The Maxxis DHF was a game changer when it first appeared and it’s continued to dominate the trail and hardcore front tire market for well over a decade. A faster roll than you’d expect for the great directional and cornering grip it gives means it works both ends too. Add a wide range of carcass and compound options and if I had to pick a single (cost no object) tire for every situation it would be this one, which is why I rate it as one of the best mountain bike tires available.
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The key to the DHF’s easier roll compared to its DHR sibling is the slightly elongated, ramped knobs which mean smaller gaps. The alternate split pair are deeply cloven front to rear too, effectively creating four smaller blade blocks that also give extra directional bite. The way those blocks can splay also partially closes what could otherwise be a grip gap over to the alternate split block and L shaped side knobs that fan out from the shoulders. It's a side pattern so good it was moved across onto the DHR II to give the same aggressive cornering bite front and rear.
As the DHF (and DHR) have been around so long, they’re one of the few current top performance tires still available in 26in for retro riders. Maxxis has rolled out a DHF for every trend since though (including a 27.5 x 2.8in ‘Plus’ tire) so you’re covered for almost every bike fit. The company even created a whole new WT (Wide Tire) carcass lay up for its 2.4 and 2.6in widths so that they shaped up correctly on rims 30mm or wider internally.
Maxxis has also expanded its casing offerings in terms of reinforcement level. The lightest option is the Exo which is fine for XC/old skool trail use; Exo+ adds a full protective wrap against cut, puncture and impact punctures for more aggressive trail/enduro use; DD is a lightweight double-ply for hardcore enduro or e-bike use; and then there are super heavyweight DH tires if your riding is all about radical gravity runs. In contrast to many brands where performance sweet spots fall awkwardly between light and heavy-duty options, weights and ride characteristics are on point for every level too. It’s the same story with rubber compounds too. The top Triple Compound tires offer a MaxxTerra all-rounder mix and a super sticky, ultra grippy MaxxGrip option over a hard base for predictable behaviour and extended lifespan. If you want a relative bargain though, the basic Dual Compound tires are a great split between cornering grip and decent rolling speed/wear life on a tough but not too heavy carcass for £20 less.
I'm lucky enough to spend most of my time on the 3C MaxxTerra version in Exo or Exo + spec, because that comes as standard on a huge amount of test bikes. It’s also an excellent ‘context’ tire to fit to any bike or wheel that I'm testing independently, purely because it’s basically entirely vice free. It’s easy enough to fit to most rims and, while it’s not the simplest sealing tire, I rarely have to abandon the floor pump in favor of a compressor to get the job done. Once inflated it holds pressure and shape well and it’s close enough to the listed size not to make me grumble. Even the Exo version can be run at teen pressures without buckling and folding if you shunt a corner or grab a fistful of brake too hard, while the Exo+, DD and DH increase incrementally in stability and stoutness. Ride feel is appropriate for each weight/use category with a float/damping profile that flatters suspension and frame feel. As you’d hope, the WT casings are a particularly good match to currently ubiquitous 30mm internal rims, avoiding the over stiff, numb feel that’s apparent in some other ‘stretched’ tires.
While it looks like the center to shoulder tread gap might trigger a ‘leap of faith’ lurch like the old Maxxis High Roller tire, the DHF actually tips in really smoothly and predictably. Once you’re into the lean you can also load it up aggressively on pretty much every surface from slippery gravel to winter slop and wet woods. There’s enough space to mean they clear mud pretty quick too so clogging is rarely an issue.
The longer tread blocks also mean the DHF rolls noticeably faster than the DHR and we know a lot of people who actually run a DHF both ends for a faster, but still hard cornering combo. They are more likely to skid or slip on the back than a DHR but no less than most other trail tires.
While the heavier duty DD and DH carcasses are the ones to go for if you habitually hammer tires and wheels, the Exo and Exo + are comparatively tough in terms of pointy object and pinch punctures. They don’t rip knobs or tear sidewalls easily either so most Minions are bald before they get binned rather than being stabbed or slashed to death. Check fresh tires before fitting though as Maxxis does have occasional issues with warped or twisted tires.
Faster rolling than a DHR, but no less grippy in turns, the Maxxis Minion DHF is still my favorite hardcore all-rounder on either end of the bike. It comes in a wide range of casing and compound options to suit all riding situations and once you’ve found the blend that works for you it's a fit and forget tire for all reasons and seasons. Shop around for a deal and the pricing might not be such a sting either.
Tech Specs: Maxxis Minion DHF
- PRICE: $88 / £69.99 (29 x 2.5in WT 3C EXO TR)
- SIZES: 26 x 2.3, 2.5 WT, 27.5 x 2.3, 2.5 WT, 2.6 WT and 2.8in, 29 x 2.3, 2.5 WT, 2.6in WT and 3.0in
- COMPOUND: DC, 3C MaxxTerra, 3C MaxxGrip
- CARCASS: EXO, EXO+, DD, DH
- DIMENSIONS: 61mm (2.39in) on 30mm rim
- WEIGHT: 1010g (Exo+ 29 x 2.4 WT)