Top Ten Guide – Best 29″ Mountain Bike Tires

Top Ten Best 29" mountain bike tiresThere are a lot of 29er mountain bike tires out on the market and its hard to know which tires are especially good for YOU. Each season companies create new tires, update tread compounds, and massage their tread designs. Each of us probably has our favorite tires that we’ve ridden and some tires we tried that we absolutely hated. Everyone rides different terrain and needs different types of tires.

In this article I hope to give you some insight to the top 29″ mountain bike tires currently available. This listing has came together from first hand riding experiences, what the top shops are selling the most of, and models that riders often discuss in the forums. All of these tires I’ve personally ridden or know close riding friends that have told me their experiences.

Types Of 29″ Tires In This Top Ten Guide

For this article I’m going to put the tires into 3 groups to make it easier to discern the best tires for your riding style and terrain. The 3 types of tires in this article will be All Around, Fast Rolling, and Aggressive.

  • The All Around tires are going to be the tires that work great as front and back tires. They are designed to tackle almost any terrain with ease.
  • The Fast Rolling tires are more designed for hardpack dry trails where rolling resistance needs to be minimized. These tires tend to be more aimed at the racer crowd. These tires are often paired with a more aggressive front tire to ride more diverse terrain.
  • That leads us to the Aggressive tires which are designed for loose over hardpack, loose, and muddy terrain. These tires tend to have a deeper tread design and don’t roll as fast as the other 2 tire types. They often have a high volume and offer a wider profile. They are also more durable which is great for rough terrain.
A Note About 29er Tire Pressure And Tubeless

Almost all 29er tires perform better at lower pressures than you might conventionally think to run them at. Most riders find that running PSI’s in 23lbs – 27lbs range really makes these tires hook up better. A lot of riders have moved to tubeless as well, which allows for the rider to more easily run lower pressures. That topic, however, is too in depth for this article.

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Top All Around 29″ Mountain Bike Tires

Continental Mountain King II 29
Continental Mountain King - 29 x 2.2

Continental Mountain King – 29 x 2.2

What the manufacturer says:

The Mountain King has been completely overhauled for 2011. Those who desire a bit more meat for particularly difficult sections choose the Mountain King in 2.4. Improving on what was excellent soft/loose grip, and now delivering much better all-around performance. By beefing-up the shoulder lugs, and creating more void toward the center lugs – corning has become telepathic. The ProTection versions now offer significantly improved puncture protection without the unwelcome side effect of added weight. The perfect choice for those not requiring larger volume, but demanding aggressive traction with relatively low rolling resistance and lighter weight. The 2.2 Mountain King does well virtually everywhere – in cross country races, marathons, or all day trail rides. It is slightly lighter than its bigger brother without sacrificing its outstanding qualities. The revised tread design now performs much better in harder, dryer conditions and Black Chili Compound delivers excellent wet performance as well. – Continental

How it translates to the trail:

  • The Mountain King II is designed with a more aggressive tread for all around use. It works well in loose terrain thanks to its taller and wider spaced knobs. The tire sheds mud easily. It grips well in less than ideal conditions like wet roots and rocks. I wouldn’t consider it a fast rolling tire. More suited for front tire use with X-King on the back. Width is a bit undersized for its claimed size.

Tread compound available:

  • Black Chili

Tire widths available:

  • 2.2
  • 2.4

Peak and the Pit:

  • Peak – Good all around tire for loose conditions that need bite
  • Pit – Can be a bit slow rolling

Purchase:

shopping iconIf you’re looking to buy some Continental Mountain King 29’s online, I suggest purchasing them from Jenson USA or Competitive Cyclist.


Added 2018 – WTB Ranger
WTB Ranger 29 2.25

WTB Ranger 29 2.25

What the manufacturer says:

Searching for the ultimate do-it-all tire? Meet the Ranger…you’re welcome. Tightly spaced center knobs set the pace while open outer lugs devour corners and shed muck with ease, making the Ranger equal parts trail ace and XC dominator. Completing the package, multi-directional siping assures the Ranger will grab hold whether tackling technical climbs or roosting into corners. Weight optimized to outperform in all conditions, wet or dry, hard-pack or loam. Forget trail conditions, the Ranger isn’t intimidated. – WTB

How it translates to the trail:

  • I am thoroughly impressed with new Ranger from WTB. It really does everything right out on the trail. Grips at any angle, rolls well with little drag, and offers confidence on any terrain. It is a true 2.2 tire that weighs under 700g. The tread design does clear mud pretty well and the compounds hook up nicely in the wet and in the dry. The tire is easy to set up tubeless and doesn’t have any leaking issues in my experience.

Tread compound available:

  • TCS Light/Fast Rolling – Dual DNA
  • TCS Light/High Grip – Gravity DNA (I’d choose this one)

Tire width available:

  • 2.25

Peak and the Pit:

  • Peak – All rounder that can handle any trail wet or dry
  • Pit – Would like to see a mid-size 2.4 between this and the larger plus tires

Purchase:

shopping iconIf you’re looking to buy some WTB Ranger 29’s online, I suggest purchasing them from Jenson USA or Amazon.


Update 2018: Maxxis Ignitor Demoted

I no longer feel that the Maxxis Ignitor is one of the best all-around tires you can buy. It has been replaced with the WTB Ranger noted above. It was a great tire and well loved but I feel it needs to be moved off the list in 2017.

If you’re looking to buy some Maxxis Ignitor 29’s online, I suggest purchasing them from Jenson USA or Competitive Cyclist.


Schwalbe Nobby Nic 29
Schwalbe Nobby Nic - 29 x 2.35

Schwalbe Nobby Nic – 29 x 2.35

What the manufacturer says:

All around favorite and for many years a serial winner of MTB tests. Why? Nobby Nic is unbelievably versatile. The tread offers unbeatable control in any condition. Thanks to its compounding and construction at the highest EVO level it is light and fast in competition. This amazing performance makes it a true “Allgrounder”. – Schwalbe

How it translates to the trail:

  • The Nobby Nic’s are a great all around tire. They excel in most conditions from hardpack to loose. These tires are designed well and have proven to be great additions to my bikes. They corner well and give good braking traction. The Nobby Nic’s have a very good volume to them which offers a wide area of traction. The rolling resistance is pretty good for an all around tire. The PaceStar compound could be a bit grippier in wet conditions (check out the TrailStar version of the Hans Dampf as an alternative and their new Addix compound is even better). They are a bit slippy on wet rocks and roots. The compound can also wear easily if you ride rocky rough terrain very often.

Tread compound available:

  • PaceStar
  • Addix

Tire widths available:

  • 2.25
  • 2.35

Peak and the Pit:

  • Peak – Great all around tire with bigger volume
  • Pit – Don’t last very long in rough terrain

Purchase:

shopping iconIf you’re looking to buy some Schwalbe Nobby Nic 29’s online, I suggest purchasing them from Jenson USA or Competitive Cyclist.


Top Fast Rolling 29″ Mountain Bike Tires

Continental X-King II 29
Continental X-King - 29 x 2.2

Continental X-King – 29 x 2.2

Designed by:

  • Topeak Ergon mountain bike professional team

What the manufacturer says:

Super fast, but nevertheless with a good grip, the X-King was developed with the Topeak Ergon mountain bike professional team. Despite pronounced studs, the X-King rolls off smoothly and very quietly. No matter if you are on your own or in a team, with Race and Mountain King, the super-light X-King easily covers many uses, ranging from cross country/race to Alpcross. The X-King simply leaves its competitors behind. Its Black Chili Compound offers a solid grip and is self-cleaning. The shoulder lugs provide absolute stability in curves negotiated at high speeds. – Continental

How it translates to the trail:

  • The X-King tends to be a good all around tire. It does not have the most aggressive tread design or large width. It is designed to be a fast tire vs aggressive traction. The Black Chili compound is grippy though, which makes up that. I would keep it as a fast rear tire for hardpack and moderately loose over hardpack with a more aggressive front tire.

Tread compounds available:

  • Black Chili

Tire width available:

  • 2.2

Peak and the Pit:

  • Peak – Rolls fast with great traction thanks to Black Chili compounds
  • Pit – Not as wide as comparable offerings

Purchase:

shopping iconIf you’re looking to buy some Continental X-King King 29’s online, I suggest purchasing them from Jenson USA or Competitive Cyclist.


Kenda Small Block 8 29
Kenda Small Block 8 - 29 x 2.1

Kenda Small Block 8 – 29 x 2.1

Designed by:

  • John Tomac

What the manufacturer says:

Ultimate XC Racing tire with lots of speed and grip. Well suited for a variety of riding conditions. – Kenda

How this translates to the trail:

  • The tire is lightweight and rolls fast. It offers lots of grippy traction across the entire tread. The Small Block 8 tends to work best on hardpack and moderately loose over hardpack terrain. The tread can get filled with mud easily. The grip in the wet or extremely loose is not very good. Riders tend to feel they seem to be a bit easy to pinch flat due to thinner sidewalls.

Tread compounds available:

  • DTC – Dual Tread Compound has a harder 60a durometer in the middle with stickier 50a durometer compound on the outside knobs.
  • DTC SCT – SCT modification, which makes them compatible with fluid based tubeless conversion systems.

Tire width available:

  • 2.1

Peak and the Pit:

  • Peak – Super fast rolling
  • Pit – Lack traction in wet/loose conditions

Purchase:

shopping iconIf you’re looking to buy some Kenda Small Block 8 29’s online, I suggest purchasing them from Jenson USA.


Schwalbe Racing Ralph 29
Schwalbe Racing Ralph - 29 x 2.25

Schwalbe Racing Ralph – 29 x 2.25

What the manufacturer says:

Profile, compound, carcass. In the third generation of the Racing Ralph everything is designed for speed. In the 29″ variant the special arrangement of the blocks and their elongation have been adapted to the longer footprint. Performance advantages of the large wheels are optimally improved. – Schwalbe

How it translates to the trail:

  • The Racing Ralph’s live up to their name by rolling very fast and coming in at a light weight. They have updated their tread pattern to adapt to a 29er contact patch and it definitely has paid off in the amount of traction you get from these tires. This traction is readily available in most conditions. Try to keep away from anything very muddy or extremely loose. The cornering is much better than the older 26” tread design. This is thanks to the transitional knobs between the center and the outside knobs and the PaceStar compound which is tackier on the outside. The tires do have some weak sidewalls to keep the weight down, which can cause some problems with durability. The Racing Ralph also has a decent width selection for those looking for a tire that is more skinny to something a bit more beefy.

Tread compound available:

  • PaceStar
  • Addix

Tire widths available:

  • 2.1
  • 2.25
  • 2.35

Peak and the Pit:

  • Peak – Fast rolling with gobs of traction
  • Pit – Weak sidewalls

Purchase:

shopping iconIf you’re looking to buy some Schwalbe Racing Ralph 29’s online, I suggest purchasing them from Jenson USA or Competitive Cyclist.


Maxxis Ikon 29

Maxxis Icon - 29 x 2.2

Maxxis Ikon – 29 x 2.2

What the manufacturer says:

The Ikon is for true racers looking for a true lightweight race tire. With 3C Triple Compound Technology, high-volume casing and a fast rolling tread design, the Ikon provides exemplary performance in all riding conditions. As its name suggests, the Ikon represents all that is true in racing. – Maxxis

How it translates to the trail:

  • You can easily tell the Ikon is more of a lightweight race type tire than other 29er options. It is good on dry or hardpack trails. The Ikon does roll fast but not the fastest available. The knobs on this are not very big or deep so trails with mud and muck are not well suited for it. On dry trails it has lots of traction thanks to its many knobs. Just don’t think you’d be climbing up wet trails very easily. Cornering is confidence inspiring in the dry but braking performance is a bit lacking. If you need a more durable casing make sure you look at the EXO model.

Tread compounds available:

  • 3C Maxx Speed
  • Dual

Tire widths available:

  • 2.2
  • 2.35

Peak and the Pit:

  • Peak – Fast tire with loads of traction
  • Pit – Design hampers muddy riding

Purchase:

shopping iconIf you’re looking to buy some Maxxis Ikon 29’s online, I suggest purchasing them from Amazon.


Top Aggressive 29″ Mountain Bike Tires

Updated 2018 – Maxxis Minion DHF 29
Maxxis Minion DHF 29

Maxxis Minion DHF 29

What the manufacturer says:

Aggressive riding calls for an aggressive tire. The Maxxis Minion DHF 29″ Tire delivers both speed and precision all thanks to its directional knob design that maintains a firm grip on the descents allowing for a faster plunge into the technical terrain. The Maxxis DHF is a tire meant for Enduro and all mountain type of riding; that being said it’s also not a bad climber thanks to the low rolling resistance. – Maxxis

How it translates to the trail:

  • This tire is one of the most widely used aggressive tires ever made. Downhill, Enduro, or just fun aggressive trail riding this tire just hooks up and performs flawlessly. The side knobs are robust and designed well. The center track is fast and helps deliver superb handling. It does well in mud and doesn’t cake up. The 3C and dual compounds are some of the best in mountain biking offering great grip in all conditions while still being durable for lots of miles out on the trails. They aren’t the lightest tires but it won’t matter out on the trail.

Tread compound available:

  • EXO DC
  • EXO 3C

Tire width available:

  • 2.3
  • 2.5

Peak and the Pit:

  • Peak – One of the all time best designed tires ever created
  • Pit – Slightly heavy

Purchase:

shopping icon
If you’re looking to purchase a pair of Maxxis Minion DHF 29’s online, I would suggest buy from JensonUSA or Amazon for the best prices.


Updated 2018: Geax Sturdy 29 Demoted

The Geax Sturdy was one of my dark horse favorite tires to suggest but I want to put another Maxxis option back on the list. I think not suggesting a DHF for riders looking for a great aggressive trail and enduro tire is a mistake.

Purchase:

shopping iconIf you’re still looking to buy some Geax Sturdy 29’s online, I suggest purchasing them from Amazon.


Kenda Nevegal 29
Kenda Nevegal - 29 x 2.2

Kenda Nevegal – 29 x 2.2

Designed by:

  • John Tomac

What the manufacturer says:

The ultimate tire for all conditions – loose or hard pack and it is consistently voted a winner by Mountain Bike Action Magazine. This is a great performing tire for most riders. – Kenda

How this translates to the trail:

  • The Nevegal 2.2 is big volume tire. It tends to have slow rolling resistance. This means it rolls kind of slow on the back and works better as a front tire. The Nevegal has lots of cornering grip and traction. It is good for general for dry/loose conditions. The less sticky DTC compound is not the best on wet/rooty terrain.

Tread compounds available:

  • DTC – Dual Tread Compound has a harder 60a durometer in the middle with stickier 50a durometer compound on the outside knobs.
  • DTC SCT – SCT modification, which makes them compatible with fluid based tubeless conversion systems.

Tire width available:

  • 2.2

Peak and the Pit:

  • Peak – Great loose condition traction
  • Pit – Slow rolling resistance

Purchase:

shopping iconIf you’re looking to buy some Kenda Nevegal 29’s online, I suggest purchasing them from Jenson USA.


Maxxis Ardent 29
Maxxis Ardent - 29 x 2.25

Maxxis Ardent – 29 x 2.25

What the manufacturer says:

An aggressive tread in high-volume casing, designed with great traction in mind. The Ardent doesn’t forget the racer with large block-style side knobs offering numerous edges for high-speed cornering. The center tread, while ideal for braking and accelerating traction, also features ramped knobs to minimize rolling resistance With a wide variety of size offerings, the Ardent captures every mountain rider’s needs. – Maxxis

How it translates to the trail:

  • Stay away from 2.25 version of this tire if you ride aggressively and need extra traction. The 2.4 is much more beefy and built for aggressive riding and offers additional traction. The tread is much more deep and the casing is better. The 2.4 is close to a true 2.4 tire. The tire hooks up on dry terrain well and rolls very fast. You will need to lean the bike over a bit more to catch the side knobs.  It is not really good for muddy / wet rooty conditions due to 60a durometer compound. The Ardent also needs to need to run lower air pressure 22-27psi to reach its full potential. Look for tubeless LUST version.

Tread compound available:

  • 60a durometer

Tire widths available:

  • 2.25
  • 2.4

Peak and the Pit:

  • Peak – Fast rolling large tire
  • Pit – Needs lower PSI and aggressive riding style for best results

Purchase:

shopping iconIf you’re looking to buy some Maxxis Ardent 29’s online, I suggest purchasing them from Jenson USA or Competitive Cyclist.


Readers’ Favorite Suggestions

While I have my own opinion about what tires are the best, I also take into consideration suggestions from fellow riders and readers of this site. Below are the top suggested 29er tires that are favorites of the readers of this site.

  • Panaracer Rampage – Manufacturer description “Unparalleled grip and durability in a tough and light casing. Excellent mud shedding and outstanding descending properties. Profile specifically designed for excellent cornering and traction at speed.” – Can be easily found at JensonUSA and Amazon.
  • Maxxis Crossmark – Manufacturer description “The CrossMark is the dramatic evolution of the cross country racing tire. The nearly continuous center ridge flies on hardpack, yet has enough spacing to grab wet roots and rocks. The slightly raised ridge of side knobs offers cornering precision never before seen on a tire this fast.” – Can be easily found at JensonUSA and Amazon.
  • WTB Nano (used to be NanoRaptor) – Manufacturer description “It features an elevated centerline that rolls effortlessly on hard surfaces, numerous micro-knob working edges providing lateral traction and predictability, and a voluminous casing designed to go the distance.” – Can be easily found at JensonUSA and Amazon.
  • Specialized Renegade – Manufacturer description “The entirely new Renegade 2Bliss Ready tire is a world-class XC race tire that’s light, grippy, and supple. Accordingly, it’s perfect for fast accelerations and climbing over hard-pack terrain. It has a fast-rolling tread design with all new knob blocks, enhancing cornering traction and better braking effectiveness.” – Can be easily purchased from Specialized.
You’ve seen my list. Tell me what your favorite 29er tire is.

25 Responses

  1. jason says:

    Panaracer rampage should definitely be on the list.

  2. Daniel says:

    And specialized renegade 1.95

  3. Tim says:

    Add: Geax Saguaro – excellent all arounder. Light, true to size, inexpensive, tough

    Remove: X-King – I love the tread and the compound but this is a weak tire. <100 miles and mine developed a side bulge. Quite a common occurrence with these tires.

    • Etienne says:

      I second that. Nice tire but mine also developped huge side bulge within less than 100 km.

    • Robert st. Jean says:

      Wish conti would thicken up the sidewall on the x- king. Very thin and porous sidewall make this a weak choice for the tubeless systems. I love the tread pattern also.

  4. Bob says:

    love my new WTB TCS Nine Line 2.0…great for rolling fast on hard pack, grass and the paved portions of trails. To get full potential ya gotta ditch the tubes!

  5. josh says:

    Author says “stay away from the 2.25” Maxxis Ardent, but gives no explanation about why. It is not as beefy as the 2.4, and I wouldn’t expect it to handle the chunk as well as a 2.4. That said, it’s a great tire at 690g, even on the front of my ride for the last 150miles. Perhaps the why will come later in the season as the soil starts to loosen up.

  6. Travis says:

    Love my Nobby Nic’s but am wishing for a bit more bite up front. Moving to a han’s Danf for the front engagement.

  7. RoogieRoo says:

    How about the WTB NanoRaptor for fast rolling tire? Absolutely terrifying when cornering, but smokes on the straightaways!!

  8. luke says:

    hows about halo twin rails 29ers, fast, smooth and grippy round the bends gotta be a place out there for em.

  9. alonso says:

    well , i used renegade and fast track for xc rides and racing ralph with rocket ron for winter , really nice tires

  10. Mark Turner-Smith says:

    Conti Mountain King 2.2 front for winter with Conti X king 2.2 rear.
    All day long perfect combo – quick grippy.
    X king 2.2 front & rear summer.
    Both great ethier out by myself on trails or racing.

  11. martini says:

    Don’t forget CST…I have the cabellero which IS the maxxis ignitor for less $$ but are heavy! though great in mud.

    For dry…the VEE rubber “super vee” 2.35 won out over my small block 8’s easily..and are lightweight as well. ($9 at pricepoint).

    fyi…cst has some other great tires for cheap…love my rock hawks as well for all-round

    Just wish someone would re-issue the onza porcupines in 29″….well, no not really, but white rubber is dope!…well, no not really.

    cheers!

  12. Jeffrey says:

    I see this list was posted since 2013, is it still up to date 2015?

  13. Marcel Chretien says:

    I ride a Kenda Nevagal 2.2 and I’m satisfied with it since it offers a good traction and good hooking on inclined surfaces (as you probably understand, I use it on the rear). It is knoby on the sides, the knobs are protuding more than the sidewalls (which I think is better for extended life of the sidewalls) and inflates wider than advertised (~ 2.3 in which to me is a bonus)

  14. Marcel Chretien says:

    I bought a 29er Continental Mountain King II 2.4 Pro. Mounted it, inflated it and; found it wasn’t as wide as advertised (~ 2.2 in instead of 2.4 which to me is misleading adverising), the sidewalls were protuding more than the side knobs, removed it from the rim without even riding it. It is now back into the package it was delivered with and for sale. Please Continental spec your tires for the with they really are.

  15. Marcel Chretien says:

    Can anyone tell among the tires in the present list advertised for a width between 2.3 and 2.4 in which ones are really making it (ore more if any) and which ones offer side knobs protuding more than the sidewalls ?

  16. Ernest S. says:

    Does anyone knows anything or ever rode on Maxxis 29×2.50 Minion DHF DH Casing 3C MaxxGrip Tubeless Ready ?

  17. De Klerk Jacobs says:

    Maxxis Crossmarks are the best

  18. Jester says:

    I need help. I’m on a 29er. 70% streets 30% trails. What’s my best front and back combo be? Please help..

  19. ROBERT says:

    You can get the Maxxis Ignitor in a 2.35..
    Love it in the 2.10. CAN’T wait to try the wider version.

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