Maxxis reshaped some of their popular mountain bike treads in recent years to create faster rolling Race versions of popular tires for more race or course-specific conditions. The Ardent, then the Rekon got the Race treatment, and now it seems the Aspen is getting its own low profile option as well. We spotted Nino Schurter racing some super wide unmarked Maxxis prototype tires today at the Nové Město World Cup, so we took a closer look.
Maxxis prototype Aspen Race semi-slick XC race tires
Looking through the current Maxxis tire line-up, there’s seems to be a gap in their hardpack range for a super fast rolling tire, with a bit of cornering bite. Maxxis actually has a huge number of low-profile tread designs that are already popular on the XC race circuit – the Ardent Race, Aspen, Ikon, Pace & Rekon Race all can be found on a dry World Cup start line. But it looks like World Champion Nino Schurter wanted to mix an even faster rolling center tread pattern with the grippy shoulders of the Aspen.
The result that we are going to call the Aspen Race (until Maxxis gives it another name), keeps the same staggered shoulder knobs that give the Aspen aggressive cornering control. It also keeps lower profile 3 center chevrons and the pair of small stripes that transition towards the shoulder.
But in the middle the larger ramped knob pairing of the Aspen are replaced by a connected grid of file tread pyramids. The larger ramped/stepped transition knobs of the original Aspen also go away, being replaced by a single low-profile stripe transitioning from the stripe pair to the original shoulder knobs.
How low we obviously can only guess. But from the look of the flex of that sidewall above, I’d guess around 20psi in the supple 170tpi pro-only tire casing.
The prototype Aspen Race tires are remarkably high-volume too. While we saw some riders on tires under 2″ for the short track race, Schurter’s prototypes are marked as 29″ x 2.4″, and looked every bit that big.
And have a look back at that lead photo of Nino. He’s not a heavy guy, but on that little G-out after a series of drops, he is bottoming out his suspension, and folding that supple prototype tire too.
The massive 2.4″ tires didn’t seem to hold Nino back in the opening short track race of this weekend’s World Cup. He couldn’t quite catch Mathieu Van der Poel, but still managed fourth place just one second back after being beaten in the sprint for silver.
Next, we’ll be curious if those big tires stay on for the big XCO race on Sunday afternoon in Nove Mesto?
Interestingly, Scott-SRAM teammate and fellow World Champ Kate Courtney was racing a set of tires hot stamped ‘Test Pilot’ on the disc side, but had a conventional small knob Aspen tread.