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Maxxis Bighorn Tire Review

The absolute most important upgrade you can make to your ATV is your tires. It's also one of the most expensive upgrades that you can make. The decision to change your tires is serious. There are many choices, and fixing a bad decision is expensive.

As many that visit this site are aware, we primarily do rock crawling. However, we're not opposed to trail riding, exploring the vastness of Nevada, playing in the snow or hitting the mud. All these conditions are very different and require different needs.

The last 3+ years, I've spent on, what I believe were the best rock crawling tires out there, ITP 589's. Although they are sold as Mud and Snow tires, snow is probably where they perform the worst! They grab the snow and once momentum is lost, prepare to get off the throttle FAST or you will dig yourself a small grave. It's winch time. On the rocks, 589's were intense, tough and fierce in their grip. Even after emerging from water, they would still bite into the granite rock that dominates our riding.

Photo Courtesy of Thomas Opre-Tahoefilms.com

All that changed for me this past year. In October 2006, I got a new Polaris 800 EFI. Of course, it came with stock tires, which are less than impressive. Clearly putting on the old 589's wasn't going to happen, so this left me looking at alternatives.

A few people that I know, had purchased Maxxis Bighorns, but I was not a big fan of radial rock crawling tires. However, I had seen Bighorns work really well on Larry (Oldtrucks) Albaugh's Suzuki in the snow and Brad from Intrepid Explorers had been raving about them.

Larry's Bighorns worked well in the snow

At the writing of this review, Larry now has nearly 2000 miles on his Bighorns. And having seen them in Moab, they are still in fantastic shape. As a rock crawler...this may sound great...but it's worrisome! Why? Grip! Rock Crawling is all about grip, and having great tire wear, generally means that the rubber compound is too hard.

So I had a very difficult decision to make. Do I just go with my tried, true and test ITP 589's?

Or do I make a change?

Just like you, I consider the cost and time involved. If these tires fail, this will be a costly decision. In the end, I decide to take the plunge and really see what these tires can do for myself. There aren't many people that I trust when it comes to rock crawling tires. I have 25 years of experience rock crawling with my 1947 Willys. So I needed to find out FOR MYSELF!

Back in December (a lousy time for rock crawling), I installed my new Maxxis Bighorns! I also decided to reduce the weight and purchased ITP C- Series Type 7 Aluminum rims.

One of the first things you will notice, is the Bighorns are HUGE! Buy accordingly! In this shot on the right, you are seeing a 26" Bighorn vs. 26" Polaris PXT. I know photos can be deceiving, but this is no trick. The Bighorn is much bigger than it's sizing. So when you order...plan accordingly. The 26" Bighorn really has the diameter of a 27" tire. So if you want to keep a little more power and you tend to trail ride more often, do not feel inadequate picking up the 25" sizing. It will ride like a 26".

Installing the tires doesn't take anything special. But do realize that if you go to 26", that you will need new rims, as your tire will likely rub due to lesser stock off-set. The off-set is placement of lug holes. Stock rims put the off-set close to the outside of the rim, ITP rims have the off-set closer to the center. This will give you a wider stance.

Watch it! These run large

After installing them in December, of course my first ride was in the snow. Since I had already seen the tire perform in the snow, I was not shocked to discover that they do work well in snow. My opinion is, the tread pattern is spaced more closely than the 589's, so you get more floation. Which in the snow, floation is what it's all about. You can still hit the gas, and the tires grip instead of dig. Beautiful.

Bighorns haulin' in the snow

In April, I went to Moab and finally had a chance to play on rocks. Now the rocks in Moab are different than the Sierras, with Slickrock vs granite. But this was my first REAL TEST! I was excited to finally "kick the tire" on the rocks. I was not disappointed.

Climbing in Moab

The tires performed flawlessly. They were gripping the rocks and exceeding my expectations. I still had a bit of doubt though, because slickrock is "stickier" than granite. I wondered how much did that affect my opinion?

We also did some riding in sand, which I had never done. The expected differences in bias-ply vs Radial on hard pack trail was evident. The Bighorns behave much more smoothly and confidently than the bias-ply 589's. Along with a more smooth, but still aggressive pattern, the tire really did a nice job calming the trails. Small rocks, ruts and bumps are easily soaked by the radial design, just like in your passenger car.

Moab was a solid test. Rocks, trails, boulders, sand and dirt. In every condition, the Maxxis Bighorn took it in stride and made things just a little smoother for the operator. I ran the tires with gear, at 4lbs of air. Most of the time!

This photo on the right, clearly shows the ITP rim faired much less successfully, than the Maxxis Bighorn.

While filming Mountains and Mud III, I nailed a rock ledge with probably only 2 lbs of air. I knew the pressure was low, but I knew it was warming and we were rising in altitude. I thought I would wait to check the gauge. Ooops.

I was able to purchase a new rim and have it flown in the next day. But the Bighorn? AWESOME. I drove back to the truck (about 1/2 mile) and got her to the store for a tire/wheel swap temporarily. I was worried about a pinch, but my fears were baseless. The tire looked and held air like the day I got it!

Cracked like a taco!

In May, I finally got what I wanted. Rocks! A few of the ATVOBSESSION crew headed to Moonrocks, Nevada for some trails and rocks. I was totally satisfied with the trail performance from Moab....but rocks. I needed absolute proof.

After riding 49 miles on hard pack trails at high speeds, we arrived back at camp to play on the rocks. Keith and I couldn't resist the temptation!

Rear tire really grips this section

Keith's Bighorns grip this section like glue

Same section..if they don't grip, I fall.

Unreal. The tire flops over the rim to grip.

After this excursion, both Keith and I proclaimed that Bighorns, were the Super Swamper TSL SX's of the ATV world. High praise!

The tires really do not do anything poorly! They are tough (Larry has never had a flat), they grip amazingly, they have great wear and treadlife, they handle snow, they thrive on trails and they do admirably in mud. If you're a mudder, this probably isn't your tire...but if you do everything else, then feel good about your purchase. I give these tires a 9 out 10, with my only mark down for their mud performance. But really...I'm FAR more impressed with durability and stickiness, than I am mud performance.

Maxxis International - USA
545 Old Peachtree Road
Suwanee, GA 30024
Tel: (800) 4.MAXXIS
Tel: (770) 962-8229
Fax: (770) 962-7705