Differences Between a Sand Tyre and an Intermediate Tyre in Motocross

Motocross tyres can be difficult to choose, as weather and terrain can have a huge impact on tyre behaviour and which tyre riders should choose for optimum performance. In this article, we explain the main differences between a sand tyre and a mid-soft tyre, and what this means to the rider.

The Tyres
Tyres are just tyres, right? No, and certainly not in the MX world. At a professional and an amateur level, teams and riders must decide which tyre design to ride for each race, and here’s how they decide at a World Championship level:

The MaxxCross MX-ST is designed for intermediate terrain. According to the Maxxis MX Race Service, this tyre was used successfully in 2019 for 70-80% of the races in the FIM Motocross World Championship (MXGP).


The bowtie knobs
The MX-ST’s signature bowtie in the middle of the tread doesn’t just add a touch of class to tyre design, it is also designed with sufficient spacing (33 blocks) to provide the grip a rider needs to launch at speed from the start gate, maintaining high speed from start to finish. The centre knobs feature the smallest amount of flex to enable a stable performance over various track types, conditions and temperatures.  

The shoulder knobs
The mid-shoulder knobs (36 blocks) are spaced to provide the rider with excellent traction under small to medium lean angles for aggressive acceleration and cornering. The sharp angles and surface of the mid-shoulder blocks are designed for maximum bite and grip in mid-soft terrain.

Block arrangement
The positioning of the centre, mid- and shoulder blocks, together with the tyre cavity, gives the rider the agility they need to perform in a wide range of difficult MX track terrain. The total block surface offers a perfect balance between performance and durability in soft to medium conditions.

Meanwhile, the MX-SM is designed for sand terrain. According to the Maxxis MX Race Service, this tyre was used successfully in 20-30% of the 2019 MXGP races, as fewer of the tracks on the MXGP calendar were sand tracks.


The big, bad paddle
The centre block of the MX-SM is a paddle design spaced at 32 blocks per tyre. This combination of the paddle design with carefully calculated spacing provides the rider with excellent straight-line traction by cutting through sand with its sharp edges right from the start to the end of the race. The paddle, too, features the smallest amount of flex to enable a stable performance over a variety of sand track conditions from MX tracks to beach races, and a wide range of temperatures too.

The shoulder paddles
The smaller mid-shoulder paddles are designed to provide impressive traction and ensure rider confidence under small to medium lean angles for aggressive acceleration in sand terrain. The sharp edges are designed for maximum penetration and traction in a variety of sand conditions.

Block arrangement
The combination of the position of the blocks, which cover the outer radius of the tyre from left to right, together with the tyre cavity, gives the rider a smooth, agile ride and the best possible track or beach penetration capable of facing even the most difficult sand MX tracks.

MXGP Race Support
Maxxis established its race service in 2019 as the cornerstone for its long-term commitment to consistently provide state-of-the-art MX products. Maxxis developed from scratch a brand-new MX line-up to compete at the highest level of MXGP.

At each race of the MXGP calendar, Maxxis is represented by a minimum of three MX race engineers. These engineers advise each team/rider on which tyres to choose depending on the track and weather conditions. As a result of weather influences, tyre choices can change throughout a race weekend.

And if you’re thinking ‘bet that doesn’t make a shred of difference’, see what Team Maddii has to say about it below:

“The MX-ST tyre from Maxxis is the best tyre for me on most MXGP tracks. It provides the grip I need, it’s comfortable and the handling is great. When we get to a sand track though, I really notice how the MX-SM has been designed for sandy terrain, and I can trust both tyres to deliver the results they were designed for.”

Alberto Forato, Maddii Racing

The MaxxCross MX-ST and the MaxxCross MX-SM are not only ridden by professionals in the MXGP, but in other championships too and even by grassroots and hobby riders. At Maxxis, we don’t just reserve the best tyres for the champions; we make sure our elite ranges are on the market for all motocross riders worldwide.

Choose tyres like a champion. Ride like a champion.


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