The Best Mountain Bike Tires of 2016 – Readers’ Choice Awards

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″

9. Kenda Nevegal Tire: $40-$65

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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″

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″

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″

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″

5. Continental Trail King Tire: $30-$70

continental-trail-king

The Continental Trail King mountain bike tire took the third spot on our list last year, but slips a couple spots to number five for 2016. As the name suggests, the Trail King is an all-purpose trail tire. With tall blocks and plenty of space between them, the Trail King can claw its way over trail features such as roots and rocks. Continental offers two casing options: RaceSport and ProTection, the latter of which offers the most puncture resistance. It’s also available with Continental’s Black Chili rubber compound, which has excellent grip and tread wear–a tough feat to accomplish.

Diameters available: 26″, 27.5″, 29″

Widths available: 2.20″, 2.40″

4. Schwalbe Nobby Nic Tire: $30-$102

schwalbe nobby nic

Schwalbe’s Nobby Nic might just be the most commonly spec’d tire on new mountain bikes. It’s available in a wide variety of configurations, price points, and the tread pattern itself is versatile. Many companies chose the Nobby Nic because it is light, which keeps complete bike weights down, but that often came with a serious tradeoff in durability. However, Schwalbe has just revamped the Nic, making the knobs larger and the casing more robust. After riding it on a handful of test bikes, I have to say I was impressed with the updated version.

Diameters available: 26″, 27.5″, 29″

Widths available: 2.10″, 2.25″, 2.35″, 2.60″, 2.80, 3.00″

3. Maxxis Minion DHF Tire: $51-$105

maxxis dhf

There’s a reason the Minion DHF hasn’t seen a redesign à la the DHR. It’s because the DHF is damn-near perfect as it is. Many riders–myself included–consider it the gold standard for aggressive treads. It rolls well for such a burly tire thanks to the heavily-ramped center tread, and it has a predictable transition to the side knobs. And once you’re on those side knobs, you can really lay into the tire. If you want more confidence in the corners, mount up a set of these.

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

Widths available: 2.30″, 2.50″, 2.80″, 3.00″

2. Maxxis Ardent Tire: $61-$65

maxxis ardent

The Maxxis Ardent is another mountain bike tire you often see spec’d stock. It bridges the gap nicely between the XC-focused Ikon and the more aggressive Minion DHF, which makes the Ardent ideal for short travel trail bikes. The tread pattern works well in a variety of terrain, but does struggle in loose over hard–tough conditions for any tire. I personally am not a fan of the Ardent, as I find it to be vague at the limit like the Schwalbe Hans Dampf. However, if you can ride just inside that limit, it’s a ripping trail tire.

Diameters available: 26″, 27.5″, 29″

Widths available: 2.25″, 2.40″

1. Maxxis High Roller II Tire: $62-$105

maxxis-hr-ii

Messing with a mountain bike tire as legendary as the original High Roller was risky. After all, humans in general are averse to change. However, once most people tried the High Roller II, they forgot all about its predecessor. That’s because the High Roller II does everything better–it rolls faster, brakes better, and has a slightly better transition to the side knobs. I say slightly because there is still a little bit of vagueness in that transition zone going from the center to side knobs. It’s best to use a firm, deliberate hand to get over on those knobs quickly. Once you get used to that quirk, you’ll be schralping berms with the best of them.

Diameters available: 26″, 27.5″, 29″

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