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Maxxis Aspen EXO tire review – pure speed with sidewall protection you can trust

Trusted compound and width variety makes the Maxxis Aspen one of the fastest cross-country tire options on the market

Maxxis Aspen EXO tire
(Image: © Aaron Borrill)

Bike Perfect Verdict

For outright performance - both in terms of straight-line and cornering speed - there aren't many cross-country tires as complete as the Maxxis Aspen

Pros

  • +

    Great value

  • +

    Super fast

  • +

    Easy to install

  • +

    Superb trail feel and communication

Cons

  • -

    Not brilliant in the wet

Our testing explained

For information on Bike Perfect's testing procedures and how our scoring system works, see our how we test page.

Maxxis is the most widely employed tire on the mountain bike scene, spanning all disciplines ranging from downhill to enduro and cross-country. The tire pictured here is the Taiwanese-based company's best XC tire, the Maxxis Aspen EXO, which has been designed to roll with ease as well as grip like a limpet. 

Nine-time XCO World Champion Nino Schurter swears by the reliability and performance-infused tire compound, but just how good is it in a real-world scenario and, better still, can it cope on the trails all-year round? 

Maxxis Aspen EXO tires

Despite lacking the aggressive tread patterns of other XC tires listed, the pronounced shoulder knobs are ideally placed to deliver confident cornering, (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)

Design

The Maxxis Aspen is available in one casing structure only, EXO – a cut- and abrasion-resistant material. While it's not as durable as the brand's other casings, it's still pretty impressive at staving off punctures and the like while remaining as light as possible. The Aspen comes in three sizes (26-, 27.5- and 29-inch), three widths (2.1-, 2.25- and 2.40in), and two casings (60 and 120tpi). 

The tires pictured here are the 2.25in/120tpi model. Despite lacking the aggressive tread patterns of other XC tires listed in our best XC tires guide, the pronounced shoulder knobs are ideally placed to deliver confident cornering, while the shallower center tread has been employed to foster flat-out speed. Of course, this does present a small trade-off when it comes to wet-weather performance. The tread pattern does a tendency to clog up which means less grip in muddier conditions. 

Maxxis Aspen EXO tires

Casing structure is EXO, which is a cut- and abrasion-resistant material (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)

Performance

At 653g per tire, the Maxxis Aspen EXO is one of the lightest options in the segment and you can feel it when the trail points upwards. This, in combination with the semi-aggressive tread pattern, helps get the power down at the rear – even on looser terrain types. Of course, this largely depends on conditions and the Aspens perform best in dry and loose conditions. In terms of lateral adhesion, the speed at which the Aspens corner is impressive. Lean into the first corner and the tires bite with vigor, allowing you to push harder thanks to the pronounced shoulder knobs. I found the cornering precision quite surprising given the tread pattern but the stickiness comes down to the shoulder knobs which deform under load as they dig into the trail surface.

In terms of durability, the Aspens can withstand trail blow after trail blow, which is a boon for aggressive riders who prefer hammering over obstacles as opposed to scything through them. As a result, the EXO sidewall protection – as mentioned above – promotes confidence through rocky singletrack. The strong sidewalls also allow for lower pressures, which unlocks even more assurance and cornering speed.

Maxxis Aspen EXO tires

Three widths are available in 29er guides: 2.1-, 2.25- and 2.40in (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)

Verdict

There's a reason the Maxxis Aspen EXO is used by the world's best cross-country mountain bikers – they're fast and super-reliable. Despite lacking the pure, aggressive grip patterns of some rivals, the Aspens deliver enough bite to complement their outright speed. If that's not enough, the 120tpi/EXO casing provides the assurance to push harder without the worry of sidewall damage and punctures. 

Tech Specs: Maxxis Aspen EXO 2.25

  • Price: $64 / £54 / €48
  • Wheel size (inches): 26-, 27.5-, 29-inch
  • Compound: Dual Compound 
  • Carcass: EXO
  • Dimensions: 2.1, 2.25, 2.40in
  • Weight: 653g (EXO 29 x 2.25 tested) 
Aaron Borrill
Aaron Borrill

Aaron is Bike Perfect's former tech editor and also the former gear editor of Bicycling magazine. He's tested thousands of bicycles all over the world. A competitive racer and Stravaholic, he’s twice ridden the Cape Epic, raced nearly every MTB stage race in South Africa and completed the Haute Route Alps. Recently, Aaron has also taken up Zwift racing and competes at the highest level of eRacing, the ZRL Premier Division.


Rides: Trek Procaliber 9.9 MTB 

Height: 175cm

Weight: 61.5kg