Review: Two 29×2.6 offerings from Maxxis and Bontrager

As the industry seems to be working itself back from 3-inch plus tires, we may have just struck gold with the new 2.6 offerings. When mounted up, the 29×2.6 is just shy of the width of a 27.5×2.8 and only a smidge taller than a 29×2.4. So, increased volume and traction without sacrificing bottom bracket height or needing a secondary wheelset. Companies are quickly expanding the 2.6 market; however, there are a few solid options already getting ready to hit the masses. Here’s a taste of what’s to come.

Maxxis Rekon 29×2.6 EXO/TR – $91
Aggressive Cross-country/Trail

The 27plus Rekon quickly grew in popularity as an OE spec on numerous bikes for its lightweight, low rolling resistance and ample traction. Maxxis answered the masses and is now giving the Rekon its own tire family (read: look for an expanding lineup to come). Currently, it’s available in 2.4WT, 2.6 and 2.8 for 27plus and 2.4WT and 2.6 for 29er. The dual-compound 29×2.6 has 60 TPI, EXO casing and is tubeless ready for a claimed 860 grams and MSRP of $91. And for only $1 more, there is a MaxxTerra version available weighing 780 grams. The Rekon 2.6 is built around a 30-35 mm internal rim but is optimized for the latter.

If you like the 27plus Rekon, you’ll like these just as much. The review samples weigh in at 867 and 835 grams. Mounted up on 28 mm internal/34 mm external rims, finding the right pressure is a bit of a challenge, just as it was when first riding 27plus tires. Personally, I feel the sweet spot was harder to hit with the 2.6s, and 1-2 psi can make or break how the tires can be pushed through corners. I ended up settling on 2 psi less than what I run with a 29×2.4 tire. The Rekon is a bit unsettling when trail conditions became wet and slimy, but during peak summer when trails are dry or loose-over-hard, it truly shines. I would not recommend this tire to replace a Forekaster or Ardent; however, it would be perfect for someone who likes the Ikon or Ardent Race but wants a more voluminous tire.

Bontrager 29×2.6 XR4 Team Issue TLR – $65
Aggressive Trail

Don’t let the trail nomenclature between the two tires confuse you. When thinking of an aggressive trail tire, the Bontrager XR4 is spot-on. So much so, the 29×2.4 XR4 and heavier-casing SE4 offering are standard OE spec on most of Trek’s full-suspension trail bikes. The 29×2.6 XR4 use a 120 TPI casing and dual-compound rubber. The ramped center tread rolls quickly and the consistent transition to the shoulder knobs aids in confident cornering.

Our review samples weighed in at 927 and 936 grams and were mounted up on 29 mm internal/36 mm external rims. The XR4 is slightly less finicky compared to the Rekon when dialing in the desired air pressure, but 1-2 psi less than what I run in a 2.4 tire is preferred. Regardless of the conditions—mud, grease, wet roots, hard packed, leaf covered, you name it—these XR4s stick to everything and always tempt me to push harder and harder in corners. Although I am not implying it’s not worth it, the drag of all that grip is noticeable on long climbs or road sections between trailheads. The voluminous XR4 2.6 up front matched with a faster-rolling XR4 2.4 out back would be an ideal setup for a trail bike. When the traction to grams ratio is a priority, the Bontrager XR4 2.6 is an ideal choice.