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Top 5 Winter Tyres for your MTB

By Martin Atanasov

Come winter, we all rush to the stores and buy a new pair of warm and cosy boots. We don’t forget our cars, and we spoil them with stylish and well-maintained winter tyres. Leaving your bike out of this pampering is simply rude. Your two-wheeled friend also deserves a set of winter tyres, and if you want to stay on it and not dive in a muddy puddle on your first winter ride, you should definitely satisfy this need.

All jokes aside, mud tyres are a must if you are going to ride your trusted MTB during the winter on the muddy, wet, and slippery trails in the middle of nowhere. Equipping your bike with such will guarantee you at least some grip over the astounding brownness of the track. Yes, if you are an avid MTB rider, your winters are not white. They are brown.

Luckily, getting mud tyres is neither that hard nor expensive. There are a variety of excellent brands that will accommodate every need and every pocket. Of course, we do have our favourites, and we wouldn’t have this elaborate intro if we weren’t going to share them with you. But before we dive right in, let’s address the elephant in the room.

Muddy trail
Gear up for that muddy season. © Profimedia

What exactly is a mud tyre

Mud tyres (a.k.a. winter tyres, a.k.a. wet weather tyres) are your bike’s shoes for the winter. These are the rubbers you will wear down in the toughest conditions. They have two primary jobs. The first, and probably the most important, is to ensure you have a lot of grip on the otherwise slippery, mushy, and muddy terrain. Staying on your wheels is fundamental for riding a bike, and with their tall, aggressive knobs, mud tyres do precisely for that. To help with this uneasy task, the manufacturers use special compounds just like they do with car tyres.

The second job is to shed mud during the ride. Having to clean your grapple every three minutes is undoubtedly not the best time you could imagine, so mud tyres are specially designed to get rid of the excessive crud on their own.

There are some cons to mud tyres. They are certainly not the fastest on flat terrain and considering all the additional rubber used to make the spikes, they are a good chunk heavier than your regular wheels. Nonetheless, your safety should always come first, and having to carry 1-2 kilograms more on your climb is definitely worth it.

Now then, since we have this out of our way, we can go to our picks for the five best winter/wet weather/mud tyres for this season.

5. Maxxis High Roller II – from €20 to 70

Maxis bike tyre

Maxxis is well-known in the biking community as one of the top tyre manufacturers. They truly have an outstanding collection of rubber for every season, every terrain, and every desire. Although the brand offers incredible mud-tyre choices like the DHR II and especially the Assegai, we lay our trust in the classic. Maxxis High Roller II stood the test of time with a decade-old design and proved that some things are truly timeless.

With its aggressive paddles in the centre, which dig deep into the soft wet soil, the tyre allows you to climb with ease on otherwise slippery slopes and to brake without fail on any ground. The position of the knobs makes the High Roller II faster than any other wet-weather tyre on flat and solid terrain. In addition, the bulky, tall chunks on the edges of the tyre make the bike steering predictable even on the muddiest corners and slopes.

If it were ten years ago, this tyre, without a doubt, would be our number one, as it was several years in a row back then. However, with the new trends of tyre production, this decade-old design has some minor flaws. The biggest of them is the vast gap between the central knobs and the edge chunks. This is great for ejecting the mud, but the bike control gets a bit sketchy at higher speeds.

Still, Maxxis High Roller II is definitely worth it, and you can get them at a price between 20 and 70 EUR depending on where you live.

4. Michelin Wild Mud Advanced – 60

Michelin Wild Mud Bike Tyre

Michelin is a household name when it comes to tyres. Even people who never set foot on a bike know this tyre giant and its mascot, the Michelin Man. Chances are, many of you already have Michelin tyres for your cars. Thank God that this astounding manufacturer translated its success and know-how to the biking world as well.

The Wild Mud Advanced was designed especially for races on wet, muddy, and extremely slippery traces. The Gum-X rubber compound, accompanied by the tall blocks, strategically spread on the tyre from its edge to the centre, have only one mission – to provide the rider with maximum grip on the soft, muddy ground beneath the wheels.

The most notable feature of the Wild Mud Advanced is the twisted block tops, designed to eject all filth and leave the tyre free of mud, stones or other clogging. No other tyre self-cleans as effectively and as fast as this Michelin masterpiece.

On the downside, the tyre is almost 1 kg and the position of the knobs clearly indicates that speed is not one of its strong points. The Wild Mud Advanced is perfect for freeriding and downhill. However, if you are going to ride on flat and solid terrain, getting such mud tyres is definitely overkill.

The price is not that high, considering the brand and the quality of the product. You will have to pay around 60 EUR for it but the price is definitely worth it.

3. WTB Verdict Wet – €65

WTB verdict wet

Even the regular Verdict series of WTB is a borderline mud tyre. With high knobs at the corner and central blocks, the WTB Verdict is a genuine all-purpose tyre. It performs exceptionally well on loose trails with an outstanding grip. However, the regular Verdict won’t do the trick if you are going after muddy terrains with high speeds. That’s where the Wet series comes into action.

WTB Verdict Wet has some serious central knobs and impressive side blocks that measure up to 66 mm. In addition, the rubber compound and the design help the Verdict Wet stay glued to the ground even on the muddiest of trails. The thickness of the rubber makes puncturing practically impossible, though we urge you not to try piercing the tyre on purpose.

The only downside is that The Verdict Wet is very impractical to all other types of terrain. They are strictly for mud rides, slippery and even icy trails. The tyre is a mastodon on its own with a weight of nearly 1,300 g each. Climbing, though the grip will be exquisite, won’t be fun at all. But if we talk about a pure winter tyre, The WTB Verdict Wet is definitely one of the most stable on the market. Considering the amount of material that is used to manufacture it, the price is even low. It heavily depends on where you live but around 65 EUR per tyre is the average.

2. Continental Mud King – €60

Continental Mud King tyre

The Continental Mud King is definitely a Royalty in the winter tyre world. It has it all: speed, grip, traction, manoeuvrability, and most importantly, weight less than 1 kg per tyre. Not many mud tyres can brag about such an outstanding figure. The best part is that this extra feature doesn’t come at the cost of any other vital characteristic.

The Continental Mud King has slightly rounder knobs than most mud tyres, making it faster on hard surfaces. With its narrow profile, it cuts through deep mud fields with ease while the sizable side knobs give it the traction and stability needed to make it all the way. In addition, the lightweight BlackChili compound adds extra grip on wet and slippery terrain while, at the same time, does not reduce the speed on solid ground and rocks.

There are practically no downsides to this tyre except the skinny profile, which might play some tricks on your balance if you are not an experienced rider. Otherwise, with a price of under 60 EUR, the Continental Mud King is definitely a must-have.

1. Schwalbe Magic Mary Super Trail – 80

Schwalbe Magic Mary bicycle tyre

This tyre is truly magical. It’s as if it rides the bike on its own. That’s a huge exaggeration, of course, but the Schwalbe Magic Mary Super Trail is, without a doubt, the best of the best when it comes to winter tyres. Admittedly, magic Mary looks more like a classical motorcycle tyre than anything you might consider putting on your bike. However, its performance is truly something to behold.

The knobs are perfectly positioned on the tyre to immediately eject any crud that might get stuck. The blocks look simple at first glance but they perform exactly how they are supposed to. Magic Mary gives you an excellent grip on both dry and wet terrain, and the knobs at the edge of the tyre make sure you will take every corner with ease, without the need of oversteering. In addition, the breaking hold is quite formidable despite the type of terrain. This makes the bike perfect for slippery slopes, climbing, level terrain or steep downhill tracks. Truly the one tyre for all winter activities.

With a tag of around 80 EUR, the Schwalbe Magic Mary Super Trail is one of the more expensive tyres on the market. However, spending money on good tyres is not a purchase but rather an investment, so the price is worth it.

Final thoughts

Having mud tyres is crucial if you are going to ride the mountains this winter. With the cold weather, slippery trails, and hidden mud-traps under soft snow, having no grip and no trust in your tyres is a recipe for disaster. Investing in any mud tyre is money well spent, so even if you don’t take our advice and you choose another type of mud tyre, we still urge you to buy a set for your bike. After all, Christmas is coming, and your bike was very good this year. It deserves a present.