My local trails are generally pretty steep; most people call them downhill trails, although we’ve always ridden up the hills too. Back when there was only one MTB wheel size, there was generally only one tyre I saw mounted to DH bikes; the Maxxis Minion DHF. Everyone raved about the outstanding cornering grip they offered but I just couldn’t bring myself to get a set. They weighed around 1,200g and were notoriously undersized; the 2.3 was more like a 2.1 and I was always a fan of wide and light rubber.
Things have changed and now the DHF and its rear counterpart the DHR come in a range of wheel sizes and configurations, including the 3C Maxx Terra TR. This is a tubeless ready, triple compound tyre designed to roll quickly, wear well and bite hard into corners. For 27.5 wheels they only come in a 2.3-inch width, but they now measure pretty close to nominal size. The weight is respectable too; our DHR came in at 790g and the DHF was 870g. They should sell for around $89 each, which is about right for high-tech tyres like this.
I was able to mount the tubeless ready Minions using a track pump and the casing was straight with no bubbles or other anomalies to be seen. Although they’re still not as voluminous as some of the competition, they’ve got a very healthy profile once inflated; if anything they’re just a smidge undersized, but they still look more tractor than pizza cutter. The outer profile is much more rounded than their High Roller II, which makes them better suited to wide rims. With its reinforced Maxx Terra sidewalls, the casing is a little stiffer than most of the competition; this may make them marginally slower rolling but it also makes them tougher and better able to support low tyre pressures. On 35mm (internal) rims I found the sweet spot was around 22-24psi; that’s a few psi higher than I run on bigger volume tyres, but they were still supple and it helped keep the tyres from bottoming out onto the rims as easily on sharp impacts.
Old Dog – New Tricks
Despite being designed nearly a decade old, the DHF/R combo proved to be one of the best all round tyre combos I’ve used for aggressive trail riding. If you’re into all day epics you might want to try something like an Ardent or Ikon on the back, as there’s no overcoming the fact that full knobby tyres don’t roll super fast, but the DHF out front is hard to fault. It’s longitudinal tread blocks and sipes deliver steering precision from the centre of the casing all the way to the very toothy edges, and I never noticed a dead spot transitioning into corners. Keep weight on the front wheel and it rewards you with prodigious amounts of traction. On the one occasion when I pushed pasts its limits by unweighting the handlebar mid-corner, it went into a controlled drift rather than dumping me on my butt. The DHR shares the same cornering DNA but the transverse blocks along its centre give it noticeably more braking and climbing bite; perfect for a rear tyre.
I managed to use the Minions on a variety of surfaces; from dust and gravel to mud, and at all times they were predictable and dependable. In particular, the rear tyre found silly amounts of traction in the mud; even climbing up wet rocks and roots it still clawed for traction where most other rubber compounds from premium brands simply go skating. The casings have shrugged off rock strikes and rim hits, and whilst no tyre is puncture proof, I feel these will hold up as well as anything but a heavy dual-ply casing. While we didn’t have these tyres for a long-term test, past experience with Maxxis tyres tells me that when they do wear out, it’ll be because the knobs wore down, not because they tore off.
Overall I’ve been very impressed with the Minion DH twins. The tread pattern mightn’t be new but upgraded casing and rubber compounds makes for a grippy, tough, hardwearing and reasonably light tyre. If you’ve been curious about these legendary DH treads but been turned off by the weight, grab a set of the new trail flavoured Minions and you won’t be disappointed!