- Bike Checks
Wider rubber, more options, and something studded for your pleasure. We check out Maxxis' 2017 goods.
The only thing better than waking up to the comfort of a home-style, southern breakfast, is being able to roll straight from a cabin to the trails. This past weekend, Maxxis Tires invited us to their neck of the woods for a weekend mountain bike retreat at their local getaway, Mulberry Gap. Once there, we tested out some of the latest tire sizes and offerings on a selection of Georgia’s finest singletrack.
- Photos and story by Dylan Stucki
With the bike industry is aimlessly attempting to make wheel and tire advances in all sorts of different directions, Maxxis has had their hands full trying to keep up with OEM and consumer demand. Their latest product release includes tubeless ready DH casing tires, more options in their WT (Wide Trail) category with some 2.6-inch offerings, a brand new tubeless BMX tire, as well as a few studded options for those icy winter days. With these new offerings, there are a lot of new exciting choices going into the season.
Possibly one of the most exciting new products from Maxxis is the new Tubeless Ready DH casing options. It’s no secret that many riders have been using their favorite Maxxis DH treads tubeless for some time now, so with demand increasing from World Cup athletes, Maxxis now offers their renowned Minion DHF, Minion DHR II, and Shorty treads ready for tubeless use. It is likely we’ll see this technology move on to other treads, including the High Roller II, in the near future.
The same dual-ply casing construction is met with a new bead design that makes installing the tires in a tubeless configuration with tubeless compatible rims much less of a headache. The tubeless-ready DH tires are offered in budget-friendly wire bead option, as well as a new folding bead option for easier installation and a wider range of application. For now, the TR DH tires will only be available in 27.5-inch diameters using the (WT) Wide Trail casing (2.4-2.5-inch width) which are optimized around a 35mm internal width rim but recommended for use on 30-35mm internal width rims.
Maxxis hinted at the possibility of 29-inch versions of these tires in the future based on requests from many of their World Cup athletes. Since this technology is following the progression of the sport, Maxxis did say that it’s not likely we’ll see this trickle down to 26-inch DH tires, so sorry to all you die-hards out there, but at least you don't have to leave a comment with the question now.
The ever blurring of lines in bike and tire categories has seen the rise of 2.6-inch tires. Following demand from bike and component manufacturers as well professional riders, Maxxis has expanded their Wide Trail offerings to 2.6. With more and more clearance seen on the modern mountain bike, the not-quite-plus idea is gaining traction, especially for more aggressive riders who feel that plus sizes don’t deliver the ride quality they seek.
The 2.6-inch-wide tires are designed around a 35mm internal rim profile but are suitable for use on rims with 30-35mm internal widths. The 2.6 versions of the treads give riders about a 7% volume increase over the 2.5-inch-wide versions when measured on a 35mm rim. This gives riders added traction that is more comparable to that of a 2.8 plus-size tire, but the reduced volume delivers a more familiar ride quality.
The first treads to make the jump to 2.6 are the Rekon and Forekaster and are available now in 27.5-inch offerings. Maxxis expects this size to trickle down to many of their other treads as well as 29-inch offerings soon.
With less than 30 seconds from the gate drop to the finish line, a BMX race can come down to the slightest advantage. Maxxis has been diligently working with their Olympic athletes and following suit ofthe first TR BMX rim manufacturer, Alienation, to develop a tubeless tire for race-day applications.
The new tubeless 20x1.75-inch Torch tire can be used without sealant in order to reduce system weight. Because the length of the race only requires the tire to hold air for about 30 seconds, sealant becomes unnecessary. The tire on display has been holding race-ready air pressure for over two weeks without sealant, so 30 seconds should be no problem. By removing the tube from the system, riders not only are able to reduce weight, but also gain a slight advantage by reducing internal friction.
With winter still holding its icy grip on trails and with the increase of popularity of winter riding made more possible by fat bikes and other technology, Maxxis has introduced three new treads featuring studs for added grip on ice and hard pack snow.
The new Maxx Ice 700x40c gravel tire, Matterhorn 29x2.25-inch Tubeless Ready EXO tire, and Colossus 26x4.8-inch Tubeless Ready and tube type tires are all designed with harsh winter conditions in mind. Maxxis has developed a cold-weather compound that is designed to remain soft and supple even in cold conditions. Combined with strategic siping, the cold weather tires can easily conform to the icy terrain and provide a larger area of contact with less deflection, giving riders ample traction. The carbide-tipped studs give riders about 1.2mm of penetration for maximum grip. All three tires will be available in Fall '17, just in time for next winter.
Mulberry Gap is located about 2.5 hours northwest of Atlanta near sections of the Pinhoti trail that stretches 335 miles across parts of Alabama and Georgia. The public land surrounding the area features a variety of terrain including fast, wide-open water bar hucks, smooth flowy singletrack, and some fast, chunky rock gardens. This area was great for getting to compare some 29x25-inch Wide Trail tires with some new 2.8 and 3.0 plus constructions.
Aboard a Pivot Switchblade loaner, the first few shuttles were spent getting to know the terrain and getting my legs back after a day of travel. I chose the ride the 29-inch setup first as it was most similar to my everyday ride. After having a bit of time with the bike underneath me, I began to really push the 2.5 Minion DHF that was up front. The traction was on par with the 2.3 Minion DHF that is normally fitted to the front of my bike, but I did feel like the ride was a little bit harsh. After some tweaking to the air pressure in the tire, I was able to get the right balance between compliance and overall support. This was about 2.5psi less than I typically ride in my 2.3’s on a similar width rim. The tire performed well in the variety of conditions on the Bear Creek trail, feeling similar in weight and ride quality as the 2.3 I am used to.
The following day, I opted to switch over to the 27.5 plus wheels and tires to get a direct comparison between the two setups on the same bike. This time the bike featured a 3.0 High Roller II up front and a 2.8 Rekon with the latest re-enforced Silk Shield construction on the rear. My initial impression was that the plus setup seemed to drop the bottom bracket by a noticeable margin as I smashed the crank in scenarios I hadn’t the day before. The steering was noticeably more sluggish and didn’t have the same snap to it as the 29er setup. Once I grew more comfortable with the feel of the bike with the plus tires, I began to push them harder and harder. It seemed very hard to find the right tire pressure and the perfect balance - with too much air the tires felt bouncy like a basketball, and with not quite enough air, the casing would roll in high-force corners and g-outs. The traction was really impressive in looser climbing conditions, and I found I could just get comfortable and grind away.
Unfortunately, this test was relatively short, just over two days time. The plus tires did give me confidence once I found an ideal pressure and I would start to enjoy their advantages more. Plus is certainly not for all riders, so I am looking forward to trying out some 2.6 Wide Trail tires when they become available.
For more info, visit www.maxxis.com