Good street/dirt tires

Hey Lee. I’m currently running the Maxxis HolyRoller tires that came with my street hardtail, but I’d like the bike to be able to corner on dirt and in grass as well as on the pavement. What tires would you recommend? I’m looking for something lightweight, low tread and fast rolling, but still able to carve it up offroad, even if things get a bit slimy. I’ve been recommended things like Larsens, but I was just wondering what all the options are, and what your always genius recommendation would be.

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Hi Alex,

What a fun question (for a tire fetishist like me).


Find a tire that rolls fast and stays stable on pavement, yet gets good traction in dirt.

I’m gonna pull a few ideas out of my butt:

Type A: Lots of small knobs

Examples: Maxxis Larsen TT, Kenda Small Block 8, WTB Nano Raptor, Specialized Rockster
Pro: Lots of traction on hardpack, good rolling speed
Con: Little traction when it’s loose
Great for pavement and hard pack. I ran a Larsen on my P.1 for 18 months, and it was great.

Type B: Semislick with knurled center and big side knobs

Examples: Maxxis High Roller Semislick, Maxxis Oriflamme, Michelin DH 15
Pro: Very fast rolling, good loose cornering (as long as you lean far)
Con: Exposed side knobs sketchy on street, sketchy when not leaned far
This is a good “expert” option.

Type C: Small, close knobs in the middle; big, spaced knobs on the sides

Examples: WTB Mutano Raptor, Specialized Resolution Pro, the new Kenda Lopes El Moco looks good
Pro: Good rolling speed, pretty stable on pavement, pretty darn good in dirt
Con: It’s an overall compromise (but a good one)

My vote

I’m a huge fan of Type C. I’ve been running 2.24 WTB Mutano Raptors on my SX and P-bike for over two years. That includes lots of riding styles: pump track, dirt jump, street, skate park, dual slalom, mountain cross and trail. I also love the 2.4 Mutano, which is faster rolling and more of a hardpack tire.

WTB used to make these tires in dual compound, which was ideal. Those days are over, but the dual compound Specialized Resolution Pro is another good all-around choice.

There ya go. I hope that helps!

— Lee

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