What Do Riders Think? 10 Tires Reviewed by Vital MTB Members


There's power in numbers, and collectively Vital MTB readers put in more trail miles and try out more products than our team of professional reviewers ever could. With over 1,000 reviews and 13,000 products in the Vital MTB Product Guide, it's a great place to find real-world opinions and compare product specs. Here are ten highly-rated tires and product impressions from riders just like you:

Kenda Hellkat Tire

  • Grippy
  • Consistent, predictable handling across all surfaces
  • Sheds dirt easily
  • Super compliant, soft, sticky rubber
  • Grip great in the wet and loose
  • Good tread life and wear patterns
  • Lighter than many competing 2-ply downhill tires
  • Good tubeless compatibility with easy mounting
  • Great ride quality at slightly lower pressures than usual
  • Plenty of confidence braking and cornering in blown-out soil
  • No folding bead version (yet)
  • Casing is vulnerable to pinching/slicing
  • Relatively slow rolling
  • Less outright grip than competitors

Key Impressions

"The Hellkats are an amazing DH option with fast, consistent grip. Eats up loose or wet conditions and sheds dirt efficiently and easily. Easy to mount tubeless with our without a compressor. Can't wait for a lighter folding trail version to come out - they'll be here soon." - yakattack

"The rubber is really sticky and great for wet/muddy conditions. Best part is it doesn't wear out after one ride. Tread pattern is great for gripping wet roots and rocks and digging into muddy terrain. Two thumbs up!" - porkchop392123456789

"Hellkats are a soft compound tire with large side knobs and great braking abilities. Lots of traction in the corners and steeps. Perfect rubber if you ride wet or loose trails on the reg! The wire bead set up tubeless is my goto on DH and trail bikes." - reecewallace

"On hardpack trails, the tall Hellkat cornering knobs do not squirm as much as anticipated, and the center tread is also solid under hard braking. Through loose conditions the Hellkat digs in well, providing plenty of confidence braking and cornering in blown-out soil. With some additional refinement to sidewall protection and a grippier rubber compound, the Hellkat could become a fan favorite. As is, the tires wear well with decent grip and predictable handling." - Vital Review

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Shop the Kenda Hellkat at Jenson USA, starting at $79.95

Maxxis High Roller II Tire

  • Softer compound provides great grip
  • Corners well
  • DH and DD sidewalls hold up to abuse
  • Grip is superb in dry or wet
  • Mud shedding ability
  • Downhill bite
  • Issues with the EXO sidewalls tearing
  • Higher rolling resistance than some other offerings
  • Weight
  • Climbing slip
  • A bit pricey

Key Impressions

"So far the DH High Roller II has been great. I went with the Maxxgrip version of the tire and the difference in compound is noticeable. I am pushing corners harder than before, and I do not wash out like I did with the Maxterra version. I do think the compound is a bit slower climbing and rebounds a bit slower, but this is welcome on the downhill sections. The tire is pretty darn heavy at 1,200g, but I am far from a weight weenie and so it doesn’t bother me. So far they have held up awesome as well, all of the knobs are in good shape and there are no tears or damage on the tire’s sidewall. This tire is well known for a reason, they corner well and provide tons of grip without a huge rolling resistance penalty. I will definitely purchase another High Roller II when this one wears out." - lagocza

"I was a big fan of the old High Roller tires, and the new High Roller II model leaves zero to be desired. Much more true to size now with killer sidewall and compound options. Less on or off feel through the corners and works well on a pretty wide variety of terrain. Running the 3C 2.4-inch version on my Entourage and will never swap. They give you a ton of trust in your traction. Well done Maxxis." - 26only

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Shop the Maxxis High Roller II at Jenson USA, starting at $48.80

Maxxis Minion DHF Tire

  • One of the most widely used and best known tires
  • Excels at hardpack, medium, and loose terrain as a front tire
  • Predictable and consistent grip, impressive in corners and off-camber sections
  • Braking traction
  • Wears well on the front
  • Versatile
  • Several casing options, some with great sidewall protection
  • Moderately fast rolling
  • Some versions run narrower than competitors
  • Corner knobs often develop tears under aggressive riders
  • Not the best in severely wet weather, can pack up in sticky mud
  • Wears quickly as a rear tire

Key Impressions

"To me the most important part of a tire is predictability--and that predictability is why I keep running the DHF year after year. For me, the DHF works well enough in any condition, although I'd say its at its best in mixed loose over hardpack (what I ride most). It isn't the greatest in thick sticky mud as it's not as open as some designs and will pack up, but even here I know what it's going to do and can make it work. As a rear tire I find it drifts (you guessed it) predictably. I usually run 25-30 PSI for DH and I can't remember the last time I got a flat. Bottom line, it's a super solid tire that is good to great at nearly everything." - SuboptimusPrime

"This is truly the gold standard of tires, There are multiple on the market now that have a similar tread pattern for a reason, it works! These tires, regardless of the carcus, width, or on front or rear are stellar. From my experience they are predictable even when leaning to the side knobs. Some other tires get vague in this area, but these do not with the open area between the center and outer knobs. Their wear is on par as to other tires and to what I would expect." - Carraig042

"Cornering is top notch and they definitely have that playful drift zone a lot of people talk about. What they lack in grip on the muddiest days, they make up for pretty much everywhere else. They definitely excel as a bike park tire or versatile race tire. One problem I always have is cornering knobs falling off. On several of my tires after a month or two, a large amount of the knobs are ripped off or close to it, even when most of the braking knobs are almost entirely intact. Still they are longer lasting than a lot of the super soft competition." - hungryhippo1

"If you are looking for a tire that can really handle aggressive riding, provide reliability, and last you for a good amount of time, this is it." - ddbullard76

"The tire is amazing at cornering. The side knobs dig in and stick. It is fast rolling and they last quite a long time. It performs great in almost all conditions and it inspires confidence." - Brian Cahal

"These should be the default tire for anyone into any serious riding, especially on the front. On the rear you could go for a faster rolling tire if the conditions are dry, but you can't go wrong with it front and rear." - ZMC888

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Shop the Maxxis Minion DHF at Jenson USA, starting at $46.40

Maxxis Shorty Tire

  • Fantastic grip in the wet
  • Surprisingly good rolling resistance in the wet
  • Durability
  • Predictability
  • Casing
  • Bit vague feeling on hard pack (to be expected)
  • For 29ers, there is no Super Tacky, MaxxGrip, Double Down, or 2.5-inch width options
  • Rolling resistance in drier conditions

Key Impressions

"First ride was an uplift session on a perfect shorty local DH track - minimal rocks, lots of sloppy peat and mud. Chuffed to bits with how much grip the tire provided over a High Roller, and how consistent it felt when leaning the bike over. I think this is due to the really good mud shedding ability of the tire, with the knob spacing and depth meaning that it cleans itself up nicely each revolution (mudguards and goggles advised!). However, the key thing that has impressed me with the tire is not its outright wet weather performance, but its capability as an all rounder. For a tire design as specific as this, the lack of rolling resistance, and grip offered up when on harder pack trail centre stuff is really surprising. The only area it maybe struggles in is really high speed berms where you do notice the knobs squirming around under a lot of load. Wear has been impressive." - W.A.Josh.Gardner

"They bite deep and hold corners but do not feel squirmy on the rocks/roots. In the peanut butter at Snowshoe these tires do a decent job of clearing mud as well. Loam or moon dust conditions is where these tires really excel. Often used Minions or HR2's in loam but the Shorty inspires more confidence and braking, especially when it gets steep such as Thunder Mountain. Only weakness as a DH mud tire would be the tracks where there are lots of wide open grassy turns and when its extra sloppy, a full spike will serve better then." - That-Norco-Dude

"Best tire for loose riding conditions, and even when it gets more hardpack. It's way better than a Magic Mary which the knobs fold a lot." - tmano2

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Shop the Maxxis Shorty at Jenson USA, starting at $62.40

Schwalbe Magic Mary Tire

  • "Quite good" grips in all conditions
  • Best suited in intermediate to wettish conditions with great grip in loose dirt, soft soil, and semi-muddy conditions
  • Addix Soft compound wears exceptionally well
  • Super Gravity casing helps prevent flats and prevents sidewall roll
  • Very predictable, reliable
  • Bites in corners and rowdy off-camber transitions
  • Sidewall choices are all (Super Gravity) or nothing (SnakeSkin)
  • Not made it in hard or medium compound for rear use
  • Good, but not the best on hard pack
  • Rolling speed
  • Can be skittish on flat corners
  • Quick wearing on rocky trails
  • When run out back the side knobs like to tear

Key Impressions

"Magic Mary tires cover pretty much everything, which for me is their biggest strength. My biggest hang up [while racing] was always tire choice. It did my head in. All that was until I discovered Schwalbe Magic Mary's. Fit and forget. They corner well in everything, they clear well, don't wear particularly quickly and the rear drag is slowish, but acceptable. My only gripe is mentioned above - the sidewall choices. The SnakeSkin ones are about 750g and the Super Gravity about 1150g. I really wish there was something in between, around 950g." - Tristan_Mayor

"On soft soils, these tires dig in hard and offer really good grip, both braking and cornering. On hardpack, the tire does a good enough job, but the tall, soft knobs squirm during hard cornering. When new, the grip between the old Vertstar and new Addix Soft compound is nearly identical, but the Addix Soft compound wears much, much slower than the Vertstar. Compared to another great all-around tire, the Minion DHF 2.3 DD Maxxgrip, the Magic Mary has more volume, brakes a bit better, and is better in soft, loose, or wet conditions. The DHF gets the nod on hard pack conditions and rolls a bit faster. The compounds of both tires have similar grip, however the Schwalbe compound wears much slower than the 3C Maxxgrip." - dirtyrickwoodson

"Ended up with one not through choice on a new bike. Found it to be very uninspiring on the downs, and felt like trying to pedal a tractor tire on the ups. The unforgiving sidewall leaving a harsh ride despite lower pressures, and in spite of trying higher pressures still easy to burp tubeless, although easy to set up so, but then all the sealant seeps through the sidewall despite being a tubeless version." - frustrated

"It's my favorite tire, I don't always run it upfront due to pedally nature of surrounding trails but I always regret not having it in rowdy areas." - dcm6861

"I've tried many tires and keep coming back to this one. I won't run anything else on the front and I will probably put another one on the back when the current Hans Dampf is toast. We have a mix of granite, roots, and a little dirt where I ride my trail bike and this tire just works." - Amart1500

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Shop the Schwalbe Magic Mary at Jenson USA, starting at $22.99

Schwalbe Hans Dampf Tire

  • Dependable
  • All round good grip in most situations, predictable
  • Weight
  • Fast and smooth rolling, for the size of the tread lugs
  • Multidirectional tread makes installation easy
  • Braking traction
  • High volume
  • Comfort
  • Fast Rolling
  • Short lifespan
  • Side knobs give too much on hard pack corners, can tear off
  • Thicker DH casing is usually difficult to find
  • 26-inch options seem more limited
  • Sidewall protection
  • Not recommended for muddy or loose conditions

Key Impressions

"The Hans Dampf is a great tire. I ran the 26x2.35 SnakeSkin TrailStar compound on the front of my bike and was rewarded with great traction and low weight. The only issues I found with the Hans Dampf was on flatter hard packed turns, the side knobs would give a bit earlier than anticipated which was usually not pretty. The general consensus on the Hans Dampf is the wear rate on the knobs, which I would agree with. They wear quickly, but as long as you go into the game knowing that, its not really a big deal." - brimmergj

"I have run this on the rear of my bike in both 2.25 and 2.35-inch widths with the Schwalbe Magic Mary up front. If find this tire very surefooted and a good overall weight so not too hard to get up to speed. Though don't go doing skids on the trails or it will wear quick." - Peter_Craig

"Coming from a Bontrager tire, these Hans Dampf tires were a godsend and saved me from the treacherous XR3's that came stock on my Remedy. However, as the season went on I become less and less interested in them. My friend who had the same Remedy as me, also got the Hans and those were shredded just by riding down some stairs after having them for a few weeks. My tires got a sidewall puncture three times in a row when I went to the local bike park which got frustrating real quick. I have had not one problem while riding these tires on trails in the North Shore but as soon as I take them to a loose bike park setting they scare me. The price is something to be considered when shopping for tires as well and these are usually higher in price than most of their competitiors." - astrizzle

"If you carve hard the Minion slips less and bites harder, however the braking grip of the Hans Dampf can save your neck. Both are great tires with no clear winner. On trails and running tubeless I prefer the Hans Dampf. If was doing a day with an uplift service then Minion." - ZMC888

"They hold corners, roll fast and climb well. I can say enough about the volume of the 2.35 it is huge huge huge compared to Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5. Plus they are 200 grams per tire lighter. The TrailStar compound is the real deal. I liked its fast rolling middle and grippy edges. The tire has a great round profile with no gaps in tread to leave you hanging as you drop the bike into the turn. They drift in a very controlled and predictable way." - Christian Peper

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Shop the Schwalbe Hans Dampf at Jenson USA, starting at $34.99

Specialized Slaughter Tire

  • Fast-rolling
  • Lightweight
  • Sufficient rear grip in most terrain
  • Slides when you want but still grips in the corners
  • Super sturdy sidewalls (GRID casing)
  • Slow wear
  • Great value
  • No real traction in mud or wet roots
  • After side lugs start to wear/tear the tire loses cornering traction

Key Impressions

"Great all around rear tire for fast rides and different terrain. The [GRID] sidewall is tough enough for lots of edgy gnar but still light enough to be nimble and fast. I’ve ran 10 different combinations on my current rig and keep coming back to this tire and the Maxxis Aggressor. Nothing else compares to these two for fast rear tires. The Slaughter lets you drift easier though." - Jay Sexton

"Great value! Easily available! Rides fast! Super fun! If it rains then put your cowboy hat on cause it's gonna be loose! On slabs and hard pack it's great for going fast and slowing down quickly in control. Definitely not as comfortable feeling as knobby tires but that's a given sacrifice for the party." - Jacob_Spera

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Specialized Butcher Tire

  • Claimed width specs are accurate
  • Excellent grip
  • Great durability, tread and sidewalls seem to age at nearly the same rate
  • Less expensive option than others
  • GRID sidewall gives great support at reasonable tubeless pressures
  • Take sidewall abuse as well or better than other protected type sidewalls like EXO, etc
  • A little heavy on the spec sheet compared to some other similar tires
  • Not fully up to published widths

Key Impressions

"The grip of the Specialized Butcher GRID 2Bliss Ready tires is very good, not the best out there but given that they are only $60 MSRP, they offer plenty of grip for every penny spent. In terms of durability, they have outlasted any Maxxis tire I have ever owned. The side knobs appear to remain intact with very little signs of wear. The tops of the center knobs have a few minor chunks missing but comparing them to Maxxis 3C tires they have outlived them no question about that." - dirtworks911

"You're probably not going for GRID sidewalls or Butchers anyway if you're a weight weenie. I'll trade off a little weight for great grip, sidewall protection, and sidewall feel all day long. I run these at 18-19 psi front and 19-21 psi rear depending on my pump, my mood and the trails I'll be riding. If I let it drop even a few psi below that and I'm pushing it on chunky trails I start to get rim dings, but have had no punctures or snakebites yet despite this. I'm going full 5 stars for combination of performance and value." - Bill_Jackman

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WTB Convict Tire

  • Great on trail performance in loose and rocky conditions
  • Easy tubeless setup
  • Harder compounds available in beefier casing
  • Sub-par puncture resistance on "light" casing
  • Light casing is heavier than competitors
  • Slow rolling

Key Impressions

"What if I want a burly tread pattern, a high volume 2.5-inch width, and a tough casing but don't want to be shelling out to buy a $70+ tire every 2-3 months (softer compounds simple don't last very long in the rear if you ride with any regularity)? The Convict in its fast rolling compound and Tough casing is literally the only tire I've been able to find that fits all of these needs. I can definitely recommend this tire but in the Tough casing only. In the limited time I had this tire on the front and rear it was a great combo, inspiring confidence in all of the conditions I encountered. In my farther-reaching experience running the Convict on the rear paired with a Minion DHF on the front, I can say that this is one of the best tires I have yet ridden and easily stands with the best in its category." - 7willmorris

"Riders looking for an aggressive and meaty tire for their trail bike with DH-level casing protection should give the WTB Convict a try. If you plan on getting some laps in at your local bike park or riding some rowdy terrain on your trail bike, these are a justifiable weight penalty for riders with a gravity focus. We had great results in loose conditions and survived trail after trail of sharp rocks with the Convicts." - Vital Review

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Shop the WTB Convict at Jenson USA, starting at $60.95

WTB Trail Boss Tire

  • Rounded profile
  • Predictable grip, good all-rounder
  • Excellent cornering
  • Easy to slice the tire in the thinner casing
  • Difficult to mount and remount on certain rims

Key Impressions

"The tire has proven to be very predictable and communicable as was hoped. In the tricky off-camber corners where one can't fully commit to a hard lean angle, the Trail Boss really shone. The traction would gradually taper off into a slide allowing one to play with slip angles and slides. High-speed bermed corners resulted in excellent sidewall support and grip allowing one to hold their line without wandering. On climbs and flat sections, the closely spaced but staggered series of knobs keeps the tire rolling quickly. Not necessarily as quickly as some semi-slick racing tires with reduced center tread, it still does quite well. Excellent handling tire that instills confidence with a very predictable management of traction. Riders would be recommended to stay away from the thin sidewall version in the rear as it get cut easily. If the tires are meant to be swapped frequently, the Trail Boss will prove difficult to remove but it's very general profile means that it can work well in a wide range of conditions." - whilgenb

"If your 29er will fit a larger than normal tire, then the Trail Boss should be at the top of your list. After being in search of a great all-rounder for many years, I feel like the trail Boss is the one. The TCS Light/Fast version has proven to be tough enough in the sidewalls, yet offers a resilient ride through a wide pressure range. It has an acceptable rolling resistance yet does not lose traction on the climbs before my ability. The cornering is very predictable and bites when you need or works in controllable drift if you push it." - Willis24

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Shop the WTB Trail Boss at Jenson USA, starting at $34.15

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