Maxxis Minion DHF vs Maxxis Minion DHR II, which tire is best? This is going to be a bit like asking Coke vs Pepsi or Ford vs Chevy: there might not be a factual winner. With this Maxxis tire comparison we are going to look at the facts first, then opinions. There is a slight difference in both sizing and weight. Nothing too drastic but it's worth noting when going over the facts. Our opinions vary and also come mostly from SoCal riding, which is much different from other mountain bike destinations.
While there are a few size differences, the main difference between the two tires comes down to the center tread. The Maxxis DHF has a bit of a taller and skinnier siped knob, with an alternating solid knob. It's also good to note that the center siping on the DHF runs in the direction of the circumference of the tire. The DHR II has more of a slightly shorter center knob that is also a bit wider than the DHF, reaching closer to the side knobs with less gap. The siping is also alternated, but on the DHR II, the siping runs side to side. The side to side siping should help get more grip under braking on rocks and roots, where the DHF siping running long ways should help get some grip on those same rocks and roots when cornering. I mentioned it above, but take a look at the tread again and you’ll notice the DHF is more open between the center knobs than the DHR II. This could also make a difference in feel from one person to another.
There are also some major similarities between the two tires. All tires in the Minion range (Minion DHF, Minion DHR II, Minion SS) share the same side knobs. This is a very iconic pattern that works very, very well. It has an alternating pattern of one L shaped knob followed by a square knob with a sipe that runs long ways. The combination of these two provides great cornering grip while also keeping you up and not giving way, causing you to slide out. Another thing to note about both the DHF and DHR II is the center tread and the side knobs are offset or don’t align with each other. This is a huge performance part of the tire because as the center tread starts to slide, the side knobs grab and hook up.
Now that those boring facts are over, let's get into the opinions. In our video, we interviewed some of our staff with varying results. Most of the guys said DHF while a few said DHR II, but their reasons for choosing either was very much the same. That being said, it always comes down to rider preference because there really isn’t one person that is right.
Many of the guys said DHF because it rolls faster and provides more cornering grip. Jeff, Zack and I said the same thing about the DHR II. If we had a treadmill with a computer to test grip on a loose surface and could tell you exactly when the tire broke loose, we could probably pronounce a winner. But we don't, and there isn't a winner.
For our local riding, I personally choose the DHR II over the DHF. My reasoning is that you get more grip when transitioning into a corner because there is less gap between the center tread and the side knobs. Living in SoCal, most of our dirt is more like concrete with some loose dust and pebbles on top. I feel that the DHF wants to bite into the dirt, but there isn’t any dirt to bite into. Instead, the DHR II does a great job floating over the top and providing a predictable drift. I have ridden the DHF front and rear and think that it’s a great tire. I like to put DHFs on when going north where there is actually some dirt for the tire to dig into.
Jeff’s reasoning between the two is similar to mine but also factoring in weight. Jeff likes a fast tire with predictable traits. While he and I both think the DHR II is faster, we really can't test that. However, the model DHR we normally choose is about 80g lighter than its DHF counterpart. If weight does matter to you that much, the DHR II is lighter in every comparable version. It may be only a few grams but the rotating weight adds up!
So there is anywhere from 50g -100g difference between the corresponding models of the DHF and DHR II. I don’t really think of myself as a weight weenie, but I will consider tire and wheel weight in my choice at least a little bit. When accelerating, I do think it is possible to notice a 100g difference in a tire. If you don't believe me, try riding a DD or DH casing tire and then go to an EXO casing. Your climbing will feel much more effortless.
Now if you ride where you have real dirt, it’s wet, and you are looking for traction all the time, the DHF could be a better choice for you. The taller, skinnier knobs in the center combined with the DHF siping, could provide more grip in different scenarios. I'm not totally sure that this rings true for me, however, as I'm mostly riding loose over hard dirt and drifting is the only thing happening.
Look closely at some of the World Cup DH pro bike checks. There are a few more DHR IIs up front than you might expect. But, if you also look at Enduro pro bike checks, you will see many bikes with DHF front and rear. I am nowhere near a pro rider, nor am I riding in their conditions, but it makes you wonder, is one better or is it all about personal preference? This could come down to rolling speed, overall grip one rider gets, and braking traction. Really each tire is going to be a great tire for most people in most conditions. The best way to know is to try both!
Available sizes for DHF:
Available sizes for DHR II:
The main difference between the two so far is just the middle size, a 2.5 for the DHF vs a 2.4 for the DHR.
Weight is another difference, which I wouldn't say is huge but the DHR is lighter on average than the DHF.