Best Tire Combinations for Cross-Country Mountain Biking

Tires are perhaps the most important component on your bike. As the only thing keeping you in contact with the ground, and thus in control of your destiny, tires must be properly chosen. Selection is based on riding style and trail characteristics, in this case cross-country (XC), which puts pedaling speed as the most important attribute of a tire.

Generally, XC racers prize rapid acceleration and low rolling resistance above all else. Cross-country tracks usually don’t require the technical bike handling skills, or present the amount of rugged terrain that downhill or enduro racing does. As a result, XC tires tend toward lower tread, narrower footprints, and thinner casings. These days the sweet spot for XC tire width is 2.1 to 2.3.

Firm dirt calls for short, or at least ramped, knobs. This minimizes rolling resistance, and reduces squirming, as taller knobs won’t be able to dig into the hard earth.

Soft or loamy dirt provides a lot of leeway. You can go with a more aggressive design as bigger knobs will dig in—unlike on hardpack where they squirm—and carve through turns with supreme confidence.

Very often, XC mud tires are simply a lightweight version of a moderately aggressive trail/all-mountain tire; choose narrow widths and thin sidewalls. Widely-spaced tread patterns will release wet mud easier, but if you’re riding in sticky clay dirt, most tires will pack up and become unrideable.

Front

Rear

Hardpack/Racing

Specialized S-Works Renegade

Specialized S-Works Renegade

Maxxis Pace

Maxxis Pace

Schwalbe Racing Ralph

Schwalbe Thunder Burt

Vittoria AKA

Vittoria AKA

Soft/Loam

Specialized Fast Track

Specialized Renegade

Maxxis Ardent Race

Maxxis Ardent Race

Schwalbe Rocket Ron

Schwalbe Racing Ralph

Vittoria Peyote

Vittoria Mezcal

Wet/Mud

Specialized Ground Control

Specialized Ground Control

Maxxis Ardent

Maxxis Crossmark II

Schwalbe Rocket Ron

Schwalbe Rocket Ron

 

2018-01-24T16:03:47+00:00