It’s funny because I still remember to this day the time when I went to a tyre launch and was told that with this new range of tyres the company in question had every single type of riding covered, to which I replied “what about a mud trail tyre?” Apart from the odd other UK journalist that was at this press camp I was met by a whole pile of blank faces, before an Italian journalist finally broke the silence by asking the question “who on earth rides when it’s muddy?”
Of course if you live in the UK you really don’t have much choice. If you avoided mud here you’d be lucky to get out more than a handful of times a year. Picking a tyre for these conditions isn’t easy though, mainly because no trail is the same for miles on end, you’re always going to have to compromise somewhere. If you really have no choice but to ride somewhere that is proper deep mud the whole way around then you probably want to consider what is really the only true mud trail tyre, and that’s Panaracer’s Trailraker. The problem with that tyre though is that as incredible as it is in the mud you’ll find yourself paying a heavy penalty if you take it outside that realm. It’s slow rolling, and you have to treat rocks and roots with a fair bit of caution. So, our advice would be that for general trail use where you’re coming across a mix of deep mud and other surfaces you’re better off with a 50/50 style mud tyre, the likes of which will feature heavily in this top five selection. Although they might not offer ultimate performance in the worst of the brown stuff they more than make up for it elsewhere, and as such we reckon they strike the perfect compromise balance.
The first of our top five selection are the Bontrager 29 Mud tyres. These have been a favourite of ours for years, and despite various name changes along the way the tread has remained the same, which is definitely a good thing. In this instance we’ve chosen the 29×2.0″ version as combined with the larger wheel size they really are a force to be reckoned with, both on natural and man made trails, but the original 26×2.0″ version is still available and is just as highly recommended.
The almost MX like tread pattern does a fine job of cutting through the mud in order to find something to grip on, and it clears easily. Bontrager seem to have hit a good balance on tread height too as there’s just enough to cut thorough, yet not so much that they don’t roll quickly when the trail firms up. Another area where a good balance has been struck is the casing. At 653g this 29″ tyre isn’t going to weigh you down, and yet the casing is also surprisingly resistant to cuts and the like.
Overall then this tyre definitely warrants a place in our top five selection, and that’s without even factoring in that it’s tubeless ready and comes with a bargain price tag. With such great all-round performance lazy riders will also love the fact that you wouldn’t even be losing out too much if you left these tyres on all year round.