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The top 12 best 650b tan-wall tires

In this article I’m going to give you a list of the best 650b tan-wall tires.

The list can be roughly divided into two categories. The first category is more mountain bike oriented, with well-known brands like Maxxis and Schwalbe being represented. The next category is what you could call gravel tires, with WTB and Panaracer stealing the show.

Naturally both categories are markedly different from each other, which is reflected in the tires you can see. But both categories cover a great spectrum of bikes and riding conditions. From everyday commuting on slick or semi-slick slim tires, to enduro, and downhill racing on wide mountain bike tires.

I already know you like tan-wall tires or else you wouldn’t be reading this, and I can assure you you’re bound to find what you’re looking for with these top picks of the best 650b tan-wall tires.

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 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

Panaracer GravelKing SS Plus (Tubed)

Panaracer GravelKing SS Plus (Tubed)
Panaracer GravelKing SS Plus (Tubed)

The tubed version of the Panaracer GravelKing SS Plus is a gorgeous plus sized gravel tire.

Fairly lightweight with excellent longevity and puncture protection, the black or tan-wall version are supple tires that will last you a long time.

Just as the slimmer version they offer minimal grip with an almost slick tread pattern adn extremely small side knobbies. It means that they are both excellent and fast-rolling road tires as well as light gravel and hardpack. The round profile of the tire with the minimal tread pattern ensures a plus ride in these conditions.

Expert Experience

Iain Treloar | Contributor – May 31, 2023

A bit of a mixed bag, really. They’re a little narrowly focused for what I’m personally looking for in a gravel tyre, but if you’re mostly riding on well-made surfaces they may be just what you’re after.

If it’s a toss-up between these and the Gravel King Slick, I’d go for the SS for a bit of extra capability without too much downside. But for a lot of people and a lot of conditions, I think the Gravel King SK – and other tyres like it – is going to provide a more well-rounded experience.

Pros and Cons

Panaracer GravelKing SK (TLC)

Panaracer GravelKing SK (TLC)
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.

Expert Experience

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.

Pros and Cons

Panaracer Pasela ProTite

Panaracer Pasela ProTite
Panaracer Pasela ProTite

Panaracer makes very nice mid-level priced tires. And they also offer some of the best-looking ones for retro builds. I choose the Panaracer Pasela ProTite over the normal Pasela, because it’s lighter, comes in a folding version and has better puncture protection.

The ProTite bead-to-bead protection covers is a tightly woven fabric covering the entire width of the tire, and sits in a mid-tier casing, offering a great combination of puncture protection, and low weight.

In general the Pasela ProTite are lightweight and true skin walls, that’ll look great on your bike.

Expert Experience

Shaun Audane | Technical writer – December 24, 2017

I still rate the Paselas and reckon they’re a good bet for training – especially on older bikes where preserving originality is welcome. The wide range of sizes also means they’re worth considering for cyclo-cross or gravel bikes that double as winter trainers. That said, I’d stick with the wire beads and save £30 a pair (at RRP); while likeable, the folding versions are outclassed on value by faster-rolling, higher-pressure contemporaries.

Pros and Cons

Schwalbe Nobby Nic

Schwalbe Nobby Nic
Schwalbe Nobby Nic

The Schwalbe Nobby Nic is the best all-round trail tire from the German manufacturer. If there’s a tire that could rival the dominance of the Maxxis DHR and DHF and its omnipresence on the trail, it’s this one.

It’s tread pattern provides loads of grip and traction. Its allround nature means it’s just as good in the front as it is in the back. And it’s also often seen as a grippy front tire for aggressive XC riding, with a faster and lighter tire in the back.

You can go up to a size 2.35 if you want to and it’s also the only tire that comes in a 26 inch tan version. So if you’re looking for a solid all-round setup, meant for every conceivable condition, dry and wet, hardpack and forest trail, and you want to ride a tan version, this is the tire for you.

Expert Experience

Drew Rohde | Editor in Chief – December 1, 2020

The Nobby Nic Super Ground tires opened my eyes in many ways as to what a lighter weight trail tire is capable of and what sort of ride advantages a lighter casing trail offers. We also saw the limitations of the SpeedGrip tread compound on certain types of terrain and obstacles. If you ride harder pack terrain, want a fast rolling tire that has a solid tread pattern, can climb, corner and brake well, these are certainly worth considering. The downside to this long lasting compound is that they won’t offer the confidence and traction on wet roots, loose terrain or angled and steep rock faces.

Pros and Cons

WTB Byway

WTB Byway
WTB Byway

WTB has been at the forefront of providing high-quality gravel tires and the WTB Byway is another great example of why the brand reigns supreme in that department.

The slick center line ensures this minimal gravel tire is fast when going in a straight line. But the pronounced side knobbies allow for enough confidence in dry summer conditions when riding hardpack and dirt roads.

Even a great tire such as this one has its limits, and the minimal tread pattern won’t fare well in wet and muddy conditions. Also grip on steep inclines with loose gravel might be less optimal because of its semi-slick nature. But to be fair that’s not the intended purpose of this tire.

So if your average ride includes pavement and gravel and speed is at the top of your list, this is a gorgeous option to choose.

Expert Experience

Will Jones | Technical writer – September 14, 2022

My advice would be that if you are primarily riding country back lanes with occasional forays into the woods then these are a safe, but not hugely inspiring bet. If this is the case you’ll probably want to run them at higher pressures, at which point you may as well opt for the cheaper but less supple 60TPI option anyway and save yourself a wedge of cash. If you want a more gravelly option on the cheap then look to the Kimberlite, or for a pretty similar price I’d go for the Teravail Washburns: You’ll have a better time.

Pros and Cons

WTB Horizon

WTB Horizon
WTB Horizon

The WTB Horizon is a gorgeous and supple 650b slick tire, available in both black and true tan-wall options.

The 47 millimeter width tire comes in both a single ply 60 TPI and a more supple 120 TPI version. The center tread has no pattern whatsoever and is flanked by dual herringbone patterns to provide a modicum of traction when riding anything else but smooth tarmac and pavement.

It’s fully tubeless compatible and the round tire ranging between 515 and 571 grams for the various versions will make a plush ride indeed for any type of light gravel riding or urban commuting.

Expert Experience

Jayson | Site Owner – April 19, 2017

The Horizon is a great choice for a rider who commutes a few miles / kilometres in order to reach their local gravel road(s). Not exactly designed for high-speed cornering with its lack of tread blocks on the sides, the Horizon still does well enough on just about every dirt and gravel road surface imaginable. However, as stated earlier, it isn’t a tyre I’d consider for the flinty rigours of an event like Dirty Kanza.

Pros and Cons

WTB Resolute

WTB Resolute
WTB Resolute

The WTB Resolute is an allround all-weather all-season gravel bike tire, or so WTB claims.

And this claim does make sense, with WTB basically applying a baseline of solid gravel tire characteristics into this product offering.

It’s both a lightweight tire which enhances acceleration. And it sits in between slick tires and the aggressive tread pattern of the WTB Sendero, ensuring good grip and traction in all kinds of conditions, while going in a straight line or in corners, going uphill or downhill.

So does that make the WTB Resolute one of the best all-rounders in the gravel department. The answer is a resolute yes, pun intended.

Expert Experience

Guitar Ted | Technical reviewer – August 18, 2017

For those bicycles the Resolute will fit in, this tire does rank among the best tires I could recommend. I would choose this tire for my riding over anything I’ve yet been able to try out because of its abilities on hard packed and paved surfaces while still being excellent in sand, looser dirt, and gravel. Sure, there are better specialist tires. If I were primarily interested in shredding dirt, I’d go with a Maxxis Ravager, for instance, but my riding takes me over a varied palette of surfaces which requires a tire to perform admirably over all of them. The Resolute has been that tire for me.

Pros and Cons

WTB Sendero

WTB Sendero
WTB Sendero

The WTB Sendero is what I would consider to be a cross country or trail tire in a gravel package.

Its combination of center- and side knobs ensure all-round good grip in loose conditions. Obviously the width is less than a mountain bike tire, but in return you achieve a much lighter weight and the ability to turn your gravel bike into a tool enabling aggressive off-road riding in much rougher conditions.

So if you’re someone who rides his or her bike in the most demanding spectrum of gravel riding, this is the perfect tire for the job.

Expert Experience

Jayson | Site Owner – December 20, 2018

The WTB Sendero is a useful tyre to have in one’s arsenal, provided you like riding gnarly gravel roads, MTB trails or rock-strewn climbs and descents. I can think of several areas in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia where these tyres would be perfect.

Are they an all-rounder tyre, no? Would they be suited to the average gravel cyclist out for a day of fun? Yes, but provided you realize this isn’t a speed merchant tyre. I don’t bikepack, rather I slack pack (meaning, someone else usually schleps my stuff), but I could visualize the Sendero’s as being a solid and reliable choice for a serious off-the-beaten-track bikepacking rig.

Pros and Cons

WTB Venture

WTB Venture
WTB Venture

The WTB Venture is a gravel tire specifically meant for all-day hilly off-road usage.

Its low rolling-resistance characteristics demand this tire is used on anything that’s not smooth pavement. Where it loses in the weight department, it makes up in cornering proficiency, with the center tread pattern aiding in above-average braking and the raised side knobbies providing confidence while cornering.

Both abilities come at the forefront in more tactical downhill sections, where weight doesn’t matter at all, and you need to be able to rely on your bike in tight corners.

Expert Experience

Jeff Barber | Editor in Chief – October 10, 2023

On singletrack trails the cornering knobs provide plenty of bite through the turns, though obviously few of us will rail our gravel bikes with nearly the same amount of speed and force as on our mountain bikes. I found the WTB Venture tires aren’t great for climbing steep dirt surfaces, lacking true climbing knobs, particularly when used as a rear tire. With the clay soils here in Georgia the tight center knobs on the Ventures also pack up a bit if there’s any moisture on the ground which make steep climbs that much more difficult. For that reason I would choose to run the Venture up front and something a little grabbier like the WTB Raddler in the rear for extended singletrack or steeper climbs.

Pros and Cons

Specifications 650b tan-wall tires

Name
Size
ETRTO
Weight (gr)
Tread color
Sidewall color
Compound
Puncture protection
Tire bead
TPI
Maxxis Ikon
27.5×2.20
56-584
590
Black
Light Tan
Dual
EXO
tlr
Maxxis Ikon
27.5×2.20
56-584
668
Black
Tan
Dual
EXO
tlr
WTB Horizon
27.5×1.85
47-584
515
Black
Tan
Dual DNA
tlr
60
Maxxis Minion DHF
27.5×2.30
58-584
880
Black
Light Tan
3C MaxxTerra
tlr
60
Maxxis Minion DHF
27.5×2.50
63-584
956
Black
Tan
Dual
EXO
tlr
60
Maxxis Minion DHR II
27.5×2.40
61-586
940
Black
Tan
Dual
EXO
tlr
60
WTB Byway
27.5×1.85
47-584
535
Black
Tan
Dual DNA
tlr
WTB Sendero
27.5×1.85
47-584
568
Black
Tan
Dual DNA
tlr
60
WTB Venture
27.5×1.85
44-584
555
Black
Tan
Dual DNA
tlr
60
WTB Resolute
27.5×1.65
42-584
440
Black
Tan
Dual DNA
tlr
60

Sources

Jeff Barber, Review: Maxxis Ikon: A Racing Tire With Bite, Singletracks, January 23, 2014
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
Katherine Moore, Panaracer GravelKing SK TLC tyre review, Bikeradar, November 17, 2021
Shaun Audane, Panaracer Pasela PT Folding Tyre, Road.cc, December 24, 2017
Drew Rohde, Schwalbe Nobby Nic Super Ground Review, The Loam Wolf, December 1, 2020
Will Jones, WTB Byway review: An all-road tyre that is compromised by its shape, Cycling News, September 14, 2022
Jayson, Review: WTB Horizon Road Plus 650b Tubeless Ready Tires, Gravel Cyclist, April 19, 2017
Guitar Ted, WTB Resolute Tire: At The Finish, Riding Gravel, August 18, 2017
Jeff Barber, WTB Venture Gravel Tire: Comfortable and in Control, Singletracks, October 10, 2023
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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