Fact Checked

What are Mountain Bike Tires?

Daniel Liden
Daniel Liden

Mountain bike tires are wide, durable tires with knobby treads that are used on mountain bikes to provide superior handling in rough biking conditions. As is suggested by their name, mountain bikes are designed primarily for off-road environments which often involve traversing steep or otherwise treacherous terrain. Mountain bike tires need to be wide so that they can maintain good traction over unstable or dangerous terrain. Such terrain can include wet or icy ground; the knobby tread on the tires is in place to attempt to ensure that the bike does not slip, even in difficult terrain and poor weather conditions.

One major aspect of mountain bikes is their ability to climb steep inclines. Mountain bikes are built with strong bodies, well-designed suspensions, and rugged, variable gears to allow them to climb such steep inclines. Mountain bike tires are also designed specially for this task, as the smooth tires of street bikes would be unable to grip the surfaces that mountain bikes are often called upon to traverse. These tires are wider than the tires of street bikes and provide superior traction, allowing bikers to pedal up difficult, steep trails without needing to worry as much about slipping.

A person mountain biking.
A person mountain biking.

Mountain bikers also count on their tires to maintain traction in all varieties of terrain and weather, often while maneuvering at somewhat high speeds. The same solid design that makes mountain bikes good for climbing also helps them handle a variety of difficult terrains that can range from rough stones to wet soil to fine sand. Mountain bikes are often equipped with front and/or rear suspensions to help them deal with the bumpy terrains without harming themselves or their bikes. The knobby tread of mountain bike tires ensures that they stay firmly on the ground and keep the bike moving in the right direction, even while making sharp turns. The rough tread digs into the ground and prevents the tires and, consequently, the bike from sliding in excess.


While mountain bike tires are designed to handle the extremes of nature, they will only do so when used wisely. A novice rider on a mountain bike, no matter how nice it is, should not be attempting to traverse extremely difficult mountain trails. If one attempts to make a sharp, fast turn in the mud, he will still slide and likely fall. Even the best tires can not prevent this, so smart riding is absolutely necessary.

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Discussion Comments


I have a mountain bike and I ride pretty regularly up here in Washington. I am going to visit my brother in Arizona next week and I am planning on bringing my bike. He has just started getting into mountain biking and he wants to take me out on a ride.

So I am wondering if I need to get a different kind of tires to adapt to the desert climates of Arizona? I am used to the wet and col in the Pacific Northwest. Maybe the tires I have are fine, maybe they are not. Does anyone have any insight?


I have a set of specialized mountain bike tires that are basically made to be indestructible. You can take a weighty fall from a height, ride over jagged pointy rocks or skid into boulders and the tires will not puncture or burst.

The tires are woven with a metal mesh to make them basically impervious. They cost more then the average tire but I think its worth it. I have ridden with cheap tire in the past and I end up having to replace them over and over. In the long run I save money with the more expensive tire and I know that I won't get stranded in a bad spot with a flat tire.

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    • A person mountain biking.
      A person mountain biking.
    • Mountains.
      By: Peter Wey
    • A man mountain biking.
      By: Ljupco Smokovski
      A man mountain biking.
    • All bike tires must be inflated properly.
      By: lamio
      All bike tires must be inflated properly.