Although we are entering autumn winter time, filth is a year-round issue in the UK. With that in mind, here are the best mountain bike mud tyres to help you stay rubber side down.
Our favourite five mud tyres
- Maxxis Shorty (Gen 1 or Gen 2)
- Michelin Mud Enduro
- Schwalbe Magic Mary
- Specialized Butcher
- WTB Verdict (or Verdict Wet)
There’s no getting away from it: if you want a capable mud tyre you’re going to have to accept some compromises in terms of rolling resistance. Perhaps the best advice we can give is to ’embrace the filth’, as they say.
It’s no longer firm and dry out there. You have to change more than your tyres. You perhaps need to change where you ride. And even why you ride. Go and find some sketchy slippery things and muck about, literally.
The five tyres we have here run the spectrum of genuine mud performers. From skinny slicers, through to gravity grabbers, via decent loose-condition all-rounders.
One piece of advice we’d advice is don’t forget your rear tyre. Although it’s tempting – and makes logical sense – to prioritise front tyre performance in the mud, you’re asking a lot of one tyre if you’re expecting it to do cornering AND braking at the same time in mud. Let the front do the steering, get the rear to slow you down. A quick solution is to put your summer front tyre on the rear and slap a mud tyre up front.
A good combo is a softer compound, bigger/gappier knobbed front tyre combined with a firmer compound, tighter paddle-treaded rear tyre.
Volume size wise, we’d advise against very large volume tyres in mud. 2.4in at absolute most. Anything bigger will just smear and surf about. By all means go down to 2.0in if your terrain is sticky and/or your body is able to deal with the potential harshness.
What about weight? We say don’t worry about it. You and your bike are going to be coated in kgs of soil. Traction and control are your priorities in mud. Not gram counting. The key thing to get correct is the casing/carcass type.
Mud season is a good time to come down in tyre pressure and up in sidewall strength. You will be amazed at the difference it makes. Again, feel free to only chunk-up the front tyre if you’re concerned about rolling resistance. A thin casing rear tyre is actually okay in the mud, where speeds are slower and rough rocks etc are less of an issue.
Tyre pressure wise, we have good results going below 20psi but YMMV. Experiment. You can always go too far and then put some back in. Leave the 35psi habit behind.
Best Mountain Bike Mud Tyres:
Maxxis Shorty (Gen 1 or Gen 2)
Price: £69.99 (Shorty Gen 2)
Overall: The Maxxis Shorty Gen 2 is one of the best. It’s consistent, predictable and offers bucket loads of grip. For natural style trails, in a mix conditions, it’s pretty hard to beat yet can also hold its own in more mixed terrain. While it’s not a particularly light or fast rolling tyre it’s certainly manageable for the performance that’s on offer. Only you can decide if it’s right for your local trails but – if it is – give it a go and you won’t be disappointed. The original/Gen 1 Shorty is also still one of the best mountain bike mud tyres of all time, if you can find it! Read our review.
Michelin Mud Enduro
Overall: Something of a unique proposition in that the MIchelin Mud Enduro has the tread, casing and compound of big burly tyres but all wrapped up on a modest 2.25in volume size carcass. In this sense it makes for a great tyre for conditions and riders who want a slicey cutting-through tyre but need the sidewall support and softer compound grip that is lacking in other skinny volume mud tyres. Once you’ve worn it down a bit over a couple of winters, it makes for a surprisingly okay rear tyre too.
Schwalbe Magic Mary
Overall: Oh hail to the Mary! Personally speaking, I [Benji] ride a Schwalbe Magic Mary as a front tyre all year round. Sometimes I stick an orange Soft Addix compound version on if it’s really dry out there, but typically I have the purple Ultra Soft Addix compound up front. It’s not a tyre that can deal with super loose or stickier types of clag, but as a safe bet – that also feels like more of a value for money proposition – the Magic Mary is exactly that. Magic.
Overall: One for the more XC-mixed terrain crew and/or as a rear mud tyre. In a mix of wet and very wet intermediate trails and mud, the Butchers hook up much, much better than you might expect, and we find that they offer a consistent level of grip across rocks, roots, hardpack and slop, even when the lean angles got more extreme. They do wear out a bit faster than others when riding firm tracks so it’s wise to remove them once the drier times return.
WTB Verdict (and Verdict Wet)
Overall: The Verdict Wet essentially has bigger knobs. Stop it. The centre tread is 1mm taller and the side knobs are 1.6mm taller (compared to the regular Verdict). The Verdict Wet is perhaps OTT for a lot of folk. The ground has to be pretty loose, not to mention devoid of rock, for the Wet to really make the most sense. But as a specialist loam slayer, the Verdict Wet is amazeballs. The regular Verdict is no slouch mind you, and works better as the mixed terrain winter all-rounder. It’s also not too expensive either, which is nice.
While you’re here…
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