The Maxxis Rekon tread has morphed from a Plus model to a fast trail tyre and aggressive racing tread. Where does its strength lie?
Tyre preference is yet to reach the Holden vs Ford level, but once you find a brand and model that works, it can be hard to change. And fair enough! If your tyres grip and roll how you want, seal up easily when you set it up tubeless, and don't leave you trail side fixing flats, why change?
Mountain biking, trail design, wheels and therefore tyres have continued to develop. One of the biggest changes recently has been updates to the internal width of rims. We've written a lot about this over the past 6 months and even back in 2015 when talking to Kappius Components about their XC rims with 26mm internal widths and their trail rims with 40mm internal widths.
As a quick refresher, internal rim widths are getting wider, as a little more width allows a mountain bike tyre to be better supported and more stable at lower pressures. Each riding discipline tends to have a sweet spot, or range of sweet spots. Some rim engineers even believe the greatest advantages can be made for lightweight cross-country wheels with 30mm internal rims, given a cross-country rider doesn't have to run pressures to safeguard for the same sort of impacts as say, a downhill racer. Higher pressures negate the benefits of wider rim profiles beyond 25-27mm some engineers believe.
Throw your favourite tyres on a wider rim and there is a chance the tyre won't feel the same. On some models, the tread doesn't sit where it should, moving edge knobs too far inwards, and leaving the sidewalls exposed. So you end up with less grip when tipping into corners and more risk of punctures, which is exactly what you don't want. And that's why Maxxis have their WT range of tyres and they've changed from 2.2” to 2.25” for their new XC treads.
KWT Australia sent out a pair of the new Maxxis Rekon 29 x 2.25” for us to test, along with the Rekon in a 29 x 2.6” width. We mounted the 2.25” Rekons up on some XC wheels with a 25mm internal width, and the 2.6” version went on trail wheels with a 30mm internal width. Maxxis recommend their WT tyres for rims with a 30-35mm internal width.
The 2.25” tyres weight about 670g each with the EXO casing, and the 2.6” models came in at 780g. Both models have a 120 TPI (threads per inch) casing which means they feel quite supple. This was especially noticeable for the 2.6” models which would be replacing a stock 2.3” Minnion DHF/DHR combo. The 60 TPI casing of the Minions on the 30mm internal rims meant the edge knobs were barely inline with the sidewall. Both tyres popped into their bead with a track pump and some Joes No Flats sealant inside, which is always a good sign! When it's hard to get a tyre to seat properly I tend to wonder how well it will hold when it finally does inflate and gets ridden hard.
The Rekon is designed for anything from being ok on hardpack through to loose conditions, but not quite excelling in wet slop. It is based on the Ikon XC tread and by all accounts should be viewed as an XC/trail tyre. Given most trail conditions I ride in are loose over hardpack when it's dry in Queensland, I figured these would be spot on. The 2.25” set replaced a Maxxis Ardent Race/Ikon combination, and the 2.6” set replaced the Minions as noted. Beyond size, the compound is a bit different between both pairs. The 2.25” uses the MaxxSpeed firmer 3C triple compound than the MaxxTerra 3C triple compound on the 2.6”. The idea being in a 2.25” size you're probably after something that rolls a little faster, and with a 2.6” you're most likely concerned more with grip than rolling efficiency.
On the trail with the Rekon 29x2.25”
From the look of it, the Rekon was going to deliver as a halfway house between the racey Maxxis Ikon and the slightly more trail oriented Ardent Race. Every single edge knob is ramped, which helps for rolling resistance, and there is no channel through the tread in line with your direction of travel – so the Rekon looked like it would really dig in under acceleration and braking.
While a 2.25” tyre is hardly massive, it is still worth playing with tyre pressures to get them just right. Bigger tyres have more volume and less pressure is needed for the ride you're after. I surprised myself and ran down to 19psi in the front and 19.5psi in the back at the end of my first ride. I had no burping, and didn't hit the rim when testing the tyres on my hardtail.
The Rekon rolled really well – feeling just like an Ikon and it's scantly heavier than an Ikon EXO in 2.2”. On the front, it doesn't feel too different to an Ardent Race except sometimes under heavy braking the Rekon was more likely to slide than an Ardent Race, especially if braking too late. The Ardent Race has an edge in wet conditions, unless it's just sticky mud where most tread patterns just suck.
The 3C rubber uses three compounds optimised for reduced rolling resistance in the centre and the low centre tread height meant this tyre felt fast, but thanks to the full complement of tread once you had your entry speed sorted for a corner it also encouraged you to get on the gas on the exit. It is probably best to think of the Rekon as a bolstered Ikon as opposed to a heavy duty trail tyre. In looser or wet conditions I would still opt for a Maxxis Ardent Race or Forekaster on the front, but otherwise I think the Rekon 29x2.25” is an ideal upgrade to a pure XC tyre like the Ikon if you're after an XC tyre with a slightly larger performance window.
But about about the 2.6" model?
On the trail with the Rekon 29x2.6”
The same tyre – but bigger, right? Well yes and no. The Rekon started life as a 27 Plus tyre (27.5 x 2.8”) and as trail tyres have mostly filled out to 2.6” in both 27.5” and 29”, it was the perfect model to expand – or shrink – into for Maxxis.
Mounted up to some light carbon trail wheels, the Rekons completely transformed my trail bike. While the wheels dropped about 600g the tyres also dropped about another 400g from the previous set up, while also bumping up the size from 2.3” to 2.6”, and reducing rolling resistance too. As stated with the 2.25” inch model, the Rekon really is a light duty trail tyre, especially when you compare it to other 2.5-2.6” tyres on the market, including popular WT models in the Maxxis range. While the width might make you think it's the model for sending it into rock gardens, that's best left for the Minions, High Rollers or the Aggressor in their 2.3” - 2.5” models, especially with the heavy duty Double Down casing available on those models.
The same traits from the 2.25” model were still a bonus on the 2.6” model. It's light for the bag size, it rolls well, and hooks up under acceleration and braking. The tread depth is not nearly the same as a more aggressive tyre, so pushing hard and braking late in loose conditions really puts the tyre at its limit. But pumping and jumping along dry trails with loose sections, and holding speed in open corners and accelerating out of slow corners was a blast. The Rekon is well-suited to trail centres, less so for sending new lines in hardcore locations. The Rekons pick up speed so well, and once you have found the pressure you want to match grip with stability they are a lot of fun and just keep rolling. I settled on 18psi front and 18.5psi on the back. Only a little lower than on the 2.25” as I tend to ride my trail bike differently to my hardtail!
The Rekons in 2.6” do break into a fairly predictable slide when pushed in loose terrain, but as they are designed for wide rims their tread is very rounded and it's further over than some other tyres where the tread knobs sit too high and inboard. The contact patch is so big that there is a lot of grip there, but the tread depth and sidewall stability doesn't match the Rekon's burlier brothers.
This isn't the tyre for hard all-mountain riding or enduro racing. But it is spot on for fast trail riding and big days in big hills, where grip on a variety of terrain and overall weight is paramount. If you're after a super aggressive tyre then Maxxis already have options in spades with the Minions, High Rollers and Aggressor. If you want something inbetween that has been designed around wider rim widths, then I highly suggest the Maxxis Rekon. Get a digital pressure gauge as well and you can really get the most out of your setup.
Fast rolling, wide performance window
Seals up so easily!
Reliable EXO sidewall protection
Light for the tread and volume
The 2.25” firmer rubber may reduce it's performance in the wet
The 2.6” could use more supportive sidewalls for a larger range of use
RRP: $84.95 (29x2.25”) and $109.95 (29x2.6”)