OEM components aren’t always the components that you’d choose if specc’ing a bike from scratch and, let’s be honest, sometimes that next spec level up just doesn’t seem that its worth the extra bag of sand when you can “probably get by” on the cheaper model. The reality is, as soon as we have that new bike, we all start adding bits here and there. The odd mod, different grips, bars etc. Most are unnecessary but make us feel better. Some upgrades are more essential and tyres fall into that latter category.
Case in point. An Orange P7 S 29’er that I have the pleasure of calling my commuter bike cum winter wonder. Overall, the spec is pretty good. Billed as an out of the box Enduro machine (what isn’t these days?), I managed to ruin the OEM WTB Vigilante High Grip Light 2.3 (front) and WTB Trail Boss Fast Rolling Light 2.3 (rear) within the first two serious Peak District rides (think back side of Jacobs Ladder). Both the original specc’ed WTB’s had come with tubes installed and both had been removed in favour of tubless but neither held up to real trail abuse.
Enter the Maxxis.
I’ll this of my chest early; I usually favour a Schwalbe Magic Mary (F)/Hans Dampf (R) combo. I say usually, I mean always. The rest of the GX Syndicate, bar one, run Maxxis and I thought this might be an opportune moment to experiment a little.
As I ride to work (off road but mainly canal towpath or old railway lines) and the rougher stuff when out with the Syndicate, I wanted tyres that had decent rolling speed for the commute but can hold their own riding proper. For the rear, the Aggressor was a no brainer. It looks fast sat still on the bike and has a close enough tread pattern to provide a stiff connection to the floor but with a real planted feel and surprisingly great grip on everything from hardpack to the usual wet filth we ride out into for fun. For the front, I’d been desperate to try the venerable Minion DHF for some time. The 2.3 WTB’s always felt a bit sketchy on anything slightly loose so I opted for the Minion DHF 2.5WT (Wide Tyre). Both tyres were chosen in the EXO option, based upon a value to requirement basis.
Getting both the Agressor and Minion to fit the 30mm Kore rims was far easier than taking the old ones off. Both tyres seated easily with a quick shot from a table top compressor (not advised by Maxxis) and I was out of the workshop within 15 minutes expecting to have to re-inflate the next morning. To my surprise both were still as I’d left them the evening before. The first thing that’s noticeable about this tyre combination is the grip. It’s that kind of grip that gives you confidence to push that little harder, lean that bit further. The Aggressor is a fast rolling tyre. Even in this particular 2.5 incarnation it’s faster than the 2.3 WTB tyre it replaced. The grip far exceeds expectation from a compound that actually feels as firm as it does. The tight tread pattern lends a lot to how the tyre rides. In a straight line there is very little rolling resistance but the tyre feels planted. Once you take the tyre into a decent corner the outer knobs really bite. What really surprised me is that this seems to be uniform across a variety of surfaces with no drop off in performance. The only time the Aggressor really slides out is in the wet on traditionally slippery surfaces, roots etc.
The Minion DHF is equally surprising in terms of rolling speed. For a 2.5 width tyre with a quite aggressive tread pattern it offers little in terms of rolling resistance but every bit of grip that it’s reputation purveys. I’m used to the equally highly regarded Magic Mary and the Minion is as stable through the rough stuff if not slightly more so when the surface is loose. It’s a tyre that genuinely instils confidence when entering a corner and allows quite aggressive braking without that insecure feeling lesser tyres give. I find that the bite from the edge of the Minion is less progressive than other tyres. When transferring weight from the centre to the outer knobs there seems to be a more sudden change of grip which takes a little while to get used to but becomes very predictable once you have the hang of it. Together, the Aggressor (rear) and Minion (Front) combination have proved a very worth partnership. Riding is mainly Peak District so rock, shale, mud etc and I can see myself running this combination on the P7 year round due to their grip and ride comfort. Durability seems to be good several months in with no punctures to date to speak of. I’ve tested several pressures and have settled on a respectable 19 at the front and 28 at the rear, not that I get caught up on this.
For this bike, Maxxis are now 2 – 0 up as I can’t see myself opting to change them anytime soon.