The original Maxxis Assegai, featured in our best mountain bike tires round-up, was developed by DH racer Greg Minnaar, so naturally it’s available with a reinforced Double Down casing but there are lighter Exo and Exo+ versions now available for trail riding.
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The very best (and most expensive) models use the Maxxis 3C compound which is available in MaxxTerra or MaxxGrip flavours – the latter is the softer overall and the one I’d choose for the front, with the quicker rolling MaxxTerra on the rear. I’d also consider the reinforced EXO+ out back too but with a regular EXO casing up front but then there are so many options that you can mix and match the level of grip and reinforcement based on your ride style or the weight of the bike you’re riding.
Design and specifications
One of the prerequisites of any Maxxis trail tire are the deep edge lugs and the Assegai has these in spades. These big block knobs offer a predictable shoulder when stuffing the bike into a loose turn or skating down slippery off camber.
To complement this lateral fortification, the Assegai 3C MaxxGrip EXO+ features a 3 x 2 center tread of interlocking knobs. These are heavily chamfered for quick rolling and three are siped to create extra traction – a siped knob will splay out slightly under load creating a larger footprint on the trail. The two smaller transition knobs are not siped but they do create a sort of semi-edge and fill in this area. As a result, the tread is a little congested and in really deep mud it can struggle for purchase but it does clear surprisingly quickly.
The Assegai is available with Maxxis EXO or EXO+ puncture protection options. Both models have medium-duty puncture protection built into the sidewall but the EXO+ gets an extra butyl (synthetic elastomer) insert wrapped around the bead area to help protect the tire from pinch flats and also prevent rim damage. It adds a few grams but it’s a key reinforcement to the rear tire for e-bike and gravity use.
All Maxxis tires are tubeless ready (TR) and I’ve found they’re some of the easiest to seat. They always go on first time and you can often inflate them and get the bead to snap into place just using a regular track pump, no matter what rim brand they’re fitted to.
This tire is also a Wide Trail (WT) which means it’s optimized for 35mm inner width rims, adding a little more sidewall depth.
The Assegai comes in a 3C (triple) compound with either MaxxTerra (medium) or MaxxGrip (soft) option. Both tires use a hard base rubber for stability, but with a quick rolling center strip and then a soft rubber on the edge for grip. The MaxxGrip is super tacky but it does show wear relatively quickly if you’re riding on dry dusty terrain, which is why I’d run the harder wearing MaxxTerra compound on the rear and keep the MaxxGrip for the front. That way you are not literally burning rubber, which at this price is costly.
Grip levels are superb with the softer MaxxGrip tire – it feels so surefooted and never does anything unexpected. It’s really consistent at all lean angles, even chopping and changing lines through tight singletrack. You can roost the front into a turn or lean in gradually, it works both ways. It’s a real confidence tire that lets you push the envelope without having to pay the consequences.
It’s consistent across a range of terrain – I’ve ridden on every sort of surface from wet rocks to dusty hardpack and, apart from deep clag, it always finds grip. You can easily ride this tire throughout the year and it works pretty good on the rear – it’s not quite as quick rolling as the Maxxis Dissector or DHR II, but it still has a good turn of speed. When cross-rutting the traction is solid and there’s plenty of grip when winching up steep ascents.
The Assegai is a fantastic tire for use all year round in pretty much any condition you care to name. The only real fly in the ointment is the relatively high price, but then you are buying one of the most controlled and confidence-inspiring tires on the market.
Tech Specs: Maxxis Assegai 3C MaxxGrip EXO+
- Price: From $112 / £74.99 / €70
- Wheel size (inches): 27.5, 29er
- Compound: 3C triple compound
- Carcass: EXO+
- Dimensions: 63mm (2.48in) on 30mm rim at 23psi
- Weight: 1129g (29 x 2.5in tested)
- Width (inches): 2.5 and 2.6in