What's the fastest mtb tire in 2.4 (ish)-2.6 size?

Now that’s crazy, I’m running exactly that, the ardent race front and ikon rear with the EXO casings. And found them to be 30 seconds slower for the same power on a 14 minute lap. So if you have the EXO casings…yeah there are faster options for sure.


1 Like

Just a (not so) quick comment on feel…I did some laps on a hardtail (specialized epic HT) and trail bike (canyon spectral) Because…I like riding the big bike but it’s 8#'s heavier and squishy and “feels slow” and when I’m with the guys I need every advantage I can get, right?

I used the same wheels to take that out of the equation and got the data below. In summary, ave time on the HT was 13:59 on 171 watts, ave time on the spectral was 14:00 on 177 watts.

You might say “yeah but the power meters were different” … which they were. So I ran a 5 minute steady state on the smart trainer, got the same power. Then I ran 5 minutes of 15s on and 15s off and the HT meter read 3 watts lower. So maybe you could say the HT power meter runs just a tiny bit lower than the spectral powermeter…let’s say 1-2 watts making the adjusted power 173 vs. 177 for the same time (within 1 second anyway). This isn’t much, probably well within the margin of error.

So summary? While the spectral feels WAY SLOWER, it’s not much slower at all. That’s why I just can’t trust “how a tire feels”.

Cornering is kinda that way too. When I had the stock DHF/Dissector combo, I was a cornering maniac! Or maybe it was that I was going to slowly that the corners just felt easier.

I don’t trust feel! And, after actually doing some actual testing, sometimes I don’t trust tests either!



Yeah, I have the EXO version. They came as standard with the bike (Orbea Oiz) so I’m probably going to swicth em out.

Can’t really decide which version of the Racing Ray/Thunder Burt I should get. The Super Race, or Super Ground. The race probably has a more supple carcass, so less rolling resistance. And seeing as I mostly just ride flowy single track with minimal rocks and an odd root here or there, they should hold up well.


Will do. I’m not going to ride those tyres for a couple of weeks but I’ve installed them to stretch while I’m away.

I went SuperRace, mostly for the tan wall (I can now understand why Jonathan doesn’t like tan walls as the Maxxis tan walls are not as nice as the other brands). I was happy though as they are my race tyres and all the Super series ones have the Snakeskin protection now.

1 Like

I’m not so sure you can use your data here to determine that trail tyres are as fast (or faster) than the XC ones. I think there’s a sweet spot for grip versus rolling speed.

Running a super grippy front tyre with a fast rolling rear is a pretty normal thing and is actually very fast as it gives more confidence and still reduces the rolling resistance on the rear which is much more impactful.

1 Like

Absolutely and as the rear wheel is weighted more than the front, the fast rolling rear should have an outsized impact so I’m with you that a fast rear and grippy front seems like the way to go.


1 Like


I like how the Ray is a front specific pattern that rolls well and has better cornering grip. Similar to the Barzo.

Faster than a Nobby

1 Like

Victoria Terreno dry as the rear? 2.1” I think

Yes, sorry about that, I always get them mixed up.

Out of curiosity, has Schwalbe phased out the Thunderburts? I can’t find them on Schwalbe’s site any longer. I was curious whether they had a wider variant. And let us know how you like them. :slight_smile:

uhhh, so do you think this means that suspension might actually make people faster, all other things equal? (bias warning, I think it does)

but seriously, when you say “feels WAY SLOWER,” does it take more effort, or is it just cushy like fancy suspension in a luxury car and more comfortable?

They still have them as far as I’m aware. At least they are still available to order.

2.35 is the largest (which is what I have) but it’s looking a smidge small.

I’ll report back with how I find it.

1 Like

AFAIK on most terrain and the longer you go a modern fully is going to be faster than a hardtail.

Are you sure the Super Race also has Snakeskin?

According to below link only the Super Ground and up have Snakeskin:

Hmm, that article is pretty clear.

I was just going off what the Schwalbe rep had told me last year, which I was pretty sure I’d read elsewhere, because I queried that SnakeSkin wasn’t advertised on the tyre. They said it was because all the Evo Line had it.

It makes sense. Even when I was installing it I was a bit uncomfortable with how thin the sidewall is.

Disappointing (though good to find out now) as I don’t think I want to race without protection.

I don’t currently have any rear tyres that aren’t SuperRace though. I might be Pigeon holed into running the Barzo/Mezcal combo :grimacing::man_shrugging:.

My Epic Pro came with 2.35" Fast Trak tan walls. They were very fast in a straight line and on pavement but on our local trails (Boise, ID) and in Moab I didn’t like the grip characteristics. I lost the front end way more than I’m used to. I swapped to 2.4" Rekon Race front and 2.4" Aspen rear and immediately had much more predictable grip. I ran that combo in our local races, Tahoe Trail 100, and Leadville with zero regrets or issues. I think that Racing Ray front and ThunderBurt rear would be similar.

Before the Racing Ralph was redesigned as a rear only tire I ran it front/rear on my last bike when racing and it was similar to the Rekon Race in overall grip. Day to day when training I had a second set of wheels and kept a Nobby Nic mounted on the front. Definitely more grip than the Ralph but also definitely slower rolling. In muddy races it was probably faster though.

I have 2.3" Maxxis DHF/DHR combo on my TallBoy that I use for Moab riding and lift served riding. They offer awesome grip but they are so slow rolling that if I’ve been riding my Epic and swap over I find myself stopping to see if I have a flat tire :sweat_smile:


Just ordered the Racing Ray/Thunder Burt in Super Race compound. Those tanwalls should look pretty slick on my bike.

Will report back on how they feel compared to my current Ardent Race/Ikon combo.


100%! I’m coming from a light hardtail with a suspension seat post so I can stay on the gas over trail chatter. I’ve felt this is the fastest way to go for pretty much ever. But riding the bikes back to back a lot and timing the runs…I’ve definitely changed my mind!

Also, just the pounding on the body is “a thing”. A couple of days ago I loaned the dually to a buddy and rode the hardtail for a couple of hours, at some points in a “spirited manner” and it just hurts. 100mm of “specialized brain” front shock vs. 160mm front + 150mm rear of supple cush…it’s just so much more pleasant on the big bike.

According to the powermeter and stopwatch, it’s not slower, at least on flat trails even though it’s more comfy and “feels slower”. Gonna get some climbing data someday (but it’s tough to find here in Florida)


1 Like

I didn’t care for the fast track in the front either but on the back it seems OK. Fast trak rear, nobby nic front was fine on hard guy to dry creek last summer!

Were you running the EXO casing in the recon race/aspen combo?

Testing…man it is difficult to know what is going on here because all of the runs look about the same! Paved, 8%, 190 feet of elevation gain. I thought I could easily prove the light hardtail with thin casing tires would be faster than a heavier dually with maxxis exo casings but, heck, even the big knob ardent EXOs ran about the same.


Do you think the times would be the same if you always trimmed the weight to the same? I mean add weight in all configurations to exactly 230 (assuming units are pounds)? That seems to be the variable out of control. Also, was the suspension open (unlocked) or closed (locked out)? I can’t wait till the snow is gone now to give this a try. At least you got a good workout.