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Tubeless tires

Tread matters, but here’s a closer look at mountain bike tires

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When it comes to tubeless mountain bike tires, pro enduro racer Krista Rust burns through rubber.

Why tubeless? Because you can run far lower air pressure, both increasing the function and performance of the tire while enhancing the ride, plus, tubeless are much less likely to go flat.

And while tread patterns are key, there’s more than meets the eye. From size, shape, weight, grip – Rust knows what works and what doesn’t. Here’s what to look for when it comes to treading rightly on the trail.

1)Weight

In the tire game, lighter can mean faster, but cost equates to longevity. The weight difference between tires can be substantial – as much as a pound, but minimal materials won’t hold up nearly as long as heavier construction. Ask yourself what your riding priorities are. Are you a fun hawg looking to stretch you dollars or a racer gunning for the podium?

2)Shape

Generally, tires have either a rounded or a square profile, says Rust, and each have their place for digging into the trail. She suggests a square profile for the rear and a rounded tire up front.

3) Tenacity

“One thing riders always ask me is what tires will do one thing,” she said. “It depends what that one thing is.”

Rust says softer compounds will have higher grip – they’ll grab the riding surface better, whether it’s damp dirt in the Rockies or slick rock in the desert, but won’t last as long. Harder tires may last longer, and can sometimes roll faster, but won’t adhere to the riding surface as well.

4) Width

According to Rust, the standard tire size is getting wider. The once super huge 2.3-inch-wide tire is fairly typical, but that width means different things to different tire manufacturers. Before buying, see what it looks like mounted and inflated on a wheel.

5)Quiver of … none?

There might not be a perfect all-around tire, Rusts says. They will all be better at one thing and not another, but you can make good decisions based on what is the most important factor. Fear? Confidence? Cost? Just remember, tires are what make contact with the ground. Choosing wisely will make a difference.

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