Choosing between heavily-treaded or mountain-style tires and the smooth, sleek and delicate road designs can be a serious battle. Certainly, each tire should be used in its respective arena (mountain on the mountain, for instance), but for the commuter or casual cyclist, the choice is not so clearly defined. When choosing a tire design, keep in mind the terrain and conditions of your usual ride.
Knobby-treaded tires are most often used with off-road or mountain bike wheels. These tires are wide, burly, heavy and provide high traction in most conditions. While they are primarily used in off-road duties, many riders find that mountain tires provide the flat-resilience and traction they need to navigate a busy commute.
Road tires are traditionally used for most street riding. They are thin, light and have little or no tread, making them much faster and more efficient than knobby designs. They are, however, less suited for poor riding conditions or dirt riding, and they are somewhat more prone to flats. However, many road tires are substantial enough to stand up to a fair variety of pavement conditions.
Increased interest in bicycle commuting has led to hybrid tire designs. The sport of cyclocross, for example, uses a tire with road-like dimensions and heavy tread. Mountain riders can also fit their bikes with smooth, lightly-treaded tires to better serve on pavement. These options allow riders to accumulate several tire designs for use in diverse conditions without changing bicycles.