The wide bag, fast rolling, reinforced sidewall properties of the Maxxis EXO Ikons have made them one of the trendier tyres of 2012, especially on the rear. The low profile tread pattern is well suited to dusty Australian conditions and, in combination with a claimed weight of 540gms, screams racer. They also scream airplane travel as the weight I saved by throwing these on my bike means more space for everything else.
While weight might be some racer’s main concerns with a new set of treads, reliability is a quick second. There’s no point racing on something so paper thin that all but the smoothest of line choices have you listening out for the telltale hiss of disappearing air. Maxxis tyres have a good reputation in this area as far as the tread is concerned, but the weak point for many riders has been thin sidewalls. This is where the EXO sidewall protection has people talking; a woven fabric that lies between the outer and inner surface of the rubber.
The EXO design allows riders to more confidently run a tubeless set up with a non-UST tyre too. In fact, when I was debating which treads to take to the Ingerekke Commercial MTB Enduro in Alice Springs, a race on trails so savage that locals carry spare tubes with sealant inside them as well, my teammate Nick Both recommended the EXO over the thicker rubber of a UST option. His logic? At least that way anything sharp has to make its way through different materials, not just thick rubber. I was sold.
The tread of the Ikons and the 2.2″ width meant they excelled in the sandy desert conditions as well. Andy Blair used this tread to his advantage to repeatedly drop riders running other tread patterns on his way to multiple stage wins. I used it to keep up with locals who can see lines in the sand in ways that resemble an Eskimo’s ability to differentiate between different types of snow.
For a race weight tyre, the Ikon’s have been more durable than I expected. The triple compound (3C) tread design is proving it’s worth here as, along with the wide bag, promotes a low rolling resistance without wearing out after a couple of rides. Naomi Hansen used her set for three stage races (and the associated training) before deciding it was replacement time.
The Ikons excel in dry dusty conditions and, while they slow down in mud, the benefits of the fast rolling design still make them a good choice for a course with a combination of conditions. I made the mistake of swapping the Ikons out for a muddier weather tyre at one race earlier this year and felt like I was riding the whole race with the brakes on. It’s not the the other tyre wasn’t doing it’s job, it’s just that it sometimes takes returning to a different tread to realise how much of an advantage your receiving from something you already have. I also like the comfort and control that comes with running them at lower pressures. They’re nice and predictable on loose corners too, although some riders prefer a grippier tyre up front.
Thank you to Maxxis for supporting the Subaru-MarathonMTB.com team. It’s exciting to be on the product that everyone wants to know about. And even more exciting when it meets your expectations and doubles them.