If you spend a lot of time picking apart technical single track or exploring wooded trails on your motorcycle, you already know that tire choice plays a big part in your bike’s performance. Luckily, there are plenty of good tire options made to work for every type of rider on the trail. In this guide, we’ll break down our favorite trail and single-track tire choices so you can have a better idea of what will work for you.

What are Trials and Hybrid Tires?

Before we dive in, let’s explain the differences between trials tires and hybrid tires. If we look at a traditional knobby and use it as a baseline, it will have a very round crown, aggressive side lugs for cornering, tall knobs, and a widely spaced tread layout for ejecting mud.

Trials Tires

A trials tire is almost the polar opposite of an MX knobby. A trials tire has a flatter crown for a bigger contact patch, the lugs have a more uniform shape, and the tread pattern is more condensed. Typically, trials tires also have a more flexible sidewall and a lower durometer rubber compound, meaning they are more “sticky.” The end result is a tire with incredible traction that does best on hard-packed terrain. The trade-off is that a trials tire doesn’t have the cornering performance of a knobbier tire.

trials hybrid knobby tire comparison
Here you can see the difference in tread pattern between a knobby (left), a trials tire (center), and a hybrid tire that splits the difference (right).

Hybrid Tires

That is where hybrid tires come in. Like the name implies, hybrid tires fill the gap between knobbies and trials tires by taking the best from both. Hybrids will have a more rounded profile versus trials, which helps them corner much better. And while the tread lugs on a hybrid may look similar to a knobby, they’re typically spaced closer together. One popular hybrid tire that’s an exception to this rule is the GoldenTyre GT2016X “Gummy.” With widely spaced lugs, the GT2016X uses a very flexible carcass and soft, “gummy” rubber compound to find grip even in wet conditions. Kenda’s K774 Ibex also uses a very soft compound and flexible carcass, however, the Ibex has a more aggressive tread pattern that delivers excellent cornering.

Most hybrid tires use a soft rubber compound similar to the Ibex and GT2016X, but others also use specialized tread patterns. The Sedona MX907HP rear sports a very unique tread pattern that’s been a large factor in the tire gaining a cult following for being long wearing and exceptionally sticky, especially when paired with the Tubliss system. In the end, a perfect hybrid tire will have the traction of a trials tire but cornering ability that’s much closer to a knobby.

Both trials and hybrid tires are much better than a knobby for trail riding, and not just because they perform better. Trials and hybrid tires have less impact on the terrain you’re riding compared to a knobby—ideal when you want to preserve a trail’s integrity. Whether you choose a trials or hybrid tire really comes down to your preferences and riding style. Here are a few of our favorites.

husqvarna tx300 with d803 trials tire mounted
This Husky TX300 has Dunlop’s D803GP mounted on the rear, making it ideal for tight single track and wooded trails.

Dunlop D803GP

Our first choice is a classic trials tire, Dunlop’s D803. It’s one of our best-selling trials tires, and it’s a personal favorite of several single-track junkies here at RM. Looking at the D803, you get a very wide contact patch from the flat crown and lots of contact points from tightly-spaced, uniform lugs. Like we mentioned earlier, it’s a classic trials tire that follows the trials tire formula.

dunlop d803 trials tire
The Dunlop D803GP is a classic trials tire that also manages to stay affordable.

So what makes the D803 worth getting? Firstly, the price is cheaper than similarly performing tires. Second, Dunlop has simply done a great job with the tire. The rubber compound they used is one of the softest around—a durometer of just under 50 when tested—so it’s very tacky. But Dunlop has somehow made the D803 last just as long, if not longer, than most other trials tires. And while it’s not DOT approved, it’s one of the best off-road-only trials tires you can get from anyone.

Pirelli MT43 Pro

The MT43 makes our list to satisfy the enduro and dual-sport riders that want a street-legal trials tire on their machine. Since the MT43 Pro is DOT compliant, it’ll work well on your street-legal bikes whether you’re riding street or dirt. It also has a slightly harder compound—a durometer of 65—which lets the tire handle the increased wear of being ridden on the road.

pirelli mt43 pro trials tire
Pirelli’s MT43 Pro is a great tire for riders that take surface streets when jumping from trail to trail.

Along with a slightly harder compound, the sidewall is stiffer in order to help the tire’s on-road characteristics. But make no mistake, these tweaks don’t hurt MT43 on the dirt even a little. Check out the customer reviews and you’ll see riders call the MT43 “the perfect dual-sport tire” and “the best tire ever made” while simultaneously praising its grip, its wear, and the versatility it provides.

Kenda Equilibrium Hybrid

The Kenda Equilibrium Hybrid is a unique option that blurs the line between trials and hybrid tires. When you look at the Equilibrium, the first thing you’ll notice is the center tread since it’s tightly packed like a trials tire. However, braking scoops at the front of each lug are more reminiscent of something you’d find on an MX knobby. If you look at the Equilibrium’s side lugs, they’re much more aggressive than any pure trials tire, which really gives the Kenda a leg up when it comes to cornering.

kenda equilibrium hybrid dirt bike tire
The Kenda Equilibrium is one of the most versatile options thanks to a big contact patch, aggressive side lugs, and DOT compliance.

The Equilibrium does stick close to its trials roots in regards to its crown and its rubber compound. The rubber had the softest durometer of any tire on our list—under 50—and the crown is very flat when compared to most hybrid options. All in all, the Kenda Equilibrium manages to be a super-versatile, DOT-compliant hybrid tire that does a good job of eliminating the weaknesses of both trials and hybrid tires. Just remember that Kenda measures this tire’s width in inches, so their 4.5 x 18 option will equal 115 mm in width, basically equivalent to a 110 or 120 option.

Shinko R505 Cheater Hybrid

Our first true hybrid tire on the list is the Shinko R505 Cheater. We call the Cheater a true hybrid because it has the two big traits of a hybrid—a soft compound and big tread lugs. From a distance, the Cheater looks like your typical semi-aggressive knobby with its big tread lugs, solid layout of side lugs, and wide spacing between each knob. But, get your hands on the tire and you’ll feel the soft rubber compound is very tacky with a durometer of just 55.

shinko 505 cheater hybrid tire
Despite the R505 Cheater having a very soft rubber compound, it receives plenty of praise for lasting a very long time.

These features make the Cheater great because they let the tire find grip on loose terrain, handle like knobby, and still find tons of traction on hard pack. The grip and long lifespan of the tire’s soft compound alone have been enough to give the Cheater a huge following that swear by it. Many riders echo the idea that the soft rubber and big lugs let the Cheater hook up on nearly anything. Of course, the affordable price doesn’t hurt either.

Motoz Xtreme Hybrid Gummy & Mountain Hybrid Gummy

The final spot on our list is actually two tires, the Mountain Hybrid and Xtreme Hybrid. The two tires are variations on the same design, the only difference between the two being the lug spacing. Both tires have Motoz’s “Gummy” designation, which means they have a softer rubber compound than Motoz’s other tires—sitting right at 60 when tested with a durometer gauge. Both tires have an aggressive tread design with plenty of side lugs that increase cornering. Both tires also have a stiffened sidewall that’s been beefed up compared to Motoz’s other options. This sidewall makes both tires excellent candidates for running low pressures with the Tubliss system.

motoz xtreme hybrid and mountain hybrid tires
Here you can see the slight differences between the Xtreme Hybrid Gummy (left) and the Mountain Hybrid Gummy (right).

The difference between the two tires comes when you look at the density of the tread pattern. The Mountain Hybrid has a pattern that’s tightly packed like a trials tire, so it’ll hook up very well on hard-packed terrain. The Xtreme Hybrid has a more open design, similar to a knobby. It won’t be as aggressive as a full-blown MX tire, but it will hook up in loose terrain like sand, loam, and loose rock. It’ll also self-clean and throw out stuck dirt so you won’t get caught without traction. Add in the DOT rating both tires carry, and these two Motoz tires are solid choices that can cover a wide variety of needs.

trials tire on rough technical terrain
On terrain like this, the traction of a trials or hybrid tire can make all the difference.


Tell Us What You Think

That’s it for our choices when it comes to sorting through some of the best trials and hybrid tires for single-track and trail riding. Hopefully this gave you some solid footing to go out and pick up a tire for yourself.

If it didn’t, let us know in the comments below. Or if you really think there’s another tire that deserves to be on the list, tell us the tire’s high points and why you think it’s worth picking up. And check out all the dirt bike tires we have available at Rocky Mountain ATV/MC.

best terrain for trials or hybrid tire
You’d be hard pressed to find a more suitable location for trials and hybrid tires than a single-track trail.