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Review: 6 of the Best Gravity-Oriented Mud Tires

Apr 10, 2023
by Matt Beer  
Mud Tire Shootout


These tires love the slop.


Whether you're racing under threatening thunderstorms or you regularly ride in boggy conditions, we've got opinions on specialty mud tires. Some should be reserved for abysmal conditions, while others can stay on there all winter long.





Mud tires are a bit of a specialty component that are designed for the nastiest conditions, times when traction takes priority over everything else. One catch is that while they give you superior traction through bog and clay, the tall, widely spaced knobs tend to be less than ideal for bare rock and polished roots. However, not all tires are made the same.

A primary reason that you don’t see these types of tires rolling around your local bike park as frequently as the conditions may call for is, besides the obvious - needing to perform a tire swap on the day of the downpour - that they typically roll much slower. For the purposes of this test, we won’t go too deeply into the science of rolling resistance.

Likewise, longevity can be a tough objective to measure due to the amount of time it takes to gather qualitative thoughts about each tire while keeping the testing environment consistent. Due to the testing taking place in the off-season, lift access rides were few and far between. The soggy trails are inherently not as devastating to the lifespan of the tire either, meaning they are valuable to have on hand for when you need them most.

The focus is on all-out traction, feedback from the casing, and how they perform in mixed terrain - you’ll often see some enduro and downhill racers hop back and forth between mud and dry tires, even when the skies might open up, so it’s worth discussing their condition limitations.

The testing took place throughout the Pacific Northwest, where the trail surfaces ranged from slimy clay in Bellingham, to a mixture of sand and fir needles, that some people call loam, around Squamish. There was even a healthy dose of exposed rock and root-infested trails on the North Shore. Pressures ranged from 22 psi, all the way down to 17 for some of the heavier-duty casings.

Although we’re focusing on descending, quite a bit of time was spent using these tires on e-bikes, since the heavier bike is a quick way to assess the stability of a tire.

In order to keep testing even, we chose mud or soft-condition tires in the burliest casing, from six brands: Maxxis Shorty 2, Continental Argotal, Kenda Gran Mudda, Schwalbe Dirty Dan, Specialized Hillbilly, and Michelin’s DH Mud TRL. The first two products, from Maxxis and Continental, are actually not the most aggressive treads in either brand's lineup, however, they are the more commonly used options.

For the measurements, all of the tires were mounted on rims with 30mm internal widths and inflated to 21 psi. The width is measured at the widest edge of the outermost shoulder lug and the depth is the height from the center knob to the casing (when new).

A subjective "suppleness" rating has also been provided where a score of 5/5 would be the most compliant, but not necessarily the least supportive tire laterally, to help compare the tires tested.




Tire Specifications Overview Chart


photo





Kenda Gran Mudda Review

Kenda Gran Mudda Review

Kenda Gran Mudda Review
Kenda Gran Mudda Review

Kenda Gran Mudda AGC

One of the most aggressive tires in the test by appearance is Kenda's mud-specific tire, with large two by two blocks and a square profile. The Gran Mudda uses their Advanced Gravity Casing (AGC) and comes in just one casing and width option per wheel size: 29x2.4” or 27.5x2.4”. Mixed into this formula is a 20mm tall Apex insert at the bead to ward off pinch flats and burping. A lightweight woven aramid material, Kenda Vector Shield (KVS), wraps around the top and sidewalls of the carcass.

Looking further into the tread design, Kenda opts for a dual-compound rubber that has trim lines molded into all of the lugs. Alternating between each row of the center knobs, small ribs are present to shed mud. Horizontal sipes are built into the center knobs and the shoulder knobs also feature small reliefs that run with the rolling direction of the tire.

This was my first experience with Kenda tires in quite some time, and the Gran Mudda positively surprised me in a few ways. The tread is consistent across all surfaces, supportive through the casing, and is still one of the lighter options out there.

The Advanced Gravity Casing allows you to run the tire at lower pressures without folding. This makes the Gran Mudda a solid choice for e-bikes (although we’ll avoid the topic of climbing traction since this tire was neither designed for that purpose nor was that the focus of the test). For gravity riding, though, I found it necessary to run the pressures a few psi lower than normal (sub-20 psi front) because the tire is on the stiffer side - not nearly at the same level as the Michelin DH Mud, but closer to the Dirty Dan. This was a surprise because the Gran Mudda is the lightest tire of the group.

In terms of the tread, the Gran Mudda could almost be considered an intermediate mud-tire because the spikes are tall, yet very wide and supported. For that reason, they grip through the worst slop and are still predictable when you get into rocks and roots. Transitioning to the shoulder knobs in soft, or even harder dirt, wasn’t a precarious move. The huge knobs are sturdy enough that they don’t fold either. When you’re on the brakes, the Gran Mudda anchors down. I’d chalk that up to the square profile that touches more of the trail. That tight spacing did seem to hold a little bit more debris and mud than the Shorty 2 though.



Most appropriate conditions: Splashy mud soup with mixed surfaces where protection is still required.

Suppleness: 2.5/5



Pros

+ Supportive, damped ride
+ Square profile edges confidently and feels surefooted


Cons

- Surprisingly not as supple as the weight would suggest
- Tread didn’t clear as well as expected in sticky clay




Maxxis Shorty 2 Review

Maxxis Shorty 2 Review

Maxxis Shorty 2 Review
Maxxis Shorty 2 Review

Maxxis Shorty 2 3CG

Maxxis tires are a crowd favorite when it comes to workmanship with their 3C rubber formulas and casing layup. They’ve applied the same technology to their intermediate mud-spike, the Shorty 2 which was redesigned back in February, 2021.

The tread uses two rows of center knobs that gradually space out further in three steps and then close up again, while the previous generation used one large center rectangle on every third lug. Along the shoulder knobs, the supports were also removed and sipes were added to conform easily. This is said to provide a more consistent feel than before, however, there was no need to divert from the proven 2x60 TPI DH Casing or 3C MaxxGrip rubber compound.

Maxxis Shorty review
The first generation Shorty had a large rectangular block that didn't conform as well as the new version.


Although Maxxis also makes the Wetscream, a severe mud conditions tire, you’ll most likely see the Shorty 2 used due to its versatility. The width and volume are greater than Wetscream and the knobs are more supportive under higher braking and cornering forces, particularly on bare rock or bike park berms. I’ve been genuinely impressed with the Shorty 2, compared to the original design, and can see why it’s totally suitable in most heinous weather conditions over the Wetscream.

Maxxis also increased the profile to be more square, which makes the cornering traction predictable as you lean the tire over on hard-packed berms that have a slick top layer. Battling rock-armored corners doesn’t feel precarious either as the knobs conform, but are also spaced well enough to clear mud.

There’s no ignoring that the Shorty 2 shares a similar appearance to the Hillbilly. Their ride qualities are similar, yet there are subtle differences between the two. Most notably, the Hillbilly doesn’t hold a straight line as easily through soft organic dirt, where there are rocks and roots lurking under the surface. Even though their numbers on paper are nearly identical, the Shorty 2 profile appears to sit more squarely on the rim, engaging the side knobs sooner.

The 3C MaxxGrip rubber works well in colder temperatures, although for slower speeds, I’d lean towards the 120 TPI DoubleDown casing which is more inclined to conform with less hesitancy. That’s one area where the Hillbilly wins out.

All in all, the Shorty 2 is one of the best tires for wet weather conditions, especially where you may have to deal with variable surfaces or changing track conditions. They’re tacky enough on the rocks, clear mud well, and reasonably supple in cold weather (although a DoubleDown would be suitable for enduro riding).



Most appropriate conditions: Slick or soft conditions when you still need predictability and bite on variable track surfaces.

Suppleness: 3/5



Pros

+ Combination of rubber compound and consistent tread is versatile
+ Spaced knobs clear well without feeling uneasy on rocks and roots

Cons

- The width appears smaller than stated
- Not as supple as similar performing Hillbilly




Specialized Hillbilly V3 Review

Specialized Hillbilly V3 Review

Specialized Hillbilly V3 Review
Specialized Hillbilly V3 Review

Specialized Hillbilly Grid Gravity T9

First popularized by Sam Hill’s unorthodox use of mud tires in dry conditions, the Specialized Hillbilly has evolved into its third design with a new Gripton T9 rubber formula. Closely inspecting the treat pattern will reveal that minor tweaks were made to shoulder knobs, but the primary focus was placed on the damping characteristics of the casing. The height of the blocks has been toned down a smidge and spaced tighter. A supportive rib has been added to alternating shoulder knobs for more support and the profile has been rounded.

I frequently hear the cry for cheaper tires from friends and fellow riders on the trail. I do sympathize that the best traction typically wears the quickest, so I usually reference the value in Specialized’s tire choices. The latest incarnation of the Hillbilly is a quality tire that retails for just $75 USD. Ignoring the fact that they are 25% cheaper than four of the other major players in this test would be rude.

Specialized Hillbilly V3
The third generation Hillbilly.
Specialized Hillbilly V2
...and the second generation Hillbilly.

After installing the Hillbilly, its appearance has me questioning its purpose since the shoulder knobs aren’t much taller than Specialized’s dry conditions Butcher tire. The Hillbilly is most similar to intermediate mud tires, like the Shorty 2 and Argotal. Once I put the Hillbilly to dirt though, it became clear that this is more of a wet conditions tire than a proper mud spike.

Those square knobs are spaced out to dig into soft soil decently, but the Hillbilly falls short in the thickest mulch and mud. When the tracks become mega steep and ultra greasy, you’ll want a tire that bites in with authority, like the Schwalbe Dirty Dans or Michelin Mud DH TRLs. If the Hillbilly arrived in a taller, squared-off profile and featured a trim line, like the Kenda Gran Mudda, that would increase its use case for true mud conditions.

With that said, the Hillbilly is still a standout performer for its superior casing absorption. There’s almost an element of Plus-size tire traction at play here, without the unwanted roll. That lug height and casing combo seems to be the ticket for balancing a good amount of bite in some greasy spots and not tippy-toeing on slick rocks.

I’d be more inclined to ride this tire all winter long on an enduro, downhill, or e-bike due to the versatility, similar to the Argotal and Shorty 2. The large volume casing is supple, damped, and still supportive enough for heavier e-bikes, plus the rubber doesn’t tense up in colder temperatures.



Most appropriate conditions: Cold, wet conditions where equal rock and mud exist

Suppleness: 4/5



Pros

+ Great value
+ Supple yet supportive and damped casing

Cons

- Taller knobs with pre-cut lines would increase versatility
- Getting up there in weight




Continental Argotal Review

Continental Argotal Review

Continental Argotal Review
Continental Argotal Review

Continental Argotal

Last spring, Continental unveiled a totally revamped lineup of six new tread designs, including the Argotal which is intended for soft conditions. Conti uses a 6-ply, 110 TPI casing construction underneath the open tread design that features ramped center knobs and angled shoulder lugs.

The Argotal comes in either 27.5 or 29” diameters, 2.4 or 2.6” widths, Soft or SuperSoft compounds and three casing weights. The 29x2.4” SuperSoft Argotal, in the DH casing weighs 1325g and costs $99 USD. There are a million possible tire specs to choose from, but Continental only produces the Soft and SuperSoft compounds in the DH casing, regardless of the tread design. So, while you can pick the Argotal for wet days, you’ll need to resort to the heaviest options to get the stickiest.

On that note, one characteristic I’ve noticed with Continental's tires in general is that they reach their peak performance after a few laps. If you grab a brand-new tire, you’ll notice a film or coating that is slippery to the touch, compared to one that’s been broken in; it's likely a coating that's used to help remove the tire from the mold during production. That also makes them trickier to install too.

In terms of tread, there are a few features that catch your eye before putting wheels to dirt. First, the two center knobs are ramped for faster rolling speeds. Secondly, there is a lot of relief. All four blocks across the tread have a hollow space for a larger contact surface, yet remain pliable. On the trail, the tread design is highly predictable, sits square on the rim, and clears well. That all adds up to a decent amount of confidence on off-cambers and slick berms.

Next, is the fact that the shoulder knobs are toed in, opposite to how Schwalbe orientates the lugs on the outside of the Magic Mary. I put this to the test and I installed the Argotal in the reverse direction. It wasn’t a massive difference, but I noticed how the tire was more inclined to bite in, especially on slime over hard-packed dirt.

The most noticeable, and positive benefit of Continental’s downhill tires over the others in the test has to be the suppleness of the casing. That doesn’t mean that the Argotal compromises in support either, though. Specialized’s Hillbilly comes close when conforming to rocks and roots, so it’s no surprise that the most predictable spikey tires in variable conditions were the most supple ones.



Most appropriate conditions: Cold, wet conditions where equal rock and mud exist

Suppleness: 4/5



Pros

+ Supple casing works well for enduro-style riding at low speeds
+ Turns in consistently like a dry tire on hardpack

Cons

- Takes a few rides to break in the rubber/waxy feel
- Not as much bite from shoulder knobs compared to Shorty 2




Michelin DH Mud TRL

photo

Michelin DH Mud TRL
Michelin DH Mud TRL

Michelin DH Mud Racing Line

Michelin’s DH Mud TLR has to be one of the wildest-looking tires out there. These mud saws have a huge volume with an open tread design that has dual rows of fang-like blocks that are angled outward. The yellow and blue hot patch denotes the “Racing Line” compound and casing for the most support and protection, often needed in downhill and enduro racing. These weigh in at a hefty 1,450g with a robust 4-ply casing - 100 grams more than any of the other tires in the test. A lighter option of 1,050g is available in the Wild series if you’re looking for a trail-worthy tire.

The tread pattern is extremely spaced out with a moderately round profile. Often, you’ll see pros trimming down the height of the lugs to decrease rolling resistance or reduce the amount they squirm on hard-packed sections of courses. Michelin has molded lines halfway down the center knobs to assist in evenly trimming the height.

Similar to the Wild Racing Line tires that we tested last spring, there is a characteristic that runs through these models of Michelin tires; they’re insanely supportive. The gist of the story is that they work best at high speed. It takes a certain force to deform the tire carcass and for lighter riders, this could mean running sub-20 psi.

The Mud DH TRL are also the only wire bead tires of the group and that could have been one reason why they didn't want to pop on the rim without the use of a compressor. It wasn't a painstaking process involving tie-down straps, but compared to all of the other tires that inflated without special attention, it's worth noting.

On the trail, I found the thick casing to deflect at lower speeds, especially in cold temperatures on cold roots, even more so than the rest of the competitors. What they did well though was regain traction quickly as soon as they grabbed any sight of dirt. The large volume and spikey tread cuts well into soft off cambers and showed no sign of rolling on the rim. I thought that the firm, widely spaced knobs would struggle on hard-packed, but was surprised to find that the profile was just the right amount of round to predictably transition from side to side without any sudden surprises.

This is where the damping and tackiness of the rubber show their strength. The DH Mud TLR comes alive, and reels back in confidence, when you get up to true downhill race speeds. Go fast, pick your braking points wisely, and trust that these tacky spikes will regain traction immediately when they touch dirt again.

The DH Mud TLR is also exceptional at clearing mud and debris. I’m not about to try and measure the amount of earth volume that they dispose of, but I’d rank them up as the best in the test, with the Shorty 2 in a close second place. I wondered if the diagonal knobs help to shed any dirt they pick up as the casing deforms in line or perpendicular to the rim, as opposed to right-angle knobs that would pinch together and possibly hold dirt.

Although I prefaced that this is a mud tire test and we wouldn’t focus on rolling speed, it’s impossible to ignore how the Mud DH ranks last in that category. I believe there’s more at play than just the tall, sticky rubber though. The lack of absorption in the casing simply repels bumps and slows you down.



Most appropriate conditions: High speed, freshly cut tracks where less rock is present.

Suppleness: 1/5



Pros

+ Huge volume can be ridden at low pressures to conform without compromising stability
+ Clears debris extremely well

Cons

- Racing Line series casing can feel harsh and deflect at low speeds
- Impossible to ignore the heavy weight and slow rolling speed
- Only tire in the test that required compressed air to seat (tested on multiple ERDs)





Schwalbe Dirty Dan Review

Schwalbe Dirty Dan Review

Schwalbe Dirty Dan Review
Schwalbe Dirty Dan Review

Schwalbe Dirty Dan

This savagely sharp tire from Schwalbe resembles those images of Great White sharks about to chomp down on a meal, and that’s exactly the amount of bite they have in the deepest mud conditions. The Dirty Dan has been around for over a decade and is loaded with features.

Since the Dirty Dan is a very specific mud tire, Schwalbe only produces 27.5” and 29”x2.4 options in the softest Addix Ultra Soft compound and Super Downhill casings. The German-designed, Indonesian-made tire is built with cold weather damping in mind, as well as robust protection against punctures.

Schwalbe has arranged the tread in typical two by two staggered rows of center and shoulder lugs, but there’s an additional row lurking along the sidewall too. The tread is the tallest in the test and each block has multiple sipes to conform easily.

Judging by the height of the pointy treads the Dirty Dan has the meanest bite when leaning into mushy corners and shutting down speeds on slippery chutes. I didn’t expect this tire to shine on anything but the deepest bogs or slipperiest clay, but the purple-striped fangs do more than just cut their own ruts.

The tire isn’t overly upset by roots and is more versatile than expected. Any loss of traction on hard objects lying just below the muck is quickly regained when the spikes touch a solid bit of dirt again. As with the Michelin DH Mud TRLs, if you do see exposed rock and roots, you learn to ease off the brakes and trust that the rubber lugs will catch you. The difference between these two is that the Dirty Dan outperforms the Michelin at slower speeds due to the more compliant carcass, however, I’d still love to see the Dirty Dan the lighter, Super Gravity casing.

In fact, the ride is more comparable to the Kenda Gran Mudda, just with a dash more squirm when you hit hardpack dirt. I can see why racers often trim down the Dirty Dan, but I do feel like the additional side knobs provide additional surface contact and support.

It’s no surprise that Schwalbe hasn’t changed the Dirty Dan in over ten years because when you need a tire for the most savage wet weather conditions, this is a premium tread that provides ticks all of the boxes; it grips best in the widest range of mud-types and still clears well. Most importantly though, the rubber doesn’t firm up in cooler temperatures, which is often when the rain comes down the hardest.



Most appropriate conditions: Primarily, but not limited to, the greasiest grass and deepest duff that you can find.

Suppleness: 2/5



Pros

+ Shark-tooth-like knobs lock in predictably and consistently at all angles
+ All out superior traction in the most heinous conditions
+ Impressive grip even on rocks and roots

Cons

- Soft tall and narrow knobs squirm on hardpack more than others (unless trimmed)
- Would like to see SuperGravity casing option for further compliance in cold temps/slower speeds





Maxxis Shorty 2 Review
Schwalbe Dirty Dan Review

Top Picks

After spending the majority of the winter trying out all six of these tires, I’m left indecisive about picking just one. Mud conditions in each riding zone can have their own particular circumstances and as specific as mud tires are, each one of these options has strong points that could work best on the day.

When the track conditions are extremely variable and contain multiple surfaces, I’d roll out on the Maxxis Shorty. The knobs have enough support to keep them from folding on hardpack, but are still taller than the Hillbilly, allowing them to bite in deeper. They’re also spaced out well, plus their 3C MaxxGrip rubber is never a letdown. As mentioned, I’d choose the DoubleDown for enduro riding to provide a more supple ride.

For all-out war on the worst track conditions, I loved the Dirty Dan for its ability to find traction in the slickest sections but also conform to roots when asked. The Schwalbe SuperDownhill casing is also a tad more compliant in colder temperatures than the Michelin or Kenda offerings, which aren’t far behind in terms of tracking through the slop.




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197 Comments
  • 98 0
 this might be the first summer in Utah history that an article about mud tires is relevant
  • 18 0
 I'm also in Utah waiting for the snow to melt. Frown Just got 2ish more feet last week)
Probably won't be riding Park City till July...
  • 7 5
 @ILv2MTB: Worst start to the biking season ever Frown
  • 38 0
 Great timing for UK Summer
  • 34 0
 It's always muddy somewhere!
  • 2 1
 I think this year you get all the rain and snow hehehe. Here in Madrid is bone dry,no rain in all winter.
  • 9 0
 @mattbeer: Whoa, whoa, WHOA!! Easy on the "glass half full" sentiment in the Pinkbike comments there, tiger!
  • 13 0
 @homerjm: Utah ski resorts are on track to exceed 900" of snowfall this season.

This is Alta from the beginning of March, and 100 inches of additional snow has fallen since the picture was taken www.pinkbike.com/photo/24555071
  • 3 0
 @hamncheez: wow that’s a lot of snow. Forgive my weather knowledge, but are the storms/weather that brought all the rain to California the same that brought the snow in this case? Or just a coincidence?
  • 2 0
 @hamncheez: Wow! that is a wall of snow...Crazy amount to melt down hehehe.
Here we have like 2 months 0 rain. Streets are dusty,my home is dusty and trails are brown powder...
  • 5 1
 @ILv2MTB: We lived in SLC from 05-2012 and can say the winters could be rough. Was just back there in March and couldn't believe how much snow had accumulated. Cant even imagine the Seasonal affective disorder you guys got going on.

BUT.....you need the water really F-ing bad
  • 1 0
 @kobold: Front Range is ready and willing!.....unitl friday, when more snow is coming. LOL
  • 1 0
 Yes, but please don’t. Most of our trails don’t do well with mud.
  • 4 0
 @ATXZJ: also, snowboarding. Except at Alta…
  • 1 0
 @kobold: East Coast New England on the other hand having their best start to biking season ever, due to a mild winter.
  • 1 0
 @sudochuckwalla: Yes, they typically are the same storms! Search for pics from Tahoe, they are experiencing the same thing.
  • 3 0
 @iduckett: Very mild. We were in Quebec and the weather was great through Thanksgiving. Hot out just in time though.
  • 1 0
 @hamncheez: interesting! I wasn’t sure if that is the same weather systems. I’ve definitely seen the pics from Tahoe it’s been heavy up there! I was hoping to ride up there this spring but who knows when that will be an option
  • 1 0
 @ATXZJ: We definitely need the water, but they've had to close the canyons for avalanches, and they've been doing flood preparation and things to, so we'll see how the spring goes.
  • 2 0
 @ILv2MTB: it's probably gonna go poorly. A snow & fire warning within a week of one another doesn't bode well. Have friends that have a high probability of loosing generations old cabins/homes because flooding.

Still need the water
  • 2 0
 @iduckett: same goes for Pennsylvania, didn't have any snow in the eastern part of the state and we have been riding every week all winter.
  • 35 0
 Hill Billy’s work and you don’t need to take out a mortgage to buy them
  • 5 16
flag GorgesIthacan (Apr 10, 2023 at 10:24) (Below Threshold)
 Only downside is they don't come in gumwall like other Spec models. :*( I'd have 2 pair otherwise
  • 4 0
 @GorgesIthacan: none of the gravity casing tires have gumwalls…. Aka gumwalls from spesh aren’t worth buying
  • 12 0
 I use Affirm to buy MTB tyres.
  • 1 0
 I'd like to see what housing goes for where you live. I'd much sooner sell a kidney here than get a mortgage where I live.
  • 1 0
 @jomacba: How much for a small 2 bed house where you are?
  • 3 0
 @bash80: How about this... A small 1 bedroom condo can go anywhere between 1 to 3 million depending on your area.
  • 2 0
 @jomacba: if you are trying to keep people away good job.

But those aren't realistic numbers those are upper floor suites with expensive finishes. Yes they are available but that isn't the whole market.

Here on the shore 2 bedroom apartments start at around 750000
  • 32 2
 Didn't Continental riders dominate a wet weather DH podium last season?
  • 9 0
 at snowshoe they did I believe
  • 13 0
 The question is: was it with the Argotal or with their mud dedicated Hydrotal? Their new range of tyres seems to performsuper well anyways...
  • 17 0
 A bit curious why the Hydrotal wasn't in this test.
  • 4 0
 Was that the tyres or the riders though?
  • 3 0
 Was this evidence of an excellent tire or excellent choice of rider sponsorships? This being the internet, I'm sure the answer is obvious and I'm an idiot for even thinking to ask.
  • 4 0
 @danstonQ: it was on the Argotal. In snowhshoe, there are a lot of rocks. Due to that, the argotal is a better choice
  • 2 0
 @danstonQ: Couldn't tell you what the team were on, but I've been riding enduro casing Argotal up front and Kryptotal rear. I'd say the Argotal is a wet weather gravity tyre rather than a true mud tyre. Which means it's fit and forget for Britain and other rainy countries for winter. I also have a Mary US SG, and they're similar looking tyres, but the Argo has slightly taller spikes with slightly wider spacing, perhaps slightly less soft compound. The Argo is a bit better in sticky mud, I'd say it's noticeably less draggy, both work really well on wet roots.
  • 4 1
 @CarbonShmarbon: same for maxxis wet scream, They are not really testing mud tires. They should call it "kinda wet on hardpack" test.
  • 1 0
 @mountainsofsussex: Which do you think is better on wet rocks? I've been eyeing up the Argotal in the softest compound, but not worn out my MM US SG yet! Also have a Assegai in DD 3CG waiting in the shed - has the edge over the MM in gravelly conditions but the MM is better for soft ground.
  • 2 0
 @bash80: I think both are great tyres. Not had much wet rock action on mine, but Argo is fine on slippery roots - or as non-death as any tyre can be. I'm now saving the MM as race tyre, as it's too draggy and too soft for day to day use
  • 28 2
 Why does this matter? Sliding on mud justs make you faster because you cant brake, duh.
  • 18 0
 Swapped my brakes out for "hitting the bushes" just last week here in San Diego
  • 3 0
 it does though. i remember riding all winter in the greasy slop and once it got dry, i was shitting my pants at how fast i'm able to go when i have actual grip
  • 23 0
 Cool test. Gotta say I’m a little sad the magic mary didn’t make the list. For Bellingham that seems to be the best all conditions tire for consistency, mud and rock grip and casing feel. Never loved the dirty Dan as much.
  • 19 1
 @zmums Like our bike tests, we can't test every possible option out there.

I have spent a decent amount of time on the Magic Mary and agree that it is one of the best PNW tires out there. The Dirty Dan is Schwalbe's mud-specific tire, so focused on that option for the test.
  • 5 0
 @mattbeer: thanks, I appreciate the feedback. I feel like one of things we deal with here is the fluctuation between deep mud and hard pack clay that still runs pretty packed in the winter. For me a dedicated mud tire like a dirty Dan or shorty sacrifices too much squirm for those days where I’m on mellower packed trails. Something for people to consider when choosing a tire that probably won’t get taken off a wheel for two years for lots of people. Thanks again-
  • 2 0
 @zmums: exactly.
I'm a PNW rider and I've been thinking about swapping my Hans Dampf front to a Magic Mary just to get more winter grip, but not need to change it out as conditions change.
  • 9 0
 @BarryWalstead: do it and you’ll never look back.
  • 1 0
 @zmums: I've really been impressed with the Hans Dampf that came on my bike and I always play the game of whether I 'need' to upgrade the tires.
I'm sure I don't, but now that you've provided confirmation bias confirmation, I probably do.
Thanks!
  • 1 0
 @mattbeer: So what would be your choice for an ebike, seeing as weight and rolling resistance aren't such an issue?
  • 7 0
 @BarryWalstead: Keep a Hans on the back, Mary on the front - awesome combo
  • 2 0
 @BarryWalstead: I’ve run the Hans dampf, but I do it in a lighter casing as a summer/more XC tire. The Mary makes a huge difference in the wet in terms of predictability. And it runs pretty darn well in the dry anyway.
  • 2 0
 @zmums: yeah, the magic Mary big Betty combo is so good in soft dirt.
  • 20 0
 I moved to Maxxis from Specialized. Now back to Specialized. My last 2 Maxxis performed great but the carcass warped writing the tyre off early.
Specialized are the best value and carcass, some conditions the rubber seems off, but 99% within 1% of the Maxxis, 40% cheaper, last 100% longer.
Would try Michelin but too expensive.
  • 12 14
 Specialized tire prices are subsidized by their bike prices.
  • 13 0
 lots of percent values here
  • 10 1
 @singletrackslayer: Translation: they don't have to massively overprice their tires to try to squeeze out every penny for max profits.

I will never buy a Maxxis from Maxxis, that is until they come back down to earth with their tire prices. Until then, it's either buying a Maxxis DHR from someone or just going and buying Specialized or other sanely-priced tires.
  • 3 0
 Agree with this. Spec tires are a great deal and work well...I do find they don't work great in the wet personally but otherwise ive been impressed
  • 10 0
 So you're saying that 60% of the time, they work every time?
  • 3 0
 Their tires are an even better value when they go on sale.
  • 4 0
 I moved from Michelin Wild Enduro to Continental Kryptotal. The latter brand had a unique feature at the time: #Availability.
  • 5 0
 Agree 100 percent — best value for a tire out there. I don’t care why. They’re about 20-30 percent cheaper, and they work.
  • 3 0
 @singletrackslayer: specialized has a long history of good tires. The OG ground control was one of the best tires at the time. Their bikes help keep their tires cheap and their tires help advertise the brand name. It's an interesting marketing decision to lower the prices at the risk of being perceived as lower quality.
  • 6 0
 @singletrackslayer: Specialized Stumpjumper Evo Frame is $2,900. Almost every other manufacture is $3,400-$3,800.
  • 1 0
 @johnnygolucky: Depends where you are in the world. SJ Evo alloy frame is around £2.5k here, carbon is more like £3k (these are sale prices). This winter you could get a Nukeproof Mega Carbon frame with EXT Storia or Fast Fenix for £1.8k, or with a Push 11.6 for £2k. I know, apples to oranges, but still...
  • 3 3
 @nickfranko: they’re not insanely priced. You can get a maxx terra exo which is equivalent to your specialized tyre for the same price if not cheaper but if you want that 3C slow reezey compound with a decent casing then it’s going to cost you but you’re getting a significantly better tyre for your money.
  • 1 0
 I feel even the T9 rubber loses its grip well before the tire is ready For change….Maxxis the knobs are gone when you realize grips decreasing finally. Ride a lot of loose dry and dusty conditions, and haven’t found a better tire for grip, speed and durability than the Assegai, dh casing, either 3 C compounds.
  • 21 9
 You’re all over the map with these. Some of them are mid-spike tires like the Argotal and Shorty, others are full blown mud spikes. In the case of Maxxis and Congo, both make an actual mud spike you could have reviewed instead.

As to not encourage people to ride in the worst of slop that should really only be reserved for race day, I think a full mid-spike review would be more interesting.
  • 16 2
 As the review mentions, the tires featured tend to be the more popular options, and in many cases they're more versatile than a true full mud spike. There aren't that many races where the WetScreams actually get called into play - the Shorty II tends to be the pick.
  • 25 4
 @mikekazimer: in that case I think the Magic Mary would be more relevant than the Dirty Dan
  • 4 4
 @mikekazimer: but your job is to give people advice not follow what others, less informed riders do.

Also yes there aren't world cup races where wet screams are used but for people below world cup level who can't ride champery in the wet mid tires full on spikes make sense as they slow them down.
  • 1 0
 @spaced: when was the last time they used mud tires at WC level? Leogang World Champs 2020?
  • 12 1
 You messed up not reviewing the WTB Verdict and Verdict Wet. Hands down the best mud/loose/soft dirt tire I've ridden. They stick like glue upright or leaned over and shed mud better than any other tire I've seen.
  • 4 0
 @loganrichardson That looks like a great option too.

We'll hopefully have other brands in the round-up next time.
  • 3 0
 The Verdict is quite good. I don't have the breadth of tires shown here to compare it to (only what I've had), but can confidently say I think its better than the DHF, Vigilante, and Kryptotal Fr (DH/SS version) for the wet season in the PNW.

I've got an Argotal in the garage ready to throw on, but still using the Kryptotal as its decent enough. I actually prefer the rubber compound and casing of the DH/SS Continentals, but the Verdict does grab hold of stuff quite well.
  • 3 0
 I'd agree, verdict has become my favourite winter/mud/soft condition tyre. I use them front and back for winter and front with a dissector rear in summer.
  • 3 0
 The Verdict is the perfect all-round wet tyre for me in the UK. Great on loam, roots and mud, decent enough on hardpack. The Verdict Wet is an absolute beast that takes major effort to pedal, but feels like a cheat mode in mud.
  • 2 0
 WTB Tyres (The higher end compounds, not the plain / OEM ones) are very underrated IMO.
  • 2 0
 I've also been quite happy with the WTB Verdict (29", tough/high grip). It works ok in cold and is quite predictable in our current conditions (dry and wet rocks, mud, snow, ice, wet roots, dry roots, hero dirt, soggy sand and everything in between). I've paired it with a Trailboss (29" tough/fast) and the combo feels quite good. I've also had Vigilante in 27,5" (tough/hg) before and tought that it was fairly good and versatile for dry/mix conditions. My only gripe is that all three WTB tyres have been rather prone to punctures. And the Verdict does not have as high grip as for example MM ultra soft, but it rolls better (in my experience).
  • 7 0
 Have been running a hillbilly since first gen. In NorCal where I ride, our trails are always sandy so finding a tire that works well in loose conditions is what I look for. Would be nice to have a similar article for loose conditions or at least mention how the other tires perform.
  • 1 0
 Agreed. At the end of last season a few of my favorite runs up at UC had some pretty deep powdery spots, it was like riding through dry mud haha
  • 6 0
 @mattbeer I'm curious how you would equate sloppy mud conditions to a deep layer of really dry dust from a tire choice perspective. Do you think a mud spike would do well there? I'm thinking Mt Shasta, certain Northstar trails, various areas in South America,...
  • 3 0
 I was at Snowmass bike park a few years ago and also wondered if a spike or mid-spike would be good for a 2-inch deep layer of dust.
  • 3 0
 I used to ride mud tires at northstar all the time
  • 3 0
 I used the argotal at northstar last year great tire for deep dust.
  • 3 0
 spikes are fire whenever it is steep and deep. kinda like chucking an anchor down when you do heavy braking in the rear.
  • 5 0
 Living in Southern Nevada, I'd love to see a similar comparison on the opposite end of the spectrum for the desert dwelling folk of CA, NV, AZ, NM, UT, etc. It's an interesting combo of really loose to really hard, but shedding mud isn't an issue. I've personally stuck with the dual Assegais that came on my most recent bike, but I'm wondering about the other alternatives out there.
  • 4 0
 "The 3C MaxxGrip rubber works well in colder temperatures"
Really? I kinda hate my shortys in the winter because below 0°C the rubber get's as hard as plastic and deflects off roots.
If the ground is soft or muddy and it is not too cold, these tires are great. But for the winter I will use a different tire next year because I hate the drop in performance once we get freezing temperatures. Conti and Schwalbe are classes better in the cold from my experience
  • 1 0
 Maxxis recommends MaxxTerra for cold conditions
  • 4 0
 Sub 0 Maxxgrip is utter trash, which rules out Maxxis as wintertires around here. Schwalbe tires dont care about temperatures conti is somewhere in between but still way better than Maxxis.
  • 2 0
 @jzPV: I rode some maxxterras in the cold as well. The center compound was ok, but the normally soft sideknobs turn hard as plastic too. Would not recommend
  • 4 0
 @jzPV: I bought a MaxxTerra (due to shortages) Assegai for my front tyre and can tell when it gets cold as it becomes quite noisy and doesn't grip as well Smile
  • 2 0
 Dirty Dan is perfect for winter. Was riding in 10cm deep snow, snow over roots, melting snow, snow with mud, every sh*t imaginable and was great. It gave up on a slick rock slab recently, but it was easy to predict and I have like one of these in my area.
  • 2 0
 Yep, any tire/compound from Maxxis is rather useless when it gets cold. Schwalbe on the other hand works way better in cold. MM has been my go to cold/wet/what ever tyre since it was Muddy Mary. Though I've also been surprised recently how well WTB tyres perform in cold/wet conditions.
  • 4 0
 There was this article/interview here on Pinkbike recently where most tire manufacturers recommended to leave the freshy installed tires to settle/stretch overnight at max pressure. In this article I see this chart giving the tire widths accurate down to the tenth of a millimeter when inflated at 21psi. Is this after having gone through the settling process mentioned above? If not, I suppose we can say these tires are all just more or less the same width.

Tire width is a funny metric anyway. It is mostly relevant to know whether the tire will fit your frame and fork. A more interesting one would be the width of the tire patch with the tire under some standard pressure under some standard load. Like a tire (without insert) inflated to 21psi under 500N load or something.
  • 10 3
 WTB verdict wet beats them all bay far!
  • 4 0
 Agreed, hands down best mud/loose/soft dirt tire ever
  • 1 0
 It's weird that the Verdicts still seem to be a bit of a secret, eh?
  • 1 0
 Don't you find they break traction in g-out corners. Like, really unpredictably! Even the standard ones (i.e. not wet) have quite 'foldy' side knobs I find.
  • 3 0
 They’re not mud tyres there’s soft / loose condition tyres. They work even better in dry blown out conditions than they do in the mud which is why Sam hill used them and they’d work really well on his dry dusty Australian trails.
  • 3 0
 With the "...Love the Slop" opening line in this article, I thought the comments section surely would be filled with Seinfeld quotes... "Oh, this baby loves the slop, loves it, eats it up. Eats the slop. Born in the slop. His father was a mudda'. His father was a mudda'? His mother was a mudda'. His mother was a mudda'? What did I just say?" There it is, I must be getting old.
  • 2 0
 The point that needs to be raised is those mid-spikes as an excellent all.round option as a front tire in the UK or Switzerland, where there is a lot of mud and rain during the year if you don't want to swap tires when it rains…
  • 3 0
 Shorty works wonders in the dry moon dust we get in So Cal in the summer. This past year was pretty bad, so I replaced my front Assegai with a Shorty, and it made a huge improvement.
  • 2 0
 The price usually depends on the location, for example in Germany a Schwalbe ultimate tire costs only 50$, and in Asia a Maxxis ultimate tire costs about 45$ too. So what decide my choice is just from the cheapest brand in this region and then the suitable one
  • 10 6
 I run Hillbilly's on my Levo year round. All of the traction al of the time.
  • 2 0
 I miss my Wet Screams. When the entire contents of the sky has pissed down on the track (or as we call it in the UK “most weekends I have off”) they were like cornering on rails.
  • 4 0
 Would have been interesting to see how the WTB Verdict would have competed in the group.
  • 2 0
 The Conti is no 6-ply 110 TPI tyre. They just count all layers and add them up, which makes no sense at all. Same with their road tyres. You have to divide by 3 to make it comparable.
  • 1 0
 That is how 6-ply or 2-ply is counted, by counting layers, isnt it? How you fold them doesnt really matter , it is how many layers under the thread.
  • 1 0
 @GZMS: No. the threads per inch can not be added up. A tyre won't become more supple just because you add up all the threads from each layer. The 2 ply is just the common way of describing the construction on the other hand, and Conti just labels them differently. With the TPI you can see that they don't really have a different construction with multiple ply layers.
  • 1 0
 @jzPV: TPI and layers(plies??) are different things , noone is adding them up.. tpi is a characteristic of a single layer of fabric, plies is the number of layers..
conti has 6 layers (or more exactly 3 double-layers) of a 110tpi fabric..
maxxis dd has 2 layers of 120tpi fabric
Maxxis dh has 2 layers of 60tpi fabric
  • 1 0
 @jzPV: if you add them up (you shouldn’t, it doesnt make sense) then these tyres would be 660tpi
  • 1 0
 @GZMS: no, Conti has most likely 2 layers if you take the industry standard approach, but they count the folded parts as well. And some manufacturers are adding the TPI measurement of each layer up, Conti does that with road tyres which are not 330 TPI, but 3x 110 TPI, while a Maxxis High Road has 170 TPI on each layer. My point is that I don't trust Conti with the specs, they state them in the way that suits them. The TPI measurement on its own from Conti here seems plausible though.
  • 1 0
 @jzPV: no, they have 6 layers of 110tpi each. There are crossection drawings showing construction , and you can clearly see 6 layers. They also in their specs on the website write “6/660” for dh casing. Which is kind of stupid, yes, but it is still “6ply 110tpi tyre”.
  • 1 0
 @jzPV: here is from PB article: m.pinkbike.com/photo/22340234
  • 1 0
 @GZMS: the same applies for Maxxis DH and DD! But they don't count the layers under the tread. Under the tread they are 6-ply as well. EXO and EXO+: two layers at the sidewall, 3 under the tread. DD and DH 4 at the sidewall, 6 below the tread.
  • 1 0
 What's up with Maxxis's tire widths being narrower than actual. You don't even have to measure to see that they're just frickin narrow after you put the tire on. Even with wide rims, they come out super skinny. WTF, Maxxis! Maybe it's time to go metric!
  • 1 0
 Got Michelin Wild Enduro's on my Enduro bike, they look excellent but my god are they have and roll so so slowly. Had a simple rolling race down main road against a friend with GoodYear Newtons on, I was miles behind within first minute
  • 4 0
 That’s Hill William to you, sir
  • 1 1
 Great stuff, after DH race last weekend I was questioning our choices due to rain. I added Shorty to both race bikes rears, just bought a hillbilly for the front thanks to this article. We've been running a magic Mary but will try that
  • 3 0
 If you mean Rheola, I was very happy to put uncut Dirty Dans front and rear, and had a pretty decent result (as far as the old men's category goes!). Fantastic tyres, imho.
  • 2 0
 This is a fantastic comparison!
Gives me exactly what I need to know, and nothing more.
Now, where do I go for the F1 podcast?
  • 1 0
 Those tire weights look like the manufacturers specification and not like you measured them yourself?
Otherwise, thanks for all your testing, Matt!
  • 5 0
 @Mr-Gilsch These are real-world measurements.
  • 1 0
 @mattbeer: sweet, thanks for clarification!
  • 2 0
 I have a super gravity dirty dan on my bike right now. Did Schwalbe stop making them?
  • 1 0
 @Trailsoup Yes, that was the info I was provided by Schwalbe North America.
  • 1 0
 Came here to say that. I have one in 27.5 on my winter hardtail and one on my enduro rig in 29. If they stopped making them I am glad I have a few more in stock ahah
  • 1 0
 @mattbeer: good thing I still have 2 trimmed new SG that I will put on the rear when slop comes in the summer ; )
  • 1 0
 I run the Shorty front and rear all season (winter, spring, summer and fall). My absolute favourite tire combo for technical trails in all conditions. Great tire Big Grin \m/
  • 2 0
 Great article, please do the same for trail, short travel trail and xc tires!
  • 2 0
 I need the minion compared to these because I am never changing the tires for each ride.
  • 1 0
 Why? Didn't you just say you aren't about to change them anyway?
  • 2 0
 Haven't seen a wetscream on a bike in years. Are they even still out there?
  • 5 6
 if there are high probabilities of rain i just don't ride, it is just painfull and unconfortable, it doesnt cut it for me, so i have never cared for rain "specific" tires, i do have a rainjacket in my car, since there might be the posibility that it will start raining when i am already out there, but i just try to avoid it, not gonna sacrifice 6 weeks to 6 months of rehab for a stupid slippery rock or root. I do live in the desert where it barely rains so i have that luxury, i remember 2010 we didnt have a single drop of rain the whole year.
  • 6 0
 Cool story bro
  • 1 0
 @gnarnaimo: life changing
  • 1 0
 @wellst: follow me on the Tiktograms for more cool stories
  • 1 0
 Would be cool if they offered softer “winter” compounds like they do with winter car tires. I ran a DH shorty v. 1 as a front tire all winter, worked well for me.
  • 1 0
 Noob question but is the idea to run the same mud tire front and rear? I've never run wet tires before, but I think I'll start next wet season.
  • 1 0
 Why give the actual tire width in MM when the tire size is in inches? Why not press the "metric/imperial" button on your digital vernier calipers?
Thanks!
  • 1 0
 You forgot about the WTB Verdict and especially the Verdict Wet ! And these are great tyres. Apart from that, these tyre prices are ...... someone's got the fu....d up
  • 5 3
 trail work>wrecking muddy trails.
  • 5 0
 Some people live places where you can ride in the wet and mud without demolishing trails. not to mention, these are typically areas with great trail advocacy like the UK or PNW.
  • 2 0
 Butcher and hillbilly combo is one of my favorites!
  • 2 0
 Well I'll never need this in Australia but good to know
  • 2 0
 Big fan of the Vittoria Mota for the one rainy day we ride around here.
  • 1 0
 I’m confused. Having read the article I dont understand how the maxxis became the recommended choice.
  • 1 0
 The way I read it, the Shorty won for being the most versatile winter tire in this group.
  • 1 0
 id like to see a tire showdown- to see what is the best tire for whatever discipline, that would be cool
  • 2 0
 No WTB Verdict? Test is incomplete boyos
  • 1 0
 Is Continental still making the Der Baron? I feel like their new tires should be measured against it in the mud.
  • 1 0
 How come the schwalbe DH mud tire weight less than my magic mary/big betty supergravity soft in same size Big Grin
  • 1 0
 The Wetscream rules, except it's only made for 29in
  • 1 0
 I’d love it if you went into the science of rolling resistance
  • 3 2
 People actually ride in the mud……..blown mind
  • 1 0
 Kinda like choosing peanut butter in the grocery aisle.
  • 1 0
 I hope schwalbe will come out with a DJ "JAZZY JEFF" dirt jump tire!
  • 1 0
 This is a good line-up, but the $80 Bontrager G-Spike is a big omission
  • 1 0
 Quality content. Thank you.
  • 1 0
 Did we lose a home button? I feel so empty inside.
  • 1 0
 Where the wetscream homies at
  • 1 0
 American winter is over now... so this is perfect timing....
  • 3 3
 Wait, I thought we weren’t supposed to ride in the mud?
  • 9 0
 In many parts of the world mud is the typical condition for riding. Other than a few areas where the soil has a very high clay/chalk composition, trails are ridden 365 UK and Europe.
  • 2 0
 In the pacific northwest of your don't ride in the rain you've just cut out 50% of the year.
My wife and I rode this last Saturday and it rained a fair bit. But our local drains really well and only has very few puddles or areas where riding would do any damage. I think most builders plan for rain here in the PNW.
  • 1 1
 More to the point: people need to know which trails are OK in the wet and which aren't, more than they need to know which tires and rain pants to use. The default seems to be to assume it's all good.

There's planning for rain, then there's doing the maintenance.
  • 1 0
 @ddocky: fair point. It's a good topic for an actual deep dive into the nerding of trails and conditions.
  • 4 3
 Wetscreams>shorty
  • 8 0
 That's what she said
  • 1 1
 Some lightweight casings would be nice though!
  • 1 0
 Jif. Obviously, duh.
  • 2 0
 I'm enjoying the Hillbilly in grid trail T9
  • 1 0
 WetScreams....
  • 1 0
 sweet
  • 1 0
 Panaracer Trailraker FTW
  • 3 6
 Guys, I tested 6 mud tires on my ebike, so let me tell how they’ll perform on mountain bikes weighing a third less.
  • 3 4
 Back in the old days I would review mountain bike tires using actual mountain bikes. How foolish! You see, “the heavier bike is a quick way to assess the stability of a tire.” In fact, in the near future I plan to do all of my mtb tire testing on my Honda Civic. That REALLY speeds up the stability assessing.
  • 4 0
 @Phillyenduro These were tested on multiple bikes (DH, enduro, and yes... E-bikes) in various conditions.
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