We’ve been riding a couple of sets of the Maxxis Minion FBR/FBF 27.5 x 3.8 tires for the last ninety days on a variety of bikes and rims.
We published a product spotlight about the new low-fat sneakers from Maxxis Here and we also posted an article about a plus/fat wheel configuration that we tested using these tires Here. This article is going to focus on a review of the tires and how they performed on a variety of rims, bikes, and conditions.
The first set-up that we tested the Minions was on a Mule Fut 80 mm wide rim on a Heller Bloodhound Trail last fall. We had a really nice dry autumn here, so our trails were to the point of being dusty. The Minions handle dirt with ease. I found them to be just slightly more aggressive than our buff singletrack requires, but their aggressive tread pattern makes plowing through sand sections or up and over logs, roots, and rocks a breeze.
Along a similar timeline (last October) we started testing a Salsa Blackborow that came with Mule Fut 80mm rims and the OE version of the Maxxis Minion FRF/FBR 27.5 x 3.8. (that means that they have white Maxxis Logos on them). The white logos look better than the Hi-Viz Yellow ones. I’m not a fan of the NASCAR style yellow sidewall markings on the aftermarket version, but if it really bothers you, there’s a way to black them out.
We took that rig on a weekend of bikepacking over in Michigan that included paved road and bike path, gravel, singletrack, sand, deep sand, quick-sand, and gravel. The Minions performed admirably on everything except some deep soft sand, where the 3.8 width couldn’t provide enough float for the fully loaded bike. Other than that, the tire proved to be a great all-around performer. The thing that surprised me the most was how well they rolled on gravel roads. For such a knobby tire, they roll nice and easy.
We tested the Blackborow on a variety of local singletrack trails and camped out at Kettle Moraine. The thing with a mid or long tail is that it places the tire further back from the rider’s weight, so it’s more difficult to get traction, especially when riding the bike unloaded. The FBR did a great job providing traction on the Blackborow on dirt gravel and pavement. (Snow is another story).
The Blackborow then went to BBR Test Pilot Dos Renchos aka Jamie. He’s been utilizing the Blackborrow to embrace a semi-reformed carless lifestyle, where literally, the rubber meets the road in the form of Maxxis Minions. This is what he had to say about the Minions.
“I can’t not say it but, on the road…they are major pigs, as are pretty much all other fat tires so not too surprising. The high tread blocks really seem to toss out the ole’anchor. Once off the firm stuff, of course, you notice them smooth out and become way easier to pedal. Being a slightly narrower tire on a 27.5 rim, they are quicker to get moving than the big boys but still have a decent amount of floatation when things get soft. I also found that thanks to those meaty tread blocks, both ends climbed out of ruts and handled off camber really well, even with heavily loaded bags on the bike. Since I was riding the Blackborrow, I wasn’t really railing any turns but the Minions held turns well, were predictable and there was good traction for braking. Also, I appreciated the little pinstripe of snow that formed down the centerline of the front tire when riding the soft stuff.”
While Jamie was testing the Blackborow, I mounted our aftermarket (Hi-Viz Yellow MAXXIS sidewalls) to a set of Borealis Carbondale 50 mm wide rims bolted onto the newest bike on the block here at the Colonel Steve Austin Decal Sanctuary. A Fatback Corvus FLT that I recently named ten beers (long story). Here’s where low-fat meets plus-bike half way and the result is what I personally feel is the sweet spot for our particular blend of buff black dirt trail that’s, punctuated with soft sandy pine sections. The narrower rim, rounds out the casing, to the point where the shoulder knobs protrude outboard of the casing by a few millimeters and that (ladies and gentlemen) translates directly into ‘traction sweet chewiness’. These Minions are a solid set of mountain bike tires that work really well on a set of “summer” wheels.
Both of our sets of test tires were run tubeless with remarkably easy set-up. We’ve been using Stan’s Sealant exclusively for the last few months with great results. We incurred no flats and no weeping has happened during our ninety-day test. I think it’s going to be interesting to see how 27.5 x 3.8 performs over the 2018 winter race scene. Last year’s Arrowhead was won on low-fat wheels and I predict that won’t be the last big race that’s won aboard a bike with a set of low-fat wheels. Most of our testing took place before the snow flew, so If you’re riding a set of these tires, please let us know how they handle deeper snow. We’ve gotten snow, but we keep melting back to where this is one of those winters where we’re not piling it up very deep. I think that this set of tires would totally rip on the groomed track at the fat-bike birkie and I’m curious to see how much flotation they can provide in different snow depths and conditions.
Maxxis has done a really nice job with these bad mamma-jammas. I’m giving them 4.75 gnomes out of 5 – (two-tenths deduction for the huge yellow logos).