For many, the gold standard of MTB tires, the Maxxis Minion DHF and DHR II have a legacy in the MTB world for a reason. We find ourselves riding these tires more than most, yet with the flood of new tires on the market, we almost forgot about them. We recently did a small inventory of all the reviews we’ve written, looking for gaps and things we forgot. Glaringly missing were these two tires, the two models that are probably among the most popular several years running. Why do so many riders consider these tires the gold standard? Let’s dig in and find out.
Maxxis created the Minion DHF with a simple yet effective tread design that has stood the test of time and been imitated countless times. With a ramped directional center tread, the Maxxis is able to lower rolling resistance significantly, while offering superb cornering traction. To further aid in cornering traction, there are large cornering blocks with a sizable float gap between the center lugs and outer cornering lugs. Maxxis offers the tires in two 3C rubber compounds; 3C MaxxTerra and 3C MaxxGrip. The 3C name refers to Maxxis using three separate rubber compounds for the tire casing, center lugs, and side lugs. As the name suggests, the MaxxGrip is the softer, tacker compound of the two. Maxxis also offers a third “Super Tacky” compound. The DHF is available in a variety of casings, including Wide Trail and Plus.
The DHR II is Maxxis’ second revision of the DHR. Old school riders will remember the curved center lugs of the first version. In favor of better rolling characteristics and handling, Maxxis changed the design to mimic a hybrid of the Maxxis Minion DHF and High Roller II. While the outer lugs remain the same between the DHF and DHR II, the center lugs are perpendicular to the direction of travel and have a large ramp. The design aids in traction under heavy braking and pedaling. If you’ve ever run a DHF front and rear and then switched to a DHR, the difference when climbing and cornering is immediately noticeable. Maxxis offers the tires in two 3C rubber compounds; 3C MaxxTerra and 3C MaxxGrip as well as Super Tacky rubber. Like the DHF, Maxxis offers the DHF in a variety of casings, including Wide Trail and Plus.
It’s safe to say that the Maxxis Minion DHF and DHR II are the tires we’ve all spent the most time on over our lifetime of riding. To many, they set the bar by which all other tires are measured. The DHF offers one of the best balances between rolling resistance and cornering traction on the market. The center lugs roll easy but bite in hard on directional changes. Braking traction is excellent, but because of the directional center lugs, the tires lack the bite that some of the competition has. Out of the three compounds, we prefer the 3C MaxxGrip because of its balance between wear life and traction in a variety of conditions and surfaces. Tire wear on the Maxxis Minions has been exceptional in a wide range of terrain and conditions. Its open tread design also helps it shed mud well, even though it’s a great dry condition tire as well.
Though the Maxxis Minion DHF is intended to be run on the front of a bike, it’s a well-rounded tire that is still plenty effective on the rear so long as you aren’t hoping to make it up steep, loose climbs.
The one downside to this tire is the same thing that makes some people love it so much. The large float zone between the knobs helps give you the ultimate penetration while laying them over in the corners. What does that mean for some riders? It can give you a slightly squirmy, or uncertain feeling on less than sharp corners where you’re somewhat leaning the bike over but not far enough to engage the shoulder lugs fully. This is mostly noticed on lightly sandy over hardpack trails or small marbly rocks. If you’re looking for a Maxxis tire with no float zone, the Assegai is your best bet with a magnet like cornering traction in all lean angles. Don’t expect the same low rolling resistance, though.
If you told us we could only run one tire for the rest of our lives on every bike, this would probably be it. There’s a reason that so many other brands have to knock off of this tire. Whether you’re looking to ride bike parks, technical DH trails, or your local flow line, the Maxxis Minion DHF can take it in stride.
The DHR II seems to get less fanfare than the DHF simply because it’s less versatile. It’s a rear tire design that works incredibly well in that application, but wouldn’t be a choice front tire. It lacks the impossibly low rolling resistance that the DHF has, but the trade-off is massively improved braking traction and climbing bite. Grab the binders in a loose, loamy section, and the DHR II will cling onto the soil and bring you to a halt. That isn’t to say this tire is the most “grabby” in the Maxxis line up, though. The Assegai definitively claims that title (read our first ride here) and firmly aligns itself in the gravity category as it puts traction well above rolling resistance. The Minion DHR II is a much less aggressive tire that aims more for the all-around performance category and excels at that task. Not surprisingly, even after years of abusing these tires of all manner of bikes, we’ve yet to ride one that we thought wore too quickly or out of character.
The Wolf’s Last Word
So are these tires the best on the market? That’s impossible to say since “best” is so heavily dependent on terrain, soil, and riding style. We will say that these are some of the most popular tires on the market for a reason. There is no denying the large float zone could be an issue for some riders in some conditions. If you’re not overly aggressive or have milder corners in sandy conditions, you may not find that float comforting. But if you’re able to push the tires aggressively over to the shoulder lugs, you’ll be happy as a hog in slop.
Another great thing about Maxxis is the unmatched offerings when it comes to casings, rubber compounds, and sizes. Whether you’ve got a 26er laying around, a budget 29er for the spouse, or need some high-performance race tires for your new 27.5 Plus bike, Maxxis has ‘em all.
In the MTB and eMTB world, a product doesn’t get to be the gold standard as a result of fancy marketing or low prices. We’re a discerning bunch that isn’t afraid to call B.S. on a lousy product. The years of hard use have proven these rubbers rollers to be among the best in the business for a reason. If you want one set of tires for everything, look no further than the Minion twins. Of course, you better be willing to pay for it since MTB tires ain’t cheap!
All Around Performance Good Wear Cornering Traction
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