All you need to know about Maxxis’ new MaxxSpeed compound and why it might be relevant for your riding applications.
We talk about tires and their construction quite a lot here on WILD AIR Sports and that is for good reason! The rubber that connects us to the ground on the bike has a lot of say in the ride feel, performance of the bike, and overall riding experience.
With Maxxis announcing a new rubber compound, or rather an update to their current 3C-MaxxSpeed compound, we had to ask the question of whether or not it is relevant to the broader South African market and if so, how and why. The short answer is a firm “yes” and you can find out why below.
The function of the compound in a tire
The compound of the tire will dictate how it interacts with the ground in terms of rolling resistance and traction. Typically, a softer compound increases cornering, braking, and accelerating traction but also makes the tire slower rolling. The converse is obviously true for harder compounds; faster rolling but offering less traction.
To try and balance this, many manufacturers will incorporate several compounds into the tire construction to enhance the desired effects and reduce the negative ones. What that would typically look like is a hard base compound to reduce overall tire rebound and decrease rolling resistance. Covering this hard base compound would be a slightly softer tread compound that offers increased traction at the cost of some rolling efficiency and sometimes an even softer compound on the cornering knobs of the tire for maximum traction when leaned over.
For some more detail on choosing the correct tire for your bike and riding application, check out this guide over here.
What you need to know about the new MaxxSpeed compound
This is a single compound construction rather than the traditional 3 compound construction from Maxxis. Now this may seem odd given what we have just discussed about the give-and-take nature of rubber compounds but that all changes when silica is added to the rubber compound mix.
Silica revolutionized rubber compounds in the automotive world over the last decade or so and now is making an impact in the cycling world. Maxxis has been using it successfully in their road tires and now it bringing it into their MTB lineup.
Adding silica to the rubber compound mix means that the rubber has high rebound properties (decreases rolling resistance) at low frequency impacts (typical of normal wheel rotations) and low rebound (increased traction) at high frequencies (typical of rough terrain riding). It almost seems to be the opposite of what you get from a cornstarch and water mixture (lots of fun). You can read more on the effects of silica as a filler in rubber compounds here.
Ok so fun facts out the way, what does it mean for the rider when your rims are paired up with the new MaxxSpeed goodness?
The performance of the new compound over the old 3C-MaxxSpeed results in rolling resistance reductions of up to 25% claimed by Maxxis which can, according to them, “shave as much as a minute off a rider’s time in a 90-minute race.”
Now we know that many of South Africa’s riders love a good MTB marathon and are out for much longer than 90 minutes during their races or big training rides so that translates into a significant performance increase.
Sure, you won’t be soft-pedaling away from the mates that normally drop you on the flats but if you’re a competitive rider or just due some new rubber, the new compound is a no-brainer to go for on marathon, XC, and even light trail applications; especially considering that there is no trade off on traction.
An additional benefit to the silica backed compound is its better flexibility and elasticity in lower temperatures which means better performance in wet wintery conditions.
Tires that MaxxSpeed is available in locally
Aspen 29 X 2.40 WT
Rekon Race 29 X 2.40 WT
Ikon 29 X 2.35
Severe 29 X 2.25
All will be tubeless ready and come in the 120 TPI EXO casing for puncture protection. They should be available at your nearest bike shop from July this year.
What is the new “Severe” you ask?
The Severe is a mud specific tire that has of course been race tested and even taken a couple of wet weather World Cup wins under Rebecca McConnel and Nino Schurter. It will only be available for special order by dealers locally so expect them to be rare as hen’s teeth. Not a crisis for most of SA but it would be a good tire option in very wet and muddy regions.
Maxxis’ other compounds for reference
All of Maxxis’ other compounds for mountain bike tires use 3 different compounds, including the outgoing 3C-MaxxSpeed
3C-MaxxGrip: “Maxxis’ 3C MaxxGrip compound uses the stickiest, slowest rebounding rubber we offer in a mountain bike tire. This high traction compound is the same one used by our top World Cup Downhill and Enduro World Series athletes and is now available in a variety of casing configurations to cover all riders.”
3C-MaxxTerra: “Maxxis’ 3C MaxxTerra is an intermediate triple compound configuration used across our mountain tire line. The 3C MaxxTerra compound offers more traction than 3C MaxxSpeed, yet provides better treadwear and less rolling resistance than MaxxGrip, which makes it ideal for trail riding in all conditions.”
3C-MaxxSpeed: “Used primarily in cross country (XC) tires, the two compounds in the outer layer are specially formulated to reduce rolling resistance and optimize treadwear and traction.
*Note that the 3C MaxxSpeed compound is being phased out for the new MaxxSpeed launched in April 2023.”
Alright, keep it rubber side down everyone.