The Forekaster from Maxxis was designed to go where you want, when you want regardless of conditions and, given its overall design, aims specifically at shoulder seasons when such conditions often run the spectrum. Wide and evenly-spaced, mid-height knobs provide a fair tradeoff between loose-penetrating and mud-clearing characteristics with a strong center knob presence for braking. All that said, I was mostly drawn by the 2.6″ offering in the Forekaster that, until now, was no wider than 2.3″.
Bottom Line: while its tread, casing, and compound remain the same, the Forekaster gets a bump in BMI as Maxxis begins to expand their existing selections. The Forekaster 2.6″ is a proficient, playful, and predictable shoulder season tire that made me question whether burlier treaded tires are even worth the weight.
Since the dust has settled (for now) on diameter, the wheel industry has been putting such a furious spin on rim widths, it seems anything narrower than 25mm might as well be relegated to the road. Don’t worry, as much as I’d like to sell you on wider rims, they’re not for everyone and your sub-30mm hoops are just fine. However, if you have adopted a wider rim, you might be just excited as I am to play with wider tires such as these, the Forekaster 2.6.
Billed as an aggressive XC tire optimized for loose and wet conditions, the Forekaster has a foldable Kevlar bead and a tubeless-ready 120 TPI casing to keep weight down. The tire also offers Maxxis’ EXO sidewall protection and their special compound cocktail, 3C Maxx Speed, which aims to balance grip, rolling resistance, and treadwear. The Forekaster is available in 27.5″ and 29″ wheel diameters with widths of 2.20″, 2.35″, and now 2.6″. However, the 2.6″ version has been designed specifically for rims 30-35mm wide internally. At 782g, the 27.5×2.6″ is 92g heavier than the 2.35″ Forekaster of the same diameter. MSRP for the Forecaster 3C/EXO/TR is $85, and the Dual Compound version is $75 USD.
The center knob profile alternates between a single ramped knob and a pair of wider chamfered blocks. Transition knobs are spaced widely from one another, falling between the center blocks. Square lugs follow a zig-zag pattern along the shoulders, with the innermost line featuring tapered cutaways within a slightly ramped edge. Every knob on the Forekaster has some form of siping.
I mounted a rear and front Forekaster 2.6 of equal spec to a set of 27.5″ DT Swiss EX 511 alloy rims measuring 30mm internally. The Forekasters are tubeless-ready with a folding bead, making my tubeless setup no more difficult than a floor pump and 60ml of Stan’s to seal the deal. Aired to the recommended max pressure of 40psi, the Forekaster has a rounded profile and measures 62mm (2.4″) sidewall to sidewall, leaving room to spare within the chain stays of a non-Boost Commencal Meta AM V4 and 2016 Rockshox Pike. Time to ride!
Riding the Forekaster
- Tires: Maxxis Forekaster 27.5×2.6″ EXO/3C Maxx Speed/120 TPI
- Wheels: 27.5″ DT Swiss EX 511
- Bike: Commencal Meta AM V4 – 150mm travel
- Suspension: Rockshox: Pike RCT3 Solo Air, Monarch Plus RC3 Debonair
- Brakes: Shimano XT 8000
- Rider: 5’8″, 177 lbs (172cm, 80kg)
My maiden voyage aboard the Forekasters started up a regretfully-steep and loose logging road on the north side of Larch Mountain in SW Washington, where the grade ranges anywhere from 10-19%. 1-3 inches of snow covered the last mile along the 2.5-mile climb. My go-to rubbers are 2.5″ Maxxis Minion DHFs front and rear (400g more than a pair of Forekasters), so it was no surprise how sprightly the the Forekaster climbed. The 2.6″ width was sure-footed over rubble. The low set, wide-spaced tread was just enough to prevent rear wheel spin outs, save for a few large wet roots and rock faces–extreme circumstances for any tire.
Having been spoiled by one of the best, albeit heavy, aggressive trail tires over the last 18 months, I didn’t expect as much from the Forekaster’s smaller block height and 120 TPI casing. Topping out at 2,300 feet, I descended the first 570 on one of the rowdiest sections Larch Mountain has to offer and, despite snow cover transitioning seamlessly to mud, I would go on to set my third best time here. Now, I can already see some eyes rolling, but it’s worth noting that on this particular trail segment I (a) usually ride my bike like I stole it, (b) do it on Minions, and (c) typically don’t receive accolades during the wintry, wet conditions.
The Forekaster’s cornering lugs are set slightly higher than those medial to them which, in conjunction with a round profile and lack of any vertically open channels, made for adequate grip during hard cornering and a predictable but controlled drift. This is in stark contrast with Maxxis’ High Roller II or DHF requiring an aggressive lean in order to find their side knobs and lock in a corner at speed. The result of the Forekaster’s design is an adept, yet playful cornering characteristic that made me question whether burly tires are worth their weight.
At 25 psi, the MaxxSpeed compound felt like a brick descending the soft, loamy Northwest trails. With adequate wheel width, I didn’t hesitate to drop the pressure to about 18 to 20 psi resulting in a better feel, yet noticeably firmer than the MaxxTerra and ‘Grip. While this difference is intended by Maxxis, it’s worth noting for those not familiar with their compound offerings.
Taller, more aggressively-built treads often pack up and stay packed when rubber meets mud, but the Forekaster’s mid-height, widely spaced, and extensively-siped knobs cleared what little mud accumulated. This offered both fantastic traction on wet trails and confident braking when I needed it, in conditions you’d least expect it.
According to Maxxis, instead of developing new tread patterns this year, they’re focusing on tweaking sizes and specs on existing models. Previously offered in nothing more than 2.35″, the Forekaster retains the same mud-shedding prowess as before but now in a 2.6″ width. The result is a very capable tire measured by its ease of acceleration, predictability through turns, and an all-seasons approach where weather and trail conditions are not a concern.
Stay tuned for my take on another Maxxis revision–the Rekon 2.6″!
Thank you, Maxxis, for the opportunity to ride and review the Forekaster tire.