In a word: yep.
If you want to stay upright in the winter you’ll need to replace you’re regular rubber with a proper set of mud tyres.
They’re are fewer things that will transform your wet weather riding as significantly as mud tyres do.
Well, that’s that then. Not quite…
Unfortunately when it comes to buying mud tyres your options are limited but this doesn’t mean you should buy the first pair you see – there are several things you should look at first.
Watch: Buyer’s guide to mud tyres
Top of the list is width. The fattest mud tyre available is around 2.35in, the thinnest something like a 1.8in.
If you ride in area that has a clay base, you’ll want a thinner tyre because this cuts through the soft slush to the hard stuff underneath. The smaller profile won’t pick up as much mud and will also clog less, especially around the fork brace and rear stays.
If on the other hand it’s rocky where you ride, you’ll want a bigger profile tyre. This offers more cushioning and, crucially better pinch flat protection because the last thing you want when you bike is covered in a load of clag and you’re freezing cold, is to have to mend a puncture.
The second consideration is the tread pattern. The majority of mud tyres all look similar and feature square knobs, arranged in rows, with wide mud channels between them to allow mud to escape. To increase bite the knobs are often shaped into a spike.
You may not get the choice but the final thing you need to check is on the rubber compound. If a mud tyre is available in a hard and soft compound, even across brands, go with the latter. The soft compound will grip better on slimy roots and wet rocks.
A good compromise is to actually fit a soft tyre on the front and hard one at the back – this way you can reduce rolling resistance but you still plenty of front-end grip. The best of both worlds maybe a dual compound mud tyre, which has a soft rubber on the edge and hard rubber down the centre.
And another thing… or two
Two other things worth mentioning – run your tyres tubeless, this may seem like a messy business in the winter but if your ride over a thorn or flint you’re going have to mend that puncture with cold hands and the bike covered in clag.
Watch: How to set your tyre pressure
Also check your tyre pressure with a gauge before every ride. You can get away with running less pressure in the winter because the ground is softer but some riders recommend increasing the pressure, so the tyre deforms less and cuts more easily through the mud. Our advice is to experiment with different pressures to see what works best.