Our MTB Tires Category has three subcategories to help you narrow your search.
Narrow the tire choices by brand, sidewall technology and tire width on either the 27.5″ or 29″ tires page.
Shop the best in MTB rim protection including CushCore PRO & XC options in the rim protection category or learn more about MTB tires with the video and blog below!
At BikeCo.com we offer riders the best in MTB tires. Our selection of Maxxis tires in 27.5” as well as 29” sizes provide a diverse range of riders access to the right combos for their riding.
Let’s look at how Maxxis MTB tires stand out from the competition.
The Right Options
When you spec’ MTB tires you wade through a variety factors. Details like Size, Tread Pattern, Sidewall and Compound.
Further, you as a rider need to review your riding style, terrain, size, ideal pressures, setup, etc.
Maxxis tires are popular because they balance grip and wear life better than their competition.
Popular Front Tire Compounds
Maxxis’ 3C tires in both MaxxGrip & MaxxTerra take advantage of a harder center (rolling) section with softer edge (cornering) lugs. The 3C tires have a third rubber utilized underneath the center and cornering lugs as well allowing different depths of rubber to fine tune performance. The MaxxGrip is a bit tackier for extra stick while the MaxxTerra is harder for longer service life.
Popular Rear Tire Compounds
For most riding the 3C MaxxTerra or Dual Compound options are favorites.
The Dual Compound features center section slightly harder and cornering softer for traction.
Dual compound tires tend to last a bit longer than the 3C options.
The 3C options generally provide some additional grip for aggressive riding styles or confidence.
For gravity riding MaxxGrip is used for even more stick than the 3C MaxxTerra offers. However, the stickier rubber can be harder to accelerate on flats or climbs.
Modern rims average 29-35mm. With that the average tire width increased as well. Most all mountain, enduro or aggressive trail riding tires fall into the 2.6 to 2.3” range.
Previously narrower tires were viewed as more efficient. Whether from the smaller tire contact patch or lighter weight was arguable. However, higher PSI can decrease contact patch size, so I suspect it was more of a weight thing.
With the wider rims for trail, enduro and all mountain riding 2.1”, 2.2” and even most of the 2.3” options became obsolete. When mounted narrow tires have the tread “stretched” as the sidewalls are forced wider. In turn the cornering lugs became more vertical which decreased grip at high lean angles.
Maxxis addressed this with WT designations to better position cornering lugs. Still if you’re running rims on the wide side of the modern average the narrower WT options may sacrifice grip at high cornering lean angles.
Modern MTB Tire Widths
Most riders are in the 2.5 or 2.6 widths for front tires and 2.5 or 2.4” rear widths.
It would be unusual to see a large difference between front and rear widths at this point due to the differences in lean angle capacity.
A narrower rear tire won’t have cornering lugs “left” while the wider front still does. This creates a bike that wants to drift the rear end in deep corners as the front end bites.
Or worse is front end drift if the front tire isn’t engaging the cornering knobs because the rider is at the limit of the rear cornering lugs and put doesn’t push past it.
There are a lot of tires available on the market. A whole lot… We don’t stock all of them, we stock the most popular ones that work for the widest range of riding.
The center section of the tire provides the tire’s rolling and stopping characteristics.
A tire’s transition is between the center and cornering lugs. Some tires have larger gaps, helps clear debris and lighter weight, but they can have a bit of “slide” before the cornering lugs catch. The more lugs in the transition area the more confident it is at intermediate lean angles.
Side, or cornering lugs, do just that. They corner.
It’s been long established that in a perfect condition smooth tires are fastest. However, throw some water, sand, rocks, etc in the way and you have to balance a tire’s efficiency with its effectiveness “clawing” through terrain.
Two extreme examples, which won’t be on our site, would be ice and mud tires. Ice spikes dig into the surface and mud tires have very deep lugs to help keep the tire body clear.
Less extreme tires still must accommodate dig and clearing. The deeper, or taller, the lugs the more they will claw into the ground. However the shorter lugs tend to be more efficient and faster rolling.
Similarly large spacing allows debris to be channeled and cleared from the tire while tighter spacing is generally faster rolling.
Tire sipes are cuts in the lugs that provide support as the lug leans into itself. Cornering lugs have siping cut fore-aft in the lugs while braking siping is along your axle axis.
Popular Maxxis All Mountain / Enduro Tread Patterns
Maxxis’ Aggressor was a game changing rear tire option for a wide range of riders. Featuring tall, relatively compact and stout cornering knobs with shorter, tightly spaced center section for faster rolling speeds and better pedaling personality. The transition area features a moderate channel broken up with lugs that reach nearly to the cornering sections.
The Assegai is tire typically used in aggressive riding. Assegai lugs are on the “tall” end of the spectrum providing more bite into the terrain. The center section features both cornering and braking sipes. Assegai’s transition has coverage providing support even at lower lean angles. Looking at the Assegai’s cornering lugs you’ll notice every other features a more substantial angle reaching deeper and further offline to help support the lug.
One of the newer additions to the lineup Maxxis’ Dissector is a no-nonsense design with medium deep lug height and relatively open spacing. This layout likely helps with rolling speed as the shorter lugs may help compensate for the larger gaps between lugs. Most riders would view the Dissector as a rear tire which makes it interesting that it doesn’t have braking sipes.
Likely the most popular tire in the Maxxis lineup. The Minion DHF features medium / tall lugs in both the center and cornering sections. Cornering siping is seen on every other pair of center lugs. These lugs also stretch into the transition area pairing with the uniquely shaped cornering lug to minimize the transition gap.
Minion DHR II
Like the DHF the DHR II features medium / tall lugs. Cornering lugs feature siping to add to turning grip while every other pair of center lugs features lugs across the axle axis to add to the DHR II’s braking power.
Like the Aggressor the Rekon features short center lugs. The Rekon’s center lugs are slightly smaller than the Aggressor with small lugs spaced through the transition section. Smaller cornering lugs save weight but won’t have the same grip as the other tread patterns. Cornering siping is added to the cornering lugs to help with this.
Sidewall Technology: Tune Your Tire Setup
Sidewalls are the real tuning magic of modern MTB tires.
The right sidewall for your specifics will make as much, if not more, difference than the tread pattern.
Seems like a bold statement? Let’s take a look.
Originally the selling point for more robust sidewalls was to resisted damage, ie flat tires. There were skinwall and downhill tires with a pretty big weight and mounting difference. Downhill tires were steel bead and couldn’t be folded making transportation and mounting more difficult.
Maxxis launched the EXO tire and the game started changing.
Sidewalls provide additional support to the “air spring” of your tire.
Rubber is in a unique class of properties capable of both “spring” and “damper” behaviors designers were able to create a variety of setups that would benefit a wide range of MTB riders.
With more aggressive sidewalls riders run lower tire pressures for better grip as well as less “skipping” across trail. Lower PSI allowed tires to conform better instead of bouncing off terrain.
This is becoming more of a selling point than the level of damage resistance a sidewall can endure.
The most popular MTB sidewall options are: EXO, EXO+, DD Double Down and folding DH.
Unless you’re racing XC, or riding plus tires, it’s unlikely that Skinwall tires will hit your radar.
EXO sidewalls have become the go to even for adventure cross country / trail riding. Aggressive riders are likely to utilize tire inserts with EXO tires to give them a bit more enduro / big terrain capacity.
EXO+ tires are growing in popularity bridging the EXO and Double Down (DD) tires weight. EXO+ tires provide notably more damping than EXO. Particularly models with Maxxis MaxxGrip compound which maximizes damping in the tread rubber as well. EXO+ riders may or may not use tire inserts depending on goals.
Double Down (DD) refers to the dual 120 tpi casings, with a butyl insert. The extra casing provides better tear and puncture protection of course, but again really adds to the damping of the tire. More tire damping means improved small bump compliance as well as more controlled deflection on big hits. Almost all of our pro racers run Double Down almost exclusively.
DH sidewalls are dual 60 tpi casings with an insert.
Considerations Choosing MTB Tires
Front & Rear Pairings
Rider: Weight, Style & Tire Pressure Preference
We’ll start from the end of the list with Efficiency.
Tire Efficiency is an important to performance. You don’t want too much “more” tire than you’re going to use.
However, a case can always be made to have a little bit too much than too little – kind of like running out of suspension, when you run out of tire and need that little more it’s going to be on you as the rider to provide the skill to get out of it…
The more rubber the heavier a tire. Smaller, lower lugs tend to be seen on tires viewed as more efficient.
Shorter lugs require the tire to work less to “climb” up and over each lugs. An extreme example is a dirt bike paddle tire. Every time it rolls over a paddle it uses energy to put the paddle down and crawl over it.
While tightly spaced lugs will be more efficient in some conditions closer spaced lugs may be less efficient if conditions require more debris to be moved for traction.
Closer packed lugs are typically used in hard pack and windswept conditions. As conditions become more “slippery”, whether from mud, muck, loose over hard, etc, greater lug spacing is often beneficial.
One last note on efficiency: weight is weight of course, but more riders have concluded a bit of weight for a lot of benefit is worth it (which I agree with).
For this tire comparison we mention rim protection for a pair of reasons.
Rim protection is relatively light but does have some mass. Riders with rim protection may look to save weight either with tire sidewall technology or tread size / pattern. With rim protection lighter sidewall protection can be used without too much risk to the rim.
Second is sidewall leverage.
Rim protection like the CushCore Pro and CushCore XC contact the tire’s sidewall. This effectively stiffens the sidewall. Support along from the CushCore on the sidewall lowers the unsupported length, therefor lowering the leverage ratio. This allows even the lighter sidewalls to do more effective damping.
Since factors of tire choice include keeping rims off terrain, PSI, grip and damping adding rim protection to the mix in both, or even a single tire will allow you different tire choices.
Would a CushCore XC with an EXO+ or a Double Down (DD) be better?
It really is a lot of preference.
A quick poll of the service bay: I run the former while Joe and Tracy both run the latter.
Conditions and weather will affect tire choices.
Our local riding is typically dry, so no mud tires or ice spikes needed.
Riding in England or the Pacific Northwest? Well you’re probably looking for a bit taller lugs to bite into the softer dirt.
Riding terrain that’s buttery smooth without debris or obstacles to damage tires? Well you can look at lighter setups.
Riding in conditions with sharp rocks, logs / sticks or other pokey things? Probably should shop the more reinforced sidewalls.
Hardpacked conditions without a lot of floating debris allow for tightly spaced faster rolling tires. As you start to add loose dirt over the hardpack you’re going to want something that’s able to cut into the loose to contact the hardpack without having lugs so large that they will then “float” across the loose dirt increasing slide.
Hero dirt with all the traction you could want? Well then it’s a game finding sidewall protection that provides the damping and resistance to damage more than tread patterns.
As conditions continue to get looser, typically from deeper buildup tread patterns with larger gaps and deeper lugs provide more confidence and grip.
Rider: Weight, Style & Tire Pressure Preference
Heavier riders need more support. The options are typically sidewall or PSI.
Additional sidewall support has two major benefits over simply adding PSI.
First is improved damping. This additional damping or control of the tire’s air spring effect provides better small bump compliance as well as conformity.
Second is better protection against punctures, tears and cuts. A heavier rider strikes the same thing as their lighter buddy but buts exponentially more force into the tire. That shark tooth rock is going to exert more force at the same speed on the heavier riders tire.
Lighter riders may not need the additional sidewalls for an ideal PSI but the improved damping will help them from pinging off terrain.
Style: smooth? Not as smooth? Confident? Need a bit more confidence?
The smooth and confident rider can do what they will.
Riders looking for more confidence should generally “over-tire”. Giving up a little on the climb to improve the descent while you improve your skills or confidence is a common choice.
When I got into riding it was common practice to run a DH front tire for all mountain or trail riding. A DH rear tire would make you want to cry uphill the extra weight, but as a front tire it wasn’t too bad.
The additional volume, softer rubber and stiffer sidewall produce a confident ride allowing me to sharpen my riding skills on a bike that was able to kind of “auto-pilot” when I ran out of technique.
Tire pressures effect small bump compliance, grip and cornering.
If you’re confident with some skip and slide the higher PSIs aren’t as big of a deal.
If your tire belongs only, exactly and singularly where you know where it is running lower pressures is important. The lower PSI and improved damping of more aggressive sidewalls will help confidence and tracking.
Popular MTB Tire Pairings
Let’s break this down into a couple sections: Tread and Sidewall Pairings.
Ultimate grip, ready to chew into any descent.
Assegai front, Assegai rear
Great front grip with a bit faster rolling rear tire for acceleration / climbing.
Assegai front, Minion DHR II (or DHF) rear
Most popular of aggressive setups.
Great front grip with a fast rolling rear.
Assegai front, Aggressor rear
Not as common
Great grip, with an open, medium height rear
Assegai front, Dissector rear
Not very common, but growing in popularity. The Dissector is a bit of an acquired taste locally with its shorter lugs being good for fast acceleration. Maxxis’ Dissector features larger gaps at a similar lug height to the Aggressor. The larger gaps are beneficially in looser conditions that require tires to “funnel” more dirt.
Moderately Aggressive Setups:
Proven, balanced, popular.
Minion DHF front, Minion DHR II rear
Very popular setup.
DHF front and rear or DHR II front and rear are both viable, the DHF tends to feel like the faster combo.
Fast, fun, great for loose over hard.
Minion DHF front, Aggressor rear
Another popular setup. As dirt conditions improve over the winter this is often a go replacing a Minion rear.
Minion DHF front, Dissector rear
Not seen often as the DHF is a tall lug with tightly spaced cornering lugs while the Dissector features shorter more spaced lugs, particularly along the cornering lugs.
Dissector front, Dissector rear
For riders who need the lug spacing increased for dirt conditions but don’t need lug height.
Not seen often, although in loamy conditions this would be a fast rolling setup where riders can trust dirt to help make up for the corner lug spacing.
Fast Rolling Setups:
Aggressor front, Aggressor rear
The Aggressor is a fast rolling tire with good cornering capacity. However the relatively large transition gap may create a front tire prone to slide until the cornering lugs engage.
Rekon front, Rekon Rear
If you’re looking for fast rolling the tightly spaced and low height lugs on the Rekon are hard to beat. The Rekon as a rear tire creates interesting match up issues for the front, but if you’re riding in conditions that the Rekon is comfortable it’s a ridable XC / Trail front tire.
Minion DHF front, Rekon Rear
This is going to be a more confident setup with a more aggressive front tire providing cornering power. The Minion DHF is a slower rolling option, but, as a front tire that’s not as much of a penalty. The tightly packed cornering lugs will better compliment the Rekon than say a lower lug option like the Dissector that has greater lug spacing.
Pairing Sidewall Technologies
Well, most – but not all, riders are harder on their rear wheels. Its easy to come up short or have the rear end not quite clear things. The extra sidewall may help keep rocks and terrain off your rims. (Of course, rim protection can be used too.) You don’t want to go so aggressive on the rear tire that it hurts to pedal up everything.
So if you’re harder on your rear wheel you can go lighter on the front right? Well, ummm, kinda of no? Your front tire, after a proper suspension setup, is probably the most important factor in confident riding. The additional support and damping will help keep your front end from skipping or bouncing off line.
So you have two common pairings for sidewalls and a third with growing popularity.
Same front & rear. Enough said?
Stiffer front than rear. Great for riders looking for the extra confidence in cornering and steering input. Also popular with riders utilizing a single CushCore in the rear for tire protection (which would great about an equivalent feel front and rear).
Stiffer rear than front. Not seen as often, however given the additional damping capacity of the more aggressive sidewalls this is a descent way to improve your bike’s tracking and small bump compliance if you’ve reached the limits on the suspension tune.
Ride like a racer?
Nearly all of the tires we see go out with our EWS athletes these days are Double Down sidewalls. Just thought we’d add that here..