Maxxis' introduction to the Assegai tire raised a lot of heads and before we knew it, every tire sold out within the first week we had them. Luckily, Chris Muntz was able to hop on board and review a pair of this new breed of tire. The Maxxis Assegai tire proved to be different than it's predecessors and delivered what it was intended for. Let's take a look at what Chris had to say about them!
Orbea Rallon 29 XL
Fox Float X2 shock
Rockshox Lyrik 170mm 42mm Offset
Race Face Next R carbon wheels (31mm internal width)
Huck Norris insert (rear only)
Code RSC Brakes 200mm rotors
Let's get the biggest question out of the way first. How similar is it to a Minion?
They are both made by Maxxis, but that's about it.
Mounting it on the Race Face Next wheel is as easy as it gets. Put it on by hand, add sealant and pump it up. No issues with mounting a Maxxis tire. I started running this tire at 24 psi. Since it has a DH casing and supportive sidewalls, low pressures can be achieved with no squirm and ultimate traction. The Assegai rolls how you would expect a high grip DH casing tire to roll. It’s not overly slow like a Shorty DH, but not as fast as an EXO Aggressor. Remember, it's a downhill casing, soft rubber, high grip, 29-inch tire, that weighs in at over 1300 grams. On the dirt of our local trail system in SoCal, my first impression was the tire was very confidence inspiring. Our ground is mostly made of loose over hardpack, mixed with sandstone, very dry and dusty Southern California trails. As soon as you initiate a turn the tire just hooks up and felt locked into its line. It can find traction on any ground whether it be off-camber, rocky, loose, or sandstone. The Assegai thrives in traction challenged terrain. The level of cornering grip this tire offers is nothing short of amazing. There is no transitional drift like a Minion or other tire with no transition knobs. There are knobs to support the tire the whole time before, during and after your turn takes place. The downside to the transition knobs is mud clearing: it's not going to shed mud as quickly or as efficiently as a High Roller II, Shorty or Minion, so keep that in mind when deciding if this is the tire for you.
A few more laps on the local California dry trails and I got more comfortable with how quickly this tire hooks up, and it allowed me to take some insides and stick to some off-cambers that tend to give many riders problems as shown by the main line of the trail now leading straight into the bushes. The large amount of sandstone, extended off camber sections, and high-speed sections into abrupt turns we have here can burn through tires quickly. I found the side knob wear to be slightly better than a Minion. I speculate this is due to the transition knobs sharing some of the work with the side knobs and distributing the wear more evenly. I was very impressed and found this tire to be better than a Minion DHF as a front tire. I did not prefer this tire as a rear over the 29x2.3 Minion DHRII Double Down 3C that I typically run. The Assegai, when put on the rear, had too much traction and drove the front tire more than I like. I find it easier to break the DHRII loose and slide it when needed.
The Maxxis Assegai had one final test to pass, which is what it was designed for: DH shuttle laps! I took it to a steep trail near Frazier Park and put a good 13,000 ft of descending on it in a long day of shuttles. The best part about this is that I could really test its ability to brake in proper loose, steep terrain and hold on in loose, rocky, steep turns. Let's just say I have a new favorite front tire! For me, it did everything better than a Minion DHF, simple as that. The bottom of this trail has some hardpack and I noticed some tire squirm on it, so I bumped up the pressure 2 PSI to around 26 and it was great. I think the squirm feeling came from the side knobs being taller and softer than the DHF, and they were folding a bit on the harder pack section of the trail.
Overall this is the best front tire I've used. A brand new Magic Mary being second (they wear so fast) and a Minion DHF being a close third.