In terms of the best gravel bike tires, Maxxis introduced the Rambler as its all-round gravel option a few years ago and it’s always been a solid option for all-round performance, especially in drier areas. The new 50mm version is heavy but supersizes floated volume and boosts protection for gravel riders who want to push into the MTB envelope.
The new 50mm Rambler comes in two versions, one with a standard EXO carcass (580g) and the version we tested with a full SilkShield puncture protection wrap which adds another 80g. Installation was super easy with both tires popping gently into place on a 24mm rim with casual track pumping. You will need a broad rim (we’d recommend at least 22mm and ideally 24-25mm) to get a broad enough base though as it measured 49mm wide and 44mm deep on our Spank 24mm host hoops. That’s not far off most 2.1-2.25 XC tires so while the weight is high and acceleration slow for a gravel tire it’s light and responsive for an XC MTB tire.
The low tread uses a close-spaced mix of rough top centreline crosses and depressed center ‘bricks’ down the middle and they all get to create a quiet, fast-rolling footprint. The shoulders use a more open ramped L knob for more bite in soft ground or when you start to lean and then angled and siped mini-MTB blocks slightly overhanging the edge carcass keep it hooking up well when you’re being aggressive through turns or across off cambers. It does start to slip and slide if things get really muddy but anything that bikes noticeably better will likely buzz more on the road.
Performance is pressure-sensitive though as the Silkshield carcass is relatively robust and together with the increased internal surface area it can feel wooden and jarring (the opposite of what you want from larger volume rubber) unless you drop it to at least 30psi or potentially lower. The extra carcass layer means they stay securely stable on a wide enough rim at MTB pressures though and they’ve lasted well even with regular rim thumps and thorn alley excursions. In contrast, our experience with the standard carcass versions confirms they’re more responsive and buoyant in feel as well as significantly lighter but very vulnerable to puncture and tear damage.
If your gravel bike regularly takes over mountain bike duties, the Rambler Silkshield is going to be a great choice. Allowing low pressures, the huge width and tough casing mean that although on the slower and heavier side it should see you through terrain that would normally be a threat to gravel tires.
Tech Specs: Maxxis Rambler Silkshield tire
- Price: $54.00 / £54.99
- Weight: 660g (700x50mm)
- Sizes: 650 x 47mm, 700 x 38, 40, 45, 50mm, 27.5 x 1.5in