Maxxis Ikon review

Great all-around tire with use beyond XC race day

2018 Tire Buyer's Guide 2018 XC Tires 29er Cross Country Tires
Maxxis Ikon Review

The Maxxis Ikon was the second lightest tire in this shootout, and among the best all-around performers.

Editor’s Note: An overview of the best Maxxis tires is available HERE.

Updated Sept. 10, 2019:

Since originally reviewed, Maxxis has added a few important sizes to the Ikon line up. With the growing popularity of wider rims and tires, a 29×2.6wt Ikon has been added to the lineup. Sporting the WT (Wide Trail) initials, the 29×2.6wt is designed specifically around rims from 30-35mm of internal width. They feature shorter sidewalls and increased support at lower pressures. These key updates to the Ikon make it an excellent option for riders in drier climates looking for a fast tire that still offers a solid contact patch.

What is it

Billed as Maxxis‘ most versatile cross-country tread pattern, the Maxxis Ikon is designed to work on just about any trail condition outside apocalyptic mud. This race ready tire has a high-volume casing and fast rolling tread layout where a well-defined and closely spaced center helps keep speed high, while taller, more widely spaced side knobs dig in during hard cornering. Construction is 120tpi with a triple compound and EXO protection.

Check out Mtbr’s guide to choosing the right mountain bike tire.

The Maxxis website currently lists an expansive 31 size/construction Ikon options, including 26er and 27.5. For our preferred 29er XC race platform, the Ikon comes in 2.0, 2.2 (tested) and 2.35. Compound options are Dual, 3C, 3C Maxx Terra, and 3C Maxx Speed, which is what Mtbr tested. The 3C Maxx Speed is claimed to reduce rolling resistance, and but also maximize tread wear and traction. The 3C Maxx Terra is softer, giving it better traction, but less durability.

Maxxis Ikon Review

The Maxxis Ikon performs well in wide variety of conditions.

On the Mtbr Park Tools DS-1 Electronic Scale the Maxxis Ikon weighed 640 grams, which is equal to claimed weight. When mounted on a Stan’s ZTR Crest S1 aluminum wheels, which have a 23mm internal rim width, actual width measured by the Park Tools DC-1 Digital Caliper was 2.16 (versus the advertised 2.20). Mtbr tested the Maxxis Ikon on a variety of trail types, including hardpack, loose over hard, and high alpine rocky.

  • Easy to mount
  • Claimed weight = actual weight
  • Performs well in wide variety of conditions
  • Impressive sidewall durability
  • Good braking traction
  • Performance enhancing siping on all knobs
  • Uses multiple compounds
  • Predictable cornering grip
  • Second lightest tire in test
  • Narrower than advertised
  • Needed booster pump to set-up tubeless
  • Some premature side knob wear
  • Not as fast as some tires in this test
  • Second most expensive tire in test
Maxxis Ikon Review

The well-defined and closely spaced center knobs help keep speed high, while taller, more widely spaced side knobs dig in during hard cornering.

Mtbr’s Take

Versatility is the word that comes to mind when riding and testing the Maxxis Ikon. While not blessed with the same extreme low rolling resistance as the Kenda Saber Pro, Vittoria Mezcal, or Schwalbe Racing Ralph, the Maxxis Ikon was generally more confidence inspiring in a wider variety of terrain.

Mtbr spent most of our Ikon test time on the loose-over-hard (and bone dry) trails near Salida, Colorado. But despite sketchy, loose conditions, the Maxxis Ikon held its own, maintaining traction both in straight line steeps and marbly corners. And while we didn’t sample the Ikon in any truly muddy conditions, it fared well on softer terrain, providing plenty of bite but never packing up.

Check out all the tires in this cross-country tire shootout.

Maxxis Ikon Review

Our test steed for this tire test was this 2017 Scott Spark 900 29er with 120mm of suspension front and rear. You can read the Mtbr review of this bike here.

We also appreciated the 3C compound technology, where more durable rubber populates the tire’s center, while a softer/gripper compound is used for cornering knobs. The difference is palpable to the touch and on the trail. (The third rubber compound is found below the tread blocks and is a harder, longer lasting base layer.)

However, we did notice some early signs of knob degradation on the cornering knobs, meaning there’s a price to pay for the extra grip when leaning your bike over. The Maxxis Ikon was also the second most expensive tire in this test ($77 for the 3C Maxx Speed/EXO/TR combo), trailing only the Schwalbe Racing Ralph ($92).

Maxxis Ikon Review

There was some premature side knob wear during testing.

The Maxxis Ikon was also one of the easier tires to set-up tubeless. They slipped onto Mtbr’s Stan’s test wheels without hassle, and the bead snapped right into place when blasted with air from our dual chamber Topeak floor pump. Add some Stan’s tire sealant and overnight air leakage was negligible.

Bottom line, while not the fastest tire in this test, the Maxxis Ikon is arguably the best overall tire among the group if you’re looking for an option that won’t slow you down on XC race day, but can also hold its own on more aggressive trail rides. Indeed, I’d even consider mounting a fatter version of this tire on the rear wheel of my trail bikes because it will roll reasonable fast on long climbs, but not be too sketchy on the way back down.

Maxxis Ikon Review

On the Mtbr Park Tools DS-1 Electronic Scale the Maxxis Ikon weighed 640 grams, which is equal to claimed weight.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5 Flamin' Chili Peppers
Price: $77

More Info:

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Olympics, Tour de France, MTB world champs, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying life with his wife Lisa and kids Cora and Tommy in and around their home in the MTB Mecca of Crested Butte.

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  • rob says:

    From my experience, this has to be the hardest tire to mount tubeless out of the box on a narrow rim without a compressor. It did not work with a booster pump.

  • Dave says:

    Interesting. Did you mount this tire on both front and rear? I’ve been riding the Minion DHF on the front and Ardent Race on the rear. How would this tire compare? Thanks!

  • robert brown says:

    Never had an issue sealing an Ikon, Racing Ralph on the other hand is a complete pain

  • Teleken says:

    I’m with Rob a 120 TPI Ikon was a PITA too floppy to pop into the rim (24mm). Even mounted one side with a tube first. I sold it & went back to a Ground Control. MAXXIS should make more offerings in the Ignitor like a 29 x 2.35.

  • JDG says:

    May I ask why you guys didn’t reviewed the Maxxis Aspen? I think the Aspen and Ikon are very close.

  • Todd says:

    The 29X2,35 version is amazing for a HT and as a F&R combo to speed up a trail bike! They are a challenge to get seated tubeless though! I have had very few durability issues with the tire and have been riding and racing on it for years! I have not tried the Aspen but have heard it is not as durable and not as good in the desert conditions we have here in Western Colorado. Thank for the review/shoot-out!

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