Here is an exciting new tire for those of you who are inspired by going really fast on your XC bike. The Maxxis Aspen 26×2.25 (also available in 26×2.10) is new to the Maxxis XC tire line-up and is a high volume, fast rolling tire that promises to deliver for mile after mile.
The 26×2.25 Aspen is a great balance between light weight (695 grams) (475 g for the 26 x 2.10 120tpi), durability, and traction. The race-inspired center tread is a low chevron, 3mm in height, that grips well enough in most terrain. The tread pattern depth increases to 5.5mm at the side knobs, which look like a cross between the Ardent and Minions DHF side knobs. The 62/60 dual compound allows for low rolling resistance and long tread life in the center and good traction and stickiness in the corners.
One of the things I really like about Maxxis tires is the ease of installation and minimal need for tire irons. For my tests I installed the Aspen tires on my Easton XC One wheels with a set of Maxxis Flyweight tubes. Just remember to add a bit of talcum powder to the tube before installation – this will further improve the ride and reduces any friction between the tube and tire.
The low profile center knobs offer a surprising amount of climbing traction and control, both standing on the pedals and staying seated. The only time I had any real loss of climbing traction was in really loose soil, muddy, or slimy, rooted conditions. The low (3mm) center tread will load up with gunk quickly which poses a problem with in loose conditions but on the hard stuff these tires rock.
As I mentioned before, the side knobs on the Aspen closely resemble a cross between the Ardent and Minion DHF side knobs, so as you might expect, cornering ability is pretty darn similar in comparison. Not surprisingly, they hold the line very well and the transition between riding upright to hard cornering is smooth and controlled. The transition knobs do a great job of quickly shifting traction and pressure to the side knobs and back again. However, in really loose conditions the tire started to show signs of slippage, but this is to be expected from a lower rolling resistance tire.
Braking performance was good but not great – if that makes any sense. Because these tires are so efficient, speed can really get away from you if you aren’t careful. Under normal braking conditions, I didn’t even notice the tires were there (this is a good thing). Under really hard braking, I did get the rear to break loose a couple of times, but it was still fairly controlled. Braking in the rough stuff was also above average thanks to the high volume of the tires.
If you’re into having fun, you’ll also want to use these tires to descend. Now do not confuse these with downhill tires, because they’re not. But when you get to point your XC rig down a hill, these tires do a decent job cornering and stopping. They’re not super grippy by design but they’re certainly good enough to halt that XC bike. These Aspens did clog up a bit but on sticky hardpack, but rather than totally loosing traction, they lost it gradually.
The Maxxis Aspen 26×2.25 ($56 MSRP) is a fast, smooth rolling tire that’s highly efficient and should work great on any XC racer or even a trail bike that spends most of its time on the harder side of things. Using these tires on rocks, hardpack, rooted trails, and near-frozen trails, these tires did great. On looser stuff like sand over hardpack and muddy patches, the Aspen was just passable. If your terrain is on the harder side of things, definitely give these mountain bike tires a try!
My overall ratings for the Aspen
9 out of 10 for rolling and efficiency
6 out of 10 for loose conditions
9 out of 10 for cornering (hard pack)
8 out of 10 for stopping in a straight line (firmer ground)
Specs from Maxxis:
Durometer 62/60 rubber compound
Usage: XC, XC race
Conditions: hardpack, loose over hard, rocky
Size: 26 x 2.25
Weight: 695 grams (foldable)
Thanks to the folks at Maxxis for the Aspen tires for review.