XC Speed and Surprising Grip with Maxxis Rekon Race MTB Tires [Review]

My do-almost-everything steed. Love them gumwalls.

Winter arrived on the first day of December in northern Italy, like a student sneaking in after the final tardy bell, trailed by a musty scent of tobacco smoke. The trails are settling in with their annual drink, a cocktail of sleet and rain, and that means a few of my weekly rides have been relegated to dirt roads.

The Maxxis Rekon Race tires are an enjoyable tread for that kind of riding, with their low rolling resistance and ramped lugs. The tread design around these rubber circles is a tighter and shallower copy of the brand’s Rekon trail tires. The knobs on this semi-slick design are intended to roll faster on hardpack terrain, and having ridden the regular Rekon, I can say that the Race tread is demonstrably faster.

I’ve been riding a set of the 29 x 2.35″ Rekon Race tires with the EXO casings and dual rubber compound, front and rear. Weighed separately, each of the tires tips my scale just below the reported 776g that’s listed on the Maxxis website, and there are lighter versions available for race day.

Throughout my messy amateur XC career, my favorite dirt-biters were the softer Schwalbe Nobby Nics when it was muddy, and the Maxxis Ikon for all other conditions. The Rekon Race is clearly comparable to the Ikon, though it feels even faster and less watt-munching than my former favorite. The tight and tiny knobs are ramped for speed across the center, and with the right pressure, they allow me to easily ride my hardtail alongside friends who are on far narrower gravel-treads.

During the soggy cold months, I prefer to ride dirt and asphalt roads on my hardtail since the lower tire pressure provides a decent workout with less windchill than a faster road or cyclocross setup. I’ve pedaled a few endurance routes of 70km+ on these tires without feeling the need for smoother tread, and the close-knit knobs seem to be wearing slowly which is always appreciated.

That’s a great looking curve for a low-profile tread. It’s also the cover of my forthcoming hardcore album.

If I ever line up for another XC race on hardpack trails, these tires will be mounted up front and rear. They not only roll fast, but the knobs grow slightly taller toward the shoulders, providing an ideal balance of grip and low rolling-resistance at every angle. There’s not enough rubber to consider any squirm issues in the turns, and the cornering grip is far better than I expected given their low profile.

I went on one long night ride with a friend who decided he would show me how slow my fully rigid bike is on some rough singletrack. We ended up riding a fair bit faster than our lights and bikes were intended for, trying to chop each other’s line through every other turn. At the end of the evening, I was genuinely impressed by how well the tires gripped in flat corners and regained traction after heavy braking on the dusty trails. Their braking traction is low and limited, but with a little notice, they will eventually slow the train.

Just enough shoulder knob.

Another element of note from that ride and successive trail romps is that the EXO casings are an ideal match for an XC tire like the Rekon Race. While I wouldn’t mount this casing on any gravity bike, no matter what the tread, it’s the perfect thickness and support for a tire with these intentions. With the low braking grip on these tires most riders won’t ride steep and gnarly trails fast enough to need a thicker casing, and the thinner sidewalls give the tire a nice and natural rebound sensation without flopping over in fast corners.

I managed to puncture the rear tire by running over a long nail on the first ride. The nail entered the central tread and exited right where the bead retreats into the rim. The tread hole filled with sealant and the plug that fixed the bead-hole has held well since. I’ll be leaving it there throughout the winter since it’s maintaining air pressure just fine.

Rekon Race tread comes in a 27.5″ diameter with 2.25″ and 2.35″ widths, or 29″ diameters at 2.25″, 2.35″, and 2.4″ widths, with single or dual tread compounds. Recommended internal rim width measurements for all of those sizes is 25-30mm.

You can pick up a single Rekon Race tire for about €38-75 ($45-90USD), depending on configuration, at retailers including Competitive Cyclist and others. Head over to the Maxxis page for additional details.

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