5 of the best tyres to tackle trails

© Schwalbe
Written by Richard Bennett
Getting the right tyres can make all the difference to your run while you're out on the trails, so we've picked out the best to help you pick the perfect tyre for your needs.
Tyres can have a real impact on the way your bike handles; get it wrong and you’ll be struggling for that all-important grip, but get it right and you’re on a fast track to trail success. Here are five trail tyres that come highly recommended.
Our top picks:
  • Maxxis – Ardent EXO/TR
  • Schwalbe – Magic Mary
  • Specialized - Butcher Grid
  • WTB – Vigilante
  • Bontrager - XR4
Read on for more information about each tyre.
1. Maxxis – Ardent EXO/TR
Maxxis describe the Ardent as their ‘do-it-all trail tyre’, so it should be able to handle a wide variety of conditions. This is thanks to the dual compound of the tyre, which has a softer tread on the side for better grip, and a harder tread down the middle for lower rolling resistance. It’s fairly thin, even with the reinforced EXO casing, so not a tyre for hard charging rocky conditions.
2. Schwalbe – Magic Mary
The Magic Mary is a great tyre for all of those Downhill and Enduro riders out there. It has a very strong outer casing and tough side knobs, which helps with both puncture protection and grip when you’re pushing hard.
Schwalbe have recently released a new series of tyre compounds called ‘Addix’, running from a DH friendly ‘super soft’ compound, to a more trail-friendly ‘soft’ compound, meaning there’s enough options/sizes for most riders and budgets.
3. Specialized - Butcher Grid
If you’re looking to upgrade your trail tyres but don’t want to spend an arm and a leg, then look no further than the Specialized Butcher Grid. It costs around £35 but still features a dual compound tread and Specialized’s Grid sidewall protection, meaning performance is up there with the best. If you like your tyres fashionably wide the Butcher Grid is now available in a 650x2.6 sizing.
4. WTB – Vigilante
Billed as their aggressive Enduro tyre, the Vigilante from WTB features a square lugged open tread pattern, providing plenty of grip when you’re on the limit. It comes in a variety of different compounds, so depending on what you’re after, you can go high grip or low rolling resistance; within those two options there’s a tough or light casing.
If you frequently ride in gnarly conditions we’d definitely recommend the tough casing, as the Vigilante has one of the most resilient around.
5. Bontrager - XR4
Bontrager’s XR4’s are a great option if you’re looking for a tyre that offers superb grip and decent rolling resistance at a mid level price. Bontrager tyres can be fairly difficult to mount and the XR4’s are no exception, but once you have them on they seal tubeless easily.
The profile is more rounded than the other tyres in this list, leading to a more playful, drift-like feeling in the corners. This isn’t a bad thing as it leads to plenty of opportunity to get it stylishly sideways when you’re out on the trail.