Today’s question is about choosing a good mountain bike tire than can be used in a variety of conditions on- and off-road…

Great website!! I just purchased a used set of Mavic Crossmax SL over the weekend on ebay. I would truly appreciate any recommendations you can provide on a UST tire. I am new to MTB riding and I am going in circles! I don’t want anything too heavy (seems there is a large difference in weights of UST tires – like the Kenda Small Block 8s are much heavier than the Maxxis Crossmark). And I want a general, all purpose tire. I ride on the street 1x per week, do some hardpack riding, and occasional soft pack. Want something that grips well, is fast on the street, and can handle some trails. I am not too worried about the soft sand. Any help you can provide is truly appreciated. I know I will develop my own opinion over time, but I would like to start out on the right foot (tire?!).

Thanks so much!!
-Allaround Andrew

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for the compliment, and good choice on wheels. I’ve had a couple different sets of Mavic wheels and always liked them.

I’ve written about the IRC Serac XC, which is my personal favorite all-around XC racing tire, but it might be a little aggressive if you’ll mostly be on hard dirt and pavement.

I’ll recommend two UST tires to check out – the Maxxis Monorail and Maxxis Crossmark. Other tires (Kenda, Continental, Schwalbe, Michelin, etc.) may work just as well for you, but these are my personal favorites when it comes to hardpacked dirt.

The Maxxis Monorail is a fast-rolling tire that is good on the road and on hardpack. It is a great tire for road and hardpack dirt trails. It works alright in softer stuff too, but with a little less stability. In other words, it will slide out at some point. That’s a good sacrifice for top XC racers to make if they need tires that roll fast, but they can pull it off because they know how to control their bike if the tires lose their grip.

The Maxxis Crossmark is great because it rolls fast but is still good for all sorts of trail riding, other than extreme mud. It’s also about the same weight as the Monorail.

You can’t go wrong with Crossmarks front and rear, so that’s what I recommend most riders start with. In your situation, you’d probably be fine on either tire, but I’d still recommend the Crossmarks. With Maxxis Crossmarks, you might give up a little speed on the street, but they will more than make up for it by improving your confidence when off-road.

Some of my friends have also been riding Vittoria tires. Check out the Vittoria Barzo and Saguaro. Choose the tubeless-ready version.

Now go have fun out there!

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