Pick the best mountain bike mud tyres and you’ll only need to swap tyres once this winter. With half an hour in the workshop, you can enhance your riding until the clocks go forward again next spring.

Here’s our rundown of the best mountain bike mud tyres to help you beat the gloop and keep on rolling until spring comes around. With the right rubber you can find grip while all around you slip!

Every winter, rather than slip and slide defensively through the gloop and muck, it pays real dividends to fit the best mountain bike tyres specifically designed for mud. They bring extra grip and promote greater confidence at every turn, allowing you to keep attacking the trails.

The best mountain bike mud tyres

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You will notice that beneath each mountain bike mud tyres summary is both a link to the full version of the review and a purchasing link. If you click on one of these links then mbr may receive a small amount of money from the retailer should you go to purchase the product from them. Don’t worry, this does not affect the amount you pay.


WTB Verdict

WTB Verdict

WTB Verdict

Winner!

Price: £57.99

With towering 7.5mm edge incisors and 5mm centre blocks, this is about as meaty as you can in a mountain bike tyre. It’s the toothy sibling to the Verdict Dry, and both centre and edge knobs have been lengthened considerably for extra grip in everything from damp conditions to full-on quagmires. There is an even more aggro version of this tyre called – the WTB Verdict Wet – but we reckon the standard Verdict will suit more as a fit and forget winter tyre.

Read our full test review of the WTB Verdict


Schwalbe Magic Mary

Schwalbe Magic Mary

Schwalbe Magic Mary

Runner-up!

Price: £58.99

For aggressive riding in UK conditions, the Magic Mary is a great performer. The moto-style blocks clear crud well, cornering and braking is excellent and the tyre never over or under steers on severe cambers or dragging brakes down ruts. With simple, huge square blocks jutting out at all angles, the tread pattern looks a lot like a classic motocross tyre, and, sure enough, chuck it at some gloop and it’ll take everything in its stride — only a pure downhill spike has more bite.

Read review of the Schwalbe Magic Mary


Maxxis High Roller II

Maxxis High Roller II

Maxxis High Roller II

Best rear mud tyre

Price: £74.99

There was a time when this tyre would be our go-to choice, for both front and rear, as a fit and forget all-round hard riding UK tyre. These days the High Roller II has been superseded by the Maxxis DHR II and the Maxxis Assegai. Yet, for us there is still a place for the honorable High Roller II and that place is as a loose, damp condition tyre for the rear wheel of a mountain bike. It wet and muck it brakes well, climbs well, clears well and steers predictably. Sure, there are other specific all-out filth-friendly tyres but the good ol’ High Roller II is well worth keeping as your go-to rear tyre choice for autumn-winter.

Read of full test review of Maxxis High Roller II


Specialized Hillbilly

Specialized Hillbilly

Specialized Hillbilly

Good e-bike option

Price: £53.00

The highest praise we can give it is how we often forgot this was a test tyre, and just got on with our riding — the Hillbilly simply gets the job done without any issues. This is especially true if you get the thicker casing Black Diamond version – ideally in a newer softer compound – and you are fitting it to an e-bike. Why is it good on an e-bike? Because the tyre works best when run quite firm in pressure; arguably too firm for a lighter regular bike to avoid being pinged about the trail, but fine when you have the heft and improved suspension tracking that both come with having an e-bike.

Read review of the Specialized Hillbilly


Michelin Mud Enduro

Michelin Mud Enduro

Michelin Mud Enduro

New name, same amazing tyre

Price: £56.99

Almost certainly a tad overkill for 90 per cent of UK riding then, but an awesome tool if you want to embarrass your mates on an uplift day in the rain, or ride the gnarliest tracks in your area. This tyre used to be called the Wild Mud Advanced (hence the link to the seemingly ‘wrong’ review below!) but it has been renamed so as to be better fit into the recently revamped and expanded Michelin MTB tyre range. This new range does feature a tyre called the DH Mud but it’s a 2.4in behemoth of a tyre that is even more unsuited to trail riding. This 2.25 version is still a chunker but it’s much more manageable.

Read review of the Michelin Wild Mud Advanced*


maxxis-shorty-2016-review-featured-e1452529208257

Maxxis Shorty

Get the Mk1 while you can!

Price: £54.99

There is a new version of the Shorty now (dubbed ‘gen 2’ usually) but we’re still big fans of the original. The Gen 2 Shorty looks more like a Specialized Hillbilly or trad motocross-type block tread. We really rate the rounder and paddle knobbed Shorty Mk1. It climbs and brakes incredibly well, which is what we prize more, as opposed to all-out mud shedding or loose-dry performance. The design is essentially a cut-down mud spike, but it’s proven way more versatile than a pure mud specialist and will happily double up as a dry weather tyre.

Read our full test review of the Maxxis Shorty


MIchelin DH22

MIchelin DH22

Michelin DH22

Best gravity mud tyre

Price: £59.99

Massivley heavy. Massively tough. Massively grippy. You may not want to pedal these around a trail centre or your usual Sunday loop. But if you want a tyre for uplift days – or race days – that never, ever lets you down and instills an insane level of confidence no matter how slippery and sketchy the terrain is – here’s the rubber for you. The slow rebound nature of the Magi-X compound rubber is almost like micro suspension. There’s a serious level of calmness and holding with the DH22. Sam Hill uses these tyres pretty much on everything regardless of how wet or dry the trail. A niche option but sure to develop a cult following as so many Michelin tyres do.

Read of full test review of Michelin DH22


Vee Snap Trail Enduro Core Top 40

Vee Snap

Vee Flow Snap

Alt. brand excellence

Price: £54.99

Composed, with reliable grip, there’s masses of friction on wet roots and rocks, plus the fangier tread makes a lot of sense in regular UK conditions by balancing bite with stability across a wide range of surfaces. There’s no weirdness or bad habits in terms of damping or dead zones at certain lean angles either. The only negative is that the Vee Flow Snap in the stickier rubber version of the tyre is slow rolling and noticeably draggy on the rear for more traversey, trail-orientated riding. Overall, there’s nothing to stop you considering this well damped and grippy tyre and it’s just as sorted as more established brands for a little less cash.

Read our full test review of Vee Flow Snap


What to look for in mountain bike mud tyres:

You can dodge the mud but forget trying to stay dry

Front tyre priority

Front-end security remains a priority in winter — a back-end slide is always much more manageable — and mixing and matching tyre brands, compounds and sizes at either end is the best way to balance rolling speed, weight and control. If you’re a proper tweaker, you can always trim knobs down for custom grip levels.

Rear winter tyres face a difficult balancing act, since weight and rolling friction are far more noticeable out back, and rear tyres are also much more prone to damage and punctures, so require extra casing thickness and protection.

Traction versus drag

Well-spaced, spiky blocks are the signature tread pattern of winter-friendly tyres, but the height and aggression of these knobs, and the weight and width of the tyre casing, are further factors that directly affect drag, overall bulk and a product’s optimal terrain and purpose.

Even with mud tyres you can have too much of a good thing, which is why you need to balance wet weather grip with acceptable rolling resistance.

Rubber compound

Durometer is the quoted measure for rubber hardness, with higher numbers signifying a firmer compound, i.e. 60a is harder than 50a. This durometer measurement is only a guideline, as proprietary compounds and blends can also make huge differences to grip, rebound damping and rolling speed. In this respect, rubber is something of a ‘dark art’, with certain tyres often surprising on specific terrain and surfaces.

Weight

Mud tyres need significantly more support to keep big tread blocks stable, which adds weight. More fabric and rubber in the construction of grippier, wider tyres also adds weight, but bigger air volumes offer more comfort and isolation from the ground — especially useful on hardtails to smooth out the rougher ride.

Overall rotating weight becomes very noticeable when big tyres pick up clag, and therefore muddy tyres can make it hard to change direction at speed — although that isn’t always a bad thing in extreme conditions!

Casing

It’s harder to stick to precise lines to protect sidewalls from abrasions and sharp edges in slippery winter conditions. Therefore it’s worth thinking about running a heavier casing with better protection and durability — the caveat being that riding in the winter is slow-going, and a heavier carcass can decrease acceleration and rolling speed further.

mountain bike mud tyres

Maxxis’ EXO sidewall protection

Tread

More open tread patterns should hold onto less gloop and clear more readily once up to speed, but the downside is greater rolling resistance. Mud tyres get pronounced shoulder blocks for better cornering hold and off-camber bite. Rubber formulas and special coatings on the outer casing surface (beneath the blocks) are also designed to shed sticky mud more quickly.

Width

Thinner tyres carve through deep, thick mud more effectively, but be realistic as to how much of your ride time is spent in proper gloop, as wider tyres are generally better everywhere else. A good compromise is a wider ‘grip’ tyre up front and a thinner ‘drive’ tyre out back, but beware that super-fat front rubber can ‘float’ a little in serious mud rather than ‘cutting’ in.

Air pressure

Different tyres require different pressures and, generally, the thicker the casing the lower the air pressure you can get away with.

Year-round, aim for the minimum air pressure that keeps the tyre casing from twisting too much under hard cornering forces and still prevents rim strikes under impacts. If you often run with more than 30psi, try reducing pressure and experimenting with softer tyres in winter.