Words/ Photos by Chili Dog, Action Photos by Forrest Arakawa
As we wandered the myriad of products at Sea Otter, the new Assegai tires in front of the Maxxis booth caught our attention. Thankfully, that first fleeting glance wouldn’t be the last. Maxxis was kind enough to invite us out to the forests of Santa Cruz, California to get some initial impressions on the new Assegai just a few weeks after the big show in Monterey.
Normally media camps move pretty slow, but not this trip. Straight off the flight, I was over at the Santa Cruz Bicycles HQ to dial in my test rig. An XL Nomad was waiting, sporting shiny new Maxxis shoes. Our crew was motivated, and instead of standing around waiting for dinnertime, we opted to hit the trails for a quick ride on the UCSC campus. It proved to be a great loop to get acquainted with the new bike and tires. Our pre-dinner loop put us on everything from pavement to steep, loamy singletrack, and it was the perfect appetizer.
After making the climb up the road and onto the school campus, we turned into the woods. For those not familiar with University of Santa Cruz, aside from being a solid UC school, the campus is also home to some insane riding. Most is unsanctioned, but that doesn’t make it any less fun.
Our crew dropped in, tearing through the opening chute in a cloud of dust. At the first stop, the consensus between everyone was clear– the Assegai tires GRIP. Roots, loose corners and off cambers turned into nothing. Braking traction is also exceptional. The last chute on the trail that normally feels like skiing was a no hassle event. Other trails near the campus confirmed the composed nature of these tires under heavy braking on loose surfaces. Even in butt puckering moments where the tire kissed my shorts, traction was a non-issue.
Sadly the epic descending left us with a substantial climb. The way back up gave us more than enough time to reflect on how inefficiently a full fledged DH tire pedals. The heavy DH casing the tire is currently offered in didn’t help matters either. It’s definitely more at home on the World Cup DH tracks it was designed for than it is under a trail bike on a climb.