Maxxis Minion tires come in a large selection of varieties with numerous, additional acronyms that can make selecting appropriate tires for your mountain bike very frustrating. This article will help clear any confusion by providing the manufacturer’s product numbers, explaining the meanings behind these specific acronyms, and offering a review of the handling characteristics of two outstanding models, the DHF and DHR II, both 27.5+ x 2.80” (Diameter and width respectively).
The DHF Plus comes in any color provided it’s black, holds a maximum 35 psi, is foldable, and has a manufacturer’s claimed weight of 980 grams. This model is designated 3C Maxx Terra EXO TR, with a thread count (Tpi) of 120. It requires rims sporting a 39mm MINIMUM inner rim width. Manufacturer’s model number is TB96908000. There is a different UPC code number and M301 designate, but this can be confusing as sellers rarely list UPC codes, and the M301 is listed under other models, so when in doubt, request the TB number that’s provided on the tires’ packaging, or on thoughtful retailers’ descriptions, like WWC.
The DHR II Plus also comes in beautiful black (only), holds a maximum 35 psi, is foldable, and has a manufacturer’s claimed weight of 980 grams. This model is designated 3C Maxx Terra EXO TR, with a thread count (Tpi) of 120. It requires rims sporting a 39mm MINIMUM inner rim width. Manufacturer’s model number is TB96909000.
3C: Refers to, for mountain bikes, a triple compound of rubber layers with the base layer being the hardest, most durable, and topped with two progressively softer layers that maximize traction and stability. In addition, this firmer layer provides structural stability to the shape of the knobs. A softer layer is molded into the central knobs to improve traction, while the softest compound layer is molded onto the side knobs, which increases cornering and traction. Together, the medium-soft and very soft layers enhance a bike’s traction and stability, thus inspiring rider confidence. Maxxis offers three compound configurations, one of which is the Maxx Terra version, the subject of this review.
Maxx Terra: the three rubber compounds feature the following durometer measurements:
70a for the base layer
50a for the tops of the central knobs
42a for the tops of the side knobs
The “a” designation refers to the Shore A Hardness Scale for flexible molding rubbers, which can vary from hard/rigid to extremely soft/flexible. A needle attached to a gauge via spring is pushed against the material in question to measure the material’s resistance to indentation. Shore A is used for softer rubber compounds. The scale for Shore A ranges from 0-100, with 100 the hardest rubber compound. 70 is classified as possessing medium-hard characteristics. 50 represents a medium-soft compound, and 42 is medium-soft.
EXO: refers to the tire’s casing, which includes everything except the tread. A tire’s casing provides the bulk, its weight, and durability. Casing also includes the tire’s threads per inch (TPI), which in the case of these reviewed 120 TPI tires, means enhanced ability to conform to the terrain, hence a smoother ride, coupled with decreased weight, but a thinner wall. Lower TPI’s indicate greater puncture resistance and weight. The EXO casing at 120 Tpi is light, flexible, and comfortable riding and contains a Kevlar folding bead, which is light and very strong. Maxxis recommends EXO protection wherever one encounters rocky, treacherous trails.
TR: simply means the tire is tubeless ready and may be able to run lower psi that boosts traction, while lowering rolling resistance. Additionally, and importantly, this indicates that the bead, in Maxxis’ case, is Kevlar that’s surrounded by rubber to create a rim seal when inflated to recommended psi ranges. A small amount of tire sealant is added to a mounted tire to enhance a perfect seal between tire and rim. No blowouts or sudden deflation PLEASE!
Recommended uses for the DHF/DHR II tires include, but are not limited to, AM and enduro styles of riding.
I’m running this tire configuration on an Ibis Mojo 3, large frame, with the DHF situated at the front, and the DHR II at the rear. Prior to this setup, I was running a pair of 27.5 x 2.8” Bontrager Chupacabra tires on my rig. Tire pressure front/rear is 20/20. I tried lowering psi to 18/18 but experienced that jeopardous “ping” sound indicating a rim strike as I rode up and over a rock wall. I’ve experienced no recurring pings since increasing the psi.
In terms of traction, the trails I ride would be categorized as rocky, steep, loose, dry, and in a few select areas, downright slippery due to small pieces of rock debris. However, with these tires, I’m able to climb more efficiently/effectively than before. The traction is superb with ample climbing grip, which was enhanced by slightly lowering my bottom bracket via adjustments to the suspension system that positioned my body into the frame instead of on top of it. That made a huge difference not only in traction, but in high speed cornering, wherein the tires supplied solid bite into the dry, rocky terrain. Despite what I’d read about these tires not sliding, I’ve had the opposite experience sliding around corners effortlessly, which is a good thing. I’m speaking of brake-controlled sliding, not out-of-control sliding due to poor traction.
The weight of the tires is non-issue but they are a bit less responsive on flat ground, when accelerating. But at 2.8” wide, that’s no surprise compared to 2.3-2.5” widths that slice thru corners fast and accelerate instantaneously. When descending over cratered-out moonscapes, the tires provide a cushy feeling, yet they can bounce a bit, like a fat bike’s tires. Finally, these tires are durable; I’ve ridden countless miles of sharp, rock-strewn landscape without damage to the sidewalls or punctures from innumerable cacti. However, an interesting side-effect from the deep knobby treads is their propensity to emit loud noise on the desert sand. On occasion, I’d hear strange sounds coming from the back of my drivetrain, which caused me a moment’s consternation, until I realized it was the tires. Those deeply grooved tires bite into the trail, devouring everything in their path…Traction-loving animals.
In conclusion, these tires, paired together, rock. They provide substantial traction, abundant cornering, which bestow confidence on the rider. Their ability to run lower psi improves uphill climbing. The wide knobs with their thoughtfully molded, rubber layers offer robust braking in loose trail conditions. On the down-side, they are a bit plodding and slow to accelerate and they lack the knife-like cornering precision when compared against their narrower brethren. Yet for plus tires, they are reasonably lightweight, sturdy, squishy, and fun.