Square vs. round tyres?


I read that squarer tyre profiles are grippier than more rounder profiles. How much truth is there is this?

I normally run 2.1 tyres on a Mavix XM117 rim – how wide a rim would I have to run to: 1) get a noticably squarer profile on my 2.1 tyres? 2) sensibly run a 2.3 tyre?

Thanks, Don

Hey Don,

Great question. Here are some broad generalizations:

– Squarer tires (on which the side knobs are very exposed) do get excellent traction, especially in loose conditions where the knobs can penetrate. The WTB Weirwolf comes to mind.

– Compared with rounder tires, squarer tires are more likely to squirm on hardpack. They also tend to hold well then … let go. For this reason, square tires seem best for expert riders. Mark Weir used to say this about the Weirwolf. If you knew how to ride it, it was amazing. Otherwise, it was a bit sketchy. But unbeatable in loose dirt.

– Round tires tend to deliver more consistent cornering forces and traction. They work well in a wider range of conditions. They might not give you the same ultimate cornering traction, but, like I said, they’re easier to ride.

– The profile of your tire is partly a product of the size of the tire and the width of the rim, but the design of the tire has a much greater effect. The old Intense DH tire — very square.

– I prefer rounder tires. My dream tire has tightly spaced center tread that transitions into side knobs that are well supported and well exposed, but that preserve an overall round profile. Examples: WTB Mutano Raptor, Maxxis Minion, Specialized Eskar and Resolution.

– I have no idea which rims you should run with your tires, especially not knowing which tire you run. Try a 2.3 on your current rim, and see how you like that.


— Lee

This is crying out for a diagram, but I’m pinned with other stuff today. Hopefully soon.

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