What Are Wide Trail Tires?

This is why you need a pair on your bike

The bicycle industry has reinvented the wheel multiple times over the past couple years, looking to find the perfect tire and rim size for everyday trail riders. Plus-sized tires (2.8- to 3.25-inch wide tires) quickly grew in popularity due to the benefits of high air volume and increased traction and stability. On the other hand, we saw rim companies widening the internal width (inner channel) of their rims in order to give standard-sized tires a wider profile. These new wider rims, however, weren’t designed for tires of the past, thus another new tire size was born, known as “Wide Trail.” Wide Trail, or WT for short, is a phrase coined by Maxxis to describe tires specially designed for wider rims. While Maxxis may have rights to the term Wide Trail, almost every other tire manufacturer and rim company has taken note of this new trend. We reached out to Pivot Cycle’s founder, Chris Cocalis, who works closely with Maxxis, along with our friends at RideFast Racing, Bontrager, DT Swiss and WTB, to see what the deal is with the new trend of “wider than standard yet not quite plus-sized” tires. Our mission was to find out if Wide Trail is the new golden tire size. Here’s what the experts had to say.


EBA : What is Wide Trail?

Pivot: In the simplest terms, Wide Trail tires are basically tires designed to work correctly with internal rim widths between 30mm and 35mm. Most tires on the market were designed for rims less than 30mm wide. In most cases, trail tires were really designed for rim widths around 23 to 25mm. As rim widths became wider, there was a bit of lag time in tire development. When a standard tire is used on a wide rim, the casing and tread pattern don’t allow for the tread to properly line up with the sidewalls of the rim. The tire can bottom on the side wall, allowing the tire to pinch flat more easily. It also means that the overall tire profile becomes flatter on wider rims and does not function as well as it could. Even a tire like a Maxxis High Roller II (27.5×2.4 inches) that is a nice, wide tire will have this issue. The Wide Trail designation means that the knobs and tire profile have been optimized for the wider rims. Tires in 2.4 inches and 2.5 inches with the WT designation are optimized this way, as well as 2.6-inch tires, even if they don’t carry the WT designation. Just by the nature of their size, they are also designed for internal rim widths between 30mm and 35mm. Wider tires—2.8 inches and up—are considered “plus” tires, as their casings are even larger and are designed for rim widths between 35mm and 40mm. We always want to match the proper tire to the rim width. This is why the Mach 6 with 35mm rims uses a 2.6-inch tire, whereas our Firebird with 30mm-wide rims uses a Minion DHF 2.5WT and Minion DHR 2.4WT combination. This way, we are able to match the tire and rim combination for maximum performance and durability.

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