Maxxis MTB Tire Guide: How To Pick in 2023

Having the right equipment is crucial for a safe and fun mountain bike ride. The set of tires mounted is among the most impactful pieces of kit. Tire manufacturers like Maxxis are producing some high-tech rubber for any situation. But that also means a wide variety to choose from and navigating labels like MaxxTerra, EXO, 3C, or 120 TPI along the way.

The fear of making the wrong tire choice is always in the back of a rider’s head when buying new tires. So, in this article, I will provide a comprehensive guide to Maxxis mountain bike tires, including their features, what their labels mean, and tips for choosing the best tires for your needs.

tire sizes explained
Maxxis prints a variety of proprietary labels on its bike tires. We’ll go through the most important ones for tire selection here.

Are Maxxis tires any good?

Maxxis is the most popular tire brand for mountain bikes. They provide very good traction but also tend to last decently long at the same time. Their wide selection provides the perfect tire for any condition. Additionally, the puncture protection works well too.

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Maxxis MTB tires are by fare the preferred brand for mountain bikers. // Source: VitalMTB Trends
Maxis minion dhr tread pattern
Arguably the most well-known tire in all of mountain biking: The Maxxis Minion.

And here is why Maxxis tires are considered to be so good:

Every component on a Maxxis tire is among the best on the market. Casings varying in stiffness and flat protection, rubber compounds in up to three layers of varying firmness, and tread patterns with decades of racing experience.

The only downside is having to pick from all the options.

But don’t worry, tire choice is not as confusing as it first seems. The most important information you need to know to make an informed tire selection is this:

This leaves a small selection of tread patterns in various tire sizes to choose from. If you’re unsure about tire size, the optimal tire widths are somewhat ranged by MTB discipline.

Table of 2023 Maxxis Mountain Bike Tires

Find out the actual tires suitable for your riding discipline first before getting into the details like available casings and compounds. Those will be dependent on the type of riding.

To provide an overview, here are all current Maxxis mountain bike tires sorted by riding discipline. Feel free to apply your own sorting.

Mountain Bike DisciplinesMaxxis TireRubber CompoundsTire CasingsFlat ProtectionTrail Recommendations
Dirtjump, Pumptrack, SlopestylePace1C, 2C60 TPISilkShield, EXOSmooth, Hard
DownhillWetscream3C MaxxGrip, Super TackyDH-Mud
Enduro, DownhillAssegai2C, 3C MaxxTerra, 3C MaxxGrip60 TPI, DD, DHEXO, EXO+Allrounder (FrontTire)
FatbikeMinion FBF2C Dual Compound60 TPI, 120 TPIEXOAllrounder (FrontTire)
FatbikeMinion FBR2C Dual Compound60 TPI, 120 TPIEXOAllrounder (Rear Tire)
Kids, XC, TrailSnyper2C Dual Compound-SilkShieldAllrounder
Trail, EnduroAggressor2C Dual Compound60 TPI, DDEXODry, Hard (Rear Tire)
Trail, EnduroMinion SS2C Dual Compound60 TPI, DDSilkworm, EXODry, Hard (Rear Tire)
Trail, Enduro, DownhillDissector2C, 3C MaxxTerra, 3C MaxxGrip60 TPI, DD, DHEXO, EXO+Dry, Hard, Loose
Trail, Enduro, DownhillHigh Roller II1C, 2C, 3C MaxxTerra, 3C MaxxGrip, Super Tacky60 TPI, DD, DHEXODry, Hard, Loose
Trail, Enduro, DownhillMinion DHF1C, 2C, 3C MaxxTerra, 3C MaxxGrip, Super Tacky60 TPI, 120 TPI, DD, DHEXO, EXO+Allrounder (FrontTire)
Trail, Enduro, DownhillMinion DHR II1C, 2C, 3C MaxxTerra, 3C MaxxGrip, Super Tacky60 TPI, 120 TPI, DD, DHEXO, EXO+Allrounder (Rear Tire)
Trail, Enduro, DownhillShorty3C MaxxTerra, 3C MaxxGripDD (Double Down), DHEXOMud, Loose Dirt
XC RaceAspen2C Dual Compound60 TPI, 120 TPIEXOAllrounder
XC RaceCrossmark II2C Dual Compound60 TPIEXODry, Hard
XC RaceIkon2C, 3C MaxxSpeed, 3C MaxxTerra60 TPI, 120 TPIEXOAllrounder
XC RaceRekon Race2C Dual Compound60 TPI, 120 TPIEXODry, Hard (Rear Tire)
XC, TrailArdent1C, 2C60 TPIEXODry, Hard
XC, TrailArdent Race2C, 3C MaxxSpeed60 TPI, 120 TPIEXOAllrounder
XC, TrailForekaster2C, 3C MaxxTerra60 TPIEXOAllrounder
XC, TrailRekon2C, 3C MaxxSpeed, 3C MaxxTerra60 TPI, 120 TPIEXO, EXO+Dry, Hard, Loose

Tip: Navigate this list based on the type of riding you do. Besides tire names and MTB discipline, it also lists casings, puncture protection and rubber compounds.

If you are interested in checking out the full range of Schwalbe MTB tires, you can find pretty much all variations in their amazon store or over at Jenson.

How to pick the right Maxxis tire

A quick disclaimer: There is no single perfect tire for any condition and riding. It’s always a compromise between traction and durability, weight and protection, or compliance and stiffness. So knowing what you need from a tire is half the battle.

Here are the basics: As a general rule, Cross Country tires require lighter casings and harder compounds, while Downhill tires need to have stiff casings with soft rubber on top for traction. For All-Mountain and Enduro there’s room to play around depending on the types of surfaces you ride.

Below I provide a list of all current Maxxis MTB tires with their respective options they come in. It includes MTB disciplines, which is crucial for tire choice.

1. Select for type of riding

In any case, it’s best to start with the MTB riding discipline to narrow the selection down. This means filtering for the tread patterns (the actual tire names) that fit your discipline – XC, AM, DH etc.

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Rough terrain and big impacts, or …
Trailpartie Linz Tag2 Martin Fabian 113 edited
… soft dirt and smooth trails. // Martin Fabian

2. Combine front and rear tires optimally

Know hwo you want each to perform. Generally, front tires need to corner and brake better, while rear tires need to withstand more abuse and put the power to the ground. In other words: softer casings and compounds up front, harder ones in the back. Many riders also pick different tread patterns front and back, but that’s our last step. We’re not quite there yet.

3. Pick the casing

With knowing what each wheel needs to handle, pick the casing accordingly. This is the basis for the tire and may also dictate the compounds and treads available. The casing includes two pieces: the nylon fabric layers and the protection woven into it, depicted here:

Maxxis EXO Protection Explained
The standard EXO sidewall armor (green) is used in all four casing variants.

Front tires require more compliance and have to endure fewer impact forces.
Rear tires bear most of the weight and take huge impacts.

From soft to hard, Maxxis casings are:

  • 120 TPI: Cross Country and light-duty trail
  • 60 TPI: Trail
  • Double Down (DD): dual-ply 120 TPI for Enduro, DH, and e-bikes
  • DH: dual-ply 60 TPI for Downhill and aggressive e-bikes

And the puncture protection used is tightly connected:

  • EXO is the widely used sidewall protection in 120 TPI, DD and DH casings.
  • EXO+ is now a 60 TPI casing with EXO sidewalls since 2022. The additional below-tread layer is gone.

Confusing but there you go. Now we can select for the casing only and the appropriate armor is tied into it.

Find more on these casings below or in the dedicated article explaining all current Maxxis tire casings.

4. Rubber compound

Select for the most important characteristics of the rubber actually making contact with the ground. It’s a compromise between traction or rolling resistance and durability – or soft and hard compounds.

From hard, fast rolling to soft, grippy Schwalbe Addix compounds are:

  • 1C Single Compound: Cheap, durable but a compromise in performance.
  • 2C Dual Compound: Different side knobs and center tread rubber. Good price-to-performance.
  • 3C Triple Compounds: Specialized, expensive performance compounds. Available in three levels of firmness.
    • MaxxSpeed: Harder, faster rolling and more durable overall, great for XC and rear tires.
    • MaxxTerra: Medium firmness and durability. For XC front tires and DH rear tires.
    • MaxxGrip: Softer, grippy and less durable overall. Best traction possible, excellent for front tires.
maxxgrip 3c compound
The difference between Maxxis 2C and 3C is not only the base layer, but also the three overall levels of firmness for 3C.

Find more on these compounds below or in the dedicated article explaining the Maxxis compounds.

5. Tread pattern selection from the few options remaining

By this point, only a couple of tire treads should be up for debate now. This is a choice largely depending on the trail surfaces you find yourself on mostly. Rock slabs, loamy dirt, root carpets or hard pack dirt. The choice is yours, and Maxxis has treads designed to perform on each.

If you want to know what to look for in a tire tread and how they’re designed to work, this article all about MTB treads may be for you.

6. Get the correct tire size for the wheel at hand

Of course, correct tire size is important too. But unless you’re looking for a very specific tire width above all else, this isn’t a main priority. Most Maxxis tires are available in the common diameters 27.5″ and 29″ and tire width is largely dictated by riding discipline. So they come in the appropriate width ranges anyway.

If you’re unsure about tire size, the here are the optimal tire widths by MTB discipline.

Maxxis Casings Explained: TPI, DD and DH

A bike tire casing is the main structure of the tire that supports the tread and sidewalls. The casing gives the tire its shape, some handling characteristics, and is the foundation of the tire. It’s made of layers of fabric coated with rubber and can include puncture protection inserts.

And in these layers of fabric and flat protection lies the difference between Maxxis’ 4 casing options.

TPI is short for threads per inch and refers to the thickness and number of nylon threads per inch. More thinner ones (120 TPI) are more compliant but also not tough. Fewer, thicker threads (60 TPI) are stiffer but not quite as supple. Two layers of each (dual ply) are twice as thick and more durable and stiffer.

For more information on what a bike tire casing even is, I wrote an entire article about MTB tire casings. Now all Maxxis casings are built up very similarly, since EXO+ has become a 60 TPI EXO casing.

New EXO maxxis 1
The Silkshield construction (left) is no more. EXO sidewalls only are now features in every casing option.

Maxxis’ line of casings is designed to provide an ideal match for each type of MTB riding, from Cross Country to Downhill and everything in between. So, depending on the type of riding you do, only one or two casings make sense to pick.

Maxxis MTB tires come in the 4 casings 120 TPI, 60 TPI, Double Down (DD) and Downhill (DH) – from light to heavy-duty. Those are each a combination of the actual nylon cloth casing and the EXO sidewall puncture protection inserts.

They differ in the number of carcasse layers (ply) used while the tire armor is basicalls the same EXO. The result are four distinct characteristics in stiffness, comfort and flat protection.

Puncture Protection

The added flat tire protection isn’t something you can actively select for anymore. Maxxis has followed how Schwalbe simplified their casings but went a slightly different path. All current casings use basically the same additional EXO sidewall protection. The overall durability is provided by the casing construction.

This is a welcome change, which takes tire choice to its basics and makes it far less uneccessarily complicated. If you still want to dive deeper, follow the link provided above explaining all Maxxis casings in detail, I got the article for you:

Rubber Compounds: 1C, 2C and 3C

The five Maxxis MTB compounds are: 1C, 2C, 3C MaxxSpeed, 3C MaxxTerra and 3C MaxxGrip. Only the 3C are designed for specific types of riding like MaxxSpeed for fast-rolling Cross Country tires, and MaxxGrip for maximum traction on Downhill tires.

maxxgrip 3c compound
The more layers of rubber, the more dialed in the riding characteristics. More is also more expensive.

So depending on budget and requirements, there’s something for every situation. While 1C are uncommon, 2C have their place in some circumstances. Like tires you won’t be asking a lot from. For front tires on DH bikes that have to provide trust when cornering hard, or rear XC tires that need to put the power to the ground 3C provide top of the class performance.

On top of that, they also degrade predictably and don’t fall apart or loose big chunks of rubber. Even the softer ones. 3C is definitely the main focus of Maxxis and only a few tires are even available in 2C or even 1C. If you want to learn more about all Maxxis compounds in detail, follow the link below:

For a complete list of all the MTB rubber compounds of the major tire brands right now, check out this article.

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