Maxxis MTB Tire Guide

Maxxis MTB Tire Quick Guide: 3C, EXO, TPI explained

Maxxis has one of the largest selections of mountain bike tires out of all mountain bike tire brands. That’s great and all if you know exactly what tires you’re looking for and what MaxxTerra, EXO, 3C, and 120 TPI mean.

I’ve been riding Maxxis for over 10 years and somewhere along the way got a hang of all these acronyms.

So here, I’ll explain Maxxis MTB tires in plain English – with a list of all MTB tires below.


  • 3C MaxxGrip = Soft
  • 3C MaxxTerra = Medium
  • 3C MaxxSpeed = Hard
  • 2C dual compound (cheaper option available for most)
  • 1C single compound (cheapest only available for a few tires)


  • EXO = thin 120 TPI with sidewall protection
  • EXO+ = stiffer 60 TPI casing with EXO sidewall insert
  • DoubleDown (DD) = thick Dual Ply 120 TPI casing
  • Downhill (DH) = thick, stiff Dual Ply 60 TPI casing

Individual tires are only available for certain riding disciplines – and only in the variations that make sense. So Maxxis pre-selects what combination you can choose.

This is a simplified summary of which casings and compounds are available for XC, All Mountain, Enduro and Downhill.

3C MaxxSpeedXCXC
Maxxis MTB compounds and casings per riding discipline

For eMTB you’ll want to go one or two levels of casing stiffer and harder on the compound than a regular bike – especially the rear wheel.

tire sizes explained
Maxxis prints a variety of labels on its bike tires. We’ll go through the most important ones for tire selection.

Popular tire combos

Apart from running the same tire front & rear for very predictable handling (like dual Assegai on my DH bike), you can play around with different combos to get the best performance on specific conditions.

Front TireRear Tire
DownhillDissectorHigh Roller II
DownhillMinion DHFMinion DHR
Enduro & TrailMinion DHFAggressor
Enduro & TrailMinion DHRMinion SS
Cross CountryIkonRekon (Race)
Cross CountryForekasterArdent (Race)

There are of course many more combos possible. Check the list below to find all tires for your riding style.

Keep in mind: Front tires need to turn and brake well (big knobs), rear tires need to roll fast (small center knobs). If you’d like to know more, read how MTB tire treads work.

Maxis minion dhr tread pattern
Arguably the most well-known tire in all of mountain biking: The Maxxis Minion.

If you’re unsure about what size to get, check out this article explaining MTB tire sizes (per mountain bike type).

List of all Maxxis MTB Tires

To provide an overview, here are all current Maxxis mountain bike tires sorted by riding discipline. Feel free to apply your own sorting and scroll side to side.

Maxxis MTB Tires

List of all Maxxis mountain bike tires
Mountain Bike DisciplinesMaxxis TireRubber CompoundsTire CasingsTrail Conditions
Dirtjump, Pumptrack, SlopestylePace1C, 2CEXO+Smooth, Hard
DownhillWetscream3C MaxxGrip, Super TackyDHMud
Enduro, DownhillAssegai2C, 3C MaxxTerra, 3C MaxxGripEXO+, DD, DHAllrounder (FrontTire)
FatbikeMinion FBF2C Dual CompoundEXO, EXO+Allrounder (FrontTire)
FatbikeMinion FBR2C Dual CompoundEXO, EXO+Allrounder (Rear Tire)
Kids, XC, TrailSnyper2C Dual CompoundEXO+Allrounder
Trail, EnduroAggressor2C Dual CompoundEXO, EXO+, DDDry, Hard (Rear Tire)
Trail, EnduroMinion SS2C Dual CompoundEXO+, DDDry, Hard (Rear Tire)
Trail, Enduro, DownhillDissector2C, 3C MaxxTerra, 3C MaxxGripEXO+, DD, DHDry, Hard, Loose
Trail, Enduro, DownhillHigh Roller II1C, 2C, 3C MaxxTerra, 3C MaxxGrip, Super TackyEXO+, DD, DHDry, Hard, Loose
Trail, Enduro, DownhillMinion DHF1C, 2C, 3C MaxxTerra, 3C MaxxGrip, Super TackyEXO, EXO+, DD, DHAllrounder (FrontTire)
Trail, Enduro, DownhillMinion DHR II1C, 2C, 3C MaxxTerra, 3C MaxxGrip, Super TackyEXO, EXO+, DD, DHAllrounder (Rear Tire)
Trail, Enduro, DownhillShorty3C MaxxTerra, 3C MaxxGripDD, DHMud, Loose Dirt
XC RaceAspen2C Dual CompoundEXO, EXO+Allrounder
XC RaceCrossmark II2C Dual CompoundEXO+Dry, Hard
XC RaceIkon2C, 3C MaxxSpeed, 3C MaxxTerraEXO, EXO+Allrounder
XC RaceRekon Race2C Dual CompoundEXO, EXO+Dry, Hard (Rear Tire)
XC, TrailArdent1C, 2CEXO+Dry, Hard
XC, TrailArdent Race2C, 3C MaxxSpeedEXO, EXO+Allrounder
XC, TrailForekaster2C, 3C MaxxTerraEXO+Allrounder
XC, TrailRekon2C, 3C MaxxSpeed, 3C MaxxTerraEXO, EXO+Dry, Hard, Loose

Tip: Navigate this list based on the type of riding you do. Besides tire names and MTB discipline, it also lists casings, and compounds.

If you are interested in checking out the full range of Maxxis MTB tires, you can find pretty much all variations in the Maxxis Amazon store or over at Jenson.

Compounds (2C, 3C, MaxxTerra etc.)

The rubber of a tire tread is called a tire compound. They can be hard and fast, or soft and grippy.

mtb tire compound infographic

Maxxis mountain bike tires come in single compounds (1C), dual compounds (2C) and a variation of triple compounds (3C) for their tire treads.

The 3C compounds are MaxxSpeed, MaxxTerra, and MaxxGrip. Three rubbers with different firmness are layered to provide specific characteristics like rolling speed, traction, and durability.

Most Maxxis tires are only available in certain compounds – tailored to the riding they are designed for.

Cross CountryMaxxSpeed, 2C, 1C
Trail & All MountainMaxxSpeed, MaxxTerra, 2C
EnduroMaxxTerra, MaxxGrip, 2C
DownhillMaxxTerra, MaxxGrip, 2C
Dirtjump2C, 1C
Maxxis Compounds per MTB discipline
maxxis 3c maxxterra infographic
The layering between Terra, Grip and Speed are the same. They differ only in overall firmness.

Related article: Maxxis MTB Compounds Guide

Casings (EXO, EXO+, DD, DH)

Casing (also referred to as sidewalls) is basically the rest of the tire – giving it its round shape.

Casings can be light, thin, soft and compliant (for XC) or heavy, thick, stiff and stable (for DH).

How it behaves has a big impact on your riding.

From thing to stiff, Maxxis casings are:

  • EXO: 120 TPI for Cross Country and light-duty trail
  • EXO+: 60 TPI for Trail
  • Double Down (DD): dual-ply 120 TPI for Enduro, DH, and e-bikes
  • DH: dual-ply 60 TPI for Downhill and aggressive e-bikes
New EXO maxxis 1
The new Maxxis EXO+ explained. // Source: Maxxis

As far as puncture protection goes, Maxxis recently streamlined EXO.

The only difference between EXO and EXO+ (and all other casings) is now the casing thickness. EXO+ is just a thicker version of EXO.

The added sidewall puncture armor is the same. It’s only a question of 60 TPI versus 120 TPI (explained here).

Related article: Maxxis MTB Tire Casing Guide

Picking the right tire for you

A quick disclaimer: There is no single perfect tire for any condition and riding.

It’s always a compromise between traction or durability, weight or protection, and compliance or stiffness.

So knowing what you need from a tire is half the battle.

1. Select for type of riding

In any case, it’s best to start with the MTB riding discipline to narrow the selection down. This means filtering for the tread patterns (the actual tire names) that fit your discipline – XC, AM, DH etc.

74030AC9 342B 4217 9364 3BA02922E137 edited 1
Rough terrain and big impacts, or …
Trailpartie Linz Tag2 Martin Fabian 113 edited
… soft dirt and smooth trails.

2. Combine front and rear tires optimally

Know how you want each to perform. Generally, front tires need to corner and brake better, while rear tires need to withstand more abuse and put the power to the ground.

In other words: softer casings and compounds up front, harder ones in the back. Many riders also pick different tread patterns front and back, but that’s our last step. We’re not quite there yet.

3. Pick the casing

With knowing what each wheel needs to handle, pick the casing accordingly. This is the basis for the tire and may also dictate the compounds and treads available.

The casing includes two pieces: the nylon fabric layers and the protection woven into it, depicted here:

Maxxis EXO Protection Explained
The standard EXO sidewall armor (green) is used in all four casing variants.

Front tires require more compliance and have to endure fewer impact forces.
Rear tires bear most of the weight and take huge impacts.

From thing to stiff, Maxxis casings are:

  • EXO: Cross Country and light-duty trail
  • EXO+: Trail
  • Double Down (DD): dual-ply 120 TPI for Enduro, DH, and e-bikes
  • DH: dual-ply 60 TPI for Downhill and aggressive e-bikes

4. Rubber compound

Select for the most important characteristics of the rubber actually making contact with the ground. It’s a compromise between traction or rolling resistance and durability – or soft and hard compounds.

  • 1C Single Compound: Cheap, durable but a compromise in performance.
  • 2C Dual Compound: Different side knobs and center tread rubber. Good price-to-performance.
  • 3C Triple Compounds: Specialized, expensive performance compounds. Available in three levels of firmness.
    • MaxxSpeed: Harder, faster rolling and more durable overall, great for XC and rear tires.
    • MaxxTerra: Medium firmness and durability. For XC front tires and DH rear tires.
    • MaxxGrip: Softer, grippy and less durable overall. Best traction possible, excellent for front tires.
maxxgrip 3c compound
The difference between Maxxis 2C and 3C is not only the base layer, but also the three overall levels of firmness for 3C.

5. Tread pattern selection from the few options remaining

By this point, only a couple of tire treads should be up for debate now. This is a choice largely depending on the trail surfaces you find yourself on mostly.

Rock slabs, loamy dirt, root carpets or hard pack dirt. The choice is yours, and Maxxis has treads designed to perform on each.

6. Get the correct tire size for the wheel at hand

Of course, correct tire size is important too. But unless you’re looking for a very specific tire width above all else, this isn’t a main priority.

Most Maxxis tires are available in the common diameters 27.5″ and 29″ and tire width is largely dictated by riding discipline. So they come in the appropriate width ranges anyway.

Share it with your friends

Julian Mat is a former bike shop owner and editor of Suspension Traveler. He has been riding Downhill MTB and Enduro for over two decades.
Julian has poured all his accumulated knowledge, best-kept secrets, and proven guides into Suspension Traveler, to make it the go-to resource for gravity mountain bikers.

Articles: 88