My new tires arrived the other day. I'm trying out the Maxxis Ikons with their EXO sidewall protection. They definitely feel beefier, but not too heavy. They're roughly 80 grams heavier per tire than my Schwalbe Racing Ralphs, a weight penalty I notice slightly, but it could just be in my head. The first noticeable quality of the tire is the large casing and overall volume. Next is the how well they grip, but I'll get into that after the break.
I took them out on my local neighborhood trail system around Mt. Sutro. It hasn't rained much this past week so the dirt was nice and tacky. Not too dry or too wet. Perfect conditions.
Spinning on the road leading up to the trails it felt like they rolled better than the Racing Ralphs, despite lab tests showing otherwise. There wasn't a noticeable scratchy sound, where tread is digging into the pavement like on the Ralphs, but a nice hum.
The Ikons immediately hooked up on the hard-pack singletrack. They also cornered more nicely than the Racing Ralphs. I think it's due to the knob spacing, but Ikons felt more predictable leaning into the turns. I even put more body english to see if I could get them to break their line. Right now I'm running 23 psi in the front and 24 psi in the rear, but because they're so much bigger I think I could go a pound or two, given my low body weight.
While the test is really too soon to give a solid review I think these tires are a really great. I'm looking forward to testing them out in the Headlands where there's more loose over hard-pack and fire roads. I have full confidence in the tire casing, which are super thick. I probably won't rip these, but it's better to be safe than sorry, especially if more of my rides and races are longer. I don't ever want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere ever again.
My main concern for the moment is that these tires aren't officially tubeless ready. I've been onto a few forums where people say the tire casing develops a blister of sorts, where the tread starts to delaminate from the casing. Scary. Hopefully that issue won't happen to me, but I hope Maxxis continues to evolve this tire.
This weekend I'm doing my first race of the season, Old Caz in Occidental, CA, part of the Grasshopper Adventure Series. While the site says the course is more suited for a cyclocross bike I think these tires and my bike will do just fine.