How to Choose a Mountain Bike Tire

How to Choose a Mountain Bike Tire
A mountain bike's performance and riding characteristics will depend largely upon the tire mounted on it. There are a wide variety of tire manufacturers producing a plethora of tire models, specifically designed for different riding conditions and styles. Choosing a mountain bike tire can be overwhelming, but with the proper knowledge and techniques, you can purchase the right tire for you.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Step 1
Consider the type of riding you like to do. If you use your mountain bike exclusively for off-road trail riding, you'll want a tire with a comprehensive knob pattern. If you mainly use your mountain bike for commuting, with little to no dirt riding, a slick tire will probably increase your speed and efficiency. If you plan to mainly ride on the road with the occasional casual trail ride mixed in, consider purchasing a semi-slick tire with a smooth center and knobby edges.
Step 2
Decide how important performance is in your riding. If you want save some weight on your tires, and be able to mount and change them more easily, consider choosing a tire with a Kevlar bead. These tires will fold for easy portability, and generally cost only $5 to $10 more than conventional tires. Most performance mountain bike tires produced today include a Kevlar bead.
Step 3
Think about the types of trails you ride on. If you mainly ride on hard-packed, smooth single track, a tire with low-profile knobs will probably provide a good balance of low rolling resistance and sufficient traction. More aggressive trails with roots and rocks will call for a tire with deep, chunky knobs. If you ride in rainy, muddy conditions, a narrow tire will cut through the muck and keep your fork stanchions and chainstays clear of mud.
Step 4
Determine your budget. If you're riding only on a casual basis, with no plans of racing or riding competitively, you'll probably be satisfied with a cheaper tire costing less than $20. If you do plan to race, or want the best possible performance from your bike, you'll have to spend a bit more. High-performance tires can cost up to $60 each, and are generally made of a softer, stickier rubber compound that will wear more quickly than cheap tires.
Step 5
Compare the prices of tires at your local bike shop and at online retailers. Prices will usually be lower online, though the advice and help of a local bike shop can be invaluable.

Tips & Warnings

Look for closeout specials on tires from last year's model line. Many tire models receive only cosmetic upgrades from one model year to another.
Avoid purchasing a tire that is used. Tires should be replaced often depending on the amount of riding time you log, and a used tire will likely be worn out.

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