Content by Neil Beltchenko I started using Maxxis Ikon tires about two years ago when I bought my first hardtail 29er. I was still new to racing, but it seemed everyone was rocking Ikons. I decided to be trendy and give them a whirl. What started as a trial run has become a bit of an obsession. Ikons hang from every hook on the walls in my house – 2.2’s and 2.35’s. So, why are they so great? Maxxis asserts that the Ikon is their most versatile XC tread, saying it can tackle anything from hard pack to soft conditions. Their assertion holds true, especially with the variety of specific types of Ikon tires. They currently make the Ikon for 26”, 27.5” and 29” wheel sizes, in 2.2” and 2.35” widths, making it possibly one of the widest XC tires on the market.
Maxxis Icon Tires
The Ikon comes in a few different variations – the 3C, 3C/TR (tubeless ready), 3C/EXO, and the burliest version, the 3C/EXO/TR. Just last year Maxxis came out with tubeless ready tires, although I had no issue with previous years Ikons going tubeless, knowing it is built to be tubeless is comforting. The 3C is their lightest version (520g, 29”, 2.2”). The 3C has the thinest sidewall. The 3C/EXO/TR, is the heaviest (645g, 29”, 2.2”), yet has a much more reliable side wall. Each tire is made with 120 threads per inch (TPI). We have tried every single one of those tires except the 3C/TR version and have come to a simple conclusion, heavier is better. Although 645g is not very heavy for a tire in the first place, you can compare it to another popular bikepacking tire, the Geax Saguaro TNT which comes in at a 780g (29”, 2.2”). Maxxis Icon Tires A few stand out features on the 3C/EXO/TR Ikon is the XC race tread. You will be surprised with the lack of resistance, especially when the tire is upright, yet very please with the way it hooks up to dirt. The tread pattern is designed perfectly for the road, but when you need to put them on their sides the tire has very predictable cornering even in soft, dusty conditions. The Ikons have been on a few long journeys and races in the past few years, and have held up fantastically. Last year, I ran both 2.2” 3C/EXO Ikons front and rear in the Arizona Trail Race 300. I did receive a small slashed sidewall – after a little sew job, some superglue, and a bit of dirt, the tire held for the remaining 200+ miles. It then experience a trip of a lifetime on a portion of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, from Central Colorado to Antelope Wells, NM. If anyone does not know, the Arizona Trail acts as a machete and New Mexico divide route is no slouch either.
Maxxis Icon Tires
What the Arizona Trail does to some OTHER tires.
A new set of Ikons traveled from Durango to Denver in a very sloppy wet Colorado Trail Race in 2013, the exact opposite conditions of the Arizona Trail Race. No flats and just normal wear and tear.  More recently, I used a 2.35” front and 2.2” rear 3C/EXO/TR on the Arizona Trail Race. The ability to have a little more width up front was a huge confidence booster for me in rocky terrain, as well as turning the tire over on it’s side more. I will be using the same combination on the Colorado Trail Race this August. If you are using Ikons or any Maxxis tire on Stan’s rims… there is no need for a compressor. Make sure the tire is covering the rubber valve piece in the rim, pinching the tire down till you are nearly touching the inside of the valve, and pump…it is a true thing of beauty. This is also a fantastic feature when you are in a situation in the backcountry. Yes the Icon 3C/EXO/TR is expensive, however you are buying a tire that can take a serious beating. If you are looking for a true, do-it-all bikepacking tire, that can withstand the dry desert of Arizona, the wet rockies of Colorado, and everything in between, the Ikon is proven to be the perfect choice. For more information on pricing and specifications check out the Maxxis Ikon page 


  1. I’ve never gone wrong with any Maxxis tire. Will that work with a trail pump as well? And with other rims, or it that a Stan’s rim only kinda thing?

    • Neil Beltchenko

      I believe they will work as show with any tubeless ready rim, and yes we have been able to use small trailside pumps, it just takes more effort. We Love Maxxis Tires!

  2. Another Maxxis tire I’ve discovered, which is awesome on the rear of a 29er hardtail for rough terrain, is the 2.4 Ardent EXO. I usually run a wider front tire than I do in the rear. But the more I ride a 29er hardtail, the more I want some additional softness in the rear. A wider and higher volume tire does that. I normally run the rear tire with about 2-3 psi more pressure than the front. But with the 2.4 Ardent, I can run the same or slightly less in the back. At 165#, I can run the 2.4 Ardent at 20-22 psi in the rear. The ride is absorbent, the traction is awesome and it doesn’t seem to be any slower than other tires I’ve run. A wee bit of a weight penalty for a tire that big, I’m a pretty hardcore weight weenie, but the tradeoff is worth it. I’ve been running tires like the 2.35 Nobby Nic or a 2.3 Ground Control in the front, still searching for something else up front, but think I’ll repeat with a 2.4 Ardent in the rear.

    • lumberjake

      Eh, Barry,
      You sound like me in your equipment and line of thinking. I just cannot believe that I have somehow missed this large Ikon alll this time. It sounds like the perfect tire for my hardtail 29er. I would call my riding trail although, like you, I am very weight sensitive which seems to be uncool in todays mtb scene. I guess its more cool to be doing crazy shit down hill but the reality is I don’t drive nor am I rich enough to pay for lifts so the vast majority of the time I go uphill. Granted goimg down is more fun but,to me a lighter bike makes a big improvement in every situation.
      Anyways, if you are in need of a new front tire in the future, check out the Conti Mountain King 2 in the black chilli 2.4″ race model. Its likely not a true 2.4″ but is big and relatively light at just over 700g. I know its lighter than any comparable tire of its size having large knobs. I find it actually rolls quite well too for its type plus the black chilli compound is awesome, very good in all conditions yet lasts. Probably the best compound overall that I have found.
      As for the back, I have been very fond of Maxxis Beaver for our local PNW conditions but it is rather narrow at just 2″ but does give incredible traction defying its size plus at just 500g it weighs like a slick. I look forward to this fat Ikon for this summer season though.

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  4. Would you recomend the Maxxis Ikon 3C Maxxspeed Exo Fold Tire 29/2.2 witch is 575G to tubeless use with ZTR crest rim or KAppius rims in Rocky trail for xc marathon race?
    Is it strong enouth or better use the TR version 29/2.2 witch is 640g?


  5. There’s a tire that can stand a 2000 miles trip trough the Andes.

    • There’s a tire that can stand a 2000+ miles trip trough the Andes from Lima to La Paz mostly on hard pack double and single track with some tarmac?

  6. Did Tour Divide from Banff to Antelope Wells on IKON 2.2 3C/EXO/TR without needing to rotate my front and back tires, did AZTR750 on Ardent 2.4 3C/EXO/TR front/rear and did CTR on IKON 2.35 3C/EXO/TR rear and Ardent 2.4 3C/EXO/TR front. IKON is definitely the most versatile tire I’ve found for all conditions and all surfaces. The 3C compound is just soft enough for great feel and grip and just burly enough to turn thousands of miles on trail, dirt road, and pavement easily. Rode IKONs in Colorado for years, in Alaska all last summer and riding them now living here in Hawai’i. They do everything well.

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