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The top 12 best 29 inch gumwall tires for 2023

In this article I’m going to showcase a wide array of some of the best 29 inch gumwall tires.

Different mountain bike disciplines are represented on this list. From cross country to trail, and even enduro, and downhill. So be sure you pick the tire that’s right for how you’ll be using your mountain bike.

Then you’ll be able to find tanwall tires and true skin wall tires. Tan wall tires have painted sidewalls, but keep the added sidewall protection. Skin wall tires don’t, they’ve shed the black sidewall ply which shows the creme sidewall underneath it. They are more prone to damage, but much lighter in general.

Maxxis calls these skin wall tires “light tan” and Schwalbe calls them “transparent”. All of WTB tan tires are true skinwalls with a focus on speed over protection. So that’s another thing to take into consideration when picking a tire. It’s not just a fancy color.

And with that out of the way, let’s head over to the list of the best 29 inch gumwall tires.

Maxxis Ardent

If you want more grip than the Ardent Race might offer, you’ll be looking for the Maxxis Ardent. It’s a crossover tire sitting somewhere in between a trail and a cross country one.

When you resize the knobs on the Ardent Race and make them bigger, you’ll trade in a bit of speed for more grip. And that’s what they did with the Maxxis Ardent.

And trading in speed has to be taken with a grain of salt, for this is still a very fast tire, which excels on dry, hardpack trails.

Maxxis Ardent Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
More grip than the Ardent Race. Makes for a grippy combination with the Maxis Ikon.
Reasons to avoid
None

Maxxis Ikon

The absolute cross-country king in Maxxis’ lineup. The Maxxis Ikon has near perfect allround tire characteristics, which makes it an excellent option for diverse road and trail conditions. Though it’s categorized obviously as an XC tire, it’ll also perform superior for bikepackers and gravel riders.

That being said, this is a racing tire, which means it’s light. But the reliable EXO compound, also used for harsher enduro racing, also means you’ll enjoy this tire for many miles.

As with any tire with this type of tread, it’ll perform well in dry conditions. The 26 inch version has both a 2.35 and 2.2 inch width option. You can run this tire both front and back, and might opt for the wider version in the front for some added grip. Especially if you expect some portions of your ride to be particularly rough.

It’s undeniable that the top-of-the-line products of Maxxis are superior to many if not all of their competitors. And the Maxxis Ikon shows it, with a perfect blend of weight, speed, grip, and protection.

Maxxis Ikon Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
The cross-country king. Highly versatile tire which excels in XC, bikepacking, and gravel, lightweight. Can be used front and rear. Pair with Ardent Race in the front for ultra-fast yet grippy XC setup. Tan options available
Reasons to avoid
None

Maxxis Minion DHF

When you’re looking for a mountain bike tire it’s almost impossible not to have heard of the Maxxis Minion DHF. The reason being it’s like the ultimate fit-and-forget mountain bike tire on the market. That means that the tire is just about perfect for any local trail riding, to enduro and downhill races.

The tread pattern shows that this tire prefers to sit on your front wheel. You can opt to put another fan favorite, the Maxxis Minion DHR II, at the back. That tire has horizontally aligned knobbies for increased braking power.

On its own, or paired with the Minion DHR II, the Maxxis Minion DHF is such a no-brainer that it’s hard to not recommend it to anyone for allround trail-riding and downhill.

Maxxis Minion DHF Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Superb allrounder with loads of sizing / compound combinations possible. Combines with Maxxis Minion DHR II for an excellent allround trail setup.
Reasons to avoid
None

Maxxis Minion DHR II

The “DH” in DHF and DHR stands for “downhill”. The “F” and “R” for “front” and “rear” respectively. The “downhill” in the name is a bit misleading, because the horizontal tread pattern of the DHR not only aids breaking but also gives more traction when going uphill. Both tires have the same side knobs to maximise grip while cornering.

Be sure to buy the “super tacky” compound casing which will aid your grip. As a 26″ tire this means you’ll run a 2.35 DHF front tire and a slightly wider 2.4″ DHR rear tire to add a bit more cushioning for a tire that’ll needs to bear the brunt of your weight and impacts.

Maxxis intended these two tires to be used together as their go-to allround solution for trail riding. And these tires are in some many lists that it’s probably the best allround no-worries solution money can buy.

Choose the dual compound for lower rolling resistance and longer life or the super tacky compound for more grip.

Together witth the Minion DHF, the Maxxis Minion DHR II is a fantastic and confidence inspring tire that will take your downhill rides to the next level.

Maxxis Minion DHR II Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
One of the best rear tires available, combines with Maxxis Minion DHF for an excellent allround trail setup
Reasons to avoid
None

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.

Maxxis Rekon Race Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Great allround option, very durable
Reasons to avoid
None

Schwalbe Magic Mary

The Magic Mary is Schwalbe’s grippiest tire from their entire lineup. It performs both brilliantly as a downhill tire, but is just as effective for allround trail riding in brutal conditions.

It has top-of-the-line traction combined with super fast rolling characteristic and a good feel for the trail at high speeds. If you want to be in the moment and experience flow going down sloppy slopes the Magic Mary delivers big time, with virtually zero cons.

Good braking power, allround riding characteristics in dry and wet conditions, this is Schwalbe’s top tire for all-mountain, enduro and downhill, no matter what the conditions are.

Schwalbe Magic Mary Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Very grippy, go-to gravity tire, solid braking power, 4-season downhill tire
Reasons to avoid
Meant for downhill

Schwalbe Racing Ray

Where the Schwalbe Racing Ralph was designed as a rear tire, the Schwalbe Racing Ray is meant for the front. It also means that one of the most obvious choices for a Schwalbe cross country setup would be the combination of the two.

And it seems that the combination works for a lot of people better than ever. with great braking power and traction in the back and great traction and grip in the front, even for wet conditions.

Schwalbe Racing Ray Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Extremely fast front XC tire, super fast setup with the Schwalbe Racing Ralph
Reasons to avoid
none

Schwalbe Thunder Burt

Another fantastic option from Schwalbe, and on the more premium side, is the Schwalbe Thunder Burt. It’s a very lightweight XC tire with hardly and tread pattern in the center to speak of.

If you feel that you might be gravel oriented with your bike this is an excellent choice. The raised knobbies on the side will give you the confidence you’re looking for, while the extremely low weight of just 510 grams also means these mid-size tires are very fast.

Schwalbe Thunder Burt Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Lightweight, cross-country tire, gravel tire
Reasons to avoid
None

Schwalbe Wicked Will

The Schwalbe Wicked Will is one of the latest additions to the German tire manufacturer’s lineup. Its role is to be a sort of jack-of-all-trades mountain bike tire, which was the same with its older brother, the Nobby Nic.

To be able to fulfill this role, there are indeed many sizes, and casings to choose from. But you’ll be out of luck if you thought this tire will come in the classic 26 inch size, for also Schwalbe is following the industry trend of ditching 26 inch tire sizes from their premium lineup.

What I can appreciate is the fact that Schwalbe actually included a true skinwall version they call “transparent”. That means that looking at the tread pattern you can opt for a very grippy XC tire, or a more standard allround trail tire.

To further support the fact of its allround nature you have the ability to choose from 4 different casings, depending on your preferred type of trail. From the lightest Super Race, to the Super Ground, and most durable (and heaviest) Super Trail.

I think the Nobby Nic is the most-used trail tire where I’m from, but I’m sure I’ll be seeing a lot of Wicked Wills as time moves one, because this tire is just as good and deserves the moniker fit-and-forget just as easy.

Schwalbe Wicked Will Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Fantastic allrounder, with many options to choose from to suit riding styles from aggressive XC to trail riding.
Reasons to avoid
None

Vittoria Mezcal

Another cross-country crossover well-suited for bikepacking is the Vittoria Mezcal. The single 2.1 inch width version available for 26 inch tires, has a very low-profile tread pattern to improve rolling-resistance.

The 620 grams for a single tire is very light. And it’s this tire that has been on several cross-country championship bikes. So as far as speed is concerned, it’s extremely fast.

But for bikepacking you’ll need much more than speed. You want longevity and durability. The Vittoria Mezcal uses their proprietary graphene enhanced 4C compound. It prevents the knobs from squirming on hardpack, which in turn increases speed and durability.

The Mezcal is most at home on hardpack, but does perform well on other surface types. But like all of the other tires mentioned here, you will run into issues when encountering mud. The knobs are simply bunched too much together.

The Vittoria Mezcal makes for a fast and durable dual setup.

Vittoria Mezcal Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Lightweight XC tire, can also be used for bikepacking and gravel, fast
Reasons to avoid
Sacrifices a bit of grip for speed, not good mud

WTB Trail Boss 2.25

The WTB Trail Boss 2.25 is a great, premium allround trail tire with fast-rolling XC characteristics. Its densily packed knobs are a good option for fast riding in dry conditions.

As it should be, the tread pattern offers enough grip in normal conditions, and is on the faster side of the mountain bike spectrum. So it’s either a solid dual setup in dry condtions for aggressive XC and trail riding, or mounted in the rear for a faster-rolling, lightweight enduro option.

A great allround option for people who prefer fast and relatively straight.

WTB Trail Boss 2.25 Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Fast-rolling, grippy tire for aggresive XC and trail riding.
Reasons to avoid
Might be to light for some in rough conditons

WTB Vigilante 2.3

The WTB Vigilante 2.3 is a premium trail and enduro contender for people who don’t mind spending a bit of cash.

For a pretty sum you get an incredibly durable tire for aggressive trail and enduro riding. The tire favors a front setup with widely spaced knobs that easily clear mud. That wide spacing and high side knobs does mean you feel the transition from straight to hard cornering, which is something to get used to.

A compound containing 3 separate rubbers offer superb grip in a heavy casing, which is especially noticeable going uphill. The tire excels in fast descents which are not too technical, because the grip, weight, and durability means it rougshods over anything in your path.

WTB Vigilante 2.3 Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Going fast and straight on not too technical terrain. Extremely durable.
Reasons to avoid
You feel tire transition in hard corners

Specifications 29 inch gumwall tires

Name
Size
ETRTO
Weight (gr)
Tread color
Sidewall color
Compound
Puncture protection
Tire bead
Buy at Amazon
Maxxis Ardent
29×2.40
61-622
925
Black
Tan
Dual
EXO
tlr
link
Maxxis Ikon
29×2.20
57-662
685
Black
Light Tan
3C MaxxSpeed
EXO
tlr
Maxxis Minion DHF
29×2.60
66-622
978
Black
Tan
Dual
 
tlr
Maxxis Minion DHF
29×2.50WT
64-622
 
Black
Tan
Dual
 
tlr
Maxxis Minion DHR II
29×2.60
66-622
983
Black
Tan
Dual
EXO
tlr
Maxxis Minion DHR II
29×2.40WT
61-622
988
Black
Tan
Dual
EXO
tlr
Maxxis Rekon Race
29×2.25
57-622
691
Black
Tan
Dual
 
tlr
Maxxis Rekon Race
29×2.40
61-622
803
Black
Tan
Dual
 
tlr
Maxxis Rekon Race
29×2.35
60-622
805
Black
Tan
Dual
 
tlr
Schwalbe Magic Mary
29×2.60
65-622
1220
Black
Bronze
ADDIX Soft
 
tlr
Schwalbe Racing Ray
29×2.25
57-622
680
Black
Transparent
ADDIX Speed
Super Race
tlr
link
Schwalbe Thunder Burt
29×2.10
54-622
545
Black
Transparent
ADDIX Speed
 
tlr
Schwalbe Thunder Burt
29×2.25
57-622
645
Black
Transparent
ADDIX Speed
Super Race
tlr
Schwalbe Thunder Burt
29×2.35
60-622
730
Black
Transparent
ADDIX Speed
Super Race
tlr
Schwalbe Wicked Will
29×2.40
62-622
820
Black
Transparent
ADDIX SpeedGrip
Super Race
TLE
Schwalbe Wicked Will
29×2.40
62-622
845
Black
Bronze
ADDIX SpeedGrip
Super Ground
TLE
Vittoria Mezcal
29×2.10
54-622
640
Black
Tan
4C Graphene
XC Race TLR
tlr
Vittoria Mezcal
29×2.25
57-622
690
Black
Tan
4C Graphene
APF / Sidewall Protection
tlr
WTB Trail Boss 2.25
29×2.25
54-622
909
Black
Tan
TriTec Dual DNA
 
tlr
WTB Vigilante 2.3
29×2.30
57-622
955
Black
Tan
TriTec Single
 
foldable

Bicycle tire puncture resistance

EXO, GreenGuard, AGC, AEC, ATC, do you ever get confused with all the jargon related to puncture protection. I know I did? That’s why I’ve written a separate article about puncture resistance technologies. That way, you’ll be able to better understand what’s out there and if it’s worth your money.

Johan van Seijen

FoundeR Restoration.bike

Johan van Seijen is the founder of restoration.bike. His passion for cycling in general, and restoring older bikes turned into a website to share his knowledge with a broader audience. Starting out on his father’s road bike and riding classics as the Amstel Gold Race and Liege Bastogne Liege he has shifted his attention to trail, XC, and gravel riding since. No matter how much he loves writing about everything related to cycling, nothing beats actually using his ever-expanding bicycle collection.

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