The new Maxxis Assegai tire is portrayed by Greg Minnaar as having some of the best traits of a few of their very popular tires, from the Minion DHF, Minion DHR II, High Roller and the Shorty.
I was given a set of 2.5 3C MAXXGRIP DH casing 29” tires to test, which I threw on my Santa Cruz Hightower LT trail bike. Just to get this out of the way, obviously the rolling speed of a 1380 gram super tacky tire isn't ever going to be something I’d be expecting to jump up and down about, so yes, it did feel like I had two boat anchors attached to my bike once I had them mounted up. This was especially apparent on the pedal up to the trails. On the way back down they told a different story. It takes a little bit more effort to get the bike up to rolling speed after a tight corner, again keeping in mind this tire is designed for DH. However, once rolling the Assegai does roll smoothly and is incredibly easy to hold speed on. It instantly felt stable and could help grab traction anywhere possible.
I felt a lot more confident than usual with the predictability of the grip when turning on these tires as opposed to some of the other Maxxis models mentioned above. It was a more consistent feel throughout the lean of the bike, whether I was leaning hard in a tight berm or just trying to hold a line in a much wider open or even off camber corner. The grip felt predictable and solid which was very refreshing. I feel like the profile of the tire is a bit more round than squared off which I like and I believe contributes to the even feel when cornering. The added “third” knob in the tire’s design helped keep the transition from upright to leaned over very smooth. If you look at a DHF or DHR, there are only two knobs in the center, a gap, and then corner knobs. The Assegai tire has an added knob between the center and cornering knobs, a very smart move to keep traction consistent.
In a straight line, these Assegai DH casing tires ate up everything thrown at them. Once these 1300 gram babies are up to speed, you best be sure to have some good brakes on your bike to slow yourself down as the momentum of the rolling tire is tangible. Braking traction was on point. Anytime you need to slow down, the hard square braking tread really bites in all conditions. They are really solid in rocky terrain due to the combination of the tread, rubber compound, and casing. They actually seem to almost dampen the terrain a bit and made my bike feel like it had more travel than it does. The way the tread soaks up the rocks and rough stuff is clearly what Greg Minnaar was after, really grabbing terrain where tires normally break loose. While only having dry and loose dirt to test, I would love to try this tire in some wet conditions…until next SoCal winter.
All in all, I think this is a really great tread pattern and I can’t wait to see what other offerings of this tire Maxxis comes out with. I’ll definitely be interested to try a more trail oriented version of them, such as EXO and DD, which will be more appropriate for my local trails and my current bike. Basically, if you’re a rider who loves to plow, doesn't care about tire weight and need the protection, this tire will be right at home on a trail bike. And, of course, this tire will be right at home on any DH bike.