Regardless of your geographical location, it's highly likely that Maxxis are the dominant tire choice at your local trails or race series. But why is this? Well, put simply, they're some of, if not the best tires available for mountain biking. It says it all when non-sponsored Maxxis athletes are using a Sharpie to disguise the fact they're rolling on Maxxis rubber at the sharp end of Work Cup racing.
What's most impressive of all is how Maxxis perform the best for almost every riding category and style, however, this can mean trying to figure out which one is right for you isn't always easy. Keep scrolling for a full overview of the best Maxxis tires for every discipline, and head to the bottom of the page where we explain all of the difference casings options and help decipher which one is best for you and your riding.
We have divided the tires into three categories: XC, Trail, and Enduro/Downhill. Even though we may have classed a tire in one category, there is a fair bit of overlap in the Maxxis range, so the categories are a bit more like loose recommendations. For example, you will find the Minion DHF and DHRII used in the Downhill World Cup, however, it is also one of the most widely used tire combos on trail bikes.
Scroll down to see Bike Perfect's roundup of Maxxis' range of MTB tires.
Maxxis cross-country tires
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The Ardent Race sees the same tread pattern as its Trail- and Enduro-oriented siblings, but has had a few millimeters snipped off the tread height all around. With the siped center knobs and the transition blocks creating an aero head, the Ardent Race leans slightly more onto the traction end of Maxxis cross-country tires.
The center is ramped and every block on the tire is siped for both gripping and low rolling resistance. Available for all three major wheel sizes, the 27.5in size comes in a 2.6in casing designed to pair up with 30-35mm rims.
With tightly packed and slightly ramped knobs, the Ikon is precisely what we think of when envisioning the way a cross-country tire should look. There are twin blocks up the center with two sets of transition knobs and well-supported shoulder treads, featuring siping throughout.
This pattern works well on everything from loose to hardpack, and with the versatility of the tire, it's available in Dual Compound and 3C Maxx setups with standard and EXO casing. There's even a skin wall option.
At first glance, the Maxxis Rekon looks quite a lot like a paired-down version of the uber-popular Minion, and it toes the line between what we'd look for if we are riding a steep and nasty cross-country course or a short-travel trail bike. The tread is still pretty low profile with the wide center knobs providing heaps of braking traction and the L-shaped shoulder knob hooks up nicely when the tire is leaned on its side.
While the tread looks aggressive, the Rekon has ramped center tread so it rolls pretty darn well, and there is alternating siping on the center and cornering blocks for grip on rocks and roots.
The Rekon Race is a semi-slick designed for XC racing. That means it has low-profile knobs in the center for low-rolling resistance combined with slightly bigger knobs on the shoulder of the tire for cornering grip.
This is a fast XC tire that would be ideal as a rear tire paired with a grippier tire on the front, like the regular Rekon perhaps. It can also be run as a front tire, but it'll take a skilled rider to find enough grip, and will only be suitable in certain conditions.
The Maxxis Aspen is arguably one of the brand's fastest if not THE fastest tires in the lineup. As you'd expect for cross-country race rubber, the tread blocks are short with ramped knobs in the center and slightly more aggressive knobs along the edge, which find purchase in hardpack and loose-over-hardpack conditions. There are two rows of transition blocks so the tire will handle predictably, no matter the angle.
While the tread is comparatively short, it's widely spaced and does well to self-clean when the trail gets muddy. Available as wide as 2.4in, it's only available with dual-compound rubber and in the standard tubeless-ready and EXO casing.
Overall the Aspen is one of our go-to fast cross-country options – if this speed demon sounds like it's up your street then make sure to check out our full review here.
This tire was designed for World Cup cross-country racers to keep up with the pace. The low-profile knobs throughout the tread make it a fast-rolling assassin on the race course or Strava leaderboards.
The outdated sizing (2.1in) means that this tire is only suitable for certain scenarios like short-track racing or fat tire crits. If you have the clearance, the pace would also make a great option as a voluminous gravel tire too. It will also take a skilled pilot to find grip in variable conditions.
Maxxis trail and enduro tires
Remember the Ardent Race? Well here is its grippier cousin. The tire is almost exactly the same except the tread is taller, more aggressive, and spread a bit wider with some of the transition blocks removed.
The Ardent-proper still rolls pretty quickly, but with the additional space between the tread blocks also manages mud and gunk. It's available in single and double compound varieties within the standard, EXO, and Skinwall flavors depending on your riding style.
Maxxis has recently redesigned the Forekaster from the ground up, and if you've read our Maxxis Forecaster review you'll know it performs flawlessly throughout nearly every weather and track condition.
Despite its small and relatively compact tread pattern, the Forekaster is deceptively grippy when pushed hard on trails well beyond its intended limits; after just a few corners we had full faith in the new in-line shoulder knobs.
This high level of grip doesn't come at a compromise to rolling speed either, and we found the Forekaster to hold an impressive on-trail pace thanks to its low 901g weight and well-thought tread pattern.
Maxxis High Roller II is covered in widely spaced pointy knobs designed to poke deep into soft soil, but not take any along for the ride. The profile is as square as they come, and when the High Roller hooks up, it will damn near jolt the fillings out of your teeth.
Modified knobs on the shoulder and center contribute braking traction and help the High Roller not to be a squirmy nightmare over hardpack. Maxxis offers the High Roller II in a dizzying number of combinations for the rigors of trail, enduro, and DH riding.
The Aggressor is an extremely popular tire because it is one of the most versatile in Maxxis' line-up. With a squared-off profile, the tread pattern seems to excel in everything but the extreme ends of the bell curve. Even with an aggressive tread layout it rolls well, claws in well on climbs and braking, and offers confident cornering traction.
Maxxis attributes this do-everything-well character to what it calls advanced knob shaping which creates extra gripping edges with the shoulder tread well-reinforced for enhanced stability. As this is an enduro tire, it's only available in the EXO and Double Down casing.
In terms of tire testing the Minion DHF has been our trail/enduro benchmark since its release, it really is that good!
But in the meantime we'll give a quick overview – with a relatively simple tread pattern, it's one of the most popular front tires due to its exceptionally predictable grip in everything from moon dust to claggy mud.
The center tread is blocky with the leading edge ramped to limit rolling resistance, the cornering blocks are stable and meaningful. With the Minion DHF chosen by so many in a vast range of riding situations, the spec sheet with all the available sizes, casings, and compounds take up almost an entire 8x10in piece of paper.
You can read about why we think it's so good in our in-depth Maxxis Minion DHF review too.
Similarly to its 'F' sibling, the DHR is another genuinely amazing benchmark tire. Its aggressive tread pattern provides awesome grip and zero sketchiness in any thinkable condition – there was one full season where World Cup racing legend Danny Hart ran the DHR front and rear at every race, regardless of the weather and track condition. If that doesn't highlight how predictable and surefooted the DHR is we're not sure what will.
Greg Minnaar also DHR front and rear to a DH World Championship victory, so relegating it to just a tire to be run in the back is selling it short. While the DHR II is technically designed to be paired with the DHF on the front, the benefits of running a dual DHR with its enhanced braking performance amplify grip levels on steep terrain.
Like the DHF, the DHR II is available in far too many options for us to list them all here, but luckily you can read our full Minion DHR review where we dive deep into the DHR's performance and specification options.
A semi-slick enduro tire? Yep, that's precisely what the Minion SS is with what verges on file tread up the center, with the infamous Minion shoulder tread. It's a tire you'd only want to run if you live somewhere where the trails are dry and hard-packed, and only on the rear.
With that said, the transition from the center tread to the side knobs is extreme, it's not a tire you can ease into a corner, you have to commit or it's going to break loose as soon as you start to lean it over. But once the shoulder tread engages, they bite hard.
Maxxis Downhill tires
The Dissector was designed in collaboration with Troy Brosnan and offers a stellar balance of rolling speed and traction.
The center tread follows a 2-3-2 pattern which is ramped on the front and squared off on the back, while the shoulder tread alternates from rectangles to 'C' shaped blocks. In the wild this offers good grip, but it's worth noting there can be a fade in traction before the shoulder knobs bite when fully leaned over.
For this reason, we prefer the Dissector as a faster rear alternative to something like a DHR or Assegai.
Think the Forekater's drifty nature and low rolling resistance could be for you? Make sure to read our thorough Maxxis Dissector review.
Maxxis' Assegai is all about maximizing traction. The tread is tall and punches through dust or loam to find traction in loose conditions while the siping and well-supported base means they can find purchase on hardpack, rocks, and roots too. Only available in a 2.5in width and the DH, Double Down, EXO, and EXO+ casing, the tire is well suited to anyone who's looking to track the trail like Velcro, but isn't too worried about rolling resistance.
The Assegai is for the racers, the loam sessions, the uplift smashers, the e-bikers, the weekend warriors, or just anyone who wants superior grip and the utmost confidence on the trail.
There's a reason why we gave the Maxxis Assegai a perfect score, and that's because it offers the best grip available, front and rear, in all conditions.
Maxxis' solution to muddy DH tracks is the Shorty, however, this one doesn't require a set of clippers. The spikes are mid-height and wide-set, with the distance between each block not only allowing mud to clear but also helping the knobs penetrate further. Each block gets a horizontal sipe to help the tire grab onto anything it can.
It's a specialist tire that doesn't have a whole lot of use for most of us unless you live in the UK or somewhere where heavy rain is considered nice weather for riding.
The Wetscream is the most specialized, condition-specific tire in Maxxis' range. It's a mud spike tire designed for the muddiest downhill tracks in the world. Thus, Maxxis says on its website that the Wetscream is "for competition use only" and "not for your local trail." It's available in one width (2.5in) and should really only be needed by downhill racers in the worst of conditions.
Maxxis tires explained
Maxxis tire casings
Maxxis offers its tires in up to five casings, however, not every tire will come in every casing:
- Single-Ply: As the name implies tires in this casing will have a single layer of nylon that joins the beads
- Dual-Ply: Two layers of nylon that joins the beads
- EXO Protection: A casing option that offers additional cut and abrasion protection without the weight of a double-ply casing
- EXO+ Protection: The guts are the same as the EXO casing but with a layer of Maxxis SilkShield protection added from bead to bead. This offers additional puncture protection but weighs less than a double-ply casing
- Double Down: Aimed at Enduro riders, the Double Down falls in between the EXO and Downhill casing, offering more puncture protection. It also features a butyl insert and a stiffer sidewall with a 100g weight penalty over an EXO tire in the same width
- Downhill: The toughest tires Maxxis makes with a full Dual-Ply casing, butyl insert, and a wire bead
Maxxis rubber compound
Maxxis offers its tires either as a single compound, which means the same durometer rubber is used throughout the tire, or as a dual compound with harder or softer rubber placed in strategic regions of the tread to achieve specific rolling or traction goals.
- Dual Compound: these are tires designed to last longer with hard rubber in the base tread topped with a softer compound. Consider this for a rear tire as grip is slightly less critical.
- 3C Triple Compound: 3C uses a harder base layer and two different, softer compounds on the center and cornering tread. There are three versions of the 3C compound.
- Super Tacky: Maxxis uses a single 42 Durometer rubber compound throughout the entire tire. Expect to find this paired with the Downhill casing.