Over 3 dozen 29" tires, but which really stand out?

The good news is : the “no rims, tires and forks for 29″ argument is out-dated, no-one on earth owns forks from all brands, or even all tires ever made in 29”.

We all have our favorites among the 29″ offerings. Most of us logging onto twentynineinches.com will agree that a 29″ version of a tire works better on most or all counts than the 26″ version. Mediocre 26″ tires scaled up to 29″ can be found to be really capable performers, even favorites. I have that with the Bontrager XR Front. I’d never buy it had 29″ not existed, but it’s my favorite for dry and sandy trails as a front. The same Front is a decent roller as a rear when I need some cush or traction. The Rear to me is overkill and a bit too slow rolling., Yes, I can be a racer boy geek.
In 26″ though, I’d stock up on Schwalbe Fast Freds 2.35’s and Racing Ralph 2.4’s. Much more volume, lower weight (even per inch), lower rolling resistance and at least as much grip (per inch). Those not existing in 29″ got Bontrager selling a couple XR’s to me. That XR Front is like a good dog. It’s my friend, and has my back. Smelly and slow though, far from perfect.

The NoTubes Crow rolls better than any tire I know, but might offer better grip and traction as well as more size. Only and best tubeless tire we have though.

On MTBR I tried to get a list together of all 29″ rubber that I would rate truly 29″, and which I have seen proof of to exist. Wide enough, and to be considered an MTB tire. Some are yet to become available but do exist, some never even made it to the market, but mold exists.

Now, which of the below is a favorite for a given type of riding and circumstances, and how would you rate them as a performer (per inch), compared to the best you know available in 26″?

This is not to slam 29″ offerings, but to make manufacturers see that rizing above the mediocrity will sell them many tires. Riders can tell the difference, you know.

Make you picks, and rate it’s excellence per inch.
1 Bontrager AcX
2 Bontrager XR F
3 Bontrager XR R
4 Bontrager XR Dry
5 Conti Vapor
6 Geax Saguaro
7 Hutchinson Python (not on market yet as we speak)
8 IRC Notos
9 IRC Mythos F
10 IRC Mythos R
11 IRD/Panaracer Fire XC Pro
12 Kenda Klaw F
13 Kenda Klaw R
14 Kenda Karma 1.9
15 Kenda Karma 2.2
16 Kenda Nevegal 2.2 (does seem to stand out for pure grip)
17 Kenda Small Block 8
18 Maxxis High Roller (not on the market, too tiny almost)
19 Maxxis Ignitor
20 Maxxis Crossmark
21 Michelin XC AT
22 NoTubes “Stans” The Crow 2.0
23 Panaracer Rampage 2.35
24 Schwalbe Big Apple 2.35 (no knobs, but so big it works on sandy trails)
25 Schwalbe Little Albert
26 Specialized Fast Trak (new in 2Bliss edition)
27 Specialized Resolution
28 Specialized The Captain (not on market yet)
29 WTB Nanoraptor 2.1 (steel and various folding versions)
30 WTB Motoraptor 2.1 (steel and various folding versions)
31 WTB Exi 2.3 (steel and various folding versions)
32 WTB Weirwolf 2.55 LT
33 Halo Twin Rail
34 Halo Choir Master
35 VRB 209 Ninja (cheap, spotted on Taiwan trade show, I think)
36 WTB Prowler 2.1 (still in development)

Thanks for your comments.

No Responses to “Over 3 dozen 29" tires, but which really stand out?”

  1. Southern Bod Says:

    Ok in Alphabetical order.

    Bontrager ACX – Terrible the casing was way too thing and very loose on the rim meaning it would roll off at any moment and that it really did’nt like low pressures. I only had success on a couple of days in dry conditions with it, not keen at all, it’s only saved by being a cheap and light tyre.

    Continental Vapor – Great in mud it cuts through although not as convinvcingly as something like a Panracer Trail Raker, so I’m hoping that either the Michelin or IRD Fire copies will be good for the UK winter and really hook up.

    Specialized Captain – Not enough miles yet I’ve got a proto set for testing they are light and look like a good summer tyre with reasonable volume the Specialized gut said they’d work with no tubes but they’re looser on teh rim than WTB exi’s, I’ll l;et you know how I get on after a few miles.

    WTB ExiWolf – My favourite tyre to date bombproof and grips like mad down at 25psi and absorbs shock as well, genuinely large volume and relatively fast rolling for UK spring conditions it’s excelled, only feeling out of it’s depth on roots and steep greasy off cambering contouring through trees.

    WTB Weirwolf – I’m getting a set having tried them briefly, they look like the ideal summer trail centre tyre allowing me to run a rigid fork and have lots of cush, I’d be worried in the wet but front and rear I expect at just under 30psi they will rule.

    I’ll let you know about the Weirwolf and teh Captain, hope the info is useful.

  2. Rainman Says:

    For me, there are only three tires that I am interested in currently.

    1: Kenda Nevegal. Fantastic grip, especially with their big soft side knobs, in all conditions.

    2: Panaracer Rampage. Almost as much grip as the Nevegal, but a little faster rolling.

    These two tires are outstanding, and have made it easy for me to go a lot faster than ever before with tremendous grip and still maintain some margins of safety.

    3: WTB Nanoraptor. For smooth trails and street rolling, the WTB Nanoraptor is it.

    These three are my top picks.


  3. Cloxxki Says:

    I’d like to hear especially how you’d rate mentioned tires with those available in the 26″ world. Can you find a better road/smooth trail tire in 26″ land (per inch, as the 29″ concept has it obvious advantages to us)?

    For instance, for what I’d now use the 29″ Nano, a steel beaded 26×2.25″ Schwalbe Fast Fred might already be better, per inch.
    The Nano wasn’t a very well known tire until it became the first 29″ tire back in ’99…

    For what I use the Bontrager XR Front for, the Schwalbe Racing Ralph on my buddy’s bike are much better, per inch.

    For what I use the Kenda Karma 1.9, I’d rather have a Continental Twister which rolls well and sheds muds while maintaining a level of grip. The Twisters would also take away most of the need for the NoTubes Crows for perfectly smooth trails. Still, I do use the Karma 1.9 Front/Crow Rear combo quite a bit, as I’m 100% over to 29″.

    Please relate our current offerings to what proven to be possible.

  4. MG Says:

    My current favorites include:
    1) Bontrager Jones XR front — My ‘go to’ front tire, and a pretty darn good rear tire too. I run ’em tubeless. As was already mentioned, it feels to me like the rear XR rolls slower than the front run on the rear, with no real redeeming benefits.

    2) WTB NanoRaptor — My ‘to to’ rear tire. Not my favorite on the front, but for racing and all around fast riding, it’s a tough rear tire to beat. I’ve been running a steel-bead DNA Nano tubeless (with my DIY setup) — the same tire — since November 2005. That type of durability is INSANE! (Yes, it’s thrashed, but still servicable, believe it or not.)

    3) Maxxis Ignitor — A relatively fast, reliable and solid cornering tire. Not flashy, but it gets the job done without fuss or theatrics. Solid reliability for me, even running tubeless.

    4) Kenda Nevegal 2.2 — Holy cow… This one’s a cornering maestro. But it’s also a tank. Also reliable tubeless for me.

    5) Kenada Karma 1.9 — As fast as a Nano but less casing/weight. I like the Nano better now. I used to love this tire… Now it sits in the closet more than it rolls on my bike.

    Tires I want to try:
    1) Maxxis CrossMark — Jason at Salsa says these are his current favorite. Big casing, fast tread, good cornering knobs… sign me up!

    2) Kenda Straight 8 — I’ve seen some weak casing action on other riders’ Straight-8s, but they look fast, are light and might be a good choice for a more racing-specific wheelset.

    3) Schwalbe Little Albert — Some underground reports from Colorado suggest these might be worth checking out. Price primarily has kept me from experiencing them to-date.

  5. Desert9er Says:

    I have only been riding a 29er for 3 months (the xxix), but have ridden mt for 10 yrs on theast and west coast, the xxix comes stock with Exi’s here in the desert conditions of Nevada they Suck! within 1/2 hr of hitting the trail, I would go down. so I bought a pair of Fire XCs, Fan-damn-tastic tire!! in the month that I have had them, riding 2-3 times a week 3 hour rides, I’ve slipped twice!

    I am interested in trying the Ignitor and the Nevegal.

  6. Desert9er Says:

    Oh and since I commute on my xxix, I am pretty curious of the Twin Rail!

  7. bonefishjake Says:

    my mary came with exis and my first ‘ride’ on them i thought they were great. ok, so the ground was frozen and slicks would’ve stuck. my first ‘real ride’ on them i slipped more times than i could count. at one point the bike literally slipped out from underneath me. sideways. not to metion at even the thought of mud they muck up.

    enter the panaracer rampages. fan-freakin’-tastic. got lots of rocky, muddy, rooty, dry, wet and inbetween miles on them. running them front and back and here in the northeast (nj) they’re perfect.

    what i’d LOVE, however, would be a 29er version of the WTB velociraptors in the folding, DNA variety. they stick like glue in the 26″ variety so i’d imagine in 29er flavor they’d be just peachy.

    and that’s all i’ve got to say about that.

  8. jonnyb Says:

    On my 26″ I’ve rode the same tires (we’ll not exactly the same ones, obviously) for 10 years — Specialized Team Control/Team Masters, the superlight red-stripe ones, for about ten years. Damn Light, fast-rolling, grippy, all-around awesome even at higher pressures. Except in mud, where they might be the worst mud-clearing tire ever. Which brings me to long-time tire choice #2 — Specialized Storm Control 1.8. Quite literally, unstoppable in mud (and perhaps the worst cornering tire in history).

    I had sufficient stockpiles of these tires to last me for years more, and then I switched to 29er. So far I’ve ran various Bontrager, IRC and now Rampages, and have to say I’m a bit disappointed. The 29er’s extra traction makes up for some of the shortfalls of the less-knobby tires, but I have yet to find a tire that is both grippy AND fast, like my favoured old Specialized tires. Rampages are now my daily riders, but they sure are heavy and they fill with mud quickly and shed it slowly.

    In short, I haven’t found anything yet that matches the performance of my favourite obsolete 26″ tires. And, in particular, the need for a good 29er mud tire looms large (the Bontrager one just looks like a Fisher Fat Trax from ’88 which was admittedly a tolerable mud tire).

  9. Southern Bod Says:

    Yes a proper mud tyre is what’s missing about 1.8-1.95 front and rear, a paddle shaped rear like an IRC Mud Mad, or a Continental Survival and something like a Schwalbe Mud Shark for the front ad we’d have a great set of proper sloppy weather mud tyres.

  10. Cloxxki Says:

    Actually, the 28×1.85″ Schwalbe Black Shark used to exist (I own 3). 39mm casing, 45mm knobs, give or take.
    It delivers more mud traction than I can usually find a use for, but running one even as a front only brings a bike to a crawling halt, pave or trail.

  11. Southern Bod Says:

    Want to do a swap for some prototype Specialized ;0)

  12. Oliver Says:

    It appears that the Kenda Klaw has been dropped from Kenda’s tire line up. (According to their website) Might have to remove those two from your list.

  13. drool Says:

    Another thing missing is an aramid belted tire for those of us that will put up with a bit of weight to minimize the cance of flats. I changed to armored Specialized tires on my 26 ” bike and also run Schwalbe Marathon XRs on my Paragon for pavement/hardpack. I just don’t get flats now. There is no fat 29er armored tire yet so I still run th eBontragers when I want fat tires on the 29er 9 (and suffer for it).

  14. shiggy Says:

    Cloxxki, I have no idea what you mean by “rate it’s excellence per inch.”

    You also missed a few tires:
    Bonty Mud X (coming)
    WTB Stout (coming)
    CST Critter
    At least 2 new Contis in the new “Mountain/Speed” range (coming)
    I include the Panaracer Fire Cross 700 x 45. Very competent off road tire.
    Same for the WTB MutanoRaptor 44.

  15. Cloxxki Says:

    Shiggy, I mean that an identical 29″ tire will usually grip and roll better, providing more cush than it’s 26″ kid brother. It’s not a night and day diffrence, just 2.5 inches worth. But sufficient to make a so-so tread in29″ compete with a good identical 26″ one. Bad wording I know, I mix up too many languages lately.

    I did not miss these tires, seeing is believing! Just like that Ritchey Z-Max 2.4″ that was promised to us, and then dis-promised.
    To me, the Mutano 44 was extremely imcompetent offroad, even as a rear. On my lame trails it was either harsh, or it would hit rims. All trekking tires roll well, and so did MUtano. In a lame trail UCI stage rce, I went and begged for a spare Nano for at the Nishiki team manager, which he kindly borrowed me, so I put it on the rear.
    I’m a Dutch scrootch, but I gave my set away to a monstercross bike owner/builder.

  16. Guitar Ted Says:

    Shiggy, Make that at least THREE new Contis πŸ™‚ I have it from a reputable Conti rep.

    You’ll be very busy at Interbike! πŸ™‚

  17. Cloxxki Says:

    Scratch the 2Bliss mention behind the Fast Trak, brand webmasters…
    Fast Trak remains a Pro, as was.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    I love my Geax Seguaros 2.2 at 30lbs. Awesome tire for our Mid West terrain

  19. My two cents Says:

    Bontrager Jones ACX: Awesome rear tread design for the dusty/rocky trails i ride, but i never get more than half the life before the sidewall goes.

    Bontrager Jones XR: Good volume and weigh, not a lot of grip and a weakish casting/sidewalls.

    Kenda Klaw 2.1 rear: Awesome rear tire, i got from a closeout bin for $5, it was the best $5 i ever spent, (even if it olny lasted 600 miles or so). I can’t find another one.

    Maxxis Ignitor: Great all around tire, rolls well and lasts. I had the older/lighter version and the sidewalls were a little flimsier than the new ones. I did blow one off the rim @30psi though.

    WTB Nano: Solid rear tire for dry terrain, casting is a little week though (i had a 1/8″ pine branch give it a prince albert)

    WTB Moto Raptor: Low volume and rolls slow on hard pack, but it wears well. One of my favorite rear tires, pretty decent front tire too. Very predictable. This was my favorite rear tire on the 26″ bike. I would like to see the 2.24 version for a 29er.

    WTB Exi wolf: I liked it most of the time but like the 26″ Weir Wolf it is not a very consistent feeling tire in the turns, and it feels heavy for the amount of grip you get.

    Geax Saguaro: Like an exi wolf only newer and a little less heavy feeling.

    Panaracer Rampage: My fave, great wear life, rolls pretty well, fells lighter than an Exi Wolf with more volume, no sidewall problems, and ultra predictable. The only downside is that it barely clears my frame. If they made a 2.1 i would buy it for the rear.

    I would like to see in 29″ other than the two i mentioned:
    WTB mutano raptor 2.4
    Geax Study
    Geax Barrow Marathon
    WTB Veloci Raptor (rear)
    2.35 Maxxis Ignitor

  20. d lo Says:

    since i discovered the Schwalbe Little Albert I won’t run anything else. They’re light as hell, have a super strong sidewall, stick like glue, and the rolling resistance, while higher than other tires I’ve run, isn’t a drag. The down side is that they’re a little pricey, but i’ll pay it and keep on paying it. the first time i got on them i knew within a mile that it was well worth it.

  21. Charlie Root Says:


    very useful reviews! By the way, does anyone know if the Jones XR front tire is made in 2.50?

    Thanks and greetings from Spain! πŸ˜‰

  22. Guitar Ted Says:

    Charlie Root: No, nothing that big in a Bontrager………yet. πŸ˜‰

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