There are a lot of great performing 27.5″/650B tires on the market these days. A few years ago 27.5″ was the bastard child of mountain biking but is now in much more demand. Almost all manufacturers are offering bikes with 27.5″ wheels and some have ditched 26″ bikes all together. 27.5 is a great wheel size that gives you more traction and roll over ability of 29er wheels with much better acceleration and cornering ability.
Below I have written about my top choices for 27.5″/650B tires. These are simply the best tires you can buy for this size. There are a lot of options out there but these tires I feel from my own experience perform heads and tails above everyone else. These tires below offer the best tread design, casing, and durability of the many tires out there.
For this article I have broken the tires down into categories:
- Fast Rolling
- Plus Sized (updated for 2017)
I hope you enjoy this article and post your thoughts on the best 27.5″/650B mountain bike tires you’ve ridden in the comments below.
Any links to retailers from this article provide a compensation commission back to OldGloryMTB.com for referring customers to their site that buy products. This helps keep us out on the trails checking out new gear to write about here on the site.
Best Fast Rolling 27.5″/650B Tires
These tires are best for those looking to ride hardpack trails in the dry with moderate loose bits on the trail. These tires are designed to roll fast with much smaller knobs. If you’re looking for a tire that is more versatile than these I’d look at the Trail/Enduro section lower down the page. You can also use one of these tires in the rear as a great tire combo suggested at the end of the article.
Bontrager XR3 Team
What Bontrager says about the XR3 Team tire:
“Fast hardpack or moist trails are no problem for the XR3 Team Issue tubeless-ready mountain bike tire, with its advanced rubber compound and Inner Strength protection. Look to the XR3 when seeking a tire that can handle a wide range of trail conditions.”
What I say about the XR3 Team tire:
These tires were a surprise to me. I have not ridden or enjoyed many Bontrager products, but these tires are really nice for dry hardpack trails. They roll very nicely and have lots of grip for climbs. Thanks to the evenly spaced knobs they have traction at any angle with no vague feeling. The tread design is shallow and can be pushed into corners nicely with no squirm. They are also tubeless ready, so that’s a nice plus.
- 27.5″ x 2.20 – 635g (claimed)
- 27.5″ x 2.35 – 705g (claimed)
- You can buy the XR3 Team directly from Trek
What Continental says about the X-King tire:
“The allround genius. Fills the gap between the Mountain and Race King. Fast, high grip and excellent self-cleaning tread design.”
What I say about the X-King tire:
I really like Continental’s tires. The Black Chili compound is one of, if not, the best tire compound on the market. It grips incredibly well in every type of condition. Dry to muddy the tires grab everything. This tire’s tread design is much like a few others in this section. I enjoy it because the small knobs are distributed evenly across the tire and gives loads of traction. Even with all the knobs these tires roll really well and are fast. One of the nice things about Conti’s tires is that they are pretty big if you want a large volume tire. The 2.4 available is pretty massive. 2.2’s are better for weight conscious riders. I’d get the ProTection or RaceSport version of this tire for the best durability and performance. These tires are also tubeless ready to boot.
- 27.5″ x 2.2 – 525g-710g (depending on casing)
- 27.5″ x 2.4 – 610g-800g (depending on casing)
- You can purchase these tires from several great online retailers JensonUSA, Competitive Cyclist, or Amazon.
Kenda Slant Six
What Kenda says about the Slant Six:
“The perfect blend of John Tomac’s two most winning tires. The Small Block 8 and the Nevegal. Designed for speed, grip, and cornering assurance; this tire has it all for intermediate to hard-packed terrain”
What I say about the Slant Six:
The Slant Six is a stellar tire. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Small Block 8 and I think this tire just takes that design to the next level. The ramped knobs work really well at making a fast tire and are spaced far enough apart to give good traction. I wouldn’t run these tires in the wet but there are plenty of other great options for those conditions. I’m not sure the durability is as great with these tires as some other options but usually better than Schwalbe’s.
- 27.5″ x 2.1 – 636g / 745g (tubeless)
- These tires are available readily on Amazon.
Maxxis Ikon & Ardent Race
What Maxxis says about the Ikon:
“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. “
What Maxxis says about the Ardent Race:
“The Maxxis Ardent Race uses a medium-height tread, making it a cross bred race tire that unearths the middle ground between the cross-country inspired Maxxis Ikon tire and the trail-ready Maxxis Ardent. The middle knobs are ramped to reduce rolling resistance, while the side knobs are angled and stepped to offer confidence-inspiring grab and traction in the corners. Additionally, the Ardent Race features the 3C Maxx Speed compound which uses two compounds in the outer layer that are specifically devised to reduce rolling resistance and further enhance traction and longevity. The result is a tire that’s capable of tackling both demanding XC race courses and long distance endurance tests.”
What I say about the Ikon and Ardent Race:
Both of these are great fast tires from Maxxis. As you already read above the Ardent Race is inspired by the Ikon. Both tires feature similar tread design. I’ve always been a fan of the bigger 2.4 Ardent but this smaller and faster Race version is a real gem. It has loads of traction and blazes down the trail. The Ikon is a bit less aggressive than the Ardent but still has plenty of traction for climbs and cornering. Both tires have great shoulder knobs and are fast in dry conditions. I enjoy the 3C Maxx Speed compound on these tires. It makes them roll fast and is highly durable.
- 27.5″ x 2.2 – 600g (claimed)
- 27.5″ x 2.35 – 705g (claimed)
Maxxis Ardent Race:
- 27.5″ x 2.20 – 635g (claimed) 680g EXO version (claimed)
Schwalbe Rock Razor
What Schwalbe says about the Rock Razer:
“For the first time, we brought a “real” semi-slick to the Gravity and Enduro scenes. It’s a very interesting option especially on the rear wheel and for very fast, dry trails. These is no better tire for low rolling resistance than Rock Razor. “
What I say about the Rock Razor:
This is one of the more nifty tires I’ve ridden in a long time. This tire is pretty generously sized and is really fast. The big feature that this tire offers over everyone else is the great big side knobs. This side knobs are borrowed from the Magic Mary. They dig in really well when cornering hard. I feel like this tire is similar to riding an Ardent. You have to lean the bike over pretty good to get good bite. I would have normally suggested a Racing Ralph for this category but I feel the Rock Razor is much more versatile for lots of different trails. Braking performance is not the greatest with this tire but you just have to get used to knowing how far you can push your limits.
- 27.5″ x 2.35 – 700g (snake skin) / 965g (Super Gravity)
Best Trail/Enduro 27.5″/650B Tires
These tires are designed to be great for trail, enduro, and more versatile riding situations than the fast tires above. These tires tend to have more aggressive patterns and roll a little bit slower. Many have options for bigger sizes and more durable (and heavy) casings. If you want the best of both world’s check out the combo section below that pairs a fast rear tire with a larger more aggressive front tire.
Continental Trail King
What Continental say about the Trail King:
“This tire likes the rough stuff! The king of freeriding in a 2.4 version. Superior puncture protection from the special APEX reinforced sidewall. Robust 4/240 tpi casing. Provides stellar grip on even the slickest wet rocks and roots.”
What I say about the Trail King:
The Trail King is a large aggressive tire. The tread pattern is well thought out with good placement and design. I think the horizontal knobs really help with braking and the tire still rolls decently well. The Black Chili compound is amazingly tacky and works better than any other tire compound in the wet. The Mountain King is another good tire from Conti but I prefer the Trail King. The 2.4 is nice for aggressive riding but the 2.2 is lighter with still the same amount of traction.
- 27.5″ x 2.2 – 665-1040g depending on casing
- 27.5″ x 2.4 – 835g-1090g depending on casing
- These tires are available to purchase through several great online shops like JensonUSA, Competitive Cyclist, and Amazon.
What Geax has to say about the Goma:
“For conditions more challenging, where big hits come at you hard and fast, Geax All Mountain tires are built stronger, hold on tighter. Multi-directional siping, stepped effective edges, and sticky compound provide unmatched tactile grip. Leading edge ramps lower rolling resistance, while sharp braking edges offer continuous control.”
What I say about the Goma:
The Geax Goma was a surprise hit for me. I was not really excited to try out the Goma but they ended up being really nice tires for 27.5″. The Saguaro and AKA I had heard mentioned previously as decent tires but the Goma was new. The tread design is eerily similar to some other big name tires and they perform pretty close to that. The tread is simple and open and they roll really nicely for a big tire. I felt they cornered well and had good feeling when pushing them hard. The durability is nice on these tires and the 50a compound is pretty good too. Their weight is really pretty decent for an aggressive tire.
- 27.5″ x 2.25 – 730g-920g (depending on casing)
- 27.5″ x 2.4 – 790g-1020g (depending on casing)
- The 27.5″ version of the Goma is available at several quality online bike stores like Amazon.
What Maxxis has to say about the Ardent:
“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.”
What I say about the Ardent:
When the Ardent first came out I was not a fan of it. But after I tried the larger 2.4 size on my 29er I really became enamored with it. The large volume makes it supple and offers a good amount of traction. These are tricky tires that may not work for everyone. The center tread is not too tall, while the outside tread knobs are much larger. I almost put this tire in the fast rolling section but I think it belongs in this section. The tire really needs to be leaned over in the corners to get great bite. For some riders this may be too extreme, but for those that ride aggressively it’s a great performing tire in a variety of conditions. Dry to damp and slightly muddy this tire shines because of the open tread pattern and fast rolling design. I would stick to the 2.4 if you ride more aggressive. I think the 2.2 doesn’t work as well and is good for easier XC riding,
- 27.5″ x 2.2 – 635-750g weight varies depending on casing
- 27.5″ x 2.4 – 760g (claimed)
- 27.5″ Ardent’s can be found from a number of retailers. JensonUSA and Amazon usually have the best prices.
Maxxis High Roller II
What Maxxis has to say about the High Roller II:
“An open and aggressive tread design gives the High Roller II excellent soil penetration and mud-clearing ability. A square profile provides a solid, consistent feel across the knobs. Modified knobs on the shoulder and center improve braking performance and traction on hard surfaces. An excellent choice for technical, freeride terrain.”
What I say about the High Roller II:
The original High Roller was a pretty good aggressive riding tire for many years. A DHF and High Roller tire combo was a rider favorite by many people I know and myself. The new High Roller II is a tweaked design of the original. I really enjoyed this tire in 27.5″ for trail and enduro riding. It may not roll the fastest but it does provide a lot of grip. The nice square profile mounts up really nicely and gives you an easily predicative feel while out on the trail. It is not my favorite tire in mud though. I would go with a DHF.
- 27.5″ x 2.3 – 845-875g (depending on casing)
- 27.5″ x 2.4 – 890-965g (depending on casing)
Maxxis Minion DHF
What Maxxis has to about the Minion DHF:
“The Minion DHF was designed for the often loose and muddy conditions of aggressive all-mountain terrain. The DHF incorporates ramped knobs for low rolling resistance and channel-cut knobs to increase gripping edges, giving straight-line control and precise cornering.”
What I say about the Minion DHF:
The Minion DHF is an old favorite of the downhill mountain bike scene. This tire is incredibly popular and performs well in a myriad of riding conditions. Its design was originally created as a front tire but it works equally well on the rear. When this design was made for 27.5 I jumped on it. For rugged terrain and mud this tire is a game changer. You can rider harder and not have to worry about traction issues. You can get grip at any angle and tackles technical terrain with ease. It may not be the biggest tire on the market but it more than makes up for it in the predictable confidence inspiring ride.
- 27.5″ x 2.3 – 870g
- The Minion DHF is available through several online shops. You can purchase it at JensonUSA and Amazon.
What Panaracer says about the Neo-Moto:
“The Neo-Moto is an aggressive square blocked all condition tire with low rolling resistance.”
What I say about the Neo-Moto:
The Neo-Moto is one of the oldest tire designs for 27.5″/650B bikes. It was originally made by Pacenti but is now produced by Panaracer. The tire may be a bit dated but it works really well in a lot of conditions. The tread pattern has nice block design and plenty of side knobs. It also rolls pretty nicely too thanks to the ramped center knobs. The biggest thing with the Neo-Moto is getting your tire pressure right. If it’s too high it doesn’t ride well, sliding and pinging off of things harshly. Find the sweet spot for pressure and these tires hook up pretty good and last a good bit too.
- 27.5″ x 23. – 665g (claimed)
Schwalbe Hans Dampf
What Schwalbe says about the Hans Dampf:
“For a perfect trail ride. Everything has been tuned for control and maximum riding fun. The tread functions with absolute poise and is well behaved in every situation – like difficult terrain on singletrack. Grippy TrailStar compound or faster rolling PaceStar as an option for the rear wheel. Light and robust SnakeSkin sidewall. Easy to fit Tubeless Ready. Enjoy the flow.”
What I say about the Hans Dampf:
I think the Hans Dampf lives up to its name as a jack of all trades tire. It is very easy to go out and ride cross country and moderate trails but you can also go shred aggressive lines and tougher enduro courses. These tires are pretty much on spec with their 2.35 width offering great volume and tire profile. I tried out the Super Gravity version of this tire that features a pretty advanced construction process. The tire is built up with downhill tire sidewalls but less stout center. This gives you a tire that is strong but also lightweight. The biggest issues I have with these tires is their cost and durability. When new the tires hook up great and traction is really good, but they can wear quickly if you ride rocky terrain and are known to shed side knobs. I still think this is a great tire design and you’ll have to try a set out for yourself to see how they last for you.
- 27.5 x 2.35 – 680g-1040g (depending on casing)
- You can purchase these tires at several good online retailers like JensonUSA, Competitive Cyclist, or Amazon.
What WTB says about the Vigilante:
“Born from the need to race in European enduro events, the Vigilante is our premier aggressive All Mountain tire, and first choice for Team WTB’s Mark Weir. The square-lugged open-tread pattern offers stability in loose or wet terrain, while the stiff outside knobs grip at lean angles like nobody’s business. With Dual DNA (TCS) and Gravity DNA (Team Issue) rubber, this is the tire to ride when you are giving it your all.”
What I have to say about the Vigilante:
I’ve never been a fan of WTB’s tire offerings. They just never really worked all that well for me. I got a chance to get a hold of their Vigilante’s and these tires are definitely leaps and bounds above their other models. I went for these tires because I really liked the blocky tread pattern. It reminded me of a motocross tire. They hook up exceptionally well in loose conditions and offer really nice controlled braking and cornering. They don’t roll too slow and have a nice durable casing if you go for the enduro oriented model. Durability has been really good too.
- 27.5″ x 2.3 – 790g-985g (depending on casing)
Best 27.5″ / 650B Tire Combos
These tire combos are a great mix of a high traction, aggressive front tire paired with a fast rolling rear tire. These combos are great if you ride a mix of terrain. The front tire offers a lot of great controlled steering and grip, while the back tire is more designed for cornering and faster speed. There are a lot of good pairings out there but these are the ones below that have served me and my friends well over the past couple of years.
Specialized – Butcher (front) / Purgatory or Slaughter (rear) – (buy direct from Specialized)
WTB – Vigilante (front) / Bee Line (rear) – (buy at JensonUSA)
Best 27.5 Plus Sized Tires (updated for 2017)
Plus sized tires have gained a lot of popularity over the last couple of years. There are nice tire models from a lot of manufacturers but I’ve settled on suggesting a trio from the top three brands in mountain bike tires. These are easy suggestions that anyone with a plus bike will be instantly successful with. They are all well designed and offer immense traction. Many of these tread patterns are time tested designs that have worked well for quite some time now for many riders.
- HighRoller II/Rekon – Available in 2.8 and 3.0 sizes. 60 or 120tpi casing. 3C Triple or Double compound. Pick a pair up at JensonUSA or Amazon.
- Minion – DHF or DHR available in 2.8 size with 60 or 120 tpi casing. 3C Triple or Double compound. Pick up a pair at JensonUSA or Amazon.
- Chronicle – 3.0 size with 60 or 120tpi casing. Tubeless version available. 3C Triple or Double compound. Pick up a set at JensonUSA or Amazon.
- Rocket Ron – 2.6, 2.8, and 3.0 sizes. Liteskin and Snakeskin casing. Pick up a pair at JensonUSA or Amazon.
- Smart Sam – 2.6 size (it’s a little on the small for a plus bike but it is fast). Performance casing. Pick up a pair at JensonUSA or Amazon.
- Trail Boss – 3.0 size. Tubeless light fast rolling casing. Dual DNA compound. Find a pair at JensonUSA or Amazon.