A tire like a Maxxis Icon, but with more side knob?


I picked up MMBS 2nd edition from the library early this spring and loved it. I have been MTBing for 25 years and have had period of good downhill flow but they were not consistently repeatable. After reading your book I understood why…because I had no idea what I was doing. When I got into those flow states it was completely by accident and I was never able to reproduce them with intention. However, you lay out some key concepts that are great mental handles on what our bodies should be doing on the descents and I am in your debt for that. I bought the Mastering Mountain Bike Skills 3rd Edition and have influenced a few friends to do the same. Thank you for systematizing this!

Question, I am running Maxxis Icon 2.35s (EXO, TR, and all the fancy stuff) front and back on a 29er XC bike and they do a pretty good job all things considered. I do live in Jeffco and ride all the front range trails and Buff Creek and Breck a lot. Can you recommend the most comparable tire in durability, weight, XC rolling speed but with some big side knobs so I can really lay my machine over with confidence in every situation?

Thanks much, John


Thanks for reaching out, and for enjoying the book. It’s great to know it’s helping people out there in the real world.


Most companies design tires for specific riders and types of riding. XC race, trail, loose trail, enduro, etc. For the most part, light, fast-rolling tires don’t have a ton of side knob. For the most part, increased cornering traction comes with some penalty in weight or rolling resistance. But I think, for a lot of us, that’s a penalty worth paying. If you’re on an XC hardtail, stepping up in meats can make it way more capable and fun.

Here are some ideas.

Small changes

Go for a tire similar to the Icon, but with more exposed knobs, especially on the side.

The Specialized Ground Control is a great choice. The next step up in gnar factor is the Purgatory. They are both great all-around tires. A Purg in front and a GC in back works great. My S-Works Fuse has this combo in 27.5×3″ — bad ass.

The Maxxis Minion DHF is a proven tire. How about one of those up front and an Icon in back?

Big changes

Another option is a tire with very small/fast knobs in the middle and big, gnarly knobs on the side. I’ve used these types of tires a lot over the years. Check out Scalpel in the Middle, Chainsaw on the sides.

These work well for skilled riders who are aggressive enough to load their bikes when they need braking traction and lean their bikes when they want cornering bite. If you’re not aggressive like that, make a small change (above) or the huge change (below).

Some options:

Specialized Butcher in front and Slaughter in back. These tires come stock on Specialized Enduros, and for good reason.

Maxxis Minion DHF in front and Minion SS in back.

Huge changes

Here’s another option: Stop worrying about weight and rolling resistance. Run tires that give you absolute confidence. While I experiment with faster/lighter tires, my bikes almost always end up with real meats. The added weight and resistance … I don’t notice. But I sure love to stick my front end wherever I want to — and know it’s gonna hook up!

Lots of options here. Two classics:

Specialized Butcher front and Butcher or Purgatory rear.

Maxxis Minion DHF front and DHF rear. Right now my Enduro Öhlins Coil has this combo in 29×2.5 and 29×2.3.

Most of my clients end up making huge changes.

Also make sure your cockpit it dialed for shredding. May I suggest the RideLogic™ bike setup method?

Have fun out there,


Know more. Have more fun!

Join the leelikesbikes mailing list:

1 reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *