Search
Close this search box.
Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, when you buy through our links, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

The top 6 best 29 inch tubeless gravel tires

In this article I’m going to give you a list of the very best 29 inch tubeless gravel tires.

To do so I turned towards the cross country section of most brands. It’s these tires that are basically exactly the same as gravel tires meant for rougher conditions. With the only exception that they come in 29 inch packages and offer much more width.

Whereas your standard gravel tire has a width of about 40 mm, in this list you’ll find tires going up to 60 millimeters. That means more volume, more comfort, more grip, more cornering confidence, more traction and basically a 29er that looks the part.

So whether you’re going bikepacking, gravel riding, touring round the globe, or light trail riding, this overview of best 29 inch tubeless gravel tires will serve you well.

Maxxis Ikon

Maxxis Ikon
Maxxis Ikon

The absolute cross-country king in Maxxis’ lineup. The Maxxis Ikon has near perfect all-round 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.

Expert Experience

Jeff Barber | Editor in Chief – January 23, 2014

I think a better description for the Ikon (and one that Maxxis even uses themselves) is “all-rounder.” The knobs are long enough and spaced far enough apart to give good bite in the straights and the corners. I’ve experienced excellent results in both wet and dry conditions, and find myself able to push the envelope a bit more in the turns on these tires compared to others I’ve tested.

Pros and Cons

Maxxis Pace

Maxxis Pace
Maxxis Pace

The Maxxis Pace is a cross country tire with the most minimal tread pattern in Maxxis’ XC lineup.

It’s an excellent tire if you want to keep the MTB nature of your bike, being able to ride comfortably and confidently on surfaces other than flat tarmac. The tire has excellent rolling-resistance characteristics which makes it perfectly suitable for urban riding, while the minimalistic knobbies still provide enough bite for hardpack and gravel riding in dry conditions.

And with a 2.1 inch width the tires don’t feel out of place on your 29er. Furthermore it displays other features of a full-blown mountain bike tire, with it being tubeless compatible and having Maxxis EXO puncture resistance in a relatively lightweight package of 650 grams.

Expert Experience

Rachel Sokal | Technical writer – May 9, 2017

For XC race-orientated tyres, both the Pace and Race TT have been solid and predictable performers. And with the EXO reinforcement, they’ve remained stable at lower pressures and so far (touch wood…) haven’t delivered me any sliced sidewalls. The tread and sidewalls are also showing little sign of wear despite some high mileage and ham-fisted use over the test period, which is a nice change from some of the more delicate race tyres on the market.

Pros and Cons

Maxxis Rekon Race

Maxxis Rekon Race
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.

Expert Experience

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.

Pros and Cons

Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB

Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB
Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB

The Schwalbe Marathon is the ultimate allrounder in the tire department and one of the best-selling tires on the market. So the German brand decided to make a MTB-specific version of this tire: the Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB.

Although it looks like a knobby tire, if you look close enough you can see that the center tread will let you run smoothly across pavement. And just like the standard Marathon is meant for commuting and touring, the same goes for this one.

It’s a heavy tire when compared to some of the XC racers. But the biggest plus for hauling all that extra weight is that in terms of puncture protection, this tire has no equal. The reason is pretty simple. Schwalbe stuffed a 5mm strip underneath the center tread, made from highly puncture resistant rubber. And as simple as that sounds, it’s extremely effective in preventing punctures.

So for those of you who want the risk of flats nearing zero, this is the tire for you.

Expert Experience

Mike | Site Owner – March 15, 2017

Since I’ve made the jump to these large-and-in-charge tires (in my case, on a drop-bar adventure bike rather than a pure mountain bike) I’ve felt like I’m getting pretty close to the right balance of tradeoffs and advantages.

I’m not whizzing through my city streets en route to my favorite forest getaways, but I roll smoothly and comfortably enough out of town. Once I’m on the rough gravel-and-clay surface of the C&O Canal towpath outside my Washington, DC home, I really appreciate the limousine-like feel and peace of mind these tires offer.

Pros and Cons

Schwalbe Thunder Burt

Schwalbe Thunder Burt
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 any 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.

Expert Experience

Gerow | Product reviewer – April 14, 2022

Given both their rolling resistance and feathery casing these tires remind me of the Kenda Small Block Eight rubber I used to run on the rear of my XC race ride. The Kenda was a hair heavier and slower, but the intention was roughly the same. Make a tire that goes as fast as possible with the lowest watt output. For dirt roads and billiard-smooth singletrack, I’d say Schwalbe nailed it with the Thunder Burt.

Pros and Cons

Vittoria Mezcal

Vittoria Mezcal
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. Vittoria Mezcal uses their proprietary graphene enhanced 4C compound. It prevents the knobs from squirming on the 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.

Expert Experience

Aaron Borhill | Freelance tester – July 04, 2022

As a long-time user of the Vittoria Mezcal and having raced on them in myriad countries, the way they perform never ceases to amaze me. Of course, I wouldn’t use them in wet conditions but they’re not the worst performers in the mud either. If you’re looking for a reliable tire that prioritizes speed, look no further than the Vittoria Mezcal. It’s a brilliant tire for cross-country and marathon riding.

Pros and Cons

Specifications 29 inch tubeless gravel tires

Name
Size
ETRTO
Weight (gr)
Tread color
Sidewall color
Compound
Puncture protection
Tire bead
TPI
Maxxis Ikon
29×2.20
57-662
685
Black
Light Tan
3C MaxxSpeed
EXO
tlr
60
Maxxis Ikon
29×2.20
57-662
735
Black
Black
3C MaxxSpeed
EXO
tlr
60
Maxxis Ikon
29×2.35
60-622
830
Black
Black
3C MaxxSpeed
EXO
tlr
120
Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB
29×2.10
52-622
1275
Black
Black
ADDIX
SmartGuard
wired
Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB
29×2.10
52-622
1350
Black
Black
ADDIX
SmartGuard
wired
Maxxis Pace
29×2.10
53-622
650
Black
Black
Dual
EXO
tlr
60
Maxxis Rekon Race
29×2.25
57-622
691
Black
Black
Dual
EXO
tlr
120
Maxxis Rekon Race
29×2.35
60-622
805
Black
Tan
Dual
EXO
tlr
60
Maxxis Rekon Race
29×2.35
60-622
762
Black
Black
Dual
EXO
tlr
120
Maxxis Rekon Race
29×2.40
61-622
759
Black
Black
Dual
EXO
tlr
120
Schwalbe Thunder Burt
29×2.10
54-622
550
Black
Black
ADDIX Speed
tlr
Schwalbe Thunder Burt
29×2.10
54-622
545
Black
Transparent
ADDIX Speed
tlr
Schwalbe Thunder Burt
29×2.25
57-622
615
Black
Black
ADDIX Speed
Super Ground
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
745
Black
Black
ADDIX Speed
Super Ground
tlr
Schwalbe Thunder Burt
29×2.35
60-622
730
Black
Transparent
ADDIX Speed
Super Race
tlr
Vittoria Mezcal
29×2.25
57-622
690
Black
Tan
4C Graphene
XC Race TLR
tlr
Vittoria Mezcal
29×2.10
54-622
680
Black
Anthracite
4C Graphene
XC Race TLR
tlr

Sources

Jeff Barber, Review: Maxxis Ikon: A Racing Tire With Bite, Singletracks, January 23, 2014
Rachel Sokal, Review: Maxxis Pace & Race TT Tyres, Singletrack World, May 9, 2017
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. 

You might also like

29 inch hybrid bike tires
29 inch tires

The top 10 best 29 inch hybrid bike tires

In this article I’m going to cover what I believe would constitute a proper list of the best 29 inch hybrid bike tires.

Traditionally (I mean ’90s) a hybrid tire either meant a bigger volume road bik

Read More »