The CrossMark tyre from Maxxis has been a bit of a classic for a long time now, and this year they've given it the 29er makeover, with three versions available. It's a fast cross-country tyre that excels in dry hard-packed conditions, with a fast-rolling central tread pattern and decent traction over roots and loose rocks.
It's one of the fastest 29er tyres I've ridden. A tightly packed central row of blocks giving very low rolling resistance that makes it rapid in the right conditions. And the perfect conditions for this tyre are very dry, dusty and hard-packed trails littered with roots and rocks. It loves trail centres with their groomed stone surfaces. It comes unstuck in the mud and gloop, those small spaces between the blocks tend to feel up very quickly, which limits it's all-round versatility for the 'British summer' somewhat.
Keep it for the right conditions though, and you'll be rewarded with a tyre that gives excellent speed and decent traction. There's plenty of grip when you lean over onto the shoulder knobs and it gives a very predictable ride. Despite its slender size the tyre can handle the punishment and likes to be pushed hard, it gives back a good level of grip and feel through the more technical trail sections. The tyre is only too happy to slide, with a smooth breaking-point at the limit of traction, which will appeal to some people. It depends on your riding style. If you like a tyre glued to the trail, this perhaps isn't the best choice.
Maxxis sell a UST version of the tyre, the LUST, but I tested the regular Kevlar beaded version and managed to set it up tubeless just fine. It popped up first time, using a track pump, onto a Stan's Crest rim with sealant. The tyres have held pressure with no leakage during the test period, and there's enough material in the side walls to allow them to be run at lower pressures to get a good footprint on the trail for plenty of shock absorption.
The tyre weighed 680g on my scales, some way heavier than the 605g claimed by Maxxis.
The 60 tpi tyre strikes a good balance between traction and durability, and they show a good wear rate at the moment. For cross country riders wanting a fast setup for the (hopefully dry) summer trails, the CrossMark is a very good choice. It does have a narrower window of usability compared to other tyres on account of the central tread section, but on the right trails it's really quick.
For trail riders mostly hitting up Welsh trail centres and other manicured trails, the CrossMark makes an excellent rear tyre, combined with a tyre with more bite up front.
It won't suit everyone, but if you want a fast-rolling tyre that excels on dry, hard-packed and groomed trail centre trails, the CrossMark is hard to beat.
Non-tubeless worked tubeless
Limited window of suitable trail conditions
Struggles on wet/damp slippery trails
More information: Maxxis CrossMark 29 tyre
What Maxxis says:
The CrossMark is the dramatic evolution of the cross country racing tire. The nearly continuous center ridge flies on hardpack, yet has enough spacing to grab wet roots and rocks. The slightly raised ridge of side knobs offers cornering precision never before seen on a tire this fast.