The tyres you choose can have a big impact on the ride character of your mountain bike. To help make things easier, we’ve put together a handy guide to inform you of the different types of bike tyres available to you…
Tube or tubeless?
Most traditional tyres will rely on an inner tube that will help them to stay inflated, whereas tubeless tyres have no inner tube. Instead the tyre has been designed specifically to be airtight thanks to an additional layer of rubber or by using a latex-based sealant. The main advantage of a tubeless tyre is that the seal is airtight and stable and it also offers resistance to punctures. The main downside, however, is that they are often more expensive and heavier than tyres with an inner tube. The majority of mountain bike tyres have a ‘tubeless compatible’ system which have a tubeless bead but need sealant to ensure they are airtight. Additionally they require rim tape in order to seal the spoke holes. This system gives you the benefit of being lighter and you’ll also find a bigger variety of tyre choices.
Speed or traction?
Consider what you want from a tyre: is it speed, or is it traction? Some tyres will add speed by slightly sloping their tread patterns or by having several tread compounds, whereas others will use sticky compounds to supply extra grip. There are plenty of tyres that will give you a good balance of speed and traction, but if you favour one over the other, you may be surprised by what some subtle differences between tyres can give to your ride.
There are a wealth of bike tyre widths available for mountain bikes. These range from small 1.5 inch tyres to huge five inch ones. Most mountain bikers opt for a tyre that sits in-between 2.2 and 2.5 inches. This is down to the fact that they give you decent protection and supply you with grip which allows you to ride more aggressively. Tyres narrower than 2.2 inches tend to have less cushioning and a smaller footprint, making getting good grip harder. Narrower tyres are lighter however, and they do roll faster, making cutting through sticky mud easier potentially easier with a narrower bike tyre.