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The top 5 best 650b gravel tires for mud

In this article I’m going to give you my list for the best 650b gravel tires for mud.

That’s not as easy as it might look, and I had to admit that this article took me longer than a lot of other articles I’ve written on the subject of tires. And I’ve written a lot. That’s because to me the word gravel tires and mud are difficult to pair. Just as road bikes and downhill don’t sit well together.

To understand why that is, you have to understand the various factors that make up a tire. You see, the best tires for riding in the most extreme conditions are mountain bike tires with widths that exceed the average gravel bike frame. You simply won’t be able to put a 2.8 inch Schwalbe Magic Mary into such a frame.

So picking the best 650b gravel tires for mud does entail a bit of compromising. And a great middle-road of adding additional levels of grip when the going gets tough is looking at tires traditionally used for XC and light trail riding. These tires go up to a width of 2.2 inches, which is about the maximum amount of volume you want for a gravel bike, and the maximum connection with what you’re riding on.

These tires are also still very lightweight. Even more so, on this list you’ll find the lightest tires in their respective widths on the entire planet. The best of the best. Nonetheless, softer compounds and raised side knobbies ensure you don’t wipe out while cornering, or at least reduce that risk to a minimum.

But enough talk, let’s head over the contenders for the very best 650b gravel tires for mud.

Continental Cross King ProTection

Continental Cross King ProTection
Continental Cross King ProTection

The Continental Cross King ProTection is the newer version of a magnificent, lightweight cross-country racer.

ProTection replaces the RaceSport moniker. It’s a three- and four ply system underneath respectively the tread and sidewall, ensuring maximum puncture protection and shieldwall tearing.

This doesn’t take away from the fact that this tire is still one of the lightest in its category. A true racer.

Expert Experience

David Arthur | Contributor – November 5, 2020

The low weight combined with the shallow tread design ensures this is a supremely rapid tyre right off the bat. Its tread pattern and rubber compound mean it works well when mounted on the front or rear, with reassuring levels of traction even when tackling technical trails.

Pros and Cons

Maxxis Ardent Race

Maxxis Ardent Race
Maxxis Ardent Race

The Maxxis Ardent Race is a great option to mount as a very grippy dual XC setup, an aggressive XC front tire, or a lightweight, fast-rolling trail tire.

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 you’ll need to resort to a different tire if you want to ride year round without swapping tires.

Expert Experience

David Rome | Contributor – November 19, 2013

At 696g (26 x 2.2), the Ardent Race is no loop circuit race day tyre, but its weight is extremely competitive for a trail worthy tyre. It’s perfect for use front and rear on a summer trail bike, or the front tyre of a cross-country speedster to give greater cornering control, or as a rear tyre on a burlier enduro race bike.

Pros and Cons

Maxxis Forekaster

Maxxis Forekaster
Maxxis Forekaster

The Maxxis Forekaster is a lightweight cross-country and light trail tire meant for wet and slippery conditions.

Widely spaced knobbies ensure mud get’s shed quickly, enabling you to maintain grip in tricky situations.

The tubeless ready tire has EXO sidewall protection sitting underneath their Dual layer compound, which makes for a highly durable setup, both in the front and rear.

The 2.2 inch width version gives you just that extra bit of bite and volume necessary to get you through the trail which will throw anything at you.

Expert Experience

Logan Watts | Editor in Chief – October 3, 2023

After a lot of use in a broad range of conditions and situations, the 29 x 2.6” Maxxis Forekaster has undoubtedly made its mark on me, toeing the line in proficiency between dirt-touring and singletrack mountain biking, and performing extremely well at both. It falls neatly in the middle of two other favorites in the brand’s catalog, the DHF and Rekon, and is arguably nearly as fast as the latter. It also corners and brakes almost as well as the DHF, although it’s certainly more timid.

All told, I liked the Forekaster so much that I ultimately bought several more. Remarkably, none of them have fallen victim to punctures, and two of them have endured many rugged miles without showing significant signs of wear and tear. In summary, the Forekaster has earned its place as a new front tire favorite for me, aligning perfectly with the styles of riding I most enjoy and proving to be extremely durable in the process.

Pros and Cons

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

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 640 gr. for a 2.35 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.

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

Expert Experience

Rachel Sokal | Technical writer – May 2, 2018

As well as a general improvement in durability, rolling resistance and grip, the new Addix compound from Schwalbe offers a much greater choice of characteristics to suit different riders and riding. The Speed compound is definitely that and gives the Rocket Ron vastly improved durability over the previous version. I did find front grip from the Speed a little lacking so would choose to run a grippier compound on the front and keep the faster rolling on the rear. While these tyres still aren’t cheap – sadly not many high end tyres are – the lower wear rate means that at least they won’t cost you as much in the long run to replace.

Pros and Cons

Specifications 650b gravel tires for mud

Name
Size
ETRTO
Weight (gr)
Tread color
Sidewall color
Compound
Puncture protection
Tire bead
TPI
Continental Cross King Racesport
27.5×2.20
55-584
520
Black
Black
BlackChili
RaceSport casing
tlr
Maxxis Ardent Race
27.5×2.20
56-584
714
Black
Black
3C MaxxSpeed
tlr
120
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

Sources

David Arthur, Continental Race King BlackChili Protection tyre review, Bikeradar, November 5, 2020
Logan Watts, Maxxis Forekaster Review: Two-in-one, Bikepacking, October 3, 2023
Jeff Barber, Review: Maxxis Ikon: A Racing Tire With Bite, Singletracks, January 23, 2014
Rachel Sokal, Review: Schwalbe Rocket Ron Addix Speed. Fast XC tyres that last., Singletrack World, May 2, 2018
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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