Mountain Bike Tires - Favorite NON Maxxis Brands [Video]

Words by: Liam Woods


Have you noticed we love talking about mountain bike tires? Personally it's one of my favorite parts to change out or test as it can really make a huge difference in how your bike feels and rides. We also talk a lot about Maxxis tires as they make up a high percentage of the North American tire sales. While we love Maxxis tires, there are so many other brands out there making amazing tires and that is what we are going to dive into deeper here. There are brands like Teravail, Michelin, Continental, WTB, Vittoria, E*Thirteen, Bontrager, Specialized and, of course, we can’t forget Schwalbe, who probably is the second largest in North America and maybe one of the larger brands outside of North America.

Some brands we have videos on like WTB, Schwalbe, Teravail and E*Thirteen, others we have only tested, and a few we have never ridden but we see them on customer’s bikes and riders, like you, love them. Tires are also completely personal, meaning what works for your friend might make you feel super sketchy. You might ride super rough stuff and need more tire support and casing thickness, and someone else rides like they float on air (tire pun) and can ride paper thin tires. So take all of this into consideration when choosing tires, and again, try them all since in the world of mountain biking they are relatively inexpensive and replaceable. 

Teravail Tires

Teravail Tires are a smaller, newer tire brand doing cool things, but we have covered their tires a few times. When the Kessel was first released we reviewed that as well as the Ehline and Honcho. So to get all the details on those, check out the blog on the Kessel and the Ehline/Honcho. 

Teravail Kessel Tire


The Kessel tire is Teravail's most aggressive mountain bike tire. It’s completely at home on trail and enduro bikes. The tall and spaced knobs work well with loose soil, steep and rocky terrain, and even when the conditions get a bit slippery. It’s available in a few different tire sizes and casing options, and even black or tan sidewalls. There are lots of options for lots of different bikes. 

Teravail Ehline Tire


The Ehline is more of an aggressive cross country tread or light trail tire, at home on the front for a smaller travel bike or faster tire setup. I personally like the Ehline in the rear and the Kessel on the front of my trail bike. The Ehline has a pretty even tread pattern across the tire, making it a very consistent and predictable tire. It’s also available in a lot of sizes, widths, casings and black or tan wall options. 

Teravail Honcho Tire


The last tire we’ll cover for Teravail is the Honcho, a great rear tire for your trail or enduro bike. With a taller knob than the Ehline but a tighter spaced pattern than the Kessel, it works great to get a little bit more speed in the rear while the square lugs help with braking power. It can pair well in the rear with Kessel up front or in the front with the Ehline out back. Again, Teravail offers lots of tire sizes, widths, casings and black or tan sidewall options. 

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Michelin Tires

Michelin might be one of the larger tire brands in the world, although that’s in large part because they make rubber circles for cars, trucks, and more. Everyone also knows the fluffy, white Michelin Man. While this might be a known brand for your car tires, I don’t think it’s the first brand that comes to mind when looking at mountain bike tires; it certainly hasn't been for myself. Michelin makes some crazy good mountain bike rubber and has been bolstering its race reputation recently to back it up. Most notably, Sam Hill runs Michelin tires and all of his recent EWS wins and podiums have been on Michelin rubber. Also, the MS Monraker team with Brook McDonald and Loris Greenland races on Michelin rubber as well. Some newer released tires from the brand have been really great tires, like the DH22 tire which is one we are talking about today. Also, the Wild AM and the Wild Enduro tires have been around for a bit longer and are starting to gain some popularity, too! 

Michelin Wild Enduro Tires

Wild Enduro

The Wild Enduro is a great all around tire from Michelin, having front and rear specific tread patterns. The front has a slightly taller center tread while the rear has a little bit faster, smaller knob. The mixed tread pattern works in a large variety of terrains, be it soft soil, some slippery mud or rocks, or fast and dry. The Wild Enduro is a worthy trail or enduro tire for your bike. Considering there’s a front and rear specific design, Michelin has done their research on this tire. 

Michelin DH22 Tire


The DH22 takes some design influence from the Wild Enduro, but as the name suggests, it’s even more downhill focused. With taller knobs, the DH22 shines in soft soil and mixed terrain. While it will not be the fastest rolling tire, the DH22 will have the grip to boost your confidence in many conditions. 

Michelin Wild AM Tire

Wild AM

The Wild AM has become more of a staple in the Michelin line in recent years, starting the design for some of the previously mentioned Michelin tires here. The Wild AM is a great all around trail tire with a spaced out and staggered tread pattern. The Wild AM would make a great front tire for a shorter travel trail bike or a great rear to a Wild Enduro front or DH22 if you are looking for some speed in the rear. Jeff even ran some Wild AM tires on his Transition Smuggler for a bit. 

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Schwalbe Tires

While Schwalbe is not a small tire brand and you have most likely heard of them (and maybe even used them), in North America they are certainly not as big as Maxxis tires. If you go to other places around the world the opposite might be true. But here we are talking about them. Schwalbe makes a full range of tires, from XC to downhill, and they are pretty good at just about everything when it comes to mountain bike tires. Some of our favorites are the Nobby Nic, the Hands Damf and the Magic Mary. It’s hard to go wrong with any of those but take a look below at what might be best for you. 

Schwalbe Nobby Nic tire

Nobby Nic

The Nobby Nic is Schwalbe's most popular trail bike tire. It has gone through a few iterations over the years, but the goal remains the same. It’s a fast rolling tire that can provide traction in lots of conditions. Run it front and rear for a trail bike setup, run it up front with a faster Racing Ralph or Rocket Ron out back, or run it in the back with a Magic Mary up front. The choice is yours, but the Nobby Nic will be happy anywhere on your bike. 

Schwalbe Hans Dampf Tire

Hans Dampf

The Hans Dampf is also a classic tire that’s mainly used as a trail and enduro rear tire. It also has gone through a few iterations over the years and it just keeps getting better and better. Personally I think the Hans Dampf in the back with a Magic Mary up front would be a killer combo for a trail or enduro bike. While you can run it up front, and I certainly see people do it, I don't think it would be as great up front as it would be in the rear. To me, the Hans Dampf compares to the Maxxis Aggressor, if that helps you get an idea of what the Hans Dampf is all about. 

Schwalbe Magic Mary Tire

Magic Mary

The Magic Mary is probably the most classic tire in the Schwalbe line up, and having a ton of race wins in both Downhill and Enduro races, it's a great aggressive tire that will give you grip in lots of terrain. Plus, who doesn't love a little Magic Mary in their life? The Magic Mary is a great front tire for aggressive riding, run it with either a Nobby Nic or Hans Damf in the back or run the Magic Mary front and rear for that all out grip. I think the Magic Mary compares to the new Maxxis Assegai very well, so if you’re familiar with the Assegai, you’ll have a good idea of how the Magic Mary feels. 

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Continental Tires

Continental tires are similar to Michelin in that they make tires for all sorts of different applications, be it your car, off road vehicle, or mountain bikes. Continental is a massive tire brand so you could bet their tires will have some technology and experience behind them. While the Trail King and Mountain King are some of the more popular and long standing tires in the lineup, I really liked the Der Kaiser when I tested it some years ago. Let's take a look at what each tire is good at and why you might want to run them. Oh, and they are made in Germany!

Continental Trail King Tire

Trail King

The Continental Trail King has a name that just has to be good right? And you would guess it's a great all around trail tire too. And it is! The Trail King is a great mid-weight, mid-tread tire that could be run front and rear. Put it up front with a faster tire out back, or in the rear with a Der Kaiser in the front. The Trail King definitely does a good job of living up to its name.

Continental Mountain King Tire

Mountain King

The Mountain King is very similar in that it's a great all around tire that can handle a wide range of trail conditions. Be it in the front or rear, the Mountain King can deliver the grip you need. Personally I like the Mountain King in the rear with the Der Kaiser in the front, which is a great all around setup and could be ridden on different bike setups and in different conditions.

Continental Der Kaiser Tire

Der Kaiser

The Der Kaiser from Continental is one of their more aggressive tread patterns and is a great tire for enduro and downhill riding. The Der Kaiser is a little reminiscent of the Minion DHR2, and in a great way. The Der Kaiser works well in mixed terrain and has an open enough tread pattern to help clear some mud if you find yourself in those conditions. You can often see this tire being ridden by the new Atherton team on their bikes, and being from the UK they ride in all kinds of conditions. Run it front and rear, or up front with a Mountain King in the rear. 

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WTB Tires

WTB Tires is a classic tire brand that made some of the first mountain bike specific tires that were ridden by some of the mountain bike legends of the sport. Some of those early classic mountain bike tires were made by Wilderness Trail Bikes, or WTB as we now know the brand. WTB is always coming out with new tires, while there are some classics in their lineup like the Vigilante and Trail Boss, some of the newer tires like the Judge have become a favorite of aggressive riders. One of my all time favorite tires is the Vigilante in the older 2.3 width. The tread pattern, height of the knobs, and the tire profile on a wider rim works really well for a trail bike. Check out what WTB tires are all about. 

WTB Vigilante Tire


The Vigilante is probably one of the most popular tires from WTB, and for good reason. The tread pattern allows this tire to be used in a wide range of conditions and terrain. As I mentioned above, I really like the 2.3 Vigilante. I've run this tire for a long time and still choose this tire if I am going on a trip and I want a good tire I can trust and just ride. They also re-designed the tire a few years ago and introduced 2.5 and 2.6 width options. The new tire has a very similar tire tread design but the knobs get taller and the tire profile got a little more square. Still a very all around tire design, and can be a solid tire in many conditions. 

WTB Trail Boss Tire

Trail Boss

The Trail Boss is a classic tire from WTB, and with a name like the Trail Boss you bet it's going to be a good tire. The Trail Boss falls into the category of trail tires, making it a great front tire for a shorter travel bike, or a great rear tire for a longer travel bike. When the Vigilante got an update, so did the Trail Boss, and with it came 2.4 and 2.6 width options, making it a great rear tire when mixed with the Vigilante up front. A mixed terrain tire, the Trail Boss can roll fast and keep the rubber on the ground as you need it. 

WTB Judge Tire


The Judge is one of the newer tires in the WTB lineup, and it's also one of the more aggressive tires they make. When the Judge first came out, I ran it front and rear on my Evil Offering. While it's kind of marketed as a rear tire, so is the Maxxis DHR2 and I love that tire up front. The Judge also resembles the DHR2 in tread design so I wanted to give it a try. While the Judge is certainly not a fast rolling tire, the tall knobs and tread pattern allow this tire to give ample amounts of traction, tons of confidence and as much braking power as one might need. The Judge also pairs well with a Vigilante up front, which is a combination that will give you a lot of traction and tons of braking power. 

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Vittoria Tires

Vittoria is a tire brand that certainly isn't front and center in the world of North American mountain bike tires, but it has decades of experience in the industry. With a factory located in Italy, Vittoria has lots of wins in the road bike category. Having recently made some updates to their mountain bike lineup, we are seeing some sales start to pick up for this brand. I’m not too sure about the popularity of Vittoria outside of North America, but from what I see with their tire lineup, there seems to be lots of potential and we are keen on checking some of their tires out for testing. 

Vittoria Mazza tire


The Mazza tire from Vittoria is their dedicated enduro race tire. Designed with input from sponsored enduro riders, the Mazza looks to handle the all around needs that a tire meant for aggressive riding requires. It has a tall tread pattern, a specific center tread to combine rolling speed, climbing grip and braking traction, while the sipes are designed to grab as much traction as possible over roots, rocks and off cambers. The side knobs are also designed and siped in order to create a smooth and predictable transition from center to side lugs. Available in two casing options, you should be able to get the Mazza in the specs you need. Run it front and rear, or up front with a faster or more rear specific tire, the choice is yours. 

Vittoria Martello tire


The Vittoria Martello is also an aggressive trail and enduro specific tire, and a great complement to the Mazza. The Martello takes a more moto-inspired tread pattern and has a lot more square knobs. The Martello reminds me of the Maxxis Aggressor or the Schwalbe Hans Damf tires. While you could run it up front, to me it seems like it would be a much better rear tire with its square knobs that are great for climbing and braking traction. With the Mazza up front and the Martello out back, I think that would be a choice combo! 

Vittoria Agarro tire


The Agarro is the perfect trail tire that Vittoria offers. They describe the Agarro as more than XC, but faster than enduro, which totally makes it a trail tire… right? With a mixed tire tread pattern, the Agarro would make a great front tire with an XC tire in the rear, or a rear tire with some more grip up front, like the Mazza. The staggered tread pattern will allow this tire to have a very predictable attitude, from rolling straight, to cornering, and anything in between.

Vittoria Mota tire


The Mota tire is Vittoria's aggressive mud and loose condition tire. With a spaced out tread pattern that sheds the muddiest of trail conditions, the Mota makes a great foul weather companion to the Mazza tire. If you’re looking for a mud tire, this might be your next pick. 

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E*Thirteen Tires

E*Thirteen is also slightly newer to the tire game, but with a few years and a few versions of their tires already rolling around. The latest versions are pretty awesome all around tires. E*Thirteen offers two tread designs, the classic tread that is a great all around trail or enduro tire, and also a semi-slick version. Their tire naming convention gets a little confusing, but to help out, TRS is the line of trail focused components, while LG1 is more gravity or downhill focused. The TRS tires offer a bit lighter weight while the LG1 is a heavier and more protective casing option. Take a look at what options might be best for you. 

e13 TRS Race tire

TRS Race

The new TRS tire from E*Thirteen is the third version and I think the best yet. Having ridden these tires for some time, and a bit even before they were released, I found this tire to be a great front and rear tire for trail and enduro riding. The TRS and LG1 tires share the same tread pattern but have different casing and rubber options. Since the TRS is the trail version, it has a lighter casing and three rubber options. You have Mopo (softest), then Race (soft), and finally Plus (medium), allowing you to tune in your grip and wear levels. Personally I think the Mopo rubber is insane and I love that as a front tire combined with something like a Race or Plus out back. Choose your rubber and enjoy the ride with the TRS tire. 

e13 lg1 en race tire


As mentioned, the LG1 shared a tread pattern with the TRS tire, which is a dual row center tread and solid side knobs. The tire reminds me of the Maxxis Minion DHR2 which happens to be my favorite all around tire (maybe that’s why I like the E*Thirteen tires so much?) What is different about the LG1 is mostly the casing, having a thicker casing to handle higher speeds and rougher terrain. The rubber compounds are the same, so you will find three different rubber compounds for the LG1 tire just as you do with the TRS tire.

e*thirteen SS tire


The SS tire from E*Thirteen is the semi-slick version of their tires. With a very low center tread, the SS tire makes for an extremely fast rolling rear tire, but the taller side knobs mean you can still corner with some confidence. The SS tire also comes in both TRS and LG1 versions, so you can complement either tire you have up front with the same rear. I personally liked running the TRS Mopo tire up front with a LG1 SS tire in the back for a lot of grip, fast rolling, protection where I need it and the least amount of weight as possible. Don't sleep on E*Thirteen tires, they make great rubber!

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Bontrager & Specialized Tires:

We can't do a “other brands” tire blog without having the Specialized and Bontrager tires in there. While we don't carry either brand, they do make great tires and your bike might be wearing something from either one of them, so we will quickly chat about them in case you need to compare or learn more about them. 

Bontrager G5 tire

G5 and G4

The Bontrager G5 and G4 tires are great trail and enduro tires, with the G5 being their aggressive DH and enduro tread and the G4 being the faster trail version. The G5 is a great tire and can be used front and rear for all out grip, or up front with the G4 out back. The G5 follows design from the Maxxis Minion DHR2 tire, making it a great all around tire with lots of predictable traits. The G4 tire uses a more staggered tread pattern and would make a great rear tire with the G5 up front or use the G4 front and rear, or even go crazy with the G4 up front and a faster G3 or G2 out back. Either way, Bontrager makes some great options and might be what your bike came with. 

Specialized Butcher tire

Butcher, Purgatory and Fast Track

The Butcher, Purgatory and Fast Track tires from Specialized are kinda their classic treads. With many versions developed over the years, these tires cover DH and Enduro, Trail and XC uses. The Butcher is the most aggressive tire and is great for enduro riding. Run it front and rear or up front with a Purgatory out back for tons of confidence. The Butcher has seen some great results from top racers around the world. The Purgatory is the trail tire that might be great for you, as it's a great rear tire that will roll faster than a Butcher, or run it up front with a Fast Track out back. Speaking of which, last up is the Fast Track, and with a name like that it's gotta be fast! The Fast Track is Specialized’s classic cross country tread, with a staggered tread pattern and low knobs. The Fast Track will roll fast and work great over hard packed and mixed terrain. All of these Specialized tires are great options and again, you might find your Specialized bike came with one of these. 

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Employee Spotlight: Liam Woods

This article was written / authored by Liam Woods. Liam has been in the bicycle industry for over 10 years as a racer, professional mechanic, service manager and as of late, media and content creator. Liam has ridden thousands of different bikes, ridden countless components, tested endless MTB apparel of all kinds and written reviews on it all. He's a key piece to the Worldwide Cyclery "All Things MTB" content creation puzzle. He also makes consistent appearances on the Worldwide Cyclery YouTube channel and Instagram.

March 22, 2021

Bontrager › Continental › e*thirteen › Michelin › Schwalbe › specialized › teravail › Tire › Video › Vittoria › WTB ›

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