MTB semi-slick advice wanted


I’ve qualified to race at the European Age Group Cross Duathlon Champs in Portugal in June.

Normal riding conditions in the UK are filthy, muddy, wet, or all three, but Portugal is none of those. Added to this, the actual race has been set up as an ‘urban cross’ event, with the course being half in the local national park, and the other half being on cobble stone roads and pavement in the old city of Coimbra.

So, I’m looking for advice on tyres. I ride a Trek ProCalibre 29er HT, usually with VIttoria Barzo 2.35 tyres on front and back.

Now I’m thinking I should switch to semi-slicks, as there is little to no chance of anything even vaguely muddy, and at least 50% of the course won’t even be off-road!

I have narrowed my choices down to:

Vittoria Terreno XC Race, Schwalbe Thunder Burt and Conti Race King Protection.

Any particular reason to pick one over the others?



I run Thunder Burts on my second MTB that sees mostly road duty. They ranked very high on the Bicycle Tire Rolling Resistance tests and were the easiest for me to find. Got about 2000 km out of the rear although I could have gone farther. Have over 3400 km on the front and should go quite a bit more. All dry riding since it seldom rains here. Had one pretty good puncture but sealant took care of it. No other issues with them at all. Tread blocks are very small and short which makes them roll well. Wouldn’t want to tackle anything beyond a nice path with them though since I think traction would be very limited on rougher stuff.

The Conti’s were my 2nd choice but harder to find. No experience with them and none with the Vitoria.


I ran 700x50 Maxxis Ramblers at Rock Cobbler. So a 50mm gravel tire might be a good choice.




I run 2.35" Thunder Burts on my commuter/gravel bike (MTB with drop bars). They are really fast on the road at about 1.5bar. I feel like the speed is only 1 kph or so lower then on my road bike for the same power, but there are a lot more variables then the tires alone.
When doing gravel rides, I drop the pressure to about 1.1 bar. The rolling resistance increases a little bit on the road, but cornering traction off-road is a lot better this way. No flats yet in about 1500km of mixed riding.

I have no experience with the specific Vittoria tires you mention, only with the Mezcals. These are also a quick option with a bit more tread. I did experience a couple of flats with the Vittoria’s, but that’s anecdotal. From what I’ve read, puncture resistance of the Vittoria’s is pretty good.

1 Like


Normally I have 2.25s or 2.3in wide tyres, but I’m guessing that a slightly narrower tyre with a bit more air in them would be faster for hard pack where the risk of puncture is much lower?

I ran Vittoria Terreno 2.35 on my HT for BWR Canada, and that event was about 110km pavement and 110km unroad. No complaints about the tires other than i maybe could have used a slicker tire. Not easy finding a slick mtb tire in decent width, tho the rene herse antelope hill 2.2 might be a suitable fast rolling rear tire i would consider using.