Tires are essential to mountain biking, the type of terrain you ride and they can have a big impact on your riding experience. Whether you're mountain biking on dry trails in Utah or through the waterfalls of Iceland, having the right tires is crucial for the best riding experience. There are multiple tires to consider and it's important to understand tire size.
Every tire comes with a slightly different experience and the size and width is what impacts this the most. In many situations, the side of the tires is where this information lies. The first number is the tire diameter. The second number is the tire width.
Tires come in three diameters: 26 inches, 27.5 inches, and 29 inches.
Tires are also measured in width. This varies from 1.6 to 2.5 inches. Some special tires can even be wider, up to 3 inches with some models. Alongside the tire size, you have the option of running tubeless or tubed tires. Most riders prefer a tubeless system. Tubeless tires are recommended when you want lower tire pressures. In certain difficult terrain, a lower tire pressure can be better when you want to improve your comfort on the bike.
It is also worth knowing that as a beginner you can choose from different materials and designs as well. Some tires have harder knobs in the center and softer outer knobs for better grip. But regardless of your choice, mounting the proper way is important for all terrains. Together with basic maintenance steps, you can install the tires yourself.
One of the most important tire characteristics is air pressure. Different tires require different pressures. An example would involve a thicker tire and its casing which allow a lower pressure. In other words, a tire which is 2.5 inches or bigger can be set to an air pressure between 28 and 30 PSI. In ideal circumstances, you can even choose a different approach for the front and for the back tire.
The front tire is responsible for direction changes. It needs to maintain a good grip, especially with tighter turns as it needs to keep you actually on the bike. The rear wheel has a function in gaining and reducing speed. As a rider, your pedaling effort is transmitted to the rear tire. Ideally, you should have a tire which is capable of accelerating quickly, balanced with good responsiveness in terms of holding speed when cruising.
A combination of a front tire with larger knobs and a semi-sleek back tire with good speeds and a good grip is recommended in most cases.
Wide tires are a popular choice. Modern technologies have adapted the tires with different materials and designs to make them ride better and last longer. But at the same time, there is a tendency to favor wider tires as they can offer improved grip, even on what was considered, just a few years ago, a plus size.
Beginners will be the first group of people who are going to benefit from wider tires. A 3-inch tire can make you feel that you are actually riding another bike. It is often recommended for all bikers to try wider tires at some point. The bigger the tire and the wider they are, the friendlier they will be to beginners. If you want a more agile experience which allows you the playful approach outdoors, the smaller tires can be an option.