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The top 6 best 650b trail tires

In this article I’m going to give the very best 650b trail tires.

When it comes to trail tires I’m looking for those tires that offer premium characteristics of grip, traction, cornering control, speed and puncture protection. And the tires on this list score well in all of those departments, with individual tires favoring one feature more than the other. When you want the ultimate in puncture protection, it always means adding some weight for example.

I’ve also added tires that move into the direction of light trail riding or cross country. They are very good on their own or offer a great combination with another tire on this list if you want to make use of the benefits that riding a different set of tires offers you. For example, you could ride a lighter less aggressive tire in the back, where grip is less important, while still enjoying the benefit of reduced weight or increased traction.

Enough talk, let’s head over to my picks for the best 650b trail 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

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

Schwalbe Racing Ralph

Schwalbe Racing Ralph
Schwalbe Racing Ralph

Schwalbe’s lineup consists of a number of highly specialized cross-country tires. The Schwalbe Racing Ralph being one of them.

As stated on the website, the Racing Ralph was designed for the rear. That’s because it has the shallowest center tread pattern, making it perfect for riding as fast as possible in dry conditions.

Although it’s meant for a combo setup with a grippier tire in the front, you could actually use it as a dual setup when bikepacking or gravel riding instead of pure XC racing.

If you want to ride as fast as possible, and maintain that speed when cornering, I suggest pairing it with a grippier front tire. You can opt for the Racing Ray, Rocket Ron, or Nobby Nic. With the Racing Ray offering the least amount of grip and the Nobby Nic the most. The Rocket Ron sits in between the three.

Expert Experience

Jeff Barber | Editor in Chief – April 28, 2023

What really convinced me this is a very fast roller is how it translates into increased momentum on the descents. I noticed myself cruising past heavier riders who usually have the freewheel advantage over me on the downs, and I could coast farther than usual on familiar sections, delaying the need to spin the pedals again. I don’t know if it’s the tread pattern, or the tire carcass, or the compound — or all three — that make this a fast rolling tire, however I am confident that it is well above average in that department.

Pros and Cons

WTB Vigilante 2.5/2.6/2.8

WTB Vigilante 2.5/2.6/2.8
WTB Vigilante 2.5/2.6/2.8

The WTB Vigilante 2.5/2.6/2.8 is a solid contender to many of the premium offerings from other high-quality brands.

Obviously there are a number of tire widths to choose from, depending on your personal preference when it comes to grip. What this tire has got going for it is that’s prefers grip and handling over weight. The rather widely spaced and high soft knobbies do very well in keeping your bike connected to the trail, ensuring high levels of confidence in hard cornering.

WTB offers this tire in their TriTec compound, which basically means that the casing consists of three layers, with each layer having a different firmness. The harder durometer is reserved for the center, reducing the risk of punctures and making the tire faster in a straight line. This gradual increase in softness from center to side sounds great on paper, and indeed works exceptionally well on the trail. It makes for a really grippy and reliable tire in corners and reasonably fast on the straights with adequate levels of puncture protection.

I tend to disagree that this tire works as well in the rear as it does in the front when it comes to braking and traction. The widely spaced tread pattern without those distinctive horizontal rows simply isn’t the best setup to support those two rear tire characteristics. On the other hand, if you like a loose feel and don’t mind the occasional drift, this tire actually enhances such a way of riding.

In the end the WTB Vigilante rightly deserves its spot on this list with grippy and fun riding characteristics that’ll suit a great number of riders.

Expert Experience

Jim Bland | World Cup Downhill Mechanic – September 10, 2020

The overall feel of the tread pattern remains reliable and grippy across a broad variety of terrain and there is definitely more of a distinct cut feel from the new wider profile when banking over in turns. Occasionally during flatter corners there can be a slight skip before the side knobs really lock in and we put this down to the way every third side knob is more inboard, and if the load begins at this point it can translate to a split second of vagueness before properly engaging with the ground. This characteristic doesn’t seem to affect performance too much, but it certainly isn’t something I feel when riding our current favourite rubber from other brands. After plenty of riding the tread does seem to wear better than many other soft compound tires though.

Pros and Cons

Specifications 650b trail 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
Maxxis Ikon
27.5×2.20
56-584
630
Black
Black
3C MaxxSpeed
EXO
tlr
Maxxis Ikon
27.5×2.35
60-584
700
Black
Black
3C MaxxSpeed
EXO
tlr
Schwalbe Racing Ralph
27.5×2.25
57-584
605
Black
Black
ADDIX Speed
Super Ground
tlr
Schwalbe Racing Ralph
27.5×2.25
57-584
680
Black
Black
ADDIX
Super Ground
tlr
WTB Vigilante 2.5/2.6/2.8
27.5×2.50
60-584
1092
Black
Black
TriTec Single
tlr
60
WTB Vigilante 2.5/2.6/2.8
27.5×2.50
60-584
1174
Black
Black
TriTec Dual
tlr
60
WTB Vigilante 2.5/2.6/2.8
27.5×2.60
65-584
1340
Black
Black
TriTec Dual
tlr
60
Schwalbe Big Betty
27.5X2.40
62-584
1300
Black
Black
ADDIX Ultra Soft
tlr
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
1005
Black
Black
3C MaxxTerra
EXO+
tlr
60
Maxxis Minion DHF
27.5×2.50
63-584
945
Black
Black
Dual
EXO
tlr
60
Maxxis Minion DHF
27.5×2.50
63-584
956
Black
Tan
Dual
EXO
tlr
60
Maxxis Minion DHF
27.5×2.60
66-584
1010
Black
Black
3C MaxxTerra
EXO+
tlr
60
Maxxis Minion DHF
27.5×2.60
66-584
965
Black
Black
Dual
EXO
tlr
60
Maxxis Minion DHF
27.5×2.60
66-584
925
Black
Black
3C MaxxTerra
tlr
120
Maxxis Minion DHR II
27.5×2.30
58-584
800
Black
Black
Dual
EXO
tlr
60
Maxxis Minion DHR II
27.5×2.30
58-584
805
Black
Black
3C MaxxTerra
EXO
tlr
60
Maxxis Minion DHR II
27.5×2.40
61-584
900
Black
Black
Dual
EXO
tlr
60
Maxxis Minion DHR II
27.5×2.40
61-586
940
Black
Tan
Dual
EXO
tlr
60
Maxxis Minion DHR II
27.5×2.40
61-587
1126
Black
Black
3C MaxxTerra
EXO+
tlr
60
Maxxis Minion DHR II
27.5×2.60
66-584
910
Black
Black
3C MaxxTerra
EXO+
tlr
60
Maxxis Minion DHR II
27.5×2.60
66-584
1065
Black
Black
3C MaxxTerra
EXO
tlr
60
Maxxis Forekaster
27.5X2.35
60-584
690
Black
Black
Dual
tlr
120
Maxxis Forekaster
27.5X2.60
66-584
820
Black
Black
Dual
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
Drew Rohde, Schwalbe Nobby Nic Super Ground Review, The Loam Wolf, December 1, 2020
Jeff Barber, Schwalbe Racing Ralph Tire Review, Singletracks, April 28, 2023
Jim Bland, WTB Vigilante 2.5in tire reviewed, Bike Perfect, September 10, 2020
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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