In Issue #111 of Singletrack Magazine, Wil put the new Wide Trail version of Maxxis’ venerable Minion DHF & DHR II tyres to the test
As handlebars get wider, fork stanchions get bigger, and cassettes are filled with more sprockets and more teeth, mountain bike rims have also become much wider. Not long ago, a wheel with a 19mm internal rim width was considered normal. And indeed many tyre manufacturers have based most of their testing and sizing on rims with a 21mm internal width as being the industry ‘standard’. Things have moved on considerably in the last few years though, and now mountain bike rims are pushing internal widths of 30-35mm.
But why move to a wider rim? What’s the benefit of that?
Fundamentally, a wider rim provides a broader support base for the tyre beads, and helps to put more rubber on the ground. The result is more stability, more traction and less casing roll with low-pressure tubeless setups. In some cases, a wider rim also allows you to run a slightly narrower (and therefore lighter) tyre while still delivering a similar contact patch to a wider and heavier tyre used on a narrow rim.
However, not all current tyres play well with the latest generation of wide rims though. Some tyres are brilliant, and others are downright dangerous when they’re fitted to a rim that is far wider than they’re meant to be fitted to. In some cases, a tyre stretched out on a wide rim can push the casing so wide that it ends up sitting out further than the tread on the tyre itself. The result? A very rapid (and scary) loss of traction under heavy cornering, as the tyre transitions from the cornering tread to the bald sidewalls. I’ve had this experience with a 2.35in wide Maxxis Ikon tyre on a rim with a 31mm internal width, and it is not confidence-inspiring in the slightest – quite the opposite actually!
For those who want to access the benefits of running a wider wheelset without using inappropriate tyres, Maxxis has responded with a line of WT tyres that are specifically built for rims with an internal width of 30–35mm. Standing for ‘Wide Trail’, these tyres use exactly the same casing and construction as the regular versions, but with a different tread configuration and placement that allows for an optimised profile when mounted to wide rims.
Two of those tyres include the Minion DHF and the Minion DHR II, which I’ve been riding over the past six months.
Minion DHF 27.5×2.5in WT 3C Maxx Terra EXO
Weight: 937g // Actual width: 2.46in
As one of the most popular DH tyres of all time, the Minion DHF is also a sought-after tread for trail riders. It’s a favourite among the Singletrack test crew, and the WT version is no different – it just sits with a better profile on wide rims. With its substantial cornering blocks, the Minion delivers unreal cornering grip with a level of confidence that allows you to lean harder and push faster into questionable off-camber sections.
It rolls surprisingly well, while the many edges in the blocky tread pattern deal well when scrabbling for grip in loose conditions, and the siping through the central knobs allows the tyre to pinch harder and rockier surfaces. Although Maxxis states this is a tyre that can handle wet conditions, it’s not the option we’d pick for gloopy British mud – the DHR II and the Shorty are much better foul condition tyres.
Minion DHR II 27.5×2.4in WT 3C Maxx Terra EXO
Weight: 919g // Actual width: 2.39in
Traditionally, DHF = Front, and DHR = Rear. Well actually, the ‘F’ originally stood for ‘Freeride’, and the ‘R’ stood for ‘Race’. But most riders will recognise the Minion tyres as front and rear specific tread patterns. With the newer DHR II, however, it’s just as good on the front in the right conditions. The DHR II features the same reliable cornering characteristics as the DHF, but subs in wider rectangular blocks through the centre. These rectangular blocks are siped all the way through, which increases flexibility under hard forces, like when you’re pulling on the anchors after landing on a steep transition. This increases braking traction dramatically and, along with a slightly deeper height to all the tread blocks, makes the DHR II the grippier choice in those steep and loose situations where your arse is being buzzed by the rear tyre.
While the DHR II does come in a little narrower at 2.4in, it is noticeably slower than the DHF. For longer and more undulating rides, you’ll definitely know about it. But for those riders who winch up fire roads with the primary goal of plummeting back down steep fall lines in the woods, the DHF II is a dependable pick for front and rear duty. The braking traction is insane, and while that’s traditionally the duty of a rear tyre, up front it adds a whole new level of control.
As advertised, the new Maxxis WT tyres are the choice for anyone running nu-school wide rims. The DHR II was the surprise of the two, with its incredible braking traction offering bucketloads of grip for steep and nasty terrain. For faster and firmer trail conditions, the Minion DHF remains the brilliant do-everything tread it always has been.
|Product:||Minion DHF 2.5in WT 3C EXO & Minion DHR II 2.4in WT 3C EXO Tyres|
|Tested:||by Wil Barrett for 3 months|