Maxxis Forekaster Review: Two-in-one
While searching for the perfect tire to serve double duty for dirt touring and rugged singletrack riding, Logan stumbled upon the redesigned Maxxis Forekaster. After putting it through its paces on the doubletrack of the San José del Pacifico, the steep and rough trails of the Sierra Norte, and running it on a trail hardtail during training rides and races, he shares his thoughts in this review…
I wish I could reclaim all the time I’ve spent overthinking mountain bike tires; it would probably amount to the better part of a multi-week bike ride. That being said, I believe tires are one of the more critical components to scrutinize—there’s a lot riding on them, so goes the saying. Over the years, I’ve settled into a few favorite tire combinations, but I still find myself contemplating a wide array of brands and options when trying to determine the ideal tread pattern(s) for specific bikes, rides, and trips. I’m not proud of this obsession.
If you find yourself in a similar boat, you’re likely on a first-name basis with most of the Maxxis catalog. I know I’ve thoroughly analyzed their lineup, and several of their tires rank high on my list of favorites. Even so, Maxxis’s naming conventions continue to confound me. I often lose track of which is which and mistakenly refer to certain tires by the wrong name. Some, like the Dissector and Aggressor, I’ve even overlooked based on their names alone. If it were up to me, I’d stick with simple three-letter acronyms. The Forekaster is another example, with a name that initially struck me as more suitable for a golf club. I understand the predictive reasoning behind it, but it’s the forced “K” that rubs me a little.
But let’s move past branding. When I discovered that Maxxis had given the Forekaster a complete overhaul last year, my curiosity was piqued. I happened to be on the hunt for a persnickety front tire for a trip to Oaxaca at the time. I wanted a tread pattern that would perform admirably on a mercurial mix of dirt roads and challenging trails. It had to strike a balance and be both lightweight and fast-rolling for those extended days on doubletrack yet also possess enough tooth to tackle Oaxaca’s rough and highly technical singletrack. The recollection of losing traction on my front tire while pausing on a super steep Sierra Norte trail the year before still sends shivers down my spine.
I thought finding a front tire capable of handling this diametric double duty was an impossible task. At the time, I was weighing out two options: the Maxxis DHF and the Rekon. The lighter-weight Rekon, with its slightly faster tread and predictable cornering, seemed more suitable for dirt roads. However, it lacked the necessary grip and traction that I wanted for Oaxaca’s dry, steep, and loose trails. Unrelated to this argument, it’s flat out dangerous when confronted with wet rocks and roots. On the other hand, the DHF was a dependable choice on singletrack but is definitely slower and a little heavier.
Maxxis Forekaster V2
In its original 2016 form factor (above right), the Forekaster was a wet-weather-specialist tire designed for cross-country riding, which actually better suits its name. It had shorter and more generously spaced knobs designed for clearing mud and hooking up on loose-over-hard surfaces. In contrast, the latest version (above left) has slightly taller, larger, and more tightly spaced tread. It also has larger and more aggressive side lugs that are lined up for improved cornering traction. The new Forekaster is billed as an all-around tire made for both dry and inclement conditions. According to Maxxis, it’s meant to perform on a level in between trail and XC, specifically tuned for contemporary short-travel trail bikes (“downcountry bikes falling in the 100mm to 130mm range”). More interesting to me, this tire was tailored to sit in the sweet spot I was looking for: combining grippy center tread that’s still fast-rolling with exceptional cornering ability and reliable braking traction.
I installed the 29 x 2.6” EXO/TR version of the Forekaster on my Cotic SolarisMax, which as it turns out is the dual compound version. For the record, the 29 x 2.6″ Forekaster currently comes in the 3CT/EXO, a heavier non-EXO variant, and a dual-tread compound version. There are more options for the 2.4″ casing, including the beefier EXO+ sidewall. For those unaware, EXO is a layer of cut- and abrasion-resistant material integrated into the tire’s sidewall. This, coupled with a 60 TPI casing, maintains a relatively low 1,013-gram weight for this tire, and it has still managed to stave off cuts and punctures over a lot of miles, which I’ll touch on later. It would be nice to see this size offered in an EXO+ casing, however.
The 3CT (T is for Triple) variant features three different rubber compounds within the tread: the firmest is at the tire’s base layer to ensure stability; the outer central knobs are made of a medium compound rubber to strike a balance between grip and rolling efficiency, and the shoulder knobs have a softer rubber to maximize cornering grip. The Forekaster uses MaxxTerra rubbers, which offer more traction than XC-focused 3C MaxxSpeed. The dual-compound alternative simplifies the construction by employing just two rubber densities, making it a slightly more budget-friendly choice.
Maxxis Forekaster First Ride
The Forekaster mounted quickly to a 31mm carbon rim without fuss using just a floor pump—standard protocol with most Maxxis tires, in my experience. With my departure just two days away, I took it on a single test ride to gauge its performance and ensure there were no immediate concerns or manufacturing wobbles. I was impressed out of the gate. While it didn’t feel particularly speedy, it didn’t feel sluggish either. And, better yet, it seemed to have plenty of traction both for braking and in the corners.
Looking at it next to the DHF and Rekon, the other two front tire options I was considering for that trip, it appeared more like a trimmed-down trail tire rather than an overbuilt XC option. Based on my initial test ride and that little bit of in-person analysis, I packed up the bike for Oaxaca—the ultimate proving ground.
I paired the Forekaster with a Rekon rear tire for that trip. The combo felt pretty fast on gravel and rutted dirt roads, and not bad on pavement, either. Altogether, it seemed like a quicker version of the venerable DHF/Rekon pairing, which is exactly what I hoped for. After getting reacquainted with the dry and rubbly trails that thread the foothills of the Sierra Norte, I was equally impressed with the Forekaster’s grip. It felt dependable and consistent while traversing and descending the chunky and loose surfaces that Oaxaca’s singletrack is known for, and it was poised and predictable in the corners, with the larger side knobs helping me maintain front-end control and confidence on trails that were above my pay grade. For both cornering and braking grip, the Forekaster is a step down from the DHF, but I never had any “oh shit” moments due to my front tire as I did the year before riding the same trails with an Ikon up front. That was terrifying. I wouldn’t say the Forekaster offers the perfect amount of grip for Oaxaca’s black and double-black diamond singletrack—no tire does, according to a friend of mine who’s raced a few enduros there. However, it was several steps above something like a Rekon and not too far behind its bigger sibling, the DHF.
I also came to appreciate the Forekaster’s 60TPI casing. It’s not overly thick and harsh, yet it seems robust and sturdy enough for medium-to-aggressive singletrack riding, particularly when supporting my 175-pound frame on a short-travel 120mm hardtail. Even when being pushed and ridden hard, it never waffled or felt like it folded or wavered while cornering. It even remained sure-footed while bikepacking with a decent load.
While Out Racing
Since Oaxaca, the Forekaster has become a staple front tire on a few bike builds, including my singlespeed trail hardtail that saw countless miles training for and racing PMBAR, a local adventure race this past spring. In my opinion, the Ikon/Forekaster combo was the perfect pairing for the pace of that event. It balanced the efficiency needed to minimize fatigue with enough control to keep confidence high during a 60+ mile day with more than 10,000 feet of climbing (and an equal dose of descending) on a lot of tough singletrack. My race partner ran an Ikon/Rekon combo, but I was happy with my choice. We ended up coming in fifth in the singlespeed category, which I was pretty stoked about.
I equipped Virginia’s dirt-touring Wayward with that same Forekaster for our Sage and Saddles scouting trip in Gunnison. Shown on the right above, that tire has now seen more than 600 hard miles. Even more impressive, the photo on the left shows the Forekaster that was on my Cotic for our two-month stint in Oaxaca. That included a ride on the 244-mile San José del Pacifico, a three-day ride on the 120-mile Vuelta a Los Pueblos Mancomunados, several overnighters, and countless trail rides and dirt road rambles. After that trip, that same tire saw quite a few more rides back home, and it now has 1,000+ miles on it. Shockingly, it looks ready for 2,000 more with the grooved lines still visible in the center knobs. Neither of these Forecasters ever had a tear or puncture.
Maxxis Forekaster vs. Other Tires
To illustrate weights and prices, here are a few tires that I’d put in the same category, as well as other adjacent tires that I compared when choosing the Forekaster.
|Maxxis Rekon||29 x 2.6, 3CT/EXO/TR 120TPI||
|Vittoria Agarro||29 x 2.6, Tubeless TNT||
|Maxxis Forekaster||29 x 2.6, 3CT/EXO/TR 60TPI||
|Maxxis DHF||29 x 2.6, 3CT/EXO/TR 120TPI||
|Teravail Honcho||29 x 2.6, Light and Supple 60TPI||
|Schwalbe Nobby Nic||29 x 2.6, Addix/Speedgrip||
|WTB Trail Boss||29 x 2.6, Tough/Fast 60TPI||
This is a list of tires that were on my radar for comparison. If you have a suggestion for one that’s not listed, be sure to leave a note in the conversation below. Also, note that weights marked with an asterisk are actual weights.
- Model Tested: Maxxis Forekaster 29 x 2.6″ EXO
- Actual Weight: 1,013 grams (35.7 oz)
- Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
- Price: $95 at REI
- Manufacturer’s Details: Maxxis
- Excellent traction and grip in a wide range of conditions
- Fairly fast-rolling tire considering its cornering ability and traction
- Good front tire for a mixed terrain where both singletrack and dirt roads are in play
- Sturdy enough casing that still offers supple small bump comfort
- Seems to be fairly durable as a front tire with long tread life
- Not many size options
- Narrower than specified
- Requires higher pressure or insert for support and rim insurance as a rear tire
- Not as sure-footed when braking as something like a DHF
After a lot of use in a broad range of conditions and situations, the 29 x 2.6” Maxxis Forekaster has undoubtedly made its mark on me, toeing the line in proficiency between dirt-touring and singletrack mountain biking, and performing extremely well at both. It falls neatly in the middle of two other favorites in the brand’s catalog, the DHF and Rekon, and is arguably nearly as fast as the latter. It also corners and brakes almost as well as the DHF, although it’s certainly more timid. All told, I liked the Forekaster so much that I ultimately bought several more. Remarkably, none of them have fallen victim to punctures, and two of them have endured many rugged miles without showing significant signs of wear and tear. In summary, the Forekaster has earned its place as a new front tire favorite for me, aligning perfectly with the styles of riding I most enjoy and proving to be extremely durable in the process.
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