Tested: Maxxis EXO+ Casing Tires - Minion DHF and DHRII 50

The latest effort to improve upon the trusty Minion DHF and DHRII tires comes in the form of a new reinforced casing called EXO+. Could this be the ticket for the majority of riders?

Tested: Maxxis EXO+ Casing Tires - Minion DHF and DHRII

Let’s be honest, Maxxis Minion DHF and DHRII tires might be the most popular setup out there. Rightfully so, as you’ll be hard-pressed to find a negative review or a person unwilling to run them. That said, there is no such thing as perfect so folks at Maxxis have been updating their product line to suit a broader range of consumers, intended uses, and rim widths. With brands like Schwalbe, Continental, e*thirteen, and Kenda producing a myriad of great options, evolution is a necessity. Enter EXO+.

EXO+ Tire Features

  • Silk Shield
  • 120 TPI
  • 3C Maxx Terra triple compound
  • Designed for aggressive trail, e-MTB, and enduro riding
  • Currently available on Minion DHF, Minion DHRII, Assegai and Rekon varieties

EXO+ Versus EXO

  • 27% increase in puncture protection under tread
  • 51% increase in sidewall durability
  • 28% increase in pinch flat resistance
  • Approximately 80 grams heavier per tire, depending on tire size
  • Small additional cost (~$2 to $5 USD), depending on model

Tires Tested

  • Front: Minion DHF - 29X2.50WT EXO+ (1,075g claimed)
  • Rear: Minion DHR II - 29X2.40WT EXO+ (1,010g claimed)

EXO+ tires were fitted tubeless to Roval's Traverse SL wheelset with a 30mm inner rim width.

Initial Impressions

Having ridden both EXO and Double Down casings extensively, we felt that Maxxis’ decision to utilize existing tire technologies in combination to create a new mid-weight tire was a great call. The extremely popular EXO casing can be found on everything from cross-country race bikes to enduro sleds. While EXO is extremely versatile, heavier or more aggressive riders often want a supportive, durable tire without going to a two-ply Double Down version. No doubt Maxxis noted the same and the development of a happy medium began.

Rather than reinventing the wheel, Maxxis chose to combine existing technologies to create EXO+. First, Silk Shield is a layer of exclusive material that extends across the entire tire carcass, and then EXO provides sidewall support and durability. The end result is a significantly more resilient tire at just a marginal 80g weight gain compared to EXO. 

At first glance there is little difference between the EXO+ casing and EXO. In hand, the EXO+ has a slightly stiffer sidewall but still feels malleable compared to a Double Down casing. The added mass is there but it isn’t significant. Mounting EXO+ tires is straightforward and within a few minutes they were aired up and off we went. 

On The Trail

With a significant amount of time on Maxxis products, we were keen to see how EXO+ would compare to both EXO and Double Down. Our preferred casing for a place like Squamish, BC is generally Double Down as we find the more supportive sidewall provides better control, and the two-ply construction gives us peace of mind that regardless of sharp rocks we won’t be left stranded. Lately we've been riding standard EXO tires with tires inserts, and while we like the added support we still have reservations about tire durability. EXO+ is advertised as a middle ground between two great options and we were optimistic that it would be perfectly suited for daily driving. 

Bikes have gotten better, riders are pushing harder, and EXO+ is up to the task. In our opinion it's a better fit for modern trail and enduro bikes than the casings that have come before.

For the past few months we've been on a Maxxis Minion DHF / DHRII combination on a Pole Machine test bike, so there was no learning curve when we swapped to the more robust EXO+ tires. As expected the DHF / DHRII combination was dependable and predictable in every scenario, providing the grip you've no doubt come to enjoy from Maxxis tires. Tire profile is spot on and cornering knobs seem to find grip on a very wide variety of surfaces. Compared to a lighter weight EXO setup, the EXO+ tires were more supportive under hard cornering and we rarely felt them squirming to the same degree. The general trail feel seems muted compared to lighter tires due to the additional support from Silk Shield and the nominal weight gain. This muted sensation left us feeling more planted and confident, especially when things got rowdy. Efficiency is much better than Double Down and we felt no different compared to EXO. 

Within a few rides we began to tinker with tire pressure and eventually settled on the same pressures that we had been running previously with the less robust EXO casing. At 25psi front and 27psi rear we found that the tires were still able to conform to terrain yet firm enough that they did not squirm unexpectedly. 

For the last couple of months we have been swapping back and forth between the EXO+ setup and a variety of other configurations. This repeated comparison gave us the opinion that Maxxis has nailed it. Bikes have gotten better, riders are pushing harder, and EXO+ is up to the task. In our opinion it's a better fit for modern trail and enduro bikes than the casings that have come before. Double Down and DH casings will still be the ticket for hardcore racers, but the vast majority of aggressive trail riders are perfectly suited to EXO+.

Long Term Durability

The 3C Maxx Terra triple compound featured on EXO+ tires remains one of the leading configurations in the industry. The compound provides enough grip that slimy terrain isn't an issue, yet it's resilient enough that tires made with it aren't completely worn after a few weeks of riding. After two months our tires are showing signs of wear on cornering knobs and braking edges, but the lifespan of the tread is adequate.

EXO+ tires have outperformed their lighter counterparts and we experienced no flats, cuts, or punctures during the test. We rode plenty of sharp rocks and a number of trails that have gotten the best of other tires. Maxxis advertised significant improvements in durability and our experience did not prove otherwise. 

Things That Could Be Improved

Right off the bat we acknowledged the Minion DHF and DHRII as two outstanding options. While preferred tire tread is subjective and may come down to your terrain, we have a tough time finding fault with the classic Maxxis knob configurations or the new EXO+ casing. We mounted them, rode hard, didn't have issues, and never felt the added weight.

What's The Bottom Line?

Maxxis has once again found a way to make their tires even better with the addition of EXO+. With only a negligible increase in weight the tires perform better in all scenarios with improved durability. Maxxis product designers have the confidence to keep what is great about timeless treads and the foresight to make updates to make them even better. Regardless of where or what you ride, your favorite Maxxis treads can be paired with the perfect casing for your needs. We expect EXO+ to become a hit among all-mountain riders worldwide. 

Visit www.maxxis.com for more details.

Vital MTB Rating: 5 Stars - Spectacular

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About The Reviewer

Joel Harwood - Age: 35 // Years Riding: 20+ // Height: 5’11” (1.80m) // Weight: 185-pounds (83.9kg)

Joel’s unique coaching background and willingness to tinker with products bring an objective perspective to testing. He dabbles in all types of racing, but is happiest simply exploring the limitless trail networks surrounding his home of Squamish, BC. Attention to detail, time in the saddle, and an aggressive riding style make Joel a rider that demands the most from his products while exposing any shortcomings. 

Photos by Jessie McAuley

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