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Choosing Mountain Bike Tires
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Choosing Mountain Bike Tires

Tire Types

The first difference of mountain bike tire today is they come in 2 types.

  1. A folding bead is lighter, strong and flexible and usually made of kevlar.
  2. A wire bead is usually made of steel.

The obvious visual point of difference is the folding bead folds up, and the wire bead holds its shape.

Downhill riders will usually go for wire beaded tires as they are stronger, beefier, and they are not so concerned about the weight difference.

Cross Country and all mountain style riders will lean towards a folding bead tire because they are much lighter and that is a crucial factor in those 2 styles of riding.

The second difference is tubeless and tubed tires.

For using tubeless tires you can use a specific tubeless wheel set, or convert a regular set to tubeless using some sort of sealant inside the tire to take out any imperfections, and to help seal any small punctures like a thorn or small tear in the tire casing.

Tubeless tires are a little heavier due to an extra layer in them, but this adds a little more strength to the tire to resist punctures.

The other benefit of tubeless is you can run lower tire pressure without worrying about getting pinch flats as much.

Tire width.

The next important factor in choosing mountain bike tires is the width.

A wider tire will give you more traction when riding over rocks or in turns, you can run at lower pressure and the more cushioned the ride will feel, but they are heavier.

Cross-country racers will use narrow tires with more pressure to increase rolling resistance and allow for faster peddling.

Tread Design.

A good all mountain style tire will be a directional tire tread that is usually in an arrow shaped pattern that should face away from you as you are looking down at the tire when riding, this directional pattern gives greater stability and breaking capability, which is what this pattern is designed to do.

A race style tire have a much lower tread pattern to give a lot less rolling resistance to allow for faster pedaling, but has a lot less control and traction for turns.

Downhill mountain bike tires have large beefy treads and cover a wider section of the wheel to dig in during turns and where extra traction is required.

Choosing Mountain Bike Tires

The factors that make up your choice in mountain bike tires is the style of riding you intend to do most, how much extra weight you are prepared to carry to increase traction, and the terrain that you will be covering.

Talk to fellow riders who ride similar trails to you, and get your local bike store to recommend a few based on those factors.

It may take a few goes to find the right balance, but it might also make a huge difference to your riding experience.


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