Best 29 Inch Mountain Bike Tires (& What 29er’s to Avoid)

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Larger mountain bike tires have become all the rage in recent years, and that increased popularity has created a vast array of options, with manufacturers putting a lot of time, money and effort in to try and produce the best 29-inch mountain tires out there.

 

Previously, we didn’t have the choice and most MTBs came with 26 inch tires. Now, however, we have the conundrum of not only which brand tire to purchase, but also which size to opt for. With so many options, it can be a little over-facing when trying to find the right tires for you, but we hope our 29er tires review will make the process a little less time consuming.

 

If you’re running short of time, then here are the three best 29 inch tires out there:

 

  • Schwalbe Racing Ray Addix Speed – $36

 Good for – Cross-country, enduro, standard trail riding

 

  • Maxxis Minion DHF 3C/EXO – $51

Good for – Downhill, enduro

 

  • Vittoria Mazza – $83

Good for – Downhill, enduro, all-mountain trail

How Do Mountain Bike 29 Inch Tires Differ from Other Tires?

The obvious factor here is that the tire is 29 inches in diameter, but what exactly does that mean? Well, it means that the rims are going to be wider, stronger and heavier in order to cope with that extra tire size. As a result, there’s going to be a wider tread surface area, which in turn gives the bike more grip and stability. Larger tires have a shallower angle curve than their smaller counterparts, too, enabling them to hop over obstacles more easily.

Why Go for 29in Mountain Tires?

29 inches mountain tyre

The obvious factor here is that the tire is 29 inches in diameter, but what exactly does that mean? Well, it means that the rims are going to be wider, stronger and heavier in order to cope with that extra tire size. As a result, there’s going to be a wider tread surface area, which in turn gives the bike more grip and stability. Larger tires have a shallower angle curve than their smaller counterparts, too, enabling them to hop over obstacles more easily.

Pros and Cons:

There are both pros and cons to 29 inch mountain bike tires, depending on the style of riding you’re wanting to do. First, then, the pros:

 

  • First and foremost, a 29er mountain bike tire is better-suited to a taller rider, but that’s not to rule out all shorter riders from enjoying their worth, too.
  • Due to their larger surface area, 29in mountain bike tires also provide more traction, which means greater grip on the ground and more stability. This is particularly useful on slippery surfaces, such as rocks and roots.
  • Another benefit is the greater angle of attack, which means that 29 inch mountain bike tires can get up and over tricky obstacles with more ease – perfect for those really bobbly sections.
  • The larger tires also cope better at higher speeds, meaning they’re great for seriously fast riding.

 

Now, what about the drawbacks?

 

  • 29in mountain bike tires are heavier, meaning that it takes a little longer to get up to speed, with acceleration faltering as a result.
  • They’re also chunkier than their smaller counterparts, meaning that they don’t manoeuvre quite as well through tricky, twisty trails.

Who is a 29 Inch Mountain Bike Tire for?

If you’re riding on a single-track trail, without too many challenging twisty trails, then a 29er is a great option every time. It can move like lightning when you get up to speed and you’ll get a more comfortable ride, overall.

 

If you know the trail has some challenging obstacles to get up and over, then it’s also super useful in that regard, too.

 

But if you know the route you’re taking is twisty, with tight turns, then you’ll need something more agile than 29er tires. That said, 29in mountain bike tire manufacturers are working hard on this aspect; some of the latest 29 MTB tires on the market corner far better, and can be manipulated far more easily, than earlier 29in tire models.

 

The extra stability that the larger surface area of these tires confers means that they’re also ideal for beginners as well. And because they cope with faster speeds more easily and provide a smoother ride, they’re great for cross-country riders who are out in the saddle for long stretches at a time.

Best 29er Mountain Bike Tires

For our 29er tires review, we’ve looked at all the top brands on the market and selected the three that we think are a cut above the rest.

 

So, who makes our final list?

1. Schwalbe Racing Ray Addix Speed

Schwalbe Racing Ray Addix Speed

Price: $36

Weight: 692g

Size tested: 29 x 2.25in

Pros Cons Good for
✅ light-weight ❌ tread size (would struggle with aggressive downhill riding) 👌 cross-country
✅ quick 👌 enduro
✅ corners well 👌 standard trail riding
✅ brakes well
✅ price

Review

An absolute beauty of a tire, the Racing Ray is super light-weight, meaning that, despite being a 29er mountain bike tire, it doesn’t actually bring a lot of extra lump with it. It also corners well for a 29er, too, and is reliable far into its limit – something which isn’t always the case with 29er tires.

 

Its generous tread spacing means it clears out well, too, ensuring that you won’t be carrying extra weight as you spin around the trails. Schwalbe has been clever in using the Addix Speed Rubber compound, a compound that’s designed to balance a good level of grip, without compensating too much on speed.

As a result, this excellent tire can take on most conditions and come out glowingly – be it wet, muddy or hard-packed, dry conditions. Due to its solid shoulder block, it also brakes well, too, so we’ve got an all-round winner here.

 

The only thing worth considering is if you’re a downhill rider, though. Despite its generous tread, it isn’t all that chunky, so you could come a cropper were you to fling yourself down seriously fast, steep and twisty sections.

2. Maxxis Minion DHF 3C/EXO

Maxxis Minion DHF 3C/EXO

Price: $51

Weight: 1,094g

Size tested: 29 x 2.5in

Pros Cons Good for
✅ excellent grip ❌ heavier 👌 downhill
✅ EXO sidewall protection ❌ high rolling resistance 👌 enduro
✅ long-lasting ❌ not good on hard-pack
✅ good on front & back

Review

Another wonderfully crafted tire, the Maxxis Minion’s strongest point is its impeccable cornering ability; that’s due to its generous tread and, in particular, its long shoulder knobs. All of which combines to mean that you can throw the Minion into some of the most challenging and twisty trails around.

 

The 3C Maxx Terra compound means that the Minion soaks up pressure excellently, and is very durable, enabling you to take high impacts with ease. At the same time, it differs in tread in the centre, with harder rubber, thus allowing you to get a decent kick of acceleration out of the other side of the corner.

 

It also has EXO sidewall protection, meaning that it can take on some of the roughest and toughest terrain out there. This 29 inch mountain bike tire differs from our previous review for many reasons, but it’s designed like it is for a reason and is most certainly for a different style of riding.

 

It isn’t the lightest 29er on the market, and on flat, hard-packed conditions it isn’t the fastest due to the amount of rolling resistance. It’s also heavier than our previous offering, meaning that it could become something of a chunky beast to pull about for long periods of time on a cross-country ride.  

 

With all that said, however, it’s still a real beauty of a tire – especially if you’re a downhill or enduro rider and need to throw the puppy about.

3. Vittoria Mazza

Vittoria Mazza

Price: $83

Weight: 950g

Size tested: 29 x 2.4in

Pros Cons Good for
✅ fantastic corner ❌ price 👌 downhill
✅ good braking ❌ weight 👌 enduro
✅ durability ❌ rolling resistance 👌 all-mountain trail

Review

The winning feature for this 29 inch mountain bike tire is its ability in the corners – it has a chunky tread, with well-supported shoulder knobs, meaning that it can take on a trail’s twisty and challenging sections very well, indeed.

 

The tread is well spaced out, too, meaning that it has really good grip for the climbs and that, when you need to brake sharply, you won’t find yourself slipping out.

 

The 29 inch tire compound is also very durable (which is increasingly a consideration for buyers amidst a cost of living crisis) with the lifespan of the tread also being longer than many other 29ers.

 

All that fantastic traction does come at a cost, however. It isn’t the fastest on the flats nor on hard-pack conditions, with quite a lot of rolling resistance likely to be experienced in these situations.

 

It’s a dream for downhill riders, though, who can take comfort going into the twisty fast sections, knowing that this beauty of a tire will hold on as tight as you like. The price is a consideration, of course, but you’ve got to remember that you’re paying for real quality with this tire.

29 Inch Mountain Bike Tires to Avoid

As you can see, there are some really cracking 29ers currently on the market, but that doesn’t mean they’re all winners. There are some that, unfortunately, we feel don’t quite meet the mark. In our 29er tire review we’ve looked at a broad spectrum of tires and picked out the ones to avoid, too.

1. Vittoria Syerra

Price: $40

Weight: 829g

Size tested: 29 x 2.4in

Pros Cons Good for
✅ great traction ❌ shaky cornering 👌 climbing
✅ good braking ❌ price 👌 general trail riding
✅ good climbing ❌ durability

Review

Before delving into the major drawbacks we found with this tyre, it is worth pointing out that this 29 inch mountain bike tire serves a purpose. It’s light-weight and has little rolling resistance due to its small knobs and light shoulder. That means it’s perfect for the flats, hard-pack and moving at pace in the down-country market.

  

Unfortunately, however, that’s where the positives end. Due to the tire’s small tread, it struggles in the corners and trying to do anything at pace in a proper downhill environment would almost certainly test it beyond its capabilities. That also means its braking comes into question, too, and you could find real yourself in real difficulty when trying to brake sharply.

 

It isn’t the best with rough, loose or bobbly conditions and its thin, lightweight compound suffers from punctures more than some of its competitors. The price is decent, but you get what you pay for here; it isn’t the most durable and you might find yourself replacing it if you ride in the wrong environment.

2. Bontrager SE4 Team Issue 2.6

Price: $90

Weight: 905g

Size tested: 29 x 2.4in

Pros Cons Good for
✅ fantastic corner ❌ price 👌 downhill
✅ good braking ❌ weight 👌 enduro
✅ durability ❌ rolling resistance 👌 all-mountain trail

Review

One thing this 29in mountain bike tire nails is the traction – it has very well composed knobs, which grip into the dirt tight. That’s very useful for braking and giving you the traction you need on the climbs. If you’re expecting a lot of climbing on your ride, then this tire is a good bet.

 

However, we then begin to encounter a few issues… It doesn’t have great shoulder traction, meaning that it doesn’t cope quite as well as some of its competitors in the corners. It does OK, but we’re not looking for OK here, we’re looking for great.

 

Despite being fairly weighty, unfortunately the compound doesn’t match up to that heft, and what’s more, it isn’t the sturdiest of 29er tires, particularly when compared with some of the others currently available on the market.

 

The intense traction means it doesn’t have the best speed either and it omits a lot of rolling resistance. Then, we come to the price – not cheap at all. All things considered, we’d advise against this one.

Final Thoughts

There are some absolutely brilliant 29 inch mountain bike tires on the market and we hope our 29er review has helped make things a little clearer for you!

 

When conducting our review, we tried to look at a broad range of tires – those which are suited for different styles of riding – and the Schwalbe Racing Ray Addix Speed, Maxxis Minion and Vittoria Mazza came out as our best 29 inch mountain bike tyres.

 

All are suited to slightly different styles of riding and we’ll remind you that that has to be one of your key considerations when you’re looking to buy your mountain bike 29 tyres.

 

Think hard about whether you’re a downhiller, an enduro rider or whether you’ll be riding cross-country (or on general trails). You now have the tools at your disposal to pick the right 29er for you, so what are you waiting for? Get out there and shred.

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