MTB Tires: Train like you race?

What tires do you use on your everyday wheels? Same tires as your race wheels or do you use something different?

I have a separate bike I train with, so I guess I don’t train with what I race :rofl:

But if I did use the same bike, I would probably just use the same tires.

Little bit of both. You definitely don’t want to train on something with heaps of traction, then throw on semi-slicks for a race for the first time. You need to be comfortable on racier tires. That said, I’ll use heavier, knobbier tires for training generally so I’m not constantly flatting and can ride more varied terrain comfortably.

I also like to have fresh tires for important races – not brand new, but with only a ride or two on them to make sure they’re stretched, seated, and holding properly.

For instance, I’ll typically ride something like a Maxxis Rekon 2.4 front, Ikon 2.35 rear combo for training, then switch to a Aspen 2.4 front, Rekon Race 2.4 rear for a fast race on hardpack. If the course is really fast, I might even go with a Rekon Race 2.25 or Pace 2.1 rear tire.

I just recently tried the Schwalbe Racing Ray 2.35 front, Thunder Burt 2.35 rear combo, and while it felt amazingly fast and surprisingly grippy, most of the Burt’s already minimal knobs were gone after ~75 miles and I punctured the tread on ride number 4. Not sure where I’ll go with this combo, either use it as a “race only” setup or retire it – the puncture makes me hesitant to use it in races.

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I train and race on the same, I want to know what to expect out of my tires. I use 2.35 Mezcals f/r for everything.


I typically train and race on the same tyres, though I’ve been experimenting recently with different brands.

I have toyed with, and seen lots of riders, change from “protection” to race (no/limited protection) of the same tyres. To be honest I’m not sure the benefits are there, but also tyres are so much better than they used to be that you can get some great use out of Race tyres if you’re not a super shredder.

Same tires. I already ride too much on my roadie-gravel bike. Need the practice on my race tires.

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I train and race on the same tires. A big portion of mountain biking is handling and if you aren’t use to the handling of your tires you wont be as fast.


I mix it up and try to rotate the same favorite tires through from race to train (ie once my race tires get a few races in them they turn into training tires) so i know what to expect. Vitorria Barzo’s my go to>

Easy, last years race tires are this years training tires. I always start the season with a fresh pair.

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Totally different training and racing tires, but race tires will get mounted up and trail selection will change dramatically when spring comes. Early races in March and April I will keep the training and trail setup on.
Race setup: Maxxis Aspen 2.4s (f/r)
Trail/Training: Maxxis Rekon 2.4 (r) and Maxxis Minnion DHF 2.5 (f)

I live in Northern New Jersey and the trails around here are extremely technical, rocky and rooted. I only have one bike currently and it is a straight XC 100/100, but really could use a trail bike. Not everyone has XC circuits around for daily riding. When I am out the majority of bikes I come across are in the 140+ range.

I don’t agree on always riding what you will race on. I swap multiple wheels and tire choices around all CX season depending on course and conditions.

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I always run the same XC tire setup through race season and just swap in fresh tires the week before my main races. A lot of times in the mid-summer and winter I’ll switch to something with a bit more grip, but I’ve done big enduro rides on Aspens plenty of times.

If I rode my xc tire/wheel combo on the trails I train and coach at I would be replacing those often. Instead I put the xc stuff on a few rides before a race and either ride someplace else or shred carefully.

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I don’t even understand why you’d want to have training wheels anyway. I’d want to train on the exact same setup that I’d race on, same bike, same wheels, same everything. Of course, that’s different from e. g. choosing tires to suit a course and the condition it is in. Or from trying different tires for the sake of trying something new. But I wouldn’t get cheaper wheels and tires. If the stuff you are using can’t handle training, IMHO it isn’t good enough. Ditto for road bikes, especially if you are running disc brakes.

The only exceptions I might make are chains and saving a pair new(er) tires. I might keep a newly waxed chain for races, because cleaning chains is a giant pain. And I might keep a new(er) pair of tires for races to make sure I don’t suddenly discover at the starting line that my tire tread is all worn. But apart from this, no.

This for me, and that I also generally ride much more technical terrain than I race on. I want to have tires that allow me to push my comfort zone and grow my skills. I swap to race tires or race-like tires a month or so before my A-event to make sure I’m fully adjusted back to their grip profile.

This also may be very geographically dependent. We’re both in Colorado and if you are riding here year round on XC race tires you’re likely doing yourself a disservice. If I lived in the Midwest or something I’d probably ride XC race tires all the time.


The stuff I ride in training you will NEVER see in an XC race. My trail bike is a 170mm coil sprung enduro, and I use up the limits of that bike often enough! :rofl:


Both, I’ll use heavier grippier tires for fun rides and earlier season training, but like others have wisely pointed out, I like knowing what my race day tires will act like so I’ll typically put a bunch of time on them prior to any event.