There are so many different tire options available, not only from Maxxis but from other brands like Schwalbe, WTB, and Kenda as well. When choosing the right tire, you first need to consider the type of riding you do, and a lot of the times that type of riding dictates the size of the tire best for you. For example if you are looking for a new downhill tire, you might be looking for a tire that is somewhere between 2.4" to 2.6" in width. On the opposite side of the spectrum, if you are looking for a new tire on your cross country bike, a 1.9" to 2.3" width might suit that ride a bit better. The next thing to consider is the tread pattern. Some tread designs are faster rolling than others, some give more grip, some perform best in muddy conditions, etc.
With that in mind, we are going to be mounting up a new Maxxis Aspen EXO/TR Dual Compound tire on the rear wheel of Max Morgan's Santa Cruz Blur XC/trail bike. The Aspen tire uses a low profile tread designed as a lightweight XC tire. The goal with the Aspen is to be the lightest, fastest rolling XC tire without sacrificing grip when needed. Check out Max's thoughts below to see if the Maxxis Aspen tire is right for you.
The tire tested here is the 29" x 2.25 Maxxis Aspen EXO/TR Dual Compound model. This means the tire has a 2.25" width and features Maxxis' EXO and tubeless ready (TR) casing. The EXO casing is designed to provide more sidewall protection and puncture resistance. The negative to added protection is of course additional weight. We chose to review the EXO casing model in particular because it is a very popular option and can suit a wide variety of bikes and terrain. The Maxxis Dual Compound rubber compound utilizes two different rubber compounds throughout certain areas of the tire to decreased rolling resistance and increase cornering grip.
A Basic Tire Construction visual along side a Maxxis EXO Sidewall Protection Illustration - Cut Resistant and Abrasion Resistant
I mounted the Maxxis Aspen tire on my Santa Cruz Blur trail bike. This bike is a cross country/lightweight trail bike that absolutely rips! Similar to Yeti's new SB100, the Santa Cruz Blur rides more aggressive than what you might expect from a 100mm rear wheel travel XC bike. I certainly have my on take on what a lightweight trail bike should be and that's why I have TRP Quadiem G-Spec four piston downhill brakes, a Fox 34 Step Cast fork with 120mm travel, and 780mm wide Deity Skyline handlebars on my Blur.
The Maxxis Aspen is mounted as a rear tire on Industry Nine Trail 270 wheels with their System aluminum spoke chassis. The Trail 270 wheels utilize an aluminum rim with a 27.0 mm internal width. The Aspen rear tire is paired with a Maxxis DHF 29" x 2.3 EXO/TR 3C MaxxTerra tire in the front. No Flat Tire Defender foam inserts are used in this setup.
Harley checking out the rig
Installing the Aspen tire was straight forward. Paired with the Industry Nine Trail 270 wheels, getting the tire installed on to the rim was a snug fit so I ended up using a tire lever. With roughly 3oz of Stans Tubeless Tire Sealant, the Aspen aired up very easily with an air compressor. Because the tire was a tight fit on the rim bed, you could have even aired up the tubeless setup with a floor pump.
The 2.25" wide Aspen has a good shape on the 27.0mm internal width Trail270 rim. The Aspen looks like it's going to be a fast rolling tire for sure. It's easy to put an idea in your head of what a tire is going to ride like before you get the chance and I tried not to do that, but the Aspen looks almost like it's ready for the road so let's see. With a Maxxis DHF up front, I was excited to see how the Aspen would do as a rear tire.
Off comes the Maxxis Crossmark II and on goes the Maxxis Aspen
It turns out the Aspen tire rolls fast! It is so lightweight. Previous to the Aspen, I had a Maxxis Crossmark II rear tire mounted up. I thought the Crossmark II was a fast rolling tire, and it is, but the Aspen takes the cake in that comparison. The Blur is a lightweight aggressive trail bike and the Apsen seemed to match up nicely with the quick rolling and fast flavor of the Blur. The bike seemed to be finding speed everywhere. I would usually choose grip over rolling speed most of the time, so it was a nice surprise to dive in and see the benefits to a tire like the Maxxis Apsen.
I did some riding on the Aspen tire in the Dupont State Forest in western North Carolina and in Big Creek park outside of Atlanta, Georgia. In Dupont, the soil is mostly a sand base, so even when the trails have seen a lot of rain, the dirt is usually great to ride. The terrain dries out quick and I think the Aspen seemed to dig in just enough into the sandy soil. At Big Creek, the dirt has more red clay in it and thankfully the trails were just tacky when I was riding. If the trails here are more wet, that red clay can be very slippery and the Aspen would be struggling a bit more in those conditions. The low profile knobs sure are fast rolling but they also do sacrifice grip over slippery terrain and trail conditions. This might be a perfect tire for the dry, dusty, and raw trail conditions all around the Worldwide Cyclery headquarters in southern California.
The EXO casing used here seemed to do the trick. Maxxis has a full lineup of tires that feature EXO casing and they do a great job of adding sidewall/puncture resistance without making your tire excessively heavy and bulky. For a tire like the Aspen, which is generally an XC tire, paired with an aggressive XC bike like the Blur here is built up to be, the EXO casing Aspen was the perfect combination of weight and durability. The tire model here only weighs 645 gram and has all of the impact protection I need realistically for this setup.
There are plenty of nice places to stop for a nice view in Dupont - Here on the Big Rock trail
The Maxxis Aspen Dual Compound EXO casing tire is a low profile and fast rolling cross country / trail tire that still provides nice cornering grip and excels in dry conditions. For me, the Aspen seems right at home mounted up my Santa Cruz Blur. The tire was fast accelerating, lightweight, easy to mount up and air up tubeless, and still comes in the EXO protection casing that we have all come to love from Maxxis. One of the few negatives to the Aspen is that it doesn't excel in slippery and muddy conditions. That's one of the tradeoffs to such a low profile and lightweight tread pattern design like we see on the Aspen.
Max Morgan is 26 years old, and lives in Brevard, North Carolina. Max grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and started racing downhill at the age of 15. He has now been racing professionally for the last 8 years, competing in the UCI World Cup series and U.S. Pro GRT series. To learn more about Max, check out Max's rider spotlight here!