Ideal pump track tire?


I downloaded your on-line book a few weeks back and we have just
started shaping the pump track in our backyard. Man, it’s going to be
sweet. Anyhow, I was wondering which tires you recommend. I know I want
something fast with low rolling resistance but I probably also need a bit
of tread. What are your thoughts on the Maxxis Holy Roller, Kenda K-Rad,
and Intense MK2? Other suggestions?

Thanks for all your knowledge,


When you press directly into a rock-hard berm, knobs are unnecessary. What is necessary: Complete confidence in your bike. Rocking my beloved Eskars at the track I built for Giant Bicycles.

Hey Jason,

Those are all excellent tires.

For pump track purposes I’d group tires into three categories:

Micro knobby – Lots of tiny knobs. The Intense MK2 is the most extreme example. Micro knobbies are incredibly fast on perfectly groomed hardpack, but they can be sketchy on loose surfaces. Kenda Small Block Eights border on the next category.

Low knob – Bigger, well exposed but low knobs. Maxxis Holy Roller, Kenda K-Rad, Specialized Rhythm Lite. These tires are very good on hardpack, and they provide some grip on loose-over-hardpack.

Full knob – Basically XC trail tires. Maxxis Minion, Kenda Nevegal, Specialized Fast Trak, WTB Mutano Raptor, pick your favorite. Trail tires sacrifice rolling speed on perfect hardpack, but they’re more dependable on mixed surfaces.

Will MacDonald is another proponent of trail tires on pump tracks. He drifts across this roller knowing the berm will catch him.

Your ideal pump track tire
depends on your riding conditions.

If you only ride blue-grooved hardpack, a micro knobby is the weapon of choice. Intense MK2s are amazingly fast. I’ve seen Small Block Eights work in an impressive range of conditions.

If you ride assorted dirt jumps and pump tracks, low knobs are the most popular choice. As a matter of fact, all of the fastest riders at the Sea Otter pro pump track race ran low knobs. I think the top three were on Rhythm Lites.

If you ride varied terrain, rock a trail tire. Because my sees all sorts of action, I run Specialized Eskars. Eskars might not roll as fast as the other options, but they give me the confidence to work the corners — and that probably makes me faster overall.

Or: Build a perfect pump track. Keep it perfect. Run road slicks!

— Lee

Know more. Have more fun!

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14 replies
  1. zach says:

    Here are my 2 cents on the subject, keep in mind I have not tested nearly the amount of tire as Lee Mac. I run a slick on my back if you can call it that (Maxxis Hook Worm) and I love it. It rolls super fast and lasts forever the only down fall is it weighs like 50 pounds. Run some traction on the front so you are tracking in the right direction and let the back drift, now that is pump track goodness. Send in some photos of the track once it is done we would love to see it getting ripped.

  2. Daniel says:

    I’m all about the small block 8 on the pump track. There is no pump track where that tire will not hook up, plus it rolls incredibly fast and is light.

  3. Nate says:

    My current favorite is the High Roller Semi-Slick. Like the Intense Micro Knobby down the middle but if things get a little loose the side knobs prevent “elbow rash”

  4. Simcik says:

    I just picked up a set of Geax TNT AKA 2.2 tires for my slopestyle bike, they look awesome! I may have to try em out on a pumptrack and report back

    My dream Maxxis tire, high roller side knobs with Larsen center knobs, sort of semi slick, but definitely plenty of cornering knobs for ripping

  5. jezza says:

    maxxis crossmarks are not too shabby either – goes ok up front as wel untill you hit some really loose stuff

  6. rob cole says:

    here’s a left field choice that blows away any of the “DJ” brand tires or even the Maxxis Larsen

    “Specialized Control Fast Trak” (dry weather XC racing tire)

    we all use these awesome tires on our pump track bikes at esher shore, and run them with Stan’s No-Tubes (tubeless conversion)

    very quick rolling, well behaved at high speed, a big volume for a 2″ tire, and great traction due to dual-compound rubber (harder centre, softer side knobs)

  7. Estes says:

    Best Pumptrack Tire- Arrow Racings ‘Launch’ Tire. Hands down- I’ve tried allot and for lateral gripness- when pushing through berms is nothing but ‘confidence’ on the Arrow Racing ‘Launch’ Tire

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