The Best MTB Tires For Enduro

Whether you're racing, hitting the bike park, or just exploring tough downhill trails, enduro mountain bike tires are what you need. These tires balance grip, speed, and durability, so you can shred the gnar.

The Best MTB Tires For Enduro

Written by
Bruce Lin

Published on

Posted in
MTB

Photo: Dave Trumpmore / Yeti Cycles

Forget carbon frames, fancy suspension, and electronic drivetrains. If you’re looking to maximize downhill performance, the rubber connecting your bike to the trail is the key to victory. Putting the right tires on your enduro bike will let you confidently push your bike to the limits of control. Even if you aren’t racing, grippy tires are often the best upgrade you can make to any mountain bike. If you want to corner on rails and shred the gnarliest lines, these are the enduro mountain bike tires you need to look for. 

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What to look for in enduro MTB tires

When it comes to enduro mountain bike tires, riders need to find the ideal balance between traction, rolling speed, puncture protection, and weight. Here’s what you need to know.

Tread pattern

Best Enduro mtb tiresMost enduro racers favor aggressive knobs that grip better on steep and loose trails. Photo: Santa Cruz Bicycles. 

A tire’s tread pattern is the first thing most riders notice, and it plays the biggest role in traction and rolling speed. The ideal tread pattern varies depending on your local terrain and riding preferences. Bigger, taller, widely-spaced knobs give you the most traction, especially in loose or wet terrain, but they roll slower. Smaller, shorter, closely-spaced knobs tend to roll faster and feel more predictable on hard-packed surfaces but might not have enough bite when things get loose or sloppy. Many riders like to compromise by using an aggressive front tire and a rear tire with a faster tread for pedaling efficiency.  

Rubber compound

Schwalbe Addix tire compounds

Schwalbe identifies its different tire compounds with a colored stripe. Photo courtesy Schwalbe Tires.

Many tire manufacturers offer tire models with different rubber compounds. Softer durometer compounds provide more traction and better damping (they bounce around and deflect less in rough terrain), but they roll slower and wear out faster. Harder durometer compounds roll faster and last longer, but have less grip. Like with tread, some riders will choose a softer compound for the front and a harder compound in the rear to compromise between grip and efficiency.  

Popular Maxxis enduro tire compounds explained

Compound

Durometer

Grip

Speed

Damping

Durability

Dual compound

Hard

7/10

9/10

7/10

10/10

3C MaxxTerra

Soft

8/10

8/10

8/10

8/10

3C MaxxGrip

Softest

10/10

7/10

10/10

6/10


Popular Schwalbe enduro tire compounds explained

Compound

Durometer

Grip

Speed

Damping

Durability

Addix SpeedGrip

Hard

7/10

9/10

7/10

10/10

Addix Soft

Soft

8/10

8/10

8/10

8/10

Addix UltraSoft

Softest

10/10

7/10

10/10

6/10

Casings, puncture protection, & weight

Maxxis EXO+ punture protection casingCross section of Maxxis' lightweight EXO+ casing showing the added puncture protection. Photo courtesy Maxxis.

Grip and rolling speed don’t matter if your tire doesn’t hold air. Enduro tires need plenty of puncture protection to survive gnarly terrain. So, they are built with durable casings, sometimes with extra layers of protection in the sidewalls or under the tread, to defend against tears and pinch flats. The main trade-off for increased puncture protection is increased weight and rolling resistance. 

“Lightweight” enduro tires are essentially heavy-duty trail tires and weigh around 900-1,000 grams. These lighter enduro tires use thinner casings, which are great for lighter riders or smoother terrain. 

Look for: Maxxis EXO, Maxxis EXO+, Schwalbe Super Trail, Continental Trail, Vittoria TNT Trail, e*thirteen TRS trail

Most mid-weight enduro tires use extra puncture-resistant casings and weigh around 1,000-1,200 grams. For a lot of riders, this is the sweet spot between puncture protection and weight for downhill-focused riding and enduro racing. 

Look for: Maxxis Double Down, Schwalbe Super Gravity, Continental Enduro, Vittoria TLR Enduro/2-Ply, e*thirteen LG1 Enduro

Hard-charging riders and pro racers often prefer heavy-duty downhill tires for enduro because they use reinforced downhill-specific casings. These offer maximum puncture protection but weigh the most, around 1,200-1,500 grams.   

Look for: Maxxis DH, Schwalbe Super Downhill, Continental Downhill, Michelin Down Hill Shield, e*thirteen LG1 Downhill

If you want ultimate puncture protection, don’t forget about tire inserts! Inserts like CushCore add even more puncture protection, while also improving comfort and traction. They do add weight, but with the extra puncture protection, you may be able to get away with lighter tires. Read more: Do you need tire inserts?

Width

Most enduro tires are between 2.3” and 2.6” wide, and most modern enduro bikes can fit a tire up to 2.5” or 2.6” tire. Wider tires provide more traction and comfort, but they weigh more than narrower tires. I recommend selecting tires based on tread, compound, and casing first. After settling on that, pick the widest tire available/that will fit your bike.

[NEWSLETTER]

The best Maxxis enduro tires 

Best maxxis enduro mtb tiresMinon DHF, Minion DHR, Assegai.

Maxxis Minion DHF

Ideal for: Mixed terrain, front tire

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The Minion DHF is the benchmark for all-rounder enduro tires. The blocky tread pattern has been copied by countless competitors, and before the Assegai, it was the most popular front tire (the “F” in DHF stands for “front”) in pro racing. It works great on the rear too. 

Maxxis Minion DHR II

Ideal for: Mixed terrain, rear tire

[product-block handle="maxxis-minion-dhr-ii-tire-29-x-2-3-tubeless-folding-black-dual-exo-1"/]

The Minion DHR II is designed to complement the Minion DHF as a rear tire (the “R” stands for “rear”). Large paddle-shaped tread blocks in the center provide more braking traction on steep and loose terrain. 

Maxxis Assegai

Ideal for: Loose, dusty, front or rear tire

The Assegai was designed by Greg Minnaar, the greatest downhill racer of all time. It’s named after the spears used by tribes in Minnaar’s home country of South Africa, and it features big, tall lugs for maximum traction in loose terrain. 

Best maxxis enduro mtb rear tiresHigh Roller II, Aggressor, Dissector

Maxxis High Roller II

Ideal for: Wet, muddy, front or rear tire

[product-block handle="nc_maxxis-high-roller-ii-tire-29-x-2-3-tubeless-folding-black-dual-exo"/]

The High Roller II features a classic tread design with a lot of space between the knobs for shedding mud, which makes it ideal for wet trail conditions.  

Maxxis Aggressor

Ideal for: Mixed terrain, rear tire

[product-block handle="nc_maxxis-aggressor-tire-29-x-2-3-tubeless-folding-black-dual-dd"/]

Thanks to small, closely-spaced knobs, the Aggressor is a versatile but fast-rolling tire. 

Maxxis Dissector

Ideal for: Dry, hardpack, rear tire

Junior World Champion and Downhill World Cup race winner Troy Brosnan designed the Dissector to excel in dry and hardpack conditions with fast-rolling low-profile knobs. 

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The best Schwalbe enduro tires

Best Schwalbe Enduro MTB tiresMagic Mary, Big Betty, Hans Dampf

Schwalbe Magic Mary

Ideal for: Mixed terrain, front or rear tire

The Magic Mary is Schwalbe’s all-rounder gravity tire designed to work on most trail surfaces in both dry and damp conditions. It’s the most popular non-Maxxis enduro tire. 

Schwalbe Big Betty

Ideal for: Mixed terrain, rear tire

The Big Betty features big square blocks for maximum braking traction. It’s designed to work best as a rear tire when combined with Magic Mary.

Schwalbe Hans Dampf

Ideal for: Mixed terrain, front or rear tire

Hans Dampf is German for “Jack-of-all-trades,” and as the name suggests, it works for everything. It has less grip but rolls faster and weighs less than the Magic Mary. 

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Best Continental enduro Tires

Best continental Enduro tiresKryptotal front, Kryptotal rear, Argotal, Xynotal

Continental Kryptotal

Ideal for: Mixed terrain, front or rear tire

[product-block handle="continental-kryptotal-rear-enduro-soft-tire-330tpi-tubeless-black-1"/]

The Kryptotal is Continental latest all-rounder tire gravity tire that balances grip and rolling resistance for mixed terrain. Like the Maxxis Minion, it comes in front and rear-specific tread patterns to optimize performance. 

Continental Argotal

Ideal for: Loose, dusty, front or rear tire

[product-block handle="continental-argotal-trail-endurance-tire-180tpi-tubeless-black"/]

The Argotal has wider spaced knobs than the Kryptotal which make it ideal for loose, dusty, or muddy terrain.

Continental Xynotal

Ideal for: Dry, hardpack, front or rear tire

The Xynotal is designed for hardpack and rocky surfaces. Smaller, closely spaced knobs provide low rolling resistance.

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The Best Michelin enduro tires

Best Michelin enduro mtb tires

Wild Enduro front, Wild Enduro rear, DH22, DH34

Michelin Wild Enduro

Ideal for: Dry, hardpack, front or rear tire

The newest Wild Enduro models feature front- and rear-specific tread designs to optimize grip and rolling speed and they’ve been beefed up with the same heavy-duty Down Hill Shield casings used on Michelin’s DH tires. 

Michelin DH22

Ideal for: Mixed terrain, front or rear tire

The DH22 is designed for mixed terrain and is the most versatile downhill tire in the Michelin range. It is also the tire favored by three-time Enduro World Series champion and downhill racing legend Sam Hill. 

Michelin DH34

Ideal for: Dry, hardpack, front or rear tire

The DH34 is Michelin’s fastest-rolling downhill tire, with smaller knobs for more rolling speed on dry and hardpacked terrain.

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The best Vittoria enduro tires

Best Vittoria Enduro MTB tiresMazza, Martello, Mota

Vittoria Mazza

Ideal for: Mixed terrain, front or rear tire

[product-block handle="vittoria-mazza-trail-g2-0-tire-27-5x2-6-120-tpi-tubeless"/]

The Mazza is essentially Vittoria’s take on the proven Minion DHF tread design. But Vittoria has enhanced its tire with its Graphene 2.0 rubber compound for better durability and rolling speed.

Vittoria Martello

Ideal for: Dry, hardpack, front or rear tire

The Martello can handle a wide range of trail conditions but works best in the dry. It uses smaller, closely-spaced knobs for more rolling speed.

Vittoria Mota

Ideal for: Loose, dusty, front or rear tire

The Mota is Vittoria’s most aggressive tire with wide knob spacing for loose and wet conditions

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The best e*thirteen enduro tires

e*thirteen Grappler

Ideal for: Loose, dusty, front or rear tire

The Grappler tread pattern is essentially a copy of the Maxxis Assegai, with tall, aggressive knobs to dig into loose terrain. 

e*thirteen Semi-Slick

Ideal for: Dry, hardpack, rear tire

[product-block handle="e-thirteen-lg1-en-plus-semi-slick-tire-single-ply"/]

The Semi-Slick is a rear-specific tire that features an extremely low profile “semi-slick” center tread to maximize rolling speed in dry trail conditions.  

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Bex Baraona Yeti Maxxis tires enduro MTBYeti Factory Team racer Bex Baraona runs the Maxxis Minion DHF Double Down front and Maxxis Minion DHF DH rear. Photo: Dave Trumpmore / Yeti Cycles. 

Just because a tire is labeled front- or rear-specific doesn’t mean you can’t experiment with different tires on the front or rear to find your ideal ride characteristics. For example, some riders like running the Minion DHF on the rear because it’s available in a 2.5” width and it rolls slightly faster than the Minion DHR II. 

Also, there are a lot of tire brands out there, but if you want tires that are proven winners in enduro and downhill, then we recommend sticking to the brands listed here. Watch this space though, because new tires are constantly being developed, and we might see some contenders come up to challenge the established favorites. What are your favorite enduro mountain biking tires? Let me know in the comments!

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