The Scott 24h and the 5th installment of the Singletrack Mind Series at Mt Annan a few weeks prior both left me with the need to wrap some new rubber around the Spark. I had been using Continental Race King Race Sports as tubeless, without much success. Whilst super light and fast, leaky sidewalls had me topping up the pressure every ride, sometimes even during a ride when the paper-thin sidewalls lost the battle against the terrain. Several flats in as many rides indicated to me that perhaps they are designed to be run with tubes.
With the Highland Fling looming, I needed to find myself a reliable set of tyres that wouldn’t require tip-toeing across anything that looked remotely sharp. The XC tyre market has many options for Australian hard-pack, with Kenda’s Small Block 8s also being very popular.
Maxxis Ikons had been keeping the Subaru-MarathonMTB.com team rolling in far North Queensland during the Crocodile Trophy, and if three riders can travel 1200km each without hitch, then they’re looking good for the smooth wingello trails.
The rubber I opted for were the Maxxis Ikon 26×2.2 with EXC/3C/EXO technologies, tubeless. Whilst not a true UST tyre, the EXO woven material sidewall indicates that these are clearly meant to be hooked up tubeless. The wall feels reassuringly thick. Triple compound 3C is an amalgamation of three rubber compounds to assist with tyre wear, and EXC technology keeps the thread count high and weight low.
Weight – the question on every discernable XC racers mind. Claimed weight is 540g which when compared to the Conti’s at 500g is noted. Actual measured weight for both tyres was 540g and 585g. Perhaps one tyre had two lay-ups of the EXO woven material, or just more rubber. With increased weight, should come increased reliability. These are looking good.
Bag width when mounted on Stan’s Crest 24.4mm rims at 30psi measured 54.5mm when new and 56mm two months later, spot on the quoted 2.2 inches. Height from outer rim edge is also 56mm. Laid out flat the total width from bead to bead measured 143mm.
The tyres mounted without the need for an air compressor, and surprisingly held air well. No visible pin holes in the sidewall, though when submerged bubbles highlighted a leak at the rim edge. Sealant was injected and headway was made for the trail.
The Ikon is intended as an XC race tyre and true to this, rolls fast. Cornering was remarkable – a hint of drift initially before finally washing out. The thick sidewall assisted with maintaining tyre shape when things were stressed over technical rocky climbs. Centreline knobs when compared to the Race Kings appear less continuous; side knobs are significantly larger and taller. All else things being equal, this may suggest a slightly higher rolling resistance, but better cornering.
After 500km the rear tread is showing signs of wear whilst the front looks relatively unworn. The woven material in the sidewall is starting to show, but this is not unexpected given the rocks they’ve seen and is certainly not a concern yet. Just the one flat so far and at an untimely moment in the Highland Fling. To be fair though, the one inch roofing bolt which caused the flat would have done the same to a motocross tyre.
I tend to shy away from mixing mountain biking with mud so their ability to shed is unknown at this stage. I’m hoping it stays that way, at least for the remainder of the summer.
This tyre fits the XC hard-pack bill perfectly. A good mix of cornering means things wont slow you down in singletrack, light enough to test your competitors when things turn upwards, and enough speed to keep you whizzing along the fireroad. Recommended.