Our front tires always seemed to be the first thing to smash into a hidden obstacle, usually in the form of rocks. You wouldn’t have known it though from the apparent lack of chunks missing when we got home.
As you might have heard by now, MCUSA put together a desert racing program in the final months of 2005 that involved four stock Honda XR650Rs and one Precision Concepts-prepped Johnny Campbell replica. Of course, since we had the a copy of the bike that has dominated the Baja 1000 for nine years running, we had to throw our name in the hat and make the trip south as well.
We were lucky enough to have several companies step up and donate some products to help us on our enormous Baja adventure, but perhaps the biggest issue we were facing was tires. The stock Dunlop K695s on our XRs were looking pretty shabby by the time we were through ripping around our Oregon trails, so we needed something that would give us better traction and hold up to the abuse of the roughest Baja 1000 course in history. Knowing this, we enlisted the help of Maxxis tires since we knew that they were devoted to off-road riding. You might not see many motocrossers rolling Maxxis treads, but venture over to the nearest GNCC or WORCS race and it’s obvious that the orange company has been spreading wave-like through the off-road arena.
Before attempting Baja we wanted to get our feet wet in the desert with a warm-up race, so we entered two bikes in the BITD Las Vegas-to-Reno race. Our replica race bike uses Dunlop meats, but we strapped a pair of Maxx IT-Deserts on the front and rear of our MCUSA-built XR. After 500 miles of race-pace torture, the Maxxis rubber hardly looked like it needed to be changed. The wear was excellent, and when compared to our other bike, which only made it about 400
These guys were one of our biggest supporters. Not only are they off-road enthusiasts over at Maxxis HQ, but it shows in the quality of their product.
miles, the difference was astonishing. The Dunlop looked like it had gone twice the distance as the IT-Desert when it had actually been put through much less.
Once we were back home in Oregon the preparation process for the Baja 1000 began immediately. The first thing we did was mount those IT-Deserts on all five of our pre-runner bikes. Since I was the one who had to change them all, I was tempted to just run with the old set on the one XR because it was in such great shape. But, since Maxxis had given us enough to prep all the bikes, I ground my teeth and busted my knuckles a few more times.
The stiff carcass design on both front and rear models hold up great against the rigors of high-speed desert impacts. Unfortunately for me, it also makes for some smashed fingers and choice vocabulary when attempting to mount them on a set of rims. Tall, beefy knobs are made of a special compound that targets desert conditions. That means that it resists cuts and won’t chunk on hard terrain. We can attest to that as nearly every single knobby came back whole after pre-running 500-700 miles on each bike. Several of our riders and others we met out on the trail were blown away by the phenomenal wear. Quite frankly, the IT-Deserts are one of, if not the best wearing off-road tire MCUSA has tested to date.
Resistance to pinches and flats was stellar thanks to the stiff sidewalls. Out of 10 tires on five bikes, only one got a flat during our week-long ordeal in Mexico. The rims of every bike were smashed and dinged in several places, but we
How’s this for burly? The Maxxis IT-Desert tires looked nasty when we first installed them, with tall knobs and stiff sidewalls. To our surprise, they were still looking gnarly after nearly 700 miles of godforsaken terrain.
thanked our lucky Maxxis stars that we only had to change one tube. Some of our riders complained of a harsh feel, especially from the rear tire which we attributed to the stiff sidewalls. The problem came up when riding across extremely rocky sections, but we felt the benefits of flat protection and longevity far outweigh this minor gripe.
Racing the Baja 1000 is a logistical and financial nightmare. Maxxis has earned a big thank you from MCUSA for coming up with six complete sets for us. Not only are we appreciative of their support, but they’ve made believers out of us as to the quality of the entire Maxxis Product line-up. With the front retailing for $63.99 and the rear at $77.43, desert racers on a budget can get several races out of one set, and will definitely get their money’s worth out of these meats.