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Cross Country Mountain Bike Tires



Mountain Bike Tires

Despite today’s snowy weather, we’ve been thinking about mountain biking a lot!   And we’ve been thinking about how to choose mountain bike tires.   So we thought we’d lay out some of the basics.

Watch our Bar Side Chat from Jay P and Brandon about selecting mountain bike tires. Bar Side Chat, Season 2, Ep. 12: Mountain Bike Tire Selection

The Basics:

  1. What size tire do you need?
    • Tires come in three main sizes: 26″, 650b (27.5″) and 29″ that will correspond to your wheel size. You’ll need to know what size wheel you have.
  2. Consider the width of the tire:
    • For most cross country and trail riding you’ll be looking for a tire between 2.1″ and 2.5″ inches. This is the sweet spot for single track riding.
    • This width will balance grip (wider tires generally give more grip) and weight (wider tires are also generally heavier than narrow tires)
    • Wider tires will give you more volume and a more supple ride at the same tire pressure
    • You don’t need to run the same width tires in the front and the rear, in fact, our shop manager prefers to run a wider tires on the front and a narrower tire on the rear. This saves him some weight on the rear wheel while still giving him the grip and volume he likes in on the front wheel.
  3. The tread pattern will give you an idea of how the tire performs:
    • Bigger, blockier knobs give better grip than smaller, smooth knobs
    • Look for side knobs to give you great cornering grip
    • Smoother knobbed tires will have lower rolling resistance but less grip in general and will not perform well on muddy or loose conditions
    • Many tires are directional – that means that the manufacturer will have a suggested direction to run the tire – or they are front or rear specific. But these are just suggestions – you might run a directional tire the other way because you like the way it grips.
  4. Tubed or Tubeless?
    • Tubeless set up can be lighter, allows you to run lower pressure (which can be faster), and you won’t pinch flat
    • To run tubeless you ‘ll need to make sure the tire has a special bead that allows it to run tubeless and that the wheel is also compatible. Some non-tubeless tires can be run tubeless but they are usually more difficult to air up.
    • Tubed set ups don’t require a special wheel or tire.
  5. Sidewall and tire construction:
    • If you ride where there are sharp rocks or goatheads consider getting a tire with extra sidewall protection. There is nothing worse than having a huge cut in your tire or multiple thorn punctures.

Those are a lot of considerations, but we’re here to help.  Stop by the shop or give us a call at 208-787-2453 and we can help you select the best tire for your riding style and bike.   And you can check out our favorite tires here.



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