In this article I’m going to focus on providing you with a list of the fastest 27.5 mtb tires.
Truth be told, “fastest” is highly dependent on the road conditions. Nobody’s going to argue with the fact that a pair of slick tires is not going to be the fastest for the downhill mountain bike discipline. They’re simply the wrong tires for the job, no matter how low their rolling-resistance is.
So for this list I’m going to offer a number of tires across a variety of disciplines which are fast on tarmac and on the trail. In other words, they have a low-rolling resistance, low weight, and/or are race-oriented.
So with that out of the way, let’s head over to my list of the fastest 27.5 mtb tires.
Continental CONTACT Speed
Meant for the road the Continental Contact Speed is a slick tire in the true sense of the word. A minimalistic profile will turn your bike into a city slicker.
In the commuting and touring range from this German brand, it sits in the fastest category and is one of the most affordable options to obtain a fast-rolling tire.
It also has excellent puncture protection with Continental’s more than adequate SafetySystem breaker technology. Chances of flats are minimized.
Shaun Audane | Technical writer – June 30, 2020
For me at least, the Contact Speeds strike an excellent balance between speed, comfort and puncture resistance – in that order. The wide range of sizes is another big draw and I’d even do a bit of weekend/lightweight touring with them. If these are your priorities, there’s little to touch them. However, if you put reliability and durability over everything else, there are plenty of options for similar money and, indeed, less.
Continental Race King ProTection
The Continental Race King ProTection is an extremely light tire. In the weight department it means it outshines every comparable tire from every other brand by far. And it’s also the best XC tire in the rolling-resistance department.
I cannot stress enough that with respect to speed and acceleration, a light tire makes all the difference. And tires are also the most cost-effective way to reduce the overall weight of the bike.
Try reducing a couple of hundred grams of any other bike component and be ready to spend in the hundreds of dollars. Not so the case with tires. And on top of that the tire has the advanced ProTection puncture protection, with a composite breaker and a bead to bead sidewall protection polyamide fabric.
All that speed comes at a price, because traction is not this tire’s strength when compared to other mountain bike tires. And it’s the reason this tire performs best in dry conditions.
But when riding in those conditions getting up to speed and keeping it is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. It rightly deserves its name.
James | Site owner – May 30, 2023
The Race King ProTection is absolutely blisteringly fast! Doing some airstrip rides alongside my friend on his fixie with road tires really showed that even ‘large’ tires can be fast now! Heck, the amount of roadies I’ve passed while coasting downhill is downright satisfying. Seriously, it felt like a whole new bike in the speed department – at least concerning regular daily riding conditions (pavement, gravel, tarmac, cobble, etc).
Continental Terra Speed ProTection
The Continental Terra Speed, as the name implies, is a gravel tire focused on speed over grip.
That means it’s fast-rolling, with small tightly spaced knobbies. The downside is obviously that, should the road conditions take a turn for the worst, you’ll be left with a mud-caked tire without any grip.
The tire is as stylish as they come, with a light tan option available for some sizes. And on top of that, the tire has the ProTection bead-to-bead puncture resistant layer, the best Continental has in the puncture protection department.
Furthermore it boasts a 3-ply supple 180 TPI carcass made from their top-of-the-line durable BlackChili compound.
Continental is known for their very low-weight, ultra-durable, fast-rolling premium tires, and this one is as good as they come. As long as your favorite riding style is dry conditions dirt and hardpack, there are very few tires that beat the combination of high-quality features packed into this one.
George Scott | Editor in Chief – November 30, 2021
I swapped the Terra Speeds onto my gravel bike in place of WTB’s Resolute tyres. The Resolute has a chunkier tread and offers more all-out grip, but you’re giving up speed to the Terra Speed, which has stayed in place as my go-to option from spring to autumn.
As an all-rounder for the kind of riding now popular on drop-bar bikes – jumping between the road and light off-road terrain – these are some of the best gravel tyres out there. They’re not the outright grippiest or toughest tyres if you’re pushing a gravel bike towards its limits, but are hard to beat as a fast, reassuring option for mixed-terrain riding.
Maxxis Rekon Race
The Maxxis Rekon Race is a perfect allround option to use as a 29 inch gravel tire.
Multiple widths are available from 2.25 up to 2.40 inches. In general the entire premium lineup of Maxxis are great tires, and I particularly like the Rekon Race.
The reason is that the tire provides lots of grip for true gravel riding in dry conditions. And if there’s one thing I love to do is moving through a forest at lightning speed.
Maxxis often makes heavier tires than the counterparts of either Continental or Schwalbe, but their EXO casing has proven over the years to be extremely reliable. And speed is great, but reliability is more important if you ask me.
And in the end weight isn’t the only factor that makes up a high-quality tire. And I firmly believe the 120 TPI versions are fantastic tires for your gravel setup.
Gerow | Product reviewer – December 10, 2020
Another element of note from that ride and successive trail romps is that the EXO casings are an ideal match for an XC tire like the Maxxis Rekon Race. While I wouldn’t mount this casing on any gravity bike, no matter what the tread, it’s the perfect thickness and support for a tire with these intentions. With the low braking grip on these tires most riders won’t ride steep and gnarly trails fast enough to need a thicker casing, and the thinner sidewalls give the tire a nice and natural rebound sensation without flopping over in fast corners.
Panaracer GravelKing SK (TLC)
The Panaracer Gravel King SK has become my favorite gravel tire on the market. In my mind there are two brands that stand out from the crowd, and those are american-made WTB and their Japanese counterpart Panaracer.
I’ve been a longtime fan of Panaracer. When the gravel-craze took hold of the bicycle industry, they created the tire that would serve as the de facto standard for gravel tires with the GravelKing SK. It has just the right weight, just the right tread pattern, just the right puncture protection, and all wrapped up in a beautiful package, both in black and tan-wall options.
Deservedly so, the Panaracer Gravel King SK is in my mind the true fit-and-forget, all-weather, all-season option for gravel aficionados. But will serve those bikepackers and hard-riding daily commuters just as well.
Katherine Moore | Contributor – November 17, 2021
As a ‘road plus’ or gravel tyre for riders who tend to stick to well-surfaced fire roads and tarmac, the GravelKing SK TLC could be a good-value option.
However, for those who like to stray further afield and come across more variable conditions, these are limited by both grip and puncture protection.
I also decided to include the Schwalbe Hurricane in this list. It’s a shame they don’t sell them in skinwall versions as well. But the tire packs a solid combination of a flat centerline and side knobs.
The side knobs means the tire is more versatile than the average slick, opening up the possibility to take your bike offroad and away from the beaten path.
If you want to keep a MTB look for your tires without sacrificing too much speed on the road, this is the perfect tire for you. Especially if you like the occasional trail as well because of the added grip.
Alaskan | Contributor – December 2017, 2019
This tire is whisper quiet on paved surfaces and rolls very easily. It is a very fast tire, almost as fast as Marathon Supremes. The traction on road and trail is very good, verging on excellent. It is sure footed on wet pavement as well.
For me the new Hurricane fits with my riding better than any tire I have ridden on. This tire comes across as the best all purpose tire I have ridden to date.
Schwalbe G-One Allround
The allround in the Schwalbe G-One Allround refers just as much to its application as to its tread pattern.
It’s a fantastic grippy tire meant for riding in dry conditions. It has a pattern rather than easily discernible knobbies, making this the fastest allround gravel tire of this list. That’s why it performs exceptionally well on tarmac as on gravel.
The Super Ground carcass is found on tires that need to perform well in various conditions, and offers great rolling-resistance, durability and weight characteristics. The ADDIX SpeedGrip compound obviously favors speed above traction.
The tread pattern, the compound and tire carcass, all of those components make this one helluva speedy gravel tire for dry conditions.
Jamie Williams | Technical writer – August 14, 2021
Having ridden on the G-One Allround for six weeks through a mix of heatwaves and localised flooding on tarmac, gravel and the odd XC trail, I’m impressed. For all the dry riding on all the various surfaces, they’re great – a little expensive, yes, but great.
Of all the tires I’ve come across, none is as true to its name as the WTB ThickSlick.
The high-contrast white letters on the smooth carcass is one of the most distinctive designs for a black tire you can find. A tire with a non-existent tread pattern such as this one is obviously meant for riding on pavement and tarmac. And it does so admirably, with a reasonable enough weight and rolling-resistance.
It’s a very niche-oriented tire to turn your bike into something more. And one of the best-looking slick mountain bike tires ever to hit the market.
Dave Henly | Site Owner – March 6, 2017
For urban riding and as a road training tire, the ThinSlicks are perfect. If you want to ride gravel on a road bike, these might work ok, but you’ll be pushing them to their limit. And if you want to do a lot of touring, you can either go with these bad boys or the Gatorskins. The Gatorskins might be more comfortable over long straight stretches.
Johan van Seijen is the founder of restoration.bike. His cycling career has seen him at the starting line of classics such as the Amstel Gold Race and Liege Bastogne Liege. Realizing his racing capacity would fall short of what was needed he obtained a MS from the University of Amsterdam in engineering. His love for cycling changed into riding in an amateur capacity with his local cycling club TFC Weesp as a roadie and supporting MTB Noordwest as a mountain biker. He repairs, restores, and builds bicycles and shares his knowledge on YouTube, Facebook and this website.