I am just looking for a a new set of tires for my front suspension mountain bike (has a newer nicer fork on it now).

I mostly ride in the Gatineau Park in Eastern Ontario. The conditions are almost always dry. There is quite a bit of loose gravel and a good amount of hardpack. The terrine is pretty hilly and occasionally I find myself loosing traction on my rear tire while climbing.

Right now I am riding a pair of stock tires. Both tires are pretty cheap.

Am interesting in upgrading to get a bit more performance out of my bike. Would also like to reduce the rolling resistance.

Couple questions:

  1. What difference will more expensive tires make?
  2. What width of tires will work best for the conditions described?
  3. What price range is reasonable for a good set of XC tires?
  4. Any other pieces of wisdom I should consider when choosing tires?
  5. Any examples of good tires for these conditions.

4 Answers 4

  1. A good quality bike tire usually has a better size tolerance, a better rubber compound (might make more difference on traction than thread geometry itself), a better seating on the rim, and a better "feel" - the tyre carcass reacts better to bumps and curves, have a good cushioning effect and a good rolling resistance. I'd say there is a perceiveably relationship between price and quality, or at least the vast majority of low-price tires are not very good compared to medium- to high-priced ones;
  2. For the described conditions, I'd say 2.0 would be best, some might prefer 1.95, some up to 2.2. More than this is possible, but probably not necessary;
  3. Cannot tell about price range, depends on country;
  4. Tires are funny in a way that the best tires (so as the best suspensions) do their work quietly. If you notice that you just GO, enjoying the trail and never ever having to think about the tire, traction, cornering control, pinch flats, etc., then the tire is good, it's doing its magic. Not-so-good tyres constantly remind you they're there, and you end up thinking: "this f***ing tire sucks!";
  5. Tire models/brands are a very personal matter, but I had good tires - ones that did their magic - from (not in any order) Bontrager, Specialized, Maxxis, Ritchey, WTB, Panaracer, Tioga.
  • All excellent advice. I would add that it's pretty standard practice to put a larger and knobbier tire in the rear than the front. This helps get a little more cushion in the rear (extra nice on hard tail) and more traction when climbing. How much larger and knobbier depends on the conditions and personal preference. Experiment. If you do a fair amount of riding your tires will likely wear out in a year and you'll need new ones anyway. At which point, the company will probably have discontinued them and you'll get to experiment some more.
    – jimchristie
    Jun 17, 2012 at 21:21
  • @jimirings Funnily enough, around here it's pretty standard practise to do the exact opposite! Something fairly chunky our front (e.g. 2.35 Maxxis High Roller) for better traction in the corners and a smaller, fast rolling tyre out back (e.g 2.1 Maxxis Crossmark). Jun 21, 2012 at 13:46
  • The beautiful thing about this doubt over which tire should be larger, is that on bicycle the requirements for front and rear may be so different, so independent, that it almost "doesn't matter" if you use wildly different tires in front and rear, as long as it makes sense to "the plan" you and your bike have. I for one tend to prefer identical tires in front and back, chosing a suitable generic combination of thread and volume for a given terrain and speed/aggressiveness. Jun 21, 2012 at 16:41

Those tyres look a little aggressive for dry, hard pack XC riding to me. I ride XC in Australia and use Maxxis Crossmark, they are a great tyre for this type of terrain.

As for loosing grip when climbimg, try to stay seated but slide forward onto the nose of the saddle to shift your weight slightly to the front. This will help keep weight on the back tyre but also stop the front wheel from poping up. Also ensure that your leg is at almost full stretch on the down stroke of your peddle with just a slight bend in the knee.


You should talk to some local riders & bike shops as they'll probably know the terrain best and can probably recommend an appropriate tire.


Knobbier tires help, but more so focus on trying to sit as much as possible while climbing. This will really help keep extra weight on the back tire and prevent it from loosing traction. You'll want to make sure you have your seat high enough to facilitate this.

  • Really, I don't see anything wrong with the stock tires you've got. They seem perfectly fine unless you're a racer with very specific needs. Also, reducing rolling resistance is probably going to increase on-road performance while it will decrease performance in off-road scenarios. If your running on more hard pack stuff, just inflate your tires a bit more for better rolling.
    – Benzo
    Jun 18, 2012 at 13:00
  • There's a suggestion for tire pressure based on your riding style and weight here: dirtragmag.com/node/30017
    – Benzo
    Jun 18, 2012 at 13:00

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