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Best Road Tires For Mountain Bikes

Updated on May 10, 2013
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Liam Hallam is a sports science graduate. A keen cyclist, runner, and obstacle racer, he ran his first ultra-marathon in 2016.

Not Everyone Can Justify Having A Bike For Everything!

We all know that specific mountain biking tires are not really designed for effective road cycling. They squirm and waste a lot of that energy you really need to be powering you forward- Whether you're racing a short-track event with pavement sections or on your commute to work, you want all your energy for speed.

This article looks at a selection of the best road tires for mountain bikes to help you get to where you want to go, faster and with a beaming smile on your face. (Even if it's just the ride in to work!)

Mountain Biking's Great- But MTB Tires Waste Energy On The Road

Mountain bike tires are for cross-country use- You need a more specific tire for on the road
Mountain bike tires are for cross-country use- You need a more specific tire for on the road | Source

A Guide To Slick And Semi-Slick Mountain Bike Tires

Mountain bikes generally feature knobbly tires which are designed to dig into soft ground for grip. Unfortunately the knobbles on mountain bike tires have a tendency to wear down very quickly and with limited areas of the tire in contact with the ground they increase rolling resistance to make the going much harder.

Alternately it is a consideration to switch to alternate tires known as slick or semi-slick mountain bike tires. These tires appear more reminiscent of a smooth racing bike tire in their almost tread-less format. Semi slick mountain bike tires can offer a happy medium and feature a smoother central tread pattern with additional external tread to allow the tire to function on both road and mild cross country cycling situations such as gravel or hard packed dirt trails. Fitting your mountain bike with road tires makes a huge difference,

The Best Slick Tires For Mountain Bikes

If you're looking for a tire to use your mountain bike specifically on the roads it's best to consider a full- slick mountain bike tire.

The best slick mountain bike tires are very similar to their road cycling cousins and are all about speed and road holding. Look for tires that offer good grip on wet roads as well as puncture resistance- particularly if you're looking for a trouble free commute to work

Below are a number of great slick road tires to consider for your MTB for speed and comfort.

Michelin Country Rock Tires Offer Great Wet Weather Performance

The Michelin Country Rock Slick MTB Tire. It's grooved profile offers exceptional wet weather performance
The Michelin Country Rock Slick MTB Tire. It's grooved profile offers exceptional wet weather performance | Source

Michelin Country Rock Slick Mountain Bike Tire- Great For Wet Weather Commuting

If you commute to work or around town on a regular basis and often face wet roads the Michelin Country Rock could be a great option to fit to your MTB.

The tire features an excellent level of puncture resistance to get you where you need to go with minimal fuss. It's lightweight too which helps you get up to speed and maintain it too for a quick ride.

One of the best selling points of the Country Rock is it's performance in wet conditions. The tread sits above the main tire carcass and this allows for grooves to channel away surface water.

Make no mistakes- this tire is designed for speed on roads and gravel surfaces. They offer a fantastic low rolling resistance making them a fantastic fast commuter bike tire for a moderate price. Expect to pay around 20 usd per tire. You can buy cheaper but they won't have the performance features of the Country Rock.

Michelin Country Rock Slick MTB Tires

Michelin Country Rock Tire (Black, 26)
Michelin Country Rock Tire (Black, 26)

The Michelin Country Rock offers an excellent MTB tire for road use. It's grooved design is great for channelling away water from the roads and rain for your commute or training.


Fast, slick tires for a 29er MTB

29ers are taking mountain biking by storm. Their wheel size mimics the 700c size as used traditionally on road bikes. Their wheel size is 700C/ISO-622 rims so keep an eye out for these figures when picking out tires.

Many road cycling forums mention the Continental Gatorskin tire in this category. They're a solid option featuring a mesh reinforced sidewall and exceptional puncture protection from a fast and slick bicycle tire. However from experience their performance is poor in damp and wet conditions.

A great alternative for an ultra fast, trouble free ride is the Schwalbe Marathon Supreme tire.

The Schwalbe Marathon Supreme is marketed as a touring tire, yet offers so much more potential for mountain bikers hitting the roads. Tough as old boots and ultra fast with exceptional road handling.

Buy Schwalbe Marathon Supreme Tires

Schwalbe Marathon Supreme Evo HD Speed Guard SLX Folding
Schwalbe Marathon Supreme Evo HD Speed Guard SLX Folding

Exceptional durability, puncture resistance and road handling in tire that's built for speed. The Schwalbe Marathon Supreme is a fantastic road tire for your MTB- particularly if you're considering cycle touring.


Semi Slick Road Tires For Your MTB

If you're looking for mtb tires that perform well on both the roads and additional able to do a job on hard packed dirt roads such as fire roads and canal towpaths. It's best to consider a semi-slick MTB tire.

Not everyone's commute is on smooth tarmac so semi-slick tires are an excellent choice for getting around town unless you're likely to hit some mud!

Semi-Slick for 10 dollars- Cheng Shin Tires

Cheng Shin C1096 Semi-Slick XC Bicycle Tire (Wire Bead, 26" x 1.90", Black)
Cheng Shin C1096 Semi-Slick XC Bicycle Tire (Wire Bead, 26" x 1.90", Black)

If you're on a relative budget these semi-slick tires from Cheng Shin offer excellent value for money for commuters on a budget.


Semi Slick Tires For Your MTB On A Budget

Sometimes you just need your bike to go somewhere and therefore spending the earth isn't a feasable option.

There a a great selection of semi-slick mountain bike tires available for use on roads and trails for riders on a budget. Expect to pay upwards of 10 dollars for a tire but you'll get to where you need to go much quicker than when using knobbly mountain bike tires.

What's your best road tire for mountain bike?

Here on hubpages we're always looking for your feedback. Have you used any of the tires we've reviewed above? Or do you have another road tire choice on your MTB you would like to rave about?

We'd love to hear from you.

Liam Hallam (CyclingFitness)


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