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The top 8 best 29 inch downhill tires

In this article I’m going to give you what I feel to be the best 29 inch downhill tires you can buy.

When you’re flying down a hill you need to be able to rely on your tires more than in any other mountain biking discipline.

These tires represent the grippiest out there, with the most aggressive tread pattern ensuring you stick to the trail, no matter how fast you’re taking that corner.

Widely spaced center treads for quick shedding of mud and dirt, and raised knobs to bite into the trail are hallmarks of great downhill tires. Forward pointing knobs for front tires to enable maximum grip, and horizontal rows in the rear for braking power and traction.

Enough talk, here’s the list of the best 29 inch downhill tires.

Continental Der Baron Projekt ProTection Apex

Continental Der Baron Projekt ProTection Apex
Continental Der Baron Projekt ProTection Apex

The Continental Der Baron Projekt is a very aggressive mountain bike tire. Massive blocks sufficiently spaced ensure you have both maximum grip and maximum mud clearance, making this tire a solid enduro allrounder in both wet and dry conditions.

Even in the 2.4 inch width version, this tire weighs 890, which makes this tire a great option if you want to ride all year round, but you stay away from the trail in the worst of conditions.

The BlackChili compound from Continental is known for its great durability. So if you’re also looking for a tire that’ll last you a very long time, and save on cash that way, the Der Baron Projekt is a solid choice as well.

Expert Experience

Jeremy Benson | Product reviewer – November 2, 2020

The Continental Der Baron Projekt is a user-friendly tire that works best in looser and loamy conditions. The most notable design aspects of this tire are the relatively low knobs and open tread pattern. Even though this tire doesn’t have big knobs with an aggressive bite, the open pattern helps them hook up surprisingly well. Rolling speed is sub-par and there is noticeable drag on firm surfaces. I found braking traction to be below average and I found the tire slipped into skid-mode a little too quickly. I was impressed with the longevity as our test tire showed minimal wear with over 300-miles on it. At this price, it is difficult to recommend this tire over the competition. Still, the Der Baron is a respectable performer.

Pros and Cons

Continental Der Kaiser Project Apex

Continental Der Kaiser Project Apex
Continental Der Kaiser Project Apex

When riding in dry conditions you might want to choose the Continental Der Kaiser Project Apex. This premium offering is faster than the more allround Der Baron in a number of respects.

Although at 1100 grams, this is a light tire, it is by no means meant to be a fast-rolling trail tire. The knobbies are spaced to wide for a low rolling resistance, something that matters less when going downhill. The horizontal rows of knobs make for some phenomenal braking power. So for those who want to go down at breakneck speeds this tire has your name written all over it.

Expert Experience

Pat Donahue | Senior Mountain Bike Editor – November 2, 2020

he Continental Der Kaiser Projekt ProTection Apex is a rock-solid tire that delivers impressive performance on the front and rear wheel. The side knobs are stout and supportive, and the Kaiser trends towards a square profile with excellent cornering abilities. I also found the braking and pedaling traction to be excellent. The sidewalls offer ample support with a robust feel that works well at lower tire pressures. I was particularly impressed by their longevity, as the sidewalls and cornering knobs were still in great shape after approximately 300 rough and chunky test miles. My biggest gripe is that the aggressive tread feels quite draggy on the climbs. That said, if you’re searching for a hard-charging, long-lasting tire for gravity or aggressive trail riding, the Der Kaiser is a solid option to consider.

Pros and Cons

Kenda Hellkat Pro

Kenda Hellkat Pro
Kenda Hellkat Pro

The only 26 inch option left in Kenda’s lineup for all-round trail, enduro, and downhill purposes.

Unlike other brands like Maxxis, Schwalbe, and Continental, Kenda seems to be moving away from 26 inch tires for their premium lineup. Although an understandable move it’s still a shame. It means that for downhill you’ll have to settle for the Kenda Hellkat over the Kenda Pinner.

Nonetheless the Kenda Hellkat is an impressive offering which propels the brand back among its peers. The Maxxis DHFs and Schwalbe Magic Marys have been at the top of downhill lists for a very long time now, so it’s good to see Kenda taking a shot with this tire that has excellent traction and durability characteristics.

Expert Experience

Drew Rohde | Editor in Chief – September 15, 2017

The Hellkats rode very well and changed our mind about Kenda’s mountain bike program. From dry, hard pack terrain to loamy PNW trails, the Hellkats continue to impress. Highlights include: braking performance, rolling speed, longevity and traction. We felt confident pushing our bikes hard into corners as the predictable traction kept us focused on the line ahead. We didn’t find much slimy mud this summer, but imagine the somewhat shorter knob height may not be the best option for wetter conditions. Some riders noticed a little bit of squirm in berms when pressures approached 20-PSI, but for those who ran a bit more air, this was not an issue. At roughly 160-175lbs, our testers found the tires performed best between 24.5 and 28.5-PSI and have quickly become one of our favorites on the trail. If you’re looking for a fast rolling tire that offers impressive traction in drier conditions and has a respectable lifespan, the Hellkats should definitely be on your list.

Pros and Cons

Maxxis Minion DHF

Maxxis Minion DHF
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.

Its popularity ensures there are many options to choose from, both with respect to size, as well as casing. And all of them offer either the EXO sidewall protection, or Double Down breaker. For those with a penchant for tan sidewalls, there are those as well.

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 all-round trail-riding and downhill.

Expert Experience

Jeff Barber | Editor in Chief – August 24, 2023

I’ve found the Maxxis Minion DHF truly serves as an all conditions tire, from loose to firm and from wet to dry. Obviously the compound makes a difference when it comes to hard surface traction, as does tire pressure. The Minions do a good job clearing mud and clay, and cut through sandy washes better than most.

Thinking back over hundreds of rides on the Minions DHF tires, I can’t recall a single pinch flat despite running “just” EXO/TR casings. Honestly most riders should be able to get away with a lighter casing on the DHFs since it is a front tire after all. That’s not to say I haven’t had punctures due to sharp objects, though no more or less than other tires.

Pros and Cons

Maxxis Minion DHR II

Maxxis Minion DHR II
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 braking but also gives more traction when going uphill. Both tires have the same side knobs to maximize grip while cornering.

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.

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

Expert Experience

Jeremy Benson | Product reviewer – November 22, 2018

I’m a pretty big fan of this tire. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option for a rear tire for aggressive everyday trail riding. The combination of cornering confidence and pedaling and braking traction is hard to beat. There are faster rolling tires out there, but few that can dominate the trail like the DHR II. Mount this up as a rear tire with a Minion DHF up front and you’ve got our winning combination for aggressive trail riding.

Pros and Cons

Maxxis Assegai

Maxxis Assegai
Maxxis Assegai

If you know mountain biking you know Greg Minnaar. And the Maxxis Assegai is said to be designed with his help. So what does that say about this tire?

Well, he’s a downhill champion, so expect monstrous level of grip and traction in a tire well-suited for the most aggressive trail riders among us. For such an aggressive tire, the profile is relatively rounded still, smoothing out transitions from straight to cornering, without that vague feeling you sometimes get in between.

This tire sits just below a true mud tire, so all of that traction will come at a premium, and the price you pay is of course a slow, and heavy tire in those times when you don’t need as much grip. When choosing tires you have to compromise, and when the going gets tough this is the tire you want to be riding.

Expert Experience

Jeremy Benson | Product reviewer – November 22, 2018

The Maxxis Assegai is my Top Pick for Cornering Traction. If you’re not super concerned with weight or rolling resistance and you’re looking for a tire with outstanding cornering capabilities and seemingly endless pedaling and braking traction, you’ll want to give the Assegai a try. Mount ’em front and rear on your long travel rig for an unbeatable combination for smashing downhill.

Pros and Cons

Schwalbe Big Betty

Schwalbe Big Betty
Schwalbe Big Betty

The Schwalbe Big Betty is the go-to rear tire for the Schwalbe Magic Mary. Where the Magic Mary has proven to be among the top tires in terms of traction, when combined with the Big Betty you improve your overall braking power.

It has a horizontal tread pattern to do so, that’s sufficiently spaced to have sufficient clearing characteristics as well when you release the brakes again.

Of all the downhill combinations available on the market today, I can’t think of a single one that beats Schwalbe’s current offering of Magic Mary and Big Betty. It’s one of the heaviest sets of downhill-specific tires, that’ll provide you the ultimate in traction.

Expert Experience

Mike Kazimer | Technical reviewer – May 19, 2021

The Big Betty’s braking traction is its standout trait – as soon as the brakes are applied those center knobs get to work, biting ferociously into the ground. That tenacious grip is especially noticeable in loose conditions, whether that’s dry and dusty or wet and muddy, and it’s in those instances that I’d put the Big Betty ahead of the Maxxis DHR II as far as overall braking traction. The DHR II is obviously no slouch in the braking department, but it doesn’t dig in quite as hard as the Big Betty does.

Pros and Cons

Schwalbe Magic Mary

Schwalbe Magic Mary
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 all-round trail riding in brutal conditions.

It has top-of-the-line traction combined with super fast rolling characteristics 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.

Expert Experience

Tor Weiland | Contributor – November 03, 2022

The Magic Mary is a seriously universal tire because of how many configurations it comes in. It’s right at home on the front of a trail bike in the Super Trail casing, on an enduro bike in the Super Gravity casing, or on a downhill bike in the Super Downhill casing. As long as you’re happy to put up with the high rolling resistance that you should expect from a performance tire, there aren’t many people that I wouldn’t recommend this tire to. It’s versatile enough to perform excellently in the wet and the dry, and dependable enough to take to your next race.

Pros and Cons

Specifications 29 inch downhill tires

Name
Size
ETRTO
Weight (gr)
Tread color
Sidewall color
Compound
Puncture protection
Tire bead
TPI
Maxxis Minion DHF
29×2.30
58-622
925
Black
Black
3C MaxxTerra
EXO
tlr
60
Maxxis Minion DHF
29×2.50WT
63-622
Black
Black
3C MaxxTerra
EXO
tlr
60
Maxxis Minion DHF
29×2.50WT
64-622
Black
Tan
Dual
EXO
tlr
60
Maxxis Minion DHF
29×2.60
66-622
978
Black
Tan
Dual
EXO
tlr
60
Maxxis Minion DHF
29×2.60
66-622
995
Black
Black
3C MaxxTerra
EXO
tlr
120
Maxxis Minion DHF
29×3.00
76-622
1110
Black
Black
3C MaxxTerra
EXO
tlr
120
Maxxis Minion DHR II
29×2.30
58-622
825
Black
Black
3C MaxxTerra
EXO
tlr
60
Maxxis Minion DHR II
29×2.30
58-622
1040
Black
Black
3C MaxxTerra
DD
tlr
120
Maxxis Minion DHR II
29×2.40WT
61-622
Black
Black
3C MaxxTerra
EXO+
tlr
60
Maxxis Minion DHR II
29×2.40WT
61-622
988
Black
Tan
Dual
EXO
tlr
60
Maxxis Minion DHR II
29×2.40WT
61-622
Black
Black
3C MaxxGrip
DD
tlr
120
Maxxis Minion DHR II
29×2.60
66-622
1035
Black
Black
3C MaxxTerra
EXO+
tlr
60
Maxxis Minion DHR II
29×2.60
66-622
983
Black
Tan
Dual
EXO
tlr
60
Continental Der Baron Projekt ProTection Apex
29×2.40
60-622
990
Black
Black
BlackChili
ProTection Apex casing
tlr
3/180
Continental Der Kaiser Project Apex
29×2.40
60-622
1225
Black
Black
BlackChili
Apex casing
tlr
6/360
Maxxis Assegai
29×2.50WT
64-622
Black
Black
3C MaxxTerra
tlr
60
Maxxis Assegai
29×2.50WT
64-622
Black
Black
3C MaxxTerra
tlr
60
Maxxis Assegai
29×2.50WT
64-622
Black
Black
3C MaxxTerra
tlr
60
Maxxis Assegai
29×2.50WT
64-622
Black
Black
3C MaxxTerra
tlr
60
Maxxis Assegai
29×2.60
66-622
1129
Black
Black
3C MaxxTerra
tlr
60
Maxxis Assegai
29×2.60
66-622
1087
Black
Black
3C MaxxTerra
tlr
60
Schwalbe Big Betty
29×2.40
62-622
1290
Black
Black
ADDIX Soft
Super Gravity
tlr
Schwalbe Big Betty
29×2.60
65-622
1370
Black
Black
ADDIX Soft
Super Gravity
tlr
Schwalbe Big Betty
29×2.60
65-622
1260
Black
Black
ADDIX Soft
Super Trail
tlr

Sources

Jeremy Benson, Continental Der Baron Projekt ProTection APEX Review, Outdoorgearlab, November 2, 2020
Pat Donahue, Continental Der Kaiser Projekt ProTection Apex Review, Outdoorgearlab, November 2, 2020
Drew Rohde, Kenda Hellkat Pro Review, The Loam Wolf, September 15, 2017
Jeff Barber, The Maxxis Minion DHF Tire is Still the One to Beat, Singletracks, August 24, 2023
Jeremy Benson, Maxxis Minion DHR II Review, Outdoorgearlab, November 22, 2018
Jeremy Benson, Maxxis Assegai Review, Outdoorgearlab, November 22, 2018
Mike Kazimer, Review: Schwalbe’s Big Betty Tire is Dependable & Durable, Pinkbike, May 19, 2021
Tor Weiland, Schwalbe Magic Mary | Mountain Bike Tire Review, Thelostco, November 03, 2022
bio vanseijen

Johan van Seijen

Founder Restoration.bike

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. 

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