In a quick survey of just about any local bike shop, the majority of the mountain bikes on the floor will be rolling on Maxxis tires. A second survey of the tires your riding mates mounted up when it came time for a new set will also probably come up Maxxis-heavy.
This dominance among the market is due in a large part to a few of the American outfit's tread patterns being widely loved and performing well across a wide range of conditions. However, Maxxis makes some of the best mountain bike tires in many categories, so trying to figure out which one is right for you can be intimidating. Read on for a full overview of the best Maxxis tires for every discipline and head to the bottom of the page for an explainer on all of the difference casings.
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 this year.
Maxxis XC tires
The Ardent Race sees the same tread pattern as its Trail- and Enduro-oriented siblings, but has had a few mm 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 XC 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.
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 XC 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 tire in the lineup. As you'd expect for an XC 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 overall 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.
With tightly packed and slightly ramped knobs, the Ikon is precisely what we think of when envisioning the way an XC tire should look. There are twin blocks up the center with two sets of transition knobs and well-supported shoulder tread, 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.
This tire was designed for World Cup XC 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 leader boards.
The outdated sizing (2.1in) means that this tire is only suitable for certain scenarios like short track racing or fat tire crits. 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 quick, but with the additional space between the tread blocks also manages mud and gunk. It's available in single and double compound varieties within standard, EXO and Skinwall flavors depending on your riding style.
If the trails around you are loose and loamy, or even a bit muddy but you don't want or need something as extreme as a full bore mud spike like the Shorty, then the Forekaster is the tire for you. The square knobs look a bit like mud spikes, but are mid-height and have sipe galore to grip onto wet rocks and roots.
As you'd expect for a tire designed for loose conditions and mud, the tread is wide-set, and the Forekaster is a tire we like to run on the front.
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.
Ah, the Minion DHF. The tire, the myth, the legend — and what is largely considered to be the gold standard in trail, enduro and DH tires. With a relatively simple tread pattern, it's one of the most popular front tires you can buy as it excels in almost any trail situation.
The center tread is blocky with the leading edge ramped to limit rolling resistance, the cornering blocks are stable and predictable. 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 takes up almost an entire 8x10in piece of paper.
The Minion DHR II is designed to be run as a rear tire, and with that, the center tread is less pronounced and more ramped to improve rolling resistance and the transition from the center to the cornering tread is smooth and predictable. With the center tread wider and skinnier than the DHF, they dig in hard under braking and track arrow straight when you drop the anchors.
While the DHR II is technically designed to be paired with the DHF on the front, Greg Minnaar did ride a DHR front and rear to a DH World Championship, so relegating it to just a tire to be run in the back is selling it short. Like the DHF, the DHR II is available in far too many options for us to list them all here.
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 really only a tire you'd 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 centre tread to the side knobs is extreme, it's not a tire you can ease into a corner with, 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 appears to be a party mix of tread patterns from some of Maxxis' most popular tires like the Rekon and Highroller II.
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. Maxxis says this pattern is designed to minimize drag while retaining control in the corners. At launch it was only available in limited casings and compounds, however, Maxxis is now offering it in more options.
Named after an iron-tipped spear used by the Zulu people in South Africa, the Assegai was designed in collaboration with Greg Minnaar to be the grippiest tire in the Maxxis line-up — and it seems to work as advertised.
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 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.
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.
The Colossus is a fat bike tire that's designed for winter riding. The knobs dig deep into the snow and grip the frozen surface below. The spread-out tread pattern is designed to shed any snow that's sticking to the rubber.
Maxxis also makes a range of plus-size tires for anybody who has a plus-size hardtail or trail bike. Multiple Maxxis tires have been converted into plus sizes, including the Minion DHF/DHR.
Maxxis tires explained
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 tyre in the same width
- Downhill - The toughest tires Maxxis makes with a full Dual-Ply casing, butyl insert and a wire bead
Maxxis offers its tires either as a single compound, which means the same durometer rubber is used throughout the tire or as 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.