In this review, our customer Derek Anderson gives us an in-depth look at his Maxxis Chronicle 29+ tires. With not all that many 29"x3" tire options out there, Derek did his homework and eventually settled on the 120tpi Dual Compound EXO casing tubeless ready Chronicle tires. Check out Derek's sweet review below!
There aren’t a whole lot of choices yet in the 29x3.0 tire category, so when my Trek Stache’s original Bontrager Chupacabras started slipping on the climbs, I began combing through the options. One thing that immediately struck me coming from previously only buying tires for more established tire sizes, was the crazy price point of these 29+ products. I can now put tires on my car for less than my bike!
I liked how the Bontragers had performed, but I wanted a tire with a little more meat on it (and not as costly as the $120 price tag they commanded!) Out here in the Arizona desert, I always worried that the widely spaced knobs would leave the tire more susceptible to sharp rocks or the other desert nastiness we’re surrounded by. The WTB Ranger had a similar tread pattern, so I dismissed that one as well as the Panaracer Fat B Nimble. The Surly Dirt Wizard hit my radar, but its tread pattern was more aggressive than I needed for my terrain (which added a little bulk as well). Speaking with a couple of other riders in my area (including one bike shop owner on a sweet Surly Krampus), I got a number of positive nods toward the Maxxis Chronicle.
Next came the decision on what flavor of Chronicle to purchase. Honestly, that was the easiest decision because out here in the desert you don’t mess around with the lower-end or less-protected versions of a tire - you go directly for the top tier: 120tpi Dual Compound EXO Tubless-Ready. Once I’d settled on a tire, it was just a matter of finding a place to get ahold of a pair without using up all my apres-ride cash. These plus sized tires don’t get discounted a whole lot with their current little slice of market share, but Worldwide Cyclery came through with a decent price and a coupon code.
When the tires arrived, I realized that these tire manufacturers need to re-think their priorities so they can hit a better price point. Each tire came in its own fancy little drawstring backpack! Seriously? Why are they wasting money sending me their tires in Maxxis-labeled drawstring backpacks? I’d take a $3 discount any day, personally. Oh well, fancy packaging and all, they are some pretty sweet looking tires.
Mounting them up was a bit of a chore, mostly because of the MuleFut rims I think. My original tires were a bear to get unseated from the rims, which I thought was due to gummed up Stans sealant. The Chronicles fit the wheel nicely without too much lever-ing, but because of the rim shape they wouldn’t seat tubeless even with my air compressor blasting through the valve stem. I threw a tube in each of ‘em to help get ‘em positioned on the rim and seat the bead. When I tried to unseat one side of the wheel’s bead to get the tube back out, that sucker was so tightly tucked into that rim hook it took a good 5 minutes of pulling and prying with tire levers to get the thing unstuck. I guess there’s no worry about burping air out of those MuleFut rims once you get a set of tires mounted up! Finally got the bead unseated on one side, pulled out the tube and was able to inflate it w/ the air compressor. The bead sits so tightly in that MuleFut rim that once I added the sealant there wasn’t so much as a bubble that I could see and they held air extremely well from day one. Even after 30 days, there’s still no sealant seeping through the sidewalls (unlike a set of 27 plus Specialized tires I had which continually wept Stans through the sidewalls from the moment I mounted 'em up).
With tires finally mounted (and my hands totally wrecked from wrestling tires off and on the rims), I finally hit the trail. From a traction perspective, new tires never seem to disappoint, and these were no exception. On the slippery, sandy, gravely, rocky, decomposed-granite trails in my area, plus-sized tires are SO much more fun than their narrower counterparts, and the Chronicles behaved predictably and admirably, with a surefooted hold on climbs and corners. The knob pattern does seem to overhang the sidewall just slightly, protecting against sidewall slices from the dagger-like rocks in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, and after a couple of less inspired line choices through a rocky descent, the Chronicle sidewalls show almost no sign of scuffing (not the case with the Bontrager Chupacabra).
It’s always hard to compare tires - especially when the previous tires were getting worn down, but I believe the Chronicles have a little more predictable grip than the Chupacabras in slippery corners. The Chupacabra seems to have been a little faster rolling tire and lighter weight than the Chronicle, but comparing the thickness of the casing of each tire I would put money on the Chronicle being a more robust and slice-resistant tire. Width-wise I believe the Chupacabra is slightly wider (forgot to measure before taking off the rim, so purely a visual comparison), but the Chronicle is still very close to a true 3.0” tire - measured mine after 125 miles on MuleFut 50mm rims at 2.915” wide at the widest point (knob to knob).
Probably my only gripe about the Chronicle (besides the froofy personal tire backpack thing) is that the tread pattern picks up and throws some of the gravely sand particles up at the downtube (and at me), though it’s only in a very specific trail area that I find this perfectly-sized aggregate that apparently gets stuck in the tread pattern long enough to get ejected up off the front tire as it rolls around. Not enough to be annoying, but worth mentioning and worth a layer of racer’s tape along your downtube if you ride the Sonoran desert. Then again, if you ride the desert you’ve probably already coated your bike in that rock-chip protecting goodness.
Bottom line (TL;DR): 125 miles in, good value, very good desert terrain traction (can’t speak to dirt/mud - that doesn’t exist around here), predictable, smooth rolling and relatively fast for a plus-sized tire. Would buy again.