Tire size is always a hot topic. With all the new standards in rim widths and increases in frame spacing, there are more options out there than ever. Maxxis is tire company that continues with these trends this year with more tire sizes, treads and compounds. Recently, Canadian Cycling Magazine spent a weekend in the Georgia’s mountains near Maxxis’s U.S. headquarters to test ride all of the company’s new tires.
Race: Leading the pack for Maxxis has always been their Ikon tire. A higher-volume low-profile tread design keeps things rolling fast and in control. The Ikon comes equipped with the 3C Maxx Speed compound, tubeless ready, as well as their SilkShield sidewall protection. Available in a plethora of sizes, you’re sure to find an Ikon to suit your needs.
If you’re looking to gain that extra advantage on-course, you can look to the Pace tire. Designed with World Cup XC racers in mind, the Pace is a no-nonsense lightweight race tire. Don’t expect it to last forever, but do prepare for an extremely low rolling resistance and light weight.
For racing through more technical terrain or doing some marathon events covering all sorts of different surfaces, you might consider the Ardent Race. With a slightly more aggressive tread than the previously mentioned tires, the Ardent Race’s ramped centre knobs will keep you rolling while the side knobs are angled and stepped to keep everything tracking confidently through sand and wet/loose terrain. After riding the Ardent Race, I saw that it has a good balance between speed and traction, which is great if you’re looking for an all around tire.
If you plan on doing any substantial climbing, you might want to go for a lighter option. The Forekaster is another new tire aimed at the trail rider, although it’s lightweight and minimal design could easily find a home on some XC setups. With wider-spaced knobs, this tire clears mud easily, which I appreciated after rolling through a few mud holes on the Pinhoti Trail. The centre cupped knobs also helped improve braking, while keeping the rear tire planted when climbing. I also thought that the side knobs with sipes did a great job of penetrating through any loose surfaces to gain traction where other tires would not. The Forekaster is only available in one size at the moment (29 x 2.35) but more sizes are expected to come shortly including 27.5 x 2.20, 27.5 x 2.35, 29 x 2.20. Something similar to the Forekaster, but with more size options, is the Tomahawk. With a slightly more aggressive tread and very pronounced side knobs, this is a very capable tire. Equipped with 3C Maxx Terra compounds and Double Down sidewall protection, this will most likely be at the top of many enduro racers wish lists.
I also had a chance to spend some time on the Minion SS. With a very low profile centre tread and the proven side knobs from the original Minion, this tire made a great rear tire for aggressive riding. Pair the Minion SS with something more aggressive like the Minion DHR 2 or a High Roller on the front and you have a fast rolling setup that is sure to hook up in even the worst conditions.
Plus Size: Because fat bike tires are too wide and trail tires are to narrow, we now have the plus-size category. With some of us wondering when the nominal sizing will stop others are embracing the new size and Maxxis is among them. Borrowing tread pattern from the Minion, Maxxis has developed the Minion DHF and Minion DHR 2 in a 27 x 2.8 sizing. On the trail, the plus size 27.5 x 2.8 tires feel noticeably slower climbing but the difference seems to fade once you start to descend. Although not as nimble and precise as a 2.3″-wide trail tire like the Forekaster, the plus size Minions make up for it with their forgiving volume. There is no need to swerve or weave your way to the smoothest line when the tire will simply soak up any roots or rocks in your way. The widely spaced knobs on the DHF and DHR 2 make a quick job of clearing any mud and seemed to have no problem with traction while cornering. Mounted on a bike with 130 mm of travel, the tires make it feel like you can monster truck through anything. Another added bonus to the 27.5″ plus size is that the 2.8″ width on a 27.5″ rim will fit in many current trail 29er frames including the Pivot 429 Trail, which I was riding. I can see the larger plus size tire helping newer riders to gain confidence on more technical trails but also helping experienced riders gain advantages with the ability to ride a lighter bike over rougher terrain. Maxxis also offers the High Roller 2, Ikon and Recon in plus sizing.
Road/Gravel: With the growing popularity of disc brakes on road bikes, the adventure/gravel/endurance road category has been expanding rapidly. Now drop-bar enthusiasts have multiple size options when it comes to tires: Maxxis now has several models that cater to all sorts of different surfaces and needs. I got a chance to take out the Re-Fuse on some beautiful Georgian gravel roads. I tested the 40c version, which would be overkill for most but was a pleasure to have on the rougher looser surfaces I rode on. With 60 p.s.i., the tire still felt hard and fast over bumpy terrain. Thanks to the diamond knurled slick design, the tire inspired confidence when I leaned the bike over through corners. Standing up, climbing out of the saddle on loose gravel was also handled well by the Re-Fuse, where a more road-specific tire would lose traction and spin out. Some of the traction and feel can be credited to the tubeless design. With no balloon of air within your tire, the Re-Fuse was able to conform to the uneven surface and maintain traction. When I hit the pavement, the 40c size and diamond knurl of the Re-Fuse became apparent; however, at 60 p.s.i. I was not expecting the tire to feel like a road racer.
If you are looking for a fast road tire, Maxxis has the Padrone for that. The Re-Fuse is offered in both 700c (32c, 40c) and 27.5 x 2.0. Maxxis also offers the Rambler in a 40c size. The Rambler is designed with tightly packed and ramped tread to give you maximum control on loose surfaces while also including Maxxis’s EXO protection with Silk Shield to ensure durability.