When you think of off-road tires, Maxxis comes to mind as one of the top manufacturers. They have a reputation of being among the highest-quality mountain bike tires available. Maxxis MTB tires feature the latest technologies in tire manufacturing, and that can be seen in the tire compounds they use.
Maxxis mountain bike tires come in single compounds (1C), dual compounds (2C) and a variation of triple compounds (3C). The 3C are MaxxSpeed, MaxxTerra, and MaxxGrip from most durable to grippiest. Not all tires are available in all compounds since they have specific uses they are designed for.
Maxxis’ five compound options are designed for a range of riding applications with varying characteristics for grip, durability and rolling resistance. So, depending on the type of riding you do, one compound is more favorable than another. Luckily the 3C are named accordingly to easily identify what they are best for.
If you want to know which Maxxis tire is best for you, here’s my full guide for Maxxis MTB Tires.
I wrote a similar article explaining Schwalbe ADDIX MTB tire rubber compounds. But first things first. Let’s cover the basics before we can understand what Maxxis’ 1C, 2C and 3C compounds in particular are.
If you are interested in checking out the full range of Maxxis MTB tires, you can find pretty much all variations in their amazon store.
What is a bike tire compound?
The type of rubber the tread pattern is made of is what’s called a tire compound. Dual and triple compounds are most common in mountain bike tires, where two or three different rubbers are layered to provide specific characteristics like rolling speed, traction, and durability. The rubber material used for the tire casing is different altogether.
Note: The compounds have nothing to do with the actual design of the tread patterns, but with how the rubber behaves on the trail. Still, treads and compounds go hand in hand for particular riding disciplines. Cross Country tires are usually harder with a less-pronounced pattern, while Downhill tires are softer with an aggressive profile.
This is why a rubber compound of a tire tread is arguably one of the most critical parts of tire choice. Two tires identical in the tread pattern, casing, and size but dissimilar in rubber compounds will perform differently. Even with just different compound layering.
That’s all we need to know for now. For a complete deep-dive, I wrote an entire article all about MTB tire compounds. On to the main topic. Below, all of Maxxis’ rubbers like Single Compound (1C), Dual Compound (2C), and all triple compounds 3C MaxxSpeed, 3C MaxxTerra and 3C Maxxgrip are explained.
Single Compounds (1C)
Single compound tires use only one rubber compound throughout the tread. The rubber has to balance longevity with traction but isn’t optimized for either. Their easier production process makes them the cheapest option.
They can be found on Cross Country, Slopestyle, Pumptrack and Gravel mountain bikes, but are far more common on road bikes, or urban commuters where rolling speed and longevity is far more important than cornering grip.
Super Tacky (ST) is a single compound (1C) used in select Maxxis mountain bike tires, primarily for gravity disciplines like Downhill. It’s characterized by a low-rebound, high-traction compound, which is unusually soft for single compounds to provide the necessary grip for aggressive riding.
Dual Compounds (2C)
What are dual compound Maxxis tires?
Maxxis Dual Compound tires use softer, stickier rubber on the side knobs and harder, durable rubber on the center tread. This 2C design provides a good compromise between cornering traction and fast rolling speeds for a grippy, but long-lasting tire profile.
Basically, a 2C tire has the grippy rubber, and the fast-rolling, durable rubber each where they need to be.
Is a Maxxis Dual Compound good?
Maxxis’ dual compounds perform better than single compounds and last longer than triple compounds. Overall, they make a great choice for rear tires that need low rolling resistance and wear slowly. However, they don’t provide the most grip possible as a compromise, making them not ideal for front wheel use.
Triple Compounds (3C)
One step up from dual compounds: Three individual compounds are layered in the tire profile for a tailored, no-compromise performance.
If you take a look at the diagrams, you notice the layering is basically the same across all triple compound options. The overall levels of stiffness of the actual rubbers used are different though.
What are Maxxis 3C triple compounds?
Maxxis Triple Compounds feature a hard base layer, a medium firm center tread and soft side knobs. The 3C-labeled rubber variations are MaxxSpeed, MaxxTerra and MaxxGrip, each for specific kinds of riding. They all combine cornering grip with stability and durability.
No matter if the discipline of choice is Cross Country, All-Mountain, Trail, Enduro, or Downhill, 3C are specifically designed for the tire at hand. This means MaxxSpeed is usually the compound provided for XC tires, and MaxxGrip for DH. MaxxTerra is the all-terrain, all-weather compound in between the two.
While the layering is similar for all, the three 3C compound options are classed relative to each other so you don’t have to deep-dive into the fine details like shore durometer scales (the unit for firmness) and just decide on the level of grip, rolling resistance, and durability you want to have.
Is Maxxis 3C worth the premium?
Maxxis 3C is worth the extra cost on a front tire because it offers the most grip due to the softer compounds on top. Since it also wears quicker, a 3C MaxxTerra or 2C Dual Compound tire is a better choice for rear tires. There, rolling resistance and longevity are usually more important than all-out traction.
Now, let’s dive a little deeper in each of the 3C compounds. They’re worth a closer look.
3C MaxxSpeed is Maxxis’ hardest triple compound designed for Cross Country (XC) mainly and also All-Mountain Trail. These tires roll fast, last long but don’t offer as much grip as the other 3C rubbers. It is ideal for XC races or gravel biking on hard-pack surfaces.
3C MaxxTerra is Maxxis’ most versatile triple compound used for Cross Country (XC), Trail riding, Enduro and Downhill. This intermediate compound provides more grip than MaxxSpeed and more durability than MaxxGrip for a good all-round compound.
Because of its characteristics, it’s a popular choice for front tires in XC and rear tires in DH and Enduro.
Maxxis 3C MaxxGrip is the overall softest triple compound used for Enduro and Downhill mountain biking. Exceptional grip at the expense of rolling speed makes it popular for technical terrain. It’s often used as a front tire or in hard-pack conditions.
Due to the grip and durability, it’s a great choice for E-Mountain Bikes, that don’t need a low rolling resistance. Even in colder temperatures, this compound is working well all year round.
Choosing the best Maxxis tire compound for you
Even with clear distinctions between compounds to cover all MTB disciplines, there are still countless combinations of treads, casings, compounds, tire sizes, and beads. Some Maxxis MTB tires are available in no more than two rubber compounds and a couple of tire casing options. On the other hand, the most popular ones and the best all-rounders have basically all the compound options available to choose from.
To give an overview, I put all of Maxxis’ current MTB tires into one single table for you to help navigate based on the type of riding you do. Besides tire names and MTB discipline, it also lists casings, puncture protection and rubber compounds.
Find out the actual tires suitable for your riding discipline first before getting into the details like available compounds.
Here are all current Maxxis mountain bike tires sorted by riding discipline:
|Mountain Bike Disciplines||Maxxis Tire||Rubber Compounds||Tire Casings||Flat Protection||Trail Recommendations|
|Dirtjump, Pumptrack, Slopestyle||Pace||1C, 2C||60 TPI||SilkShield, EXO||Smooth, Hard|
|Downhill||Wetscream||3C MaxxGrip, Super Tacky||DH||-||Mud|
|Enduro, Downhill||Assegai||2C, 3C MaxxTerra, 3C MaxxGrip||60 TPI, DD, DH||EXO, EXO+||Allrounder (FrontTire)|
|Fatbike||Minion FBF||2C Dual Compound||60 TPI, 120 TPI||EXO||Allrounder (FrontTire)|
|Fatbike||Minion FBR||2C Dual Compound||60 TPI, 120 TPI||EXO||Allrounder (Rear Tire)|
|Kids, XC, Trail||Snyper||2C Dual Compound||-||SilkShield||Allrounder|
|Trail, Enduro||Aggressor||2C Dual Compound||60 TPI, DD||EXO||Dry, Hard (Rear Tire)|
|Trail, Enduro||Minion SS||2C Dual Compound||60 TPI, DD||Silkworm, EXO||Dry, Hard (Rear Tire)|
|Trail, Enduro, Downhill||Dissector||2C, 3C MaxxTerra, 3C MaxxGrip||60 TPI, DD, DH||EXO, EXO+||Dry, Hard, Loose|
|Trail, Enduro, Downhill||High Roller II||1C, 2C, 3C MaxxTerra, 3C MaxxGrip, Super Tacky||60 TPI, DD, DH||EXO||Dry, Hard, Loose|
|Trail, Enduro, Downhill||Minion DHF||1C, 2C, 3C MaxxTerra, 3C MaxxGrip, Super Tacky||60 TPI, 120 TPI, DD, DH||EXO, EXO+||Allrounder (FrontTire)|
|Trail, Enduro, Downhill||Minion DHR II||1C, 2C, 3C MaxxTerra, 3C MaxxGrip, Super Tacky||60 TPI, 120 TPI, DD, DH||EXO, EXO+||Allrounder (Rear Tire)|
|Trail, Enduro, Downhill||Shorty||3C MaxxTerra, 3C MaxxGrip||DD (Double Down), DH||EXO||Mud, Loose Dirt|
|XC Race||Aspen||2C Dual Compound||60 TPI, 120 TPI||EXO||Allrounder|
|XC Race||Crossmark II||2C Dual Compound||60 TPI||EXO||Dry, Hard|
|XC Race||Ikon||2C, 3C MaxxSpeed, 3C MaxxTerra||60 TPI, 120 TPI||EXO||Allrounder|
|XC Race||Rekon Race||2C Dual Compound||60 TPI, 120 TPI||EXO||Dry, Hard (Rear Tire)|
|XC, Trail||Ardent||1C, 2C||60 TPI||EXO||Dry, Hard|
|XC, Trail||Ardent Race||2C, 3C MaxxSpeed||60 TPI, 120 TPI||EXO||Allrounder|
|XC, Trail||Forekaster||2C, 3C MaxxTerra||60 TPI||EXO||Allrounder|
|XC, Trail||Rekon||2C, 3C MaxxSpeed, 3C MaxxTerra||60 TPI, 120 TPI||EXO, EXO+||Dry, Hard, Loose|
How to pick the ideal tire for you
There is no do-it-all perfect tire for anyone, and neither is there a compound to do it all. Grip and Traction of softer rubbers are directly opposed to rolling speed and durability of harder ones.
- Combine front and rear tires optimally.
- Front tires require more cornering and deceleration grip while experiencing less wear generally.
- Rear tires bear most of the weight and provide forward acceleration.
- Select for the most important characteristic first.
- Rolling resistance: Single and dual compounds roll the fastest. Key for rear tires.
- Grip: Triple compounds offer the most traction, bar none.
- Durability: Single and dual compounds provide the slowest tire wear.
- All of the above: Only triple compounds can provide the best compromise.
- Choose the appropriate casing and puncture protection.
- EXO: Light-duty trail riding
- EXO+: All-around trail riding
- DoubleDown (DD): Enduro, DH, and e-bikes
- Downhill (DH): Downhill racing and long travel e-bikes
The more gravity is your friend while riding, the softer the tire compound should be.
How long Maxxis tires last
Between half a season and two seasons is the usual lifetime of a mountain bike tire tread. Harder compounds last longer, while rear tires tend to wear faster. This is why soft compounds are used on front wheels and harder ones on back wheels. After five years they should be replaced at the latest since the rubber becomes brittle.
In my experience, there isn’t a noticeable difference between manufacturers. The major difference in durability comes from the rubber compounds, rather than the production process. Durability will always be opposite to traction when deciding on which kind of tire to go with.
For a complete list of all the MTB rubber compounds of the major tire brands right now, check out this article.