2021 XC Race Tire Thread

What are the best down country tires to handle wet rocks and roots? Don’t expect to ride in muddy conditions ever (generally we avoid riding wet trails here as it damages them) but in the fall and spring often the rocks and roots stay wet. For outside of the race season, would like a set of tires that are a bit burlier and grippier but still to suit my XC bike. Mostly ride hard pack to loose over hard but as I mentioned often encounter wet roots and rocks in the shoulder seasons.
Was originally looking at the Syerra but Bike Radar’s recent test suggests the Syerra is actually terrible in wet roots. They also tested the Purgatory amongst their ‘downcountry tires’ and didn’t have the same negative opinions on wet root performance so assuming it is better. Was thinking maybe Purgatory front, Ground Control Rear?

Sounds like based on Pinkbike’s test the Forekaster is another solid option, slower and heavier than the ground control but maybe more like the Purgatory?

I wonder how the Purgatory/Ground Control combo would compare to the Forekasters front and rear.

Thanks, do you (or anyone) know what compounds are worth getting both for schwalbe or the aspens?

Also this is a dumb question but what would be fastest on pavement or hardpack aspens vs other? My old burt/ron combo was quite fast there…

For the Schwalbes you have the option of going with either the “Super Race” or “Super Ground” construction. Both now use the Addix Speed rubber. The Super Ground is going to have additional puncture protection (similar to the old SnakeSkin tires). The Super Race will be a little faster and more supple, so it will come down to how you want to use them and what types of trails you will ride.

The TB is one of the fastest tires on pavement. The Conti Race King might be another one to consider as it is also very fast on pavement and hardpack. I’ve found the Race King better on the trails in terms of traction, especially if dealing with roots or any dampness, compared to the TB. Its very easy to get the TB spinning on a wet root, but they are great on smooth hardpacked trails.

I don’t have experience riding the Aspens but most feel they are a really good, fast all-around XC tire. I don’t think they would be faster than a TB or Race King on the pavement though.

Some info on the Schwalbes:


When speed, unsurpassed control and low rolling resistance matter, choose a tire with Super Race Construction.

Their extreme suppleness absorbs bumps, de-stresses the rider and ensures traction. Super Race is the prerequisite for shaving off seconds and achieving personal best times.

Super Race tires are ideal for sportive use in XC and marathon applications. Turn-Up construction keeps the tires supple and flexible, while the RaceGuard protection layer keeps your tires inflated while you achieve maximum speed.


Schwalbe’s proven SnakeSkin construction has been further improved—a light and flexible fabric layer makes the tire cut-proof, both on the tire sidewalls and under the tread.

Low weight with good puncture protection allows for a wide range of technical applications— from XC to All Mountain.

The superground construction is Perfectly suited for hardtails and bikes with medium travel.

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Thanks for the info, I really appreciate it!

Maybe try the Schwalbe soft or super soft compounds?

My local trails are predominately granite, would shred anything with a soft compound pretty quck.


I live in Colorado, and don’t often ride wet roots and rocks. I was in Spain last week, and rode in the wet. Very scary. If I knew I was going to be riding a lot on wet roots and rocks, I’d optimize my tire choice for that. Better to replace your tires more frequently than crash and get injured.

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That’s basically the East Coast riding at times of the year. At other times, it’s moon dust over hard pack.

Wet roots can be a rough deal.


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