How to choose a mountain bike

Mountain bike tyres for singletrack lovers, full-face fanatics and everyone in between

Choosing the right tyres for your mountain bike is crucial to riding your best out on the trails, but with so many options out there, choosing the right pair can seem overwhelming. But worry not – Bontrager has a tyre offering that’s perfect for your riding style and the trail conditions in your area. Watch the video below and follow this simple guide and you’ll be riding more confidently in no time!

Cross-country tyres

Ultra-fast-rolling cross-country bike tyres are built around a tread design that strikes a balance of rolling speed and traction and are ready to dominate the race course or crush the driest, dustiest trails.

Shop XC tyres

Trail bike tyres

Tyres built for trail riding dial-in versatility, with great traction for varied terrain, tough casings for obstacles in the way and a light enough construction that they won’t bog you down on long climbs to the top.

Shop trail tyres

Enduro tyres

Enduro bike tyres are built on a stronger, more durable tyre casing with aggressive tread that can handle loose, rocky trails, whether the dirt is bone-dry or wet.

Shop enduro tyres

Downhill tyres

Downhill bike tyres are built with a tough multi-layer casing to give incredible durability, braking control and traction at high speed over aggressive, loose, rocky terrain whether it’s wet or dry.

Shop downhill tyres

More traction or faster rolling?

The first step in finding the right set of tyres is deciding how much tread you need. Tread determines how much traction a tyre provides, but there are trade-offs to picking a meatier option. The key is finding the pattern that provides sufficient grip for where you ride while also considering rolling resistance and weight.

There are four new Bontrager mountain bike tread options, each bearing the name of a location that inspired its tread pattern and design.


A lightweight cross-country race tyre named for the World Cup Course in Andorra, Vallnord delivers speed and grip for ultra-hardpacked dirt.

Shop Vallnord tyres


Get speed and grip for mixed, rooty, rocky and even wet XC race conditions with Sainte-Anne – named for the rugged World Cup XC course in Quebec.

Shop Sainte-Anne tyres


Giving a nod to a Colorado town nestled outside Black Canyon National Park, Montrose is a fast-rolling trail tyre that delivers speed, grip and durability for mostly hardpacked dirt.

Shop Montrose tyres


Get versatile trail riding grip with Gunnison. Tread, sidewall and pinch-cut protection make Gunnison ready for rougher terrain found in the high deserts of the Colorado Rockies.

Shop Gunnison tyres

Durability vs weight
How do you ride?

Bontrager offers three constructions – XR, XT and G. While tread choice is primarily driven by the conditions you’ll be riding in, considering the way you ride will allow you to choose between XR, XT and G constructions.

The main differences between XR and XT come down to durability and weight. XT tyres are beefier, with added puncture protection and more robust sidewalls, but they scale in slightly heavier as a result. For riders with fewer flat worries and a hankering for the lightest tyres, XR is the best choice. For riders looking for the most durable option that’s ready for the rowdiest terrain, G with Dual Ply construction is the way to go.

XR construction

XR is a lightweight, fast-rolling XC construction that adds a layer of high-strength square-woven nylon fabric to the sidewalls. This maximises durability without compromising a supple, light tyre with a great ride feel.

Shop XR tyres

XT construction

XT is a tough trail construction that takes things further by wrapping high-strength square-woven nylon from bead to bead for all-over protection. A butyl apex insert is added to the bead area to reduce pinch flats, making this the ideal option for aggressive riders looking for a tyre that holds its own on super-rugged trails.

Shop XT tyres

G with Dual Ply casing

G tyres are designed for downhill riding and feature our Dual-Ply multi-layer casing that adds the stability and support necessary for heavy-duty tyres. An added butyl layer helps prevent flats, and gravity-specific rubber compounds maximise traction and durability on even the harshest trails. Our G-Spike tyre is perfect for wet and muddy trails, and has beefy tread spikes that are trimmable to suit the day’s conditions.

Shop G tyres with Dual Ply casing

Traction and compliance versus weight and precision

Now that you’ve selected the ideal tread and construction for the way you ride, the next consideration is width. Bontrager offers mountain bike tyres ranging from 2.0 to 4.5˝ wide, with a huge range of choices in between.

As with tread, the question comes down to traction versus weight. Wider tyres grip better and let you run lower tyre pressures for a smoother ride over rough terrain, but they weigh a little more and can feel less precise in rough terrain. The best way to find the width that works best for you is to try a variety of options, but these profiles are a good place to start.

Diameter matters

Most mountain bike tyres fall under three sizes – 26˝, 27.5˝ or 29˝, with the exception of kids’ mountain bikes that may use 20–26˝ wheels. Make sure to choose a tyre that matches your wheel’s diameter – most tyres will have their diameter printed on the side.

Wider tyres, less pressure

Remember to adjust tyre pressure as you adjust tyre width. Personal preference plays a large role here, but wider tyres tend to have more overall volume and perform better at slightly lower pressures.

Be confident in your decision

There are a lot of options out there, but by taking it one step at a time, starting with tread, then considering construction and finishing at tyre size, you will find the right tyre for you. Luckily, you don’t need to worry much about making the wrong decision thanks to our Unconditional Bontrager Guarantee.

Our tyres build strong kids

$1 from the sale of every Bontrager mountain bike tyre supports the National Interscholastic Cycling Association. NICA is one of the fastest-growing high school sports in the country, and Trek is proud to support their efforts to provide opportunities for all American youth to build strong body, mind and character through mountain biking.