Can you run Maxxis Wide Trail tires on regular rims?

Get the inside scoop on this increasingly popular tire size

Company Spotlight Tires
Maxxis Wide Trail Minion DHF

Most Maxxis tires are designed around traditional 21-23mm wide rims, but their new WT line is built around the new generation of 30-35mm rims.

Between all the new wheel, tire, axle, and shock standards in the past five years, you might have missed one of the most important new trends in cycling. That would be the move to wider rims.

Wider rims dramatically alter your tire profile. The wider bracing gives better sidewall support, which allows you to run lower tire pressures, resulting in improved traction and ride quality. That’s the theory, anyway.

In the real world, it doesn’t always play out like that. The problem is that standard tires were designed around the bastard offspring of chopped up road rims. When you pair those tires with modern wide rims, you end up with a square profile that engages too abruptly.

To remedy the issue, Maxxis has developed a new line of Wide Trail (WT) tires. These tires are optimized for rims with an internal width of 30-35mm. That’s great for anyone with a fancy new bike or wheels, but what if you’re on a rim that’s not quite that wide. Maybe you’ve on a 27 or 28mm wide rim, what then? Should you stick with a classic tire or is a WT tire a better option?

Maxxis Wide Trail Tire Cutaway

The Maxxis WT tires are designed to be used on a rim with a 30-35mm inner width.

To answer that question, Mtbr reached out to Bobby Brown, who runs marketing for Maxxis in the U.S.

Mtbr: Wide Trail tires are built around a 35mm inner rim width, while your regular tires are designed around 21-23mm. At what rim width should you pick one tire size over the other?
Bobby Brown: We recommend moving to a WT tire when you are running 30mm or wider internal width rims for the optimal tire profile. That is the point of diminishing returns on the classic tires and the lower limit of what the WT tires work well on. The older tires work very well over a range of 21-29mm wide rims.

Maxxis WT 2.5 Tire Profile

Maxxis optimized the sidewall and knob placement of WT for wider rims.

Mtbr: Are there any benefits to running a WT tire on a narrower, sub 30mm rim? Any negatives?
BB: There would not be any benefits running a WT tire on a narrower rim. This will create a rounder tire profile, requiring a greater lean to engage the sideknobs. Conversely, when running a standard tire on a rim much wider than optimal the sideknobs will engage too early, leading to premature tread wear and opening up the possibility of being able to lean the bike past the shoulder knobs.

A primary design consideration with Wide Trail was to define how and when the tire engages knobs. We designed WT to engage certain knobs at a specific lean-angle, to feel as consistent and predictable as our other sized tires when mated with their proper rims. Rim width plays a huge role in the final tire profile and through WT we have been able to maintain a consistent Maxxis cornering feel when riders use wider rims.

Maxxis Traditional Tire Narrow Rim

Rim width has a drastic impact on tire shape.

Mtbr: What’s the volume/width of your average 2.3 tire on a standard 25mm rim versus a Wide Trail 2.5 on the same rim?
BB: All measurements taken at 30psi, on a 24mm internal rim, a 2.5 WT tire measures 63.4mm at the tread and 59.5mm at the casing whereas a 2.3 tire measures 57.7mm at the tread and 56.8mm at the casing. On the optimal 35mm inner width, the 2.5 WT tire measures 64mm at the tread and 62.7mm at the casing.

An interesting observation with these numbers is the effect of rim width on the tread and casing width. The tread on the Wide Trail tire only grows by a half millimeter whereas the casing width grows by 3.26mm. This shows how much the rim width affects casing shape.

Mtbr: Is there any difference in weight between the standard and WT versions of the same tire?
BB: We do not offer WT as an option, it’s a new size not a tech like EXO/DD. For example, all 27.5×2.5 DHFs are Wide Trail. We want to make sure people are not comparing the weights of a 2.5 to a 2.3 and there really isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison in our lineup.

Maxxis Tire on Narrow Rim

Narrower 2.3 tires set up with an optimal profile on 21-29mm inner width rims.

Mtbr: Your current Wide Trail offerings are in the 2.4, 2.5, and 2.6 range. Why doesn’t Maxxis offer any Wide Trail tires in the more traditional 2.3 size?
BB: There is an ideal ratio of rim width to tire width in order to provide an optimal tire cross-sectional profile. The WT design primarily benefits larger 2.4-2.6 tires when used on wider rims. Narrower 2.3 tires set up with an optimal profile on 21-29mm inner width rims.

Maxxis Wide Trail Family

There are eight tires currently in the WT family, but Maxxis plans to expand that number.

Mtbr: There are currently eight different tires available in the WT family. Can you give us any hints as to what other tires or sizes are in development?
BB: Wide Trail DH tires are on the way for 27.5 and 29 wheels in the DHF, DHR II, and Shorty patterns. Beyond that all I can say is that we will be aggressively expanding our 29×2.6 offerings in 2018. The 29×2.6 Rekon will be available this Fall followed by many others early next year.

Have more questions about WT? Visit the Mtbr forum to hear more from Maxxis and other riders.

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  • HEMIjer says:

    We need a 29×2.8 with Mid ramped fast rolling center knobs, mid transition knobs, and larger side knobs!

  • ColinL says:

    Great article and great pictures. The last picture of a standard tire on a wide rim is especially instructive. If only we could’ve had that on MTBR about 2 years ago when wide rims started their re-emergence. 🙂

  • Steve says:

    I own a Yeti SB5c with Derby rims. I put a Wide Trail DHF 2.5 on the front and absolutely love the benefits I get. However, there is no discussion here that recommends what “Wide Trail” tire to put on the rear. I was informed by Yeti customer service that the widest tire I can put on my rear rim is a 2.4. Why are there no 2.4 or other size rear WT tire offerings? Why would Maxxis spend so much time and money to produce only Wide Trail tires for the front and not the back??? Why doesn’t Maxxis recommend “Rear Specific Wide Trail Tires” on their website? In my opinion, Maxxis had made a critical error in not developing/recommending a category of rear specific Wide Trail tires. They are losing money from riders such as myself who would fall all over themselves trying to buy a rear specific Wide Trail tire.

    Can someone more knowledgeable about this subject than myself please inform me what rear tire I should buy to go with my wide Derby rim???

    • Shred says:

      Steve, Maxxis does make a rear specific WT tire in 27.5 X 2.4. It’s the DHRII, listed in the graphic above. The R in DHR is for rear, although it can still be used as a front and some people, myself included like it better than a DHF in the front. I run a DHRII front and rear and it’s great. Mine are 26 X 2.8 though.

      • rick says:

        The “R” doesn’t stand for rear, it stands for “race.” The “F” stands for “Freeride.” Many bikes use the DHR II front and back. It’s a great tire.

  • Steve says:

    Shred, thanks for the update! However, I’m looking for a faster rolling tire like the Rekon in a 2.4 size. Too bad they don’t make it in that size. I’ll have to look around because nobody has yet given me an answer as to what fast rolling rear tire to put on my bike. I really want a tire that’s close to 2.4 and looks and acts like a Rekon.

    • Stu says:

      Could give a 2.35 Ikon a go. It’s very rounded profile and low even knob height means it will work well with the wider rim.

      Personally though I’d just go minion (whichever flaovour) front and rear and revel in the traction.

  • Mark says:

    It looks like the new trailbike sweet spot is going to be rims in the i30-35mm range with tires in the 2.4-2.8in range. In contrast, recent Narrowbikes have rims in the i20-25mm range and support tires in the 2.0-2.4in range. I currently own a Plusbike and I like the wider low-pressure tires. However, I think the early Plusbikes with i45mm rims and 3.0in tires is too much weight and to too much rolling resistance to make for a truly great trailbike. I’m psyched to see these new tires.

  • Mark says:

    Maybe bike tires should should now be labeled with the recommended rim width. Such as 29 x 2.6in per i35mm or 27 x 2.3in per i25mm or 26 x 4.0in per i75mm or 26 x 4.8in per i95mm. What do you think???

  • Bob says:

    It’s hilarious to read a Maxxis rep going into detail on rim width down to the millimeter when they can’t come within .25″ of their specified tire width. Meet the new 2.5″ “standard” same as the old 2.25.

  • Scott says:

    So, is 2.6 a “WT” size from Maxxis? They’re listed in that chart but they don’t have “WT” in the name. Point being, what size rims are those tires designed for?

  • gg says:

    Arrghh those tire graphics are horrible and lots of confusion as seen from the comments.
    Seriously the industry needs to stop all this snake oil salesmanship.
    Wallet is healthy, but closed for now !

  • JoelBS says:

    So we are moving back to wider rims, like the ones we had in the 90s and we thought they were not cool enough and needed slim rims. MTB has been too influenced by road biking. The same happened with snowboard and ski in the early years until the have 90-95% become a separate discipline.

  • EDventure says:

    Why are respected bike manufacturers spec’ing their bikes with 2.4WT – 2.5WT tires on 28mm Reynolds rims?

  • Andrew says:

    Didn’t really answer the question – For those of us running internal 25 to 29mm rims on standard width tyres it still is a mine field. For me at 28mm a 2.4 width high roller is just about right on the front, however I run the 2.3 on the rear and it has a more square profile. Yes I could go to 2.4, but I find a slightly narrower rear tyre cuts through the sloppy mud a bit better. Therefore according to the above a 2.5 is too wide.

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