Funktionsweise und Beschaffenheit
With a little experience, you can usually tell what a tyre is made for by looking at the tread pattern and design. A tyre for wet or muddy conditions must above all fulfil four important criteria:
- Higher profile, longer lugs
Longer lugs allow the tyre to bite through the liquid, "slippery" mud and reach the grippier, firmer ground where it finds traction. A tyre with a flat tread hardly manages this - it does not get to the firmer ground, but slips away more quickly on the slick top layer. An impressive example of an MTB tyre with very long lugs is the Maxxis Wetscream or, in the gravel sector, the Maxxis All Terrane.
- Open profile with large gaps
Even if the tyre rolls less smoothly on firm ground as a result, an "open" tread with plenty of space between the individual lugs is fundamentally important. The background: Sticky mud clogs the tread, so depending on the ground conditions, the advantage of the long lugs would be lost after a short ride - the tyre practically becomes a slick tyre. However, if there is more space between the lugs, the mud cannot hold on so well and the tyre cleans itself through the centrifugal forces of rotation. Examples of tyres with plenty of clearance, especially in the centre of the tread, are the Continental Hydrotal for MTBs and the Schwalbe X-One for gravel bikes.
- Narrower design
While tyres for dry conditions or all-rounders are usually very wide in order to maximise grip, traction and damping, designated mud tyres are traditionally somewhat narrower. There is a reason for this: A wide tyre tends to "float” in mud - it generates less pressure per surface area on the ground. Only when the tyre becomes narrower can it literally cut through the mud and build up grip on the aforementioned firmer ground. Of course, the tyre width should not be too narrow either, as otherwise the performance will get worse again and grip and damping in particular will suffer. A prominent example of a narrow mountain bike mud tyre is the Schwalbe Dirty Dan, which was only 2.0" wide in its 26" days. In the gravel sector, it is better to use cyclocross tyres, which are traditionally narrower (up to 35 mm).
- The rubber compound
With every tyre, the rubber compound plays a decisive role in whether your bike rolls better or worse and whether it offers a lot of grip and traction. A softer rubber compound is usually used for mud tyres so that the lugs grip even better on wet stones or slippery roots. But here, too, a certain balancing act is required to prevent the long studs from buckling if the compound is too soft.
Differences between gravel and mountain bikes
While manufacturers go "all out" with mountain bike mud tyres and don’t make any compromises when getting them ready for their area of use, things are a little more discreet in the gravel sector, because a gravel bike is rarely ridden at the limit; in addition, the tyres should not roll too slowly on the road and on paved paths, which is almost irrelevant for a special mountain bike tyre. Apart from the manufacturer's design, however, every cyclist should clearly ask themselves what is more important to them: Do I accept high rolling resistance to get the best off-road performance or should the tyre still offer a good balance between grip and speed? Our service team will be happy to help you.
Grip and traction
As these two terms are often confused, we would like to clear up the confusion and shed some light on the subject.
Grip means the tyre's ability to hold on to the ground when lateral forces occur, which normally occur in corners, but also in so-called "off-camber" sections. These are straight sections along a slope where the ground slopes to the left or right.
Traction means the ability of the tyre not to slip when accelerating or not to lock up when braking. If traction is lost, you will usually feel it on the rear wheel when going uphill (slipping) or on the flat and downhill if you brake suddenly and too hard on a loose surface (locking up).