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The top 8 best 29 inch XC tires

In this article I’m going to share with you my top picks for the best 29 inch XC tires.

My favorite MTB discipline has got a number of great and extremely lightweight options, which will make you fly down the trail.

XC tires favor speed and low rolling-resistance above grip and traction, so if you do a mix of fire roads and rougher downhill trails you’re better of looking for a more allround tire than these.

All of these tires can be easily set up tubeless. Even with these tires you can mix and match, and some tires are specifically meant to be mounted as a front or as a rear tire. And some tire pairs have proven trackrecord of being a very solid cross-country setup.

That’s about what I have to say for now. Let’s head over the list of the best 29 inch XC tires.

Continental Cross King Racesport

Continental Cross King Racesport
Continental Cross King Racesport

The Continental Cross King RaceSport is a lightweight XC tire. Besides the Continental Race King RaceSport the 2.2 version is the only tire that remains below 600 grams.

With this tire youre able to get more grip in both dry and wet conditions and veering of the path into the woods is an option with more prominent side knobs.

With the Cross King in the front and the Race King in the back it means your main focus is speed while adding some extra traction for the front tire. Its by far the lightest 29 inch cross country tire combination available, with a 2.2 setup staying well under 1 kilogram.

Continental Race King Racesport

Continental Race King Racesport
Continental Race King Racesport

The Continental Race King RaceSport is an extremely light tire at 520 grams. In the weight department it means it outshines every tire from every other brand here by far.

Its 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.

All that speed comes at a price, because traction is at the low end of the spectrum. If youre doing any sort of hard trail riding and you still want to take advantage of this tire, consider combining it with the Continental Cross King RaceSport. Especially in wet conditions.

This tire performs best in dry conditions because of its shallow tread pattern.

Maxxis Ardent Race

Maxxis Ardent Race
Maxxis Ardent Race

The Maxxis Ardent Race is a solid option to mount as both front and rear 29 inch XC tires.

With a reasonable weight of 767 for a 2.2 inch width it means its still quite a bit heavier than the Schwalbe Rocket Ron or Continental Cross King RaceSport.

But paired with the Maxxis Ikon in the back you still have a very speedy setup from this brand with EXO casing protection.

The triple compound provides a fast-rolling center with softer and grippier side knobs for added traction and cornering confidence.

In dry conditions the traction will prove to be outstanding. In wet conditions the small close-knit knobs can get packed with mud. So youll need to resort to a different tire if you want to ride year round without swapping tires.

Maxxis Crossmark II

Maxxis Crossmark II
Maxxis Crossmark II

The Maxxis Crossmark II is pure XC tire for dry conditions with the shallow center knobs and minimal side knobs.

Its designed for speed on dry hardpack when going in a straight line, because its cornering ability isnt up to par with other XC tires.

This makes it compete with the Continental Race King RaceSport and the Schwalbe Racing Ralph. Considering the weight of those two 780 grams for a 2.25 inch version is a tad bit on the heavy side for an XC race tire.

So only if you want the added protection of the EXO compound and you want to combine it with another Maxxis front tire, would the Crossmark II be the best choice. Otherwise either the Continental or Schwalbe will outshine this one.

Maxxis Ikon

Maxxis Ikon
Maxxis Ikon

Hailed as an allround cross country tire the Maxxis Ikon has the classic tiny-knob-all-over-the place look. It’s allround nature makes it a great option for diverse road conditions.

This is a pretty light tire. The reliable EXO compound, also used for harsher enduro racing, means youll enjoy this tire for many miles.

As with any tire with this type of tread, itll perform well in dry conditions. This 29 inch version has versions from 2 to 2.6 inches. 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.

Schwalbe Racing Ralph

Schwalbe Racing Ralph
Schwalbe Racing Ralph

As stated on the website, the Schwalbe Racing Ralph was designed for the rear.

This means the Super Ground Speedgrip version is a fast-rolling tire with a tread pattern support good acceleration and braking power.

Although its meant for a combo setup with a grippier tire in the front, you could use it as a dual setup when you prefer riding mostly in dry conditions and the occasional trail. Also when you do a lot of climbing.

Schwalbe Racing Ray

Schwalbe Racing Ray
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.

For a surefooted combination of 29 inch XC tires, why try anything else than the Racing Ray / Racing Ralph combo? You probably shouldnt.

Schwalbe Rocket Ron

Schwalbe Rocket Ron
Schwalbe Rocket Ron

Both the weight and tread pattern puts the Schwalbe Rocket Ron squarely into XC territory. The evenly spaced knobs mean you always hold contact with the ground ensuring a low rolling resistance.

They are small as well, which means you need to look for the Nobby Nic if you want a more allround and grippy trail tire. But if you want a bit more speed the 645 grams for a 2.25 inch version you can run two of these.

You should be able to confidently do light trail riding in loose and wet conditions with these tires, and the XC-oriented tread pattern combined with either the Super Ground or Super Race compound will provide you with the speed you need.

Its worthy to note that the Schwalbe Rocket Ron performs really well in the rolling resistance department, as do all Schwalbe tires. So its both light and fast.

Specifications best 29 inch XC tires

NameSizeETRTOWeight (gr)Tread ColorSidewall ColorBuy at Amazon
Maxxis Ikon29×2.0057-662685BlackTanlink
Maxxis Ikon29×2.0057-662724BlackDark Tanlink
Maxxis Ikon29×2.0057-662680BlackBlacklink
Maxxis Ikon29×2.3560-622755BlackBlacklink
Maxxis Ikon29×2.6066-622799BlackBlacklink
Maxxis Ardent Race29×2.2056-622767BlackBlacklink
Maxxis Ardent Race29×2.3560-622786BlackBlacklink
Maxxis Crossmark II29×2.2557-622780BlackBlacklink
Continental Cross King Racesport29×2.2055-622555BlackBlacklink
Continental Cross King Racesport29×2.3058-622670BlackBlacklink
Continental Race King Racesport29×2.2055-622520BlackBlacklink
Schwalbe Racing Ralph29×2.1054-622630BlackBlacklink
Schwalbe Racing Ralph29×2.2557-622655BlackBlacklink
Schwalbe Racing Ralph29×2.3560-622730BlackBlacklink
Schwalbe Racing Ray29×2.1054-622630BlackBlacklink
Schwalbe Racing Ray29×2.2557-622655BlackBlacklink
Schwalbe Rocket Ron29×2.2557-622630BlackBlacklink
Schwalbe Rocket Ron29×2.2557-622645BlackBlacklink