Maxxis has been cranking out fresh tire designs in earnest, and the Forekaster is a relatively new addition to the range. Billed as an aggressive cross-country tire, it competes with the likes of Schwalbe's Nobby Nic in both performance and appearance, with a rounded crown and staggered rows of small, sharp-edged, widely spaced tread blocks. The Forekaster is intended for wet or loose conditions, and the tread design plays well with wide rims in the neighborhood of 30 millimeters (inside measurement).
Forekasters are tubeless ready and are offered in a variety of options - sizes from 27.5 x 2.2, through 2.6 inches - and 29-inch from 2.2 through 2.35-inches, with the more pricey tires featuring their EXO reinforced sidewall protection layer. The tread is dual-density: harder on top to ensure a fast-rolling, long-wearing center tread and softer on the sides for grippy cornering blocks. The Forekaster 29 x 2.35-inch EXO model we review here is priced at $68.90 USD, and came in plus or minus 4 grams of the claimed 735-gram weight.
Details and Specifications:
• Use: Aggressive XC, loose or wet conditions
• Construction: Single-ply 120 TPi casing, EXO sidewall protection, tubeless Ready
• Size: 29 x 2.35"/ 60-622 ETRTO
• Tread: Dual-compound rubber, directional.
• Wide Trail casing: optimized for 30-35mm inner-width rims
• Weight: (claimed) 735g
• MSRP: $68.90 USD
• Contact: MaxxisOptions
Sharp-edged tread blocks and creative siping help the Forekaster find grip in both high and low-pressure situations.
Summer most often means loose and dusty, and that was why I was interested in the Forekaster's tread design. I ran them on both ends of the bike, and on 30-millimeter-width rims. The actual width measured exactly 2.3 inches at 28 psi (nice work Maxxis). Mounting them up tubeless to DT Swiss aluminum rims was not seamless. They needed two blasts from my Topeak reservoir floor pump to seat up. Once inflated, however, the Forekasters sealed up instantly and did not need to be topped off.
Straight-line performance over hard surfaces is quite good, with minimal noise and very little rolling resistance. Mounted to 30-millimeter rims, there was no way that the Forekasters would tuck under hard, out-of-the-saddle pedaling, and the same was true for their cornering stability - rock solid. I attribute the tire's lateral stability to the wider rims, but Maxxis is well aware of that, which is an apt lead-in to the topic of grip.
Other than a handful of boulder-strewn stream crossings, I cannot comment upon the Forekaster's wet weather performance beyond the fact that they hooked up well enough to breeze trough the wet granite without a sense that someone had greased my tires. Nice enough, but what I was hoping for was a faster rolling design than the Maxxis Minion and High Roller II, or Schwalbe's Magic Mary - the tires that rule Southern California's sketchy dust and hard-pack gravel. In those situations, I am pleased to say that the Forekaster can be relied upon to find grip in loose dust or up steep rock faces, and its pointy tread can find enough purchase in gravel or shale to corner and climb without much concern for unplanned drifts or momentum killing wheel-spin.
Like its unrelated brother, the Schwalbe Nobby Nic, however, the Maxxis Forekaster has some boundaries which cannot be crossed without consequence. The rounded tread fumbles down crumbly off-camber sections that a flatter tread profile like the High Roller's can easily carve a line across, and when climbing up and around tight switchbacks, the front tire tends to skip and push unless care is taken to weight the front end. Reducing the tire pressure to the low 20's helped,
Most cross-country trail riders prefer a rounded tread profile like the Forekaster's. Its edging blocks are plentifully large, however, and it corners with authority in most situations.
but not to the degree that switching to a flatter tread profile would. Another thing to remember is that the Forekaster's cornering grip feels bombproof over dry and loose soil as long as you are putting pressure on the tread. Take that pressure off - try to float around a turn - and they may break into a drift. Same goes for rear braking - it's easy to lock up the rear end if you don't stay light on the lever. All aspects tallied, though, and the Forekaster emerges as a winner as an XC/trail tire, especially for good bike-handlers in search of KOM's.