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I want to setup my bike to the most shock-absorbing configuration possible. Rear and front suspensions are set to "soft", will look for a shock absorbing saddle, but how about tires? My bike is a heavy e-MTB (Riese Muller), currently equipped with hybrid tyres. Keeping them soft makes a huge difference, at cost of a worst rolling(no problem). But how about the tyre type? Would a MTB tyre be softer or not, compared to a hybrid one?

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  • You could take a look at downhill tyres as they tend to be heavy with lots of rubber which absorbs well.
    – Alextsil
    Jan 31 at 14:32
  • I would also think that the kind of tire (hybrid/MTB) does not matter for shock absorption (cf. Michael's explanation). But if your concern is comfort, the saddle is the first thing I would investigate. You can also add a suspended seat post, for the comfort (very common on good touring bikes). Note: for the saddle, more padding is only better for upright positions.
    – Renaud
    Jan 31 at 16:57
  • @Alextsil The stiff casing found on DH tires will be uncomfortable. A lightweight and supple XC race tire will be more compliant.
    – MaplePanda
    Jan 31 at 19:16
  • If you've already got front and rear suspension, you shouldn't expect more suspension effect from your tires unless you are routinely bottoming out the suspension. In any case, tire volume will be more important than "tire type."
    – Adam Rice
    Jan 31 at 22:30
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The most important thing for shock-absorption in tires is low pressure. The next important thing is width. The wider the tire the more “suspension travel” you’ll have and you can lower the pressure even more without risking a “bottom out” when hitting a pothole or rock.

I think tire type or construction is less important, but generally high-end MTB (or cyclocross/gravel) tires are made to be run at a low pressure. This means a thin and supple construction (especially of the sidewalls) at the cost of being less puncture proof.

So first of all you should lower the pressure as far as possible. When I ride low pressure I usually “test” it by pushing the front wheel hard against a sharp edge (e.g. kerb). If I can make it bottom-out with my full body weight it’s just about right. If you ride carefully you might be able to go even lower, but at very low pressures there is danger of the tire “collapsing” sideways in turns.

Edit: I should add that MTB tires don’t necessarily have big knobby tread. There are also versions with almost no tread or very fine knobs available in case you mostly ride on tarmac or smooth gravel. They should also run smoother and be less noisy.

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  • A little addition: MTB tires are designed to be run at low pressure, not sure it's the case of hybrid ones. I would check the minimum pressure recommended by the manufacturer, and wouldn't go to far off this value. Also, MTB tires can be much noisier than hybrid ones on road.
    – Renaud
    Jan 31 at 17:00
  • @Renaud: I think the main problem with low pressure in hybrid/city tires is that you can get cracks in the sidewalls. It’s not automatically dangerous or harmful to go below recommended pressures, especially if rider/luggage are light. I’ve added a paragraph about knobby MTB tires.
    – Michael
    Jan 31 at 17:12
  • there's maybe a issue with definitions: I would understand MTB as knobby, but tires larger than 50mm are very common on e-bikes. If Riccardo has a R&M Superdelite GT, it is spec'ed by default with Schwalbe Super Moto X 62mm, that I would consider as hybrid even if in term of dimensions, they are in "MTB" range.
    – Renaud
    Jan 31 at 19:36
  • No it's not a GT, but yes, it's a Superdelite. I will go for MTB tyres with low pressure. Thanks to everyone for helping!
    – Riccardo
    Jan 31 at 20:44
  • But keep in mind that MTB tires usually have less puncture protection. A tubeless setup with sealant would help against small, sharp objects. You’d still be susceptible to cuts in the sidewalls but those are rare in my experience (unless one is riding ravines with sharp gravel).
    – Michael
    Jan 31 at 21:38

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