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EB18: Tire Trends – More tubeless, more brands, more sizes, more wider

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This year, there were a lot of new tires. By which we mean mostly new sizes and options for existing treads and models, giving people more widths, price points, and e-bike rated versions for road, mountain bike and commuter. In recent years, the floodgates opened for gravel bike tires, but that’s slowed to a trickle as most brands are now working on adding more sizes or actually getting those previously announced tires to market. For mountain bikes, it’s definitely about adding e-ratings or e-options to them, and getting a proper 2.6″ width on the most popular treads. That’s the 10,000 foot view, now let’s dig into a few more specific trends…

More & better tubeless tires for every bike

If you thought you had a lot of options before, get ready for overload. Over the past 12 months, a lot of new brands have entered (or re-entered) the market and now there are literally more than we can keep track of. Relative newcomer Terrene has new fat & commuter tires. Tire compound guru Wolfgang Arenz even has his own range of tires coming soon under the new Wolfpack name. And older brands, like Panaracer, and making a comeback. Automotive brands are jumping in, as with Goodyear’s recent return and the expansion of Pirelli Velo.

Before the show we saw zip-on commuter tires from new Norwiegian company ReTyre, and a whole new performance road & gravel line from new Dutch company Ere Research. There’s a seemingly endless supply of people developing new tires these days. And yes, everyone is embracing tubeless!

More, wider Road Tubeless tires

Even the staunch European brands are getting in on road tubeless. Czech tire maker Tufo, long a skinny tire and vulcanized tubular hold out, now has a widening range of 28mm road tubeless clinchers to offer.

More, wider Gravel Tubeless tires

2019 Kenda Alluvium Pro tubeless ready gravel road bike racing tire

More options are popping up in the gravel sphere all the time, as gravel biking bleeds riders from both road and cross. Challenge enters the fray with slick Strada Biancas for the converted roadie, or fatter Gravel Grinders, which are basically a scaled up cyclocross race tire. And either one can be had in medium width 700c or even wider 650b versions.

Mitas has widened their X-Road all-rounder gravel tire to a 38, and even given it its own new puncture protection tech. Vittoria also debuted a new gravel tire called the Terreno Zero based off their dry conditions cross tires earlier this summer. And Kenda’s 40mm Alluvium Pro gravel race tire is about to hit the shelves.

Race-ready tubeless Cyclocross tires

Challenge has made a name for making high quality, affordable cross tires, but only as tubulars and handmade open clinchers. Now that is starting to change with the addition of TLR tubeless versions of their three most popular cyclocross treads. We talked with DT Swiss earlier in the year (and also a bit with Schwalbe late last year), and everyone is working to recreate that mix of grip, feel, and durability you get racing CX on tubulars.

We believe that future will come soon…even road tire brands are admitting tubeless tires can be (and in many cases already are) more efficient than tubulars. For ‘cross, no one has it 100% solved it yet, but every new tubeless CX tire hitting the market is that much closer to us not losing brain cells gluing tubulars.

XC mountain bike tires get more aggressive

A year ago it was all trail and enduro, but XC has had a bit of a heyday this spring and summer as bike makers build more technically capable XCO race bikes. To make that work, they’re taking two tacks: Either more aggressive XC treads, or wider XC tires.

Hutchinson’s new Skeleton is just a bit more aggressive, but not much wider. Schwalbe’s racing brothers Ray & Ralph get front & rear XC specific sharp blocks, and max out at 2.25″. Tufo’s first MTB racing clincher, the XC11 TR gets a respectable 2.25″ width. And fellow Czech tire maker Mitas goes all in with a 2.45″ version of their lightweight cross-country Scylla TD tread.

Trail MTB tires gain size options big & small

new Kenda mountain bike tires for 2019 include the Regolith El Capo and Booster Pro

While “enduro” may have been the catch-all term for the past few years, “trail” is making a comeback thanks to more lightweight yet very capable bikes that blue the lines between XC and all-mountain. To accommodate that growing segment, more tire brands are popping out well-knobbed patterns that aren’t too aggressive, but have more bite than XC tires. This means good grip, fast rolling, and decent tear and puncture protection. It also means more sizes, both in diameter and width, now that more and more bikes and forks can clear a 2.4 to 2.6.

Maxxis expands their mountain bike tire offerings bringing the ever popular Minions and the Rekon to both smaller and bigger sizes. And Kenda has reworked their long running Nevegal and added a new Regolith light all-mountain tire. Schwalbe’s in on that game, too.

Fat bikes tires are getting fatter

EB18: Terrene Tires Johnny 5 is a true 5" tire + Griswold studded commuter, Cake Eater 29 x 2.8

Who thought Fat bikes would keep getting fatter? Well 5″ is the new deal apparently, as Terrene adds their new Johnny 5 to crawl those snow packed winter trails. Those giant shoes won’t fit in a bunch of fat bikes, but if you have the space (the new Surly Ice Cream Truck does), you know you’ll want the float.

More tan & brown sidewalls

EB18: Hutchinson teases Connec'tires wireless pressure sensor & tan wall tires

On the road there’s been Continental with brown walls, in the ‘cross camp Challenge jumps to mind for modern tan walls, and on gravel WTB for brown walls. But they are by no means alone in the natural rubber craze as riders (and product managers) look to build on the classic looks.

Challenge goes brown with their tubeless tires. Hutchinson does the same for both gravel and XC, as does Vee Tire Co. Even Schwalbe goes au naturel on a number of OEM bikes’ specs and aftermarket. Anyone looking for a classic build need only reach into the product catalogs to pick the gum wall look of their choice these days.

More Run-Flat protection too!

EB18: CushCore expands to foam liner fit 27.5+ wheels and tires

While tire tech itself has gone a long way to making flats and rim damage less common, the biggest new thing in tire protection are rim inserts. CushCore has just expanded their foam liner to fit 27.5+ wheels and tires. Ride Panzer makes a pentagonal foam rim protection insert. Vittoria now has their bright green Air Liner MTB insert. Even Aaron Gwin is riding his own Tire Defender foam inserts downhill these days. For commuters, Schwalbe just created their own three-piece airless tire system that has to be professionally installed.

…and more e-Bike tires

It’s hard to write a trends article about Eurobike without mentioning e-bikes, even if we do keep most of that on e-bikerumor.com! E-road and e-MTB are getting their own e-bike-specific versions of popular tires with extra wear characteristics built-in. In some countries, it’s required by law for tires to be rated for certain speeds, but they’re also usually built tougher to handle the extra weight.

For mountain bikes, there’s a big trend toward mixing wider 27.5″ rear tires with 29er tires on the front, which is something motocross bikes have done for years. Most brands are simply rebadging existing DH and enduro tires that meet e-bike standards, but Schwalbe has introduced a very moto-inspired pair of tires specifically for eMTB.

You don’t need to plug the tires in though, so if you are especially hard on tires or ride in a place that shreds normal tires, you’re welcome to slap some e-bike tires on your regular bike. We won’t tell anyone.



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5 years ago

3 problems I would like to see solved with tubeless:

* better valves. For me sort of the achilles heel of tubeless
* sealant fill status detector
* road tubeless tires that you get actually off the rim when having to put in a tube. There are some nasty, tight rim/tire combos out there. Sort of a gamble figuring out if a specifc combo works.

5 years ago

Who makes the 29×2.45 tire in the very first banner pic? Thanks in advance for any help!

5 years ago

Never mind found it….Mitas.

5 years ago

So when are Conti and Michelin going to hop on the tubeless road tire train? I’d switch to tubeless road right now if Michelin offered a tubeless version of the PR4 Endurance or Power Endurance tires.

Keith Bradley
Keith Bradley
5 years ago

Are special rims needed for timeless tyres?

Jason Etter
Jason Etter
5 years ago
Reply to  Keith Bradley

No, but you do need a time machine. 🙂

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