It’s been awhile now since we have had the Maxxis Ikon tires on our bikes here in the U.S. and in Europe, where our correspondent, c_g has a pair on test as well. Following are our individual first impressions posts. The technical introduction can be found here.
The racing tire arena is getting more and more fleshed out and the Ikon has been a worthy entrant into the fray. Two types have been introduced with Exception Series Ikon tested by c_g being a single compound tread, and thus less expensive, and the “3C” triple compound tire that I am testing. Both feature the same tread which has low-ish, smaller block shaped tread arranged in a chevron-like pattern across the casing, which is flatter in profile than some of the other racing tires we’ve checked into here.
First up we have c_g and his take on the Maxxis Ikon….
Inflated on a 26 mm wide rim it measures 53.5/ 2.10″ mm casing width. Like most MAXXIS tires I ran, it falls into the “Loose Fit” category which in my case required a stong burst from the air compressor to convert tubeless – floor pump conversion and even CO2-cartridges just wouldn’t do in my case. Once seated it sealed well and rode incident free in tubeless mode. By weight and volume it falls on the lighter side of things. I have the Exception version (120 TPI) with the single compound rubber – which comes at a much more sensible price than the triple compound ones. Besides with a good compound (and I think Maxxis does a pretty good one) pays off double – it is cheaper in the first place and by maintaining most of its ride qualities throughout, it extends the tire´s life which again translates to more miles on the tire.
The Ikon is a “XC-ized” version of the well known Ardent. The tread is optimized for speed and rolling resistance without sacrificing too much of the Ardent´s good all around ride characteristics. I didn’t feel it to be the ultimate speed machine but it made up for this easily by its good control both in braking and cornering on most conditions. As such the IKON is a “very fast all arounder” or a “grippy race tire”. It does not have the supper tacky manners of a AM-tire but neither the high speed/low grip properties of some pure bread race tires. When riding it I always felt in control and when ridden beyond its capacities it did announce that in very good manners.
Traction was good to very good on a wide range of trail conditions. Only when really wet and deep – would it clog up and loose all grip – but on most surfaces it did really well. Cornering control was also good on a wide variety of surface conditions, though not exceptional. On particularly wet or loose descents would I wish for a more aggressive front end but those occasions can be considered occasional. Just like the Ardent – the Ikon has OK self cleaning properties which lead to occasional spin throughs in the rear on soft ground.
The Ikon is one of these tires that seem to do most things pretty good without shining in anything particularly. It is the sort that kind of disappears underneath the rider. It is not the grippiest, not the fastest tire but if you look for a tire that can cope with varied conditions really well (all but really deep and wet) – the Ikon is spot on.
You know I always favor universality over specialized (no pun intended) and as such the IKON is a winner in my eyes.
Maxxis Ikon First Impressions: by Guitar Ted
My testing on the 3C compound versions of the Ikon were on perfectly hard packed, dry trails for the most part. The Ikon exhibited some qualities I have liked from two other tires in the “micro-knobbed” category, those being the Bontrager XR-1 and the Geax AKA. The speed that the Ikon has is not as blazingly fast as the Bontrager tire, but it is reminiscent of how the XR-1 holds its speed and how that tire is easy to get up to speed. Unlike the XR-1, the Ikon actually has decent lateral grip. I found cornering, braking traction, and climbing traction all were better with the Ikon.
The Ikon cornering traits were actually almost as good as the fantastic AKA. Especially in these dry, hard packed conditions we have had here of late. I suspect that if the Ikon were as big as the AKA, it might prove to be on par, or perhaps better than the AKA, but it obviously is of much less girth than the Geax tire. That said, the 3C compound is noticeable here and lends an amazing amount of grip in corners for a smaller tire. Of course, the Ikon, as a racing tire, has a much more attractive weight than the Geax tire does, so it wins in that category.
In tacky conditions, the Ikon also performed very well. I did manage to push the front a bit too hard and found that in soil that tends to be looser, the Ikon begins to fade a bit as a front tire in cornering. (Much akin to what c_g found as well.) The Ikon does pack in a bit as the soil here gets wetter, so I am of the mind to say that it may be best suited to drier trails to get the most from the grippy tread pattern/tire compound. From a purely racing viewpoint, this tire is a good choice for most racing situations, or as c_g says, an “all arounder”.
So far, I have not noticed any excessive abrading or wear on the tires. I’ll be keeping an eye on this as I continue to test these tires. Tubeless performance has been average, meaning about what you would expect for a non-tubeless rated tire. It does leak down a bit faster than a tubeless ready tire, but not anything out of the ordinary in my experiences. Once again, we have to point out that running any non-tubeless tire as a tubeless tire is done at your own risk. That said, most folks racing these are probably going to set them up tubeless.
Stay tuned for a Mid-Term update in a few weeks.
Note: The Maxxis tires Guitar Ted has were purchased for review/testing. We are not being bribed, nor paid for this review. We will strive to give our honest opinions throughout.