Tyres are a very important part of your motorbike. They are more than just black round things that stop your rims from scraping on the ground. There are many different tread patterns available for varying terrain. Choosing the right type of tyre for the riding conditions you will encounter shouldn't be an arduous task. So to help you choose, we've put together a rough guide on what to use on what terrain.
Soft Terrain - Loam, mud and sand
A tyre designed for soft terrain will usually have taller, sharper knobs (rounder crown radius) that are spaced well apart. The tall knob will bite into the soft dirt and the wider gap between knobs lets the dirt fall back out to avoid it packing.
Using a soft terrain tyre on hard packed dirt will reduce the life of the tyres because the taller knobs tend to roll around or squirm under acceleration and braking. This continuous rolling or squirming of the knobs going back and forth will cause them to crack and break off.
Intermediate Terrain - Anywhere between hard packed and loose dirt terrain
Intermediate tyres are a compromise between hard and soft, offering the best of both worlds. They are a better option if trailriding as they cover a wider variety of terrain.
Hard Terrain - Dry, hard packed conditions including rocky terrain.
A hard terrain tyre has large knob blocks with a shorter depth (flatter crown radius) to aid in contact patch. These knobs will be spaced closer together to stop the knobs rolling around (tyre squirming) under acceleration and braking. Due to the hard ground conditions which cause extreme flex and heat, these tyres are generally more supported around the base.
Using a hard terrain tyre on soft terrain will give you poor traction due to the knobs being closer together. This results in the tyres clogging with mud and the flatter blocks on hard terrain tyres won't bite into the soft dirt.