I finally just got around to un-mounting the set of Maxxis IT’s that have been on one of my bikes for many months. The Desert IT has long been a popular tire among internet forum users, so I figured I should give them a whirl. The heavy casing, knob pattern and rubber compound are all specifically designed for the variety of conditions encountered in the desert.
On my 450xc they saw about 1,200 miles of use, mostly in Baja. I have to say that this tire seems like it was specifically designed just for wandering around Mexico. On nearly any dry conditions; packed, loose or rocky, the IT performs better than expected. It also held up well to highway use at moderately legal speeds.
The front tire has a nice predictable feel and always seems to get good traction. The rear drives straight. Both front and rear seem to track well without deflecting in the rocks. One section of our testing was over the notorious Bill Nichol’s rock trail.
I suffered one flat tire in our testing, on the front. I had mounted the 6 gallon tank on my 450 and 15lbs of pressure was not enough for hammering down a sharp rocky two-track, even while running a cut inner tube liner. The tube had a perfect little snake bit in it.
Durability falls into the “much better than average” category. At just over a thousand miles, the rear started to lose some knobs. Yet I was able to complete the last trip, the 2013 Hell Ride, with no problems.
In wet conditions the IT is not as happy. Towards the end of the last trip, we got stuck in a long section of wet clay, nasty stuff to be sure. It was pretty ugly, with the tires worn to their practical limit, it was all I could do to just stay upright. Actually, I did not quite achieve that as I was on the ground twice. My co-riders thought it was rather comical to see me covered in heavy clay mud. I don’t consider it to be entirely the tires fault, but the Desert IT is by far more at home in the dry.
Good pinch protection
Works as advertised over a wide variety of conditions
Heavy, tough comes with a price
Not ideal for muddy conditions
Cost for the Desert IT is middle of the road, slightly less than the class leading Dunlop MX71, here is a current example: