Tires: Make a Good Bike BAD

$5000 Bike / Crappy Tires

The wrong tires can take a great bike and ruin it. The right tires can take a crappy bike and make it fun.

Just about any bicycle's "ride" can be greatly improved when you have the best tires for your riding situation. A Road Bike in the Woods,  or a Fat Bike on a long road ride.  Yes, it works if you have the correct tires....

For Sale: New Tires, Low Miles.

Over 30 years of riding on roads, trails and bike paths.  I have tried many, many different tires.  I spend the money, and have found many tires just suck... Many tires are on the rims for just a month. Then they come off and go in the  crap pile. Hype has a lot to do with bad choices.    ASK your local bike dealer...!  There are many tires, all have different attributes.  You need to know what style ride vs which tire vs which bike is best for YOU.  

About the Tire Rating Guide Below...

The following rating guide below describes what I look for in a Tire when I ride. I created this rating system for tires based on what each tire type is expected to do.  At this moment, I literally have over 40 different sets of rubber. Means over 80 tires.... I have a lot of experience with traction under every condition.

Scales: A Road tire rated as 9 (fast) and a MTB tire rated as 9 (fast) are apples to oranges.  A "9" MTB tire is not as fast as a "9" Road tire, not even close.  Traction ratings for CX is de-rated 50% compared to the traction of a MTB. (Except Maxis Ravager)

The following rating system is only for the CX tires and the standard size MTB tires. 


Plus Bike tires and Fat Bike tires are in  their own category.  These types of tires all have tons of traction, and they all are restive to speed. I call them pedal to go downhill tires. Instead of a rating system, I just give a basic description of feel and handling. 

If you really wants ratings.... I can rate every tire in this category a 9 for Traction, 9 for Gravel, 9 for loose. 6 for speed. Plus tires are a bit faster than fatties, they get a 7+.



CX Tire that is Road-Bike FAST

Searched a long time for a fast CX road tire. 

This new tire from WTB (Exposure) meets my expectations.

This Light Weight Tubeless tire is great for high speed cornering even on wet surfaces.  This is not a Trail Rated Tire, but should be fine for short stents on the dirt. It is a fast, sturdy, reliable tire, with great road traction. 

This tire features a side-wall Diamond Pattern for Wet/Dry safe cornering and it is Fast on the Road.  This tire feels strongly connected to the road on fast corners. You do not feel it ready to break into a slide. The lower running tire pressure helps this a lot.  

Center: Bald, Flat-Face

Off-Center: Water Channels (Herring Bone Pattern)

Sides: Diamond Pattern for Wet/Dry Fast Corners

Side Knobs: Sometimes you maybe on Gravel

Side-Walls: Soft. This tire runs at 60 Pounds instead of 90 Pounds, makes a much softer / secure ride.


WTB Exposure 34c

Pro:  I can keep pace with a road-ride group with the comfort, strength, and safety of a CX bike..

Very lite, spools up fast, hold top speed easily. Soft Ride. 

CON: Advertised as a gravel tire. I disagree with those thoughts. These Tires seems to puncture easily. First Ride out, a 3/16 diam Twig went straight trough the center, but 

Sub-Zero Orange sealed it. After the ride, I had to patch the tire from the inside for a long term fix. Fourth Time out, an unknown puncture tore a 1/4 inch hole off-center. Could only hold 40 pounds of air till I got home to patch it.


CTS Selecta 38cm Kevlar Road/Trail

This is one tough tire. It is thick with 27 TPI which also makes this a heavy tire, but it is super safe, and it will last forever. This is a tire if you never want to think about flat repairs or tire wear.  Use this tire if you plan to tour across the country, it will carry a lot of weight.    

I have taken it on trails, but the steering is poor as well as the braking. But it will not pop like a road bike.  Installed on 3 different bikes, this is a tire that can be trusted. 


Overall Speed: 6+  

Loose Braking: 4  

Rockface Traction: 5  

Loose Traction: 4  

Gravel Speed: 6  

Road Speed: 7  

Loose Speed: 4

CX Trail Rated Tire Guide


Vittoria 38cm Adventure Trail Tube-Tire

I really like this one a lot. Before I went Totally Tubeless on my CX bikes, I found these were a very tough trail tire. If you want great trail rated tires at a low price... these are what you want.

The center tread sits on top of a thick rubber base which gives it superior puncture resistance. It is fast on the road, and handles trails very well.


Overall Speed: 7

Loose Braking: 6

Rockface Traction: 8

Loose Traction: 6

Gravel Speed: 8

Road Speed: 7

Loose Speed: 7


Schwalbe CX Comp 38cm Tube-Tire

This is a Fast Road tire with Good handling in the gravel. The traction is not great because of the uniform center pattern. The corner knobs work to keep the tire in line, but the center tread is the cause of the wandering in loose conditions.

Overall Speed: 7

Loose Braking: 4

Rockface Traction: 6

Loose Traction: 4

Gravel Speed: 7+

Road Speed: 8

Loose Speed: 5


WTB Riddler 37cm Tubeless


Good Alternative to Clement Tires. Clements are Industry Standard for CX, but expensive and always out of stock. These are Fast on the Road with Confident handling in the dirt. The Mountain Bike version of these tires are not as good as these thinner CX versions.

CON: Love these Tires, but the 120TPI puncture too easy and they also rip more  easily than you would hope. Do not self-seal well. I always put an inside tube patch for long term repair.  

(They need Silk > see Maxis)

Overall Speed: 8
Loose Braking: 6
Rockface Traction: 8
Loose Traction: 7
Gravel Speed: 8
Road Speed: 8+
Loose Speed: 7


Maxxis Ravager 40cm Tubeless

 Best Trail Rated CX Tire out there. Not as fast on the Road as others, but this one tracks on trails like a 2" MTB Tire.  This tire handles everything and climbs hills better than you can on most mountain bikes.  

Honestly, I have had acceleration on technical and lose up-hill MTB trails where some riders on MTB's spin out . The Thin Tire and Lite Weight are big factors. The small tire footprint really cuts through the loose dust on top of the trails to grip the hard dirt under it. Wider tires stay on top of the fluffy dirt. 

CON: Great Traction, I was worried how long this tires will last. Lots of side-knob damage after extra rough trails. Put some rubber cement to fix the torn knobs, and those repairs turned out well. I have 500+ miles on these now, and these tires amaze me every time I ride them.

Overall Speed: 7 

Loose Braking: 9 

Rockface Traction: 9+ 

Loose Traction: 8+ 

Gravel Speed: 7+ 

Road Speed: 7 (Quiet but Resistive) 

Loose Speed: 7


MAXXIS Rambler 38cm/ Fast and Tough

The MAXXIS CX Tire line has a great liner baked into the rubber tread and sidewalls. It is Silk. At first, I did not understand how Silk could help prevent punctures. After slicing up my WTB Riddlers a few times, now I understand.

The Silk does not stop the puncture: Nothing can stop that. What the Silk does is give the sealant something to work with when a hole does occur. A silk web forms over the rip, and should be a good self repair. 

The Silk will not separate, and the sealant will bond with the silk where the tire is damaged.       



Rambler: My Favorite CX Tire (for now)

So far I have  200+ miles ridden on these. Love these Tires. They are super fast on the road, very little rolling resistance, and they get up to speed fast. Gravel riding is awesome.  Was a little leery of the round tire design. To me it means a possible traction loss on the trails. These tires have a very "Clement" like design... 

Update 9-2019: 600+ miles ridden. Still Love these Tires. 

 They do wash out a little on the harder corners, as expected for a skinny tire on a rigid frame.  As for the rest of the ride, I do not think many other tires will keep pace with this set. They spit gravel over 10mph, which attest to the tread traction.

I had a +bias with the WTB Riddlers, I was wrong, buy these tires.

Overall Speed: 8+
Loose Braking: 7
Rockface Traction: 8
Loose Traction: 7+
Gravel Speed: 8+ (Floats)
Road Speed: 9
Loose Speed: 7+

MAxXIS Tire Review

Great Video of the current MAXXIS Line of MTB Tires.  A have ridden with many of these maxis tires, and agree with the narrators thoughts about tire usage.

Mountain bike Tires (Front)


WTB Weirwolf 2.3 Tubeless (29er)

This is the BEST Front Tire I have ever used. The Side Knobs are like Dirt-Spikes, the arraignment is tight and tapered. Really feels like you are riding on a Rail.  This tire as a Front is Always where it is supposed to be. It is also very fast.     WTB stopped production this year. I picked up 4 when I found out


Overall (MTB) Speed: 8 

Loose Braking: 9 

Rockface Traction: 9 

Loose Traction: 7

Hard Dirt Speed 8+ 

Gravel Speed: 8 

MTB Road Speed: 9 (18mph easily)

Loose Speed: 7

Wet Roots: 6


WTB Breakout 2.3 Tubeless (Front)

Just purchased a Second one of these for my Fully-Rigid. The Breakout is blocky and fast. A perfect Front or Rear Tire, have never felt it wash-out. It climbs Everything. 2.3" wide measures at 2.4"   Does not fit all frames because of the large side blocks..

Overall (MTB) Speed: 8 

Loose Braking: 9+ 

Rockface Traction: 9+ 

Loose Traction: 9

Hard Dirt Speed 8 

Gravel Speed: 8 

MTB Road Speed: 7+ 

Loose Speed: 8

Wet Roots 7


Conti Cross King + Nashbar Flow

While both of these tires have drastically different tread patterns, they actually feel the same when they ride and have the same issues.

The Conti X-King is supposed to be the top of the line XC tire for Conti.  I have seen lots of folks using them on the trails, and some very good riders... But these wash out on hard corners, they push through soft turns, braking is sketchy, traction is marginal, and they are slow on dirt and road. 

I will admit I have a Bias against the Tubeless version of Conti's. They all leak sealant through the side walls of the tire, everywhere! New, old, does not matter.  They weep sealant and you have no way to know how much is left inside the tire. If it is sealing holes, then the tire is gaining weight too... Just bad vibes....

The NASHBAR Flow tires ride feels the same, but they were only $11.00 each so there are no complaints. They do have a similar tread pattern compared to the Maxis Ardent. Which also gets low rating from my time riding with them. 

(PS: These tires don't weep like Conti's... because they use tubes)

Mountain bike Tires (Rear)


Maxxis is the Mojo Tire in Eastern Mass.

Maxxis Ardent 2.25 Tubeless:  Lots of folks Love the Maxxis brand. They are the Go-To Tire for almost everyone that rips up the trails here in the North-East.  Many great tire versions, and other Maxis tires are installed on a couple of my bikes. 

The Maxxis Ardent  mounted in the rear slides out in hard corners.  Enough that you can feel it a lot, even when you would not expect it. Over steers if mounted as a front. Otherwise, it is fast and climbs as well as most of the Maxxis Line. 

I often see other riders install the Ardent on their bikes backwards to help improve the traction. If this is something you have done, then you would really benefit from a better tire. I picked this one for review because it is supposed to be fast compared to others in the Maxis Line.  I have 3 of these hanging in the rafters after I rode many different trails. They did not rate high for me.

Overall (MTB) Speed: 7    

Loose Braking: 7     

Rockface Traction: 8     

Loose Traction: 6

Hard Dirt Speed 8     

Gravel Speed: 7     

MTB Road Speed: 7     

Loose Speed: 6+ 

Wet Roots: 6


WTB Wolverine 2.5 Tubeless

Very Fast for a Full-Knob Rock Tire. Climbs great, only in wet leaves have I felt it slip a little on hard corners.

Because of the tread pattern, on wet roots this tire will slide the root if you do not take care. 

This tire is more of a dirt shovel.

CON: Sidewalls rip easy stay away from rock gardens.

Overall (MTB) Speed: 8+  

Loose Braking: 8+   

Rockface Traction: 9   

Loose Traction: 7+

Hard Dirt Speed 8+   

Gravel Speed: 8+   

MTB Road Speed: 8   

Loose Speed: 8

Wet Roots: 6


WTB Trail Boss 2.2

Looking for a fast rear tire for the really tough trails that can navigate the technical trails of Eastern mass?  This tire not only climbs everything, it is also fast-fast-fast. Even on pavement.


Overall (MTB) Speed: 8+  

Loose Braking: 8+   

Rockface Traction: 9   

Loose Traction: 7

Hard Dirt Speed 8+   

Gravel Speed: 8+   

MTB Road Speed: 8+ (18mph easily)

Loose Speed: 8

Wet Roots: 7+

Vittoria agarro 2.6" Tire Review @ Blue Hills

Mountain bike Tires 27.5+ (plus)


2020 Vittoria Agarro 2.6" (27.5+)

27.5" x 2.6" A very aggressive tire that is a fast roller and will climb everything.  As-Seen in the video above.

Was not happy with my 27.5 plus bike I owned for 6 years. I always liked the traction of the 3.0 WTB Rangers, the 3.0 Knobby Nics, and a couple other tires I tried.  However this bike was never fast enough for me, and wore me down on my long 20 mile MTB rides.  

Then I found these Agarro 2.6" tires which got high reviews by respected bike riders. Mounted them on a set of 35mm rims and lost almost 0.5 pounds on each wheel.

Love this bike now. It is fast, I can ride it for many miles, and it has the same traction as the 3.0 tires that were on it before.  

The 2.6" tires have a stiff sidewall, where most 3.0" tires have a squishy sidewall.  Squishy is fun, but that is the part of the tire that wears you down. Having a consistent feel is better for fast trail riding. The soft sidewalls on 3.0" tires are also susceptible to side wall slices. When the tire bulges out, that is the moment the sidewall can get cut. The tire overall feels really thick and rugged. Should be good for that rider that destroys tires regularly.

PRO: Very fast tires on road, hard surfaces, dirt, gravel, and normally dusty trails. Great traction in wet and muddy conditions. Keeps the line you have chosen to ride.  Gets over wet roots well. This tire has no limit on its grip or climbing ability, and it feels like a solid connection to the ground on extra bumpy trails and rock gardens.

CON: Very difficult tire to install on the rim. I had to use a tire puller tool to get the tires on a set of 35mm rims. If on a ride in the woods, it would be impossible to install a tube on the trail for emergency repair, so this tire could leave you stuck. Getting the tire off the rim is 3x harder, there is no leverage.


Framed 3.0" Tubeless (27.5+)

For a No-Name Tire... WOW, this one has a lot of capability.  Ride as fast as you want, and feel like you are riding on a Rail. the only drawback is it is heavy with a 72 TPI sidewall.  Which also mean no side-wall rips. Superior Tracking in all conditions.  Climbs everything, never slips.  Only at "The Bike House" online. After a few years, the tire bead refused to stay sealed.


WTB Ranger 3.0 Tubeless (27.5+)

Great Tire, Very fast on everything. It is thin and lite. Tracks well through berms and tight turns, and ride always feels the same, no matter the tire angle.  As you can see in this photo, it has equal knob depth and spacing all over the tire. Put about 400 miles on these before this photo.  Suffered a couple of tire slices, one I repaired one I could not.

This as a Rear Tire slides out (a little) on loose corners, but very predictable and allows for a controlled slide through corners. Makes the ride a little more exciting. 

Climbs everything, never slips. Center Knob life seems to be shorter than other tires, or maybe worn because I liked sliding corners...??


Schwalbe Nobby Nic (27.5+) (New design for 2019)

 I think Schwalbe may have finally figured it out with the new re-introduction of the Nobby Nic. As you may have read from my other tire reviews, I have been  disappointed with the easy side-wall rips on the Schwalbe and WTB tires.   The new tire design claims to have greatly improved the sidewall and puncture protection.  

Warning: These tires mounted on 50mm rims = 3.11" wide tires, too wide for some frames.

The Nobby Nic's are exactly that... Nobby.  Of all the 3.0" tires I have seen, this one has the deepest and biggest knobs. Deepest is good for us here in the North East. I expect superior traction over the other 3.0 tires I have ridden with.  I really like the WTB Rangers, especially the controlled slide in corners. It is tons of fun doing a side-slide... But that also means the Rangers have a speed limit, I expect the Nobby Nic's to pass that limit. 

I like to go fast...and fast depends on the tires.

Just put these Nic's on my Plus Bike.

Rode only 60 miles so far on the Nic's, so I will update you when I get 200 miles on these. Lucky enough to hit a rain storm while I was out putting the last 15 miles on them. It was an excellent test for the wet Root Handling ability, and I was very impressed. These tires feel like they really dig into the dirt too. Have not had any traction issues, except too much traction a few times.

Con: Feels a little slow in the downs, but not even close to the friction of a fat bike tire. They do not feel heavy, but they do not get up to speed as quick as thinner 2.3 tires.  

These are probably the best down-hill tires you can get for a 27.5 Plus. 

ICE READY 27.5 Plus

Ice ready 27.5 Plus

Thick Sidewalls and Big Knobs

Thick Sidewalls and Big Knobs


Perfect Knob Spacing for studs.  I have seen some studded tires totally loaded up on too many studs. This pattern only uses 60 studs per tire. Though on tubeless rims, I went with tubes. If a stud pulls out, sealant may not be able to seal that hole.

Because of the rounded tire pattern, when these tires are pumped up to 40 pounds there is almost no stud contact with the ground. However just drop that pressure to 25 pounds, and the tire flattens out for full stud contact.

Thick Sidewalls and Big Knobs

Thick Sidewalls and Big Knobs

Thick Sidewalls and Big Knobs


Found these sweeties for $32 each.  62 TPI sidewall and Big Knobs to hold the Auger Studs.  Perfect Snow Tires. I picked the 2.8" size to keep the tire narrow for  better snow traction.  

After riding a Fattie for 5 years in the snow, I have learned that a wide tire is not always best.  Trying to stay on top of the snow takes a lot of work.  A thinner tire has the ability to cut through the top-fluff and find solid traction underneath. 

Tungsten Auger Studs

Stud Installation Depth

Stud Installation Depth


These studs were used for 2 Winters on 2 different tires.  These studs are reusable. This is the Third Installation.  These buggers are expensive at $1.00 each. But they are Tungsten so they should last forever.  I also put a few in my Riding Boots.  If you put your foot down on Ice, you will want the grip.


Stud Installation Depth

Stud Installation Depth

Stud Installation Depth


Shown is an  Auger Stud installed properly on a tire knob.  As with any studded tire, you can expect to lose studs on rides.  These studs really stay put. Only one time when I had to ride on the road for a bit did I lose a couple of studs.  You do not want to ride on pavement with studded tires... trust me... plan around that.

Fat Tires


Panaracer Fat-Be-Nimble 4.0

Like many others, I jumped into the Fat-Bike Craze near 2013.  Some folks have had good luck with them. I have found I can never get them to move.  Must pedal down-hill... Really...? But they climb everything, and you can make your own trails. However, they are slow and  have a limited range.  Have tried many different tires. These Fat-Be-Nimble 4.0 Tires on 55cm Marge Lite seem to be the best for speed. As a fattie, it climbs and does everything, as a fat tire should. I see no need for a fat bike to have tires wider than 4.0 inches unless you are in snow.


About Fat Bikes

Fat Bikes have their place. Winter Sports most of all.  On group rides. I have only ridden with a few folks that can ride these things fast enough for a group pace. Yes they climb everything, and they make the very hard trails a lot easier. Tires are very expensive, Tubeless is very expensive and tire selection is still limited. Even the carbon wheelsets they still have a lot of trail resistance from tire contact, and that will always slow you down.

I like that my Good-Bikes stay home safe, while I am out on snow. Shown: Vee-Rubber HillBilly 4.25 Tubed. Nothing nice to say about these tires at all. They Turn Bad, Track Bad, Traction is Great, Very-Slow tire.


Fatties in the Snow

These are super great ice and snow tires with the studs installed. Can not ride on the street at all, must be all snow/ice/trails.  With the installed center line studs, these have slipped on me only a few times. I took a pair of Vee-Rubber Mission 4.0 Tires, and made them into Studded Ice Tires. These are the only tires with knobs big-enough for Auger-Studs. Very expensive to do this. Each solid tungsten carbide stud screws into the tire, with a special tool for your Screw-Gun.  Each stud = $1.00. The studs can come out, and can be used over and over again.