to do with the author’s opinion on tires. And no, it’s not a DH comparison either.

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