Bontrager’s XR1 is crazy quick but the slightly knobblier XR2 is a more versatile option. It’s still seriously quick with reasonably low weight and a fast rolling 60/62a compound that lasts well even if you start skidding round on rocks – and took our Best Value award when we recently pitted it against five other fast-rolling tyres.
Related: Six of the best fast-rolling MTB tyres
The simple regular small knob pattern and supple carcass can still pull a surprising amount of traction out of dry to damp loose soil and trail centre gravel though, particularly under braking and accelerating. But don’t go relying on it to slingshot you round turns though as the side knobs aren’t any bigger or noticeably softer so they drift rather than digging in and railing.
It’s a controllable and enjoyable slide, though and the rounded shape means they drop into turns every easily. Bontrager largely pioneered tubeless ready tyres too so they seal well on most rims. They shrug off scuffs and impacts well for a mid sized tyre too, taking them out of the pure XC category and into hard working trail terrain without worry.
High setup pressures are needed to get them to seat symmetrically though or they can wobble and ‘egg’. Sizing is extreme too as the 2.0s are tiny and the 2.20s are massive. It’s not available in 650b either.
This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine.