Mountain Bike Mud Tire Throwdown

2016 was supposed to be an El Nino year of epic proportions, flooding the West Coast of the U.S. off the map and burying the mountains with snow. Unfortunately, that turned out to be a dud, but the winter of 2017 has delivered near record-setting rainfall thus far. For you and I, that means one thing: muddy tracks. While you should never ride on multi-use and sensitive trails when they are wet, get ready for a wet, lift-accessed spring, and summer thunderstorms this year with a good mud tire set-up on your ride. Here are some of our favorites.

Schwalbe Dirty Dan Super Gravity/Downhill casing- There’s really nothing we can say about this tire that this video of Danny Hart’s 2011 legendary World Champs run doesn’t convey. Was it the Dirty Dan’s ultra-grippy and slow rebounding VertStar compound that enabled Danny to rail through the mud like he was driving a Formula 1 car on a dry track?  It definitely had something to do with the advanced tread block design, featuring alternating angles and offset auxiliary cornering “nubs.”

WTB Warden TCS Tough High Grip- Unabashedly made for the nastiest, loosest, most slippery conditions you could encounter, the WTB Warden is topped with a 60A base and 45A cap layer. When traction is the deciding factor between winning and losing on steep and deep tracks, put some Wardens on your wheels. While it’s not going to get you a respectable XC placing, it rolls faster than a tire of this weight and wet-condition capability should.

WTB Warden

The WTB Warden digs in and doesn’t let go.

Specialized Hillbilly Grid 2Bilss- More of a mixed condition tread that favors mud, the 42a over a 70a base compound grips on soft, wet, or hard surfaces. Both the height of the tread blocks (not super-tall) and firm base rubber provide traction in mud but aren’t as squirmy as taller mud spikes. The 60TPI carcass and Grid casing’s butyl inserts allow for confident, rock-smashing fun.

SBC Hillbilly

Specialized’s Hillbilly has flatter knobs and wide spacing to clear debris quickly.

Honorable Mention:

Maxxis’s Shorty is a “3/4-spike,” with flatter knob tops and buttressed cornering knobs for stability on terrain drier than mud.

Not really a classic mud tire, the Schwalbe Magic Mary has cornering knobs packed a little too closely for thicker mud, or deep wet mud. However, the versatile tread will serve you well in most wet conditions, and absolutely shines in loam and loose stuff too.