The battle for the best Enduro front tire has begun and the first tire on the testing block is Maxxis’ offering the Assegai – a tire that is relatively young in the world of gravity mountain biking. We grabbed a Maxxis Assegai, whacked it on the front wheel of our long travel enduro bike and got testing, here’s our results……
By Mike Branch
When it comes to traction there’s no more important place then the front wheel of a mountain bike, when rubber hits the dirt we need the bad boy to stick. The last thing we need is to be washing out the front wheel on a loose flat corner as we head towards the finish line on the first stage of the day.
Maxxis have been a staple of the mountain bike industry for longer than many of us remember and the Minion has been a staple of the gravity rider’s diet since long before craft beer. We all love the minion, the DHF and DHR are both great front and rear tires, but Greg Minaar decided he would have a crack at making the DHF even better…. the Assegai was born.
The Assegai is a chunky tire that is made for downhill, enduro and trail riding – but certainly not made for the cross country rider that may be looking to drop some weight and shed rolling resistance. The lycra bandits may well want to steer clear of this tire, unless they plan on grabbing a long travel bike and heading downhill fast.
When you look at the tread pattern it’s easy to see where it’s genetics came from and the similarities to the Minion DHF resonate with us all. Designed for the front of your bike, it can also go on the rear for those looking for extra traction and who are happy to sacrifice rolling resistance.
The Nitty Gritty
Our test tire was a 29 inch x 2.5 Maxxis Assegai, EXO + casing, 3C, Maxx Terra 12O TPI. In our opinion the perfect combination for enduro, those of you that are a bit harder on tires may opt for a double down casing, but for us the front tire only really needs to be EXO + and has held up well.
MaxxTerra is Maxxis’ intermediate compound, a compound that mixes the benefits of MaxxSpeed and MaxxGrip. This means it’s not as grippy as the MaxxGrip but is more durable and has less rolling resistance. for most riders that can’t afford to be changing a tire every month, this compound is the perfect balance.
We tested the Maxxis Assegai over the last few months of the race season and it was mostly in loose over hard, dry conditions, the conditions Australia is known for. After many years riding a variety of tires but with a real love affliction to the minion DHF, it was surprising to see a tire that seriously out-performed it. The Assegai truly did impress on many levels and it’s a tire that won’t be left off many riders bikes.
The traction that was felt on the Assegai is outstanding, when a two wheel slide might occur as you pushed hard in the corner the front tire held on – the DHRII on the back lost traction but with the front holding the line it was all good. In fact it’s fair to say that at no stage did we truly loose traction on the Assegai, the ability to grip the terrain particularly in the loose over hard conditions is really astounding.
Braking with the Assegai was an area where it excelled, a tire that grips can sometimes be a tire that looses the ability to brake well and the Assegai isn’t one of those tires. It’s confidence inspiring, predictable and brakes equally as good as the DHF. It’s not surprising given the heritage of the tire and the man assisting in the development, Greg Minaar.
The one area of weakness for the Assegai we found is the rolling resistance, due to it’s tread pattern it does roll slowly compared to other tires. Whilst it makes a great front tire it may not suit the rear due to the increased rolling resistance.
Rolling resistance is not really a factor when we look at a front tire due to the weight distribution on the bike and the pressure exerted on the front when compared to the rear. Whilst it may effect your rolling speed slightly on front tire, the traction and cornering speeds can be much higher as a result. If you are an XC bandit then perhaps look for another tire to don your race bike.
THE FINAL WORD
We got on really well with the Maxxis Assegai and to be fair, we didn’t expect it to perform so well. Traction was better than any tire we had tested before, it was predictable, confidence inspiring, held traction in the loosest conditions and overall out-performed our expectations. In the world of gravity mountain biking this may well be the best Enduro front tire on the market, something you can rely on when you push the limits.
That being said we still have plenty of tires to put to the test and we will be strapping on all the major brands such as Michelin, Pirelli, Schwalbe, Hutchison and Kenda to name a few. We’ll keep you in the loop and keep you up to date, so you can just ride you bike and send the rad features….
Keep the Brakes Wide Open and see you on the trails….