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Maxxis Aggressor 2.3 EXO Review

The Aggressor is an excellent do-it-all rear tire for any kind of riding.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $62 List | $44.29 at Amazon
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Pros:  Versatile, affordable, great all-around use, intermediate tread height, fast rolling
Cons:  Ummmm? Nada
Manufacturer:   Maxxis
By Sean Cronin and Jeremy Benson  ⋅  Nov 22, 2018
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81
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 16
  • Cornering - 30% 8
  • Braking Traction - 20% 8
  • Pedaling Traction - 20% 8
  • Longevity - 15% 8
  • Weight - 10% 9
  • Installation - 5% 8

Our Verdict

The Aggressor is a relatively new tire in Maxxis' lineup, but it appears to be settling in quite nicely. It's pretty darn likeable because it seems to be down for anything. It has a nice moderate tread profile that rolls easily but still offers plenty of traction in a variety of conditions. We'd just as soon mount this tire on our XC bikes as we would our longer travel enduro rigs. The dual-compound tread gives this tire excellent rolling characteristics, with a firmer center tread and slightly softer cornering knobs that enhance traction and bite. Due to the moderate height of the tread knobs, it might not be the best choice for mud, but anywhere else you'll find yourself asking, "Where has this tire been all my life?"


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Our Analysis and Test Results

New to the Maxxis mountain bike tire lineup a couple years ago, the Aggressor has quickly become a go-to rear tire choice for a lot of riders. Unlike some of their more aggressive trail tires, the Aggressor has a more moderate center tread profile, which is a nice middle ground between the super aggressive and the semi-slick options. The result is a tire that blends low rolling resistance with the grip characteristics of a tire that actually has some knobs. It might just be the best of both worlds.

Performance Comparison


This ride featured sandy turns down low  fresh snow up high  and tacky hero-dirt in the middle. The Aggressor is an all-conditions tire.
This ride featured sandy turns down low, fresh snow up high, and tacky hero-dirt in the middle. The Aggressor is an all-conditions tire.

Cornering


Sure, this tire loves to be driven hard into corners, but perhaps more noteworthy is that you don't have to hammer it hard to reap its performance benefits. Unlike the majority of the semi-slick rear tire designs we tested, riders are not forced to find and maintain a "sweet spot" on this tire. Instead, the Aggressor provides its driver with a predictable and consistent amount of cornering traction with little regard for how far they choose to lean the bike over. Other tires required a greater amount of commitment to the lean as their tread pattern often went from small crown knobs to large edge knobs with little transition, necessitating an all-or-nothing approach.

Maxxis uses siped knobs in the transitional zone to help detract from that feeling of being in no man's land when you're less committed in a corner. When you do corner aggressively, however, and get the bike leaned over the alternating, pared down, siped, Minion-esque side knobs take over to provide exceptional grip. This tire was unique in that the others in the test were either of the semi-slick variety or a more traditional knob profile. Blending the best traits from each design, it truly is in a class all its own. If you've made it this far and are considering purchasing this tire, just hit "submit" on that shopping cart already. The only other tire we could recommend that is sorta similar would be the WTB Trail Boss which shares a moderate center tread profile.

If you're looking for a rear tire with a more aggressive tread, we think the Maxxis Minion DHR II is another great choice. The DHR II has beefy side knobs and a taller center tread that give it great cornering abilities and even more braking traction.

Pedal Traction


What makes the Aggressor such a great braking tire also helps it excel in the pedaling traction department. The base of the tire features a unique herringbone texture, where all other tires were smooth between the knobs. We doubt this helps much at all with traction on dry soils, but we were happy with how the tire performed over wet rocks and roots and think the texture may aid traction in these situations. What does help is the thoughtful placement of the center knobs. Offset between the side knobs, a trilogy of interconnected knobs helps to flatten the profile of the tire, thereby boosting traction by keeping more of the tread in contact with the ground. Though there wasn't a condition that our testers didn't like this tire in, it felt particularly adept on our loose and dry soils that typify a Tahoe summer.

Pedal traction is where many of the semi-slick tires leave you wanting more. This tire surely outperforms the Rock Razor and Specialized Slaughter on the ups or under hard pedaling where the paltry center tread can easily slide out from under the rider especially during out-of-the-saddle climbing. Although the large knobs of the Michelin Wild Grip'r dig deep when pedaling on soft ground, they're counterproductive on rock slabs and hardpack. The WTB Trail Boss and Continental Trail King were great climbers too, but we had significant durability issues with the Continentals.

For a relatively low-profile tread tire  this tire acts like a garden hoe when you squeeze the brakes.
For a relatively low-profile tread tire, this tire acts like a garden hoe when you squeeze the brakes.

Braking Traction


The knobs are not ramped and therefore instead of glancing over the terra firma, the sharp horizontal edges dig in. An interesting variety of knobs reside between the shoulder knobs that seem particularly well-suited to braking; a wing-shaped knob with a small channel bisecting it, three interconnected knobs with horizontal siping on the center knob and vertical siping on the extension knobs, and a horizontally siped rectangular block with a small channel down the middle.

With enduro racing often taking place on the very brink of control, it's nice to have an extra bit of braking traction to potentially avert disaster in situations where the bike is forced to suck up the brunt of your miscalculation, or not. Arguably the biggest advantage to this tire is that it was quite fast but still maintained sufficient braking quality that was lacking in the semi-slick Specialized Slaughter and Schwalbe Rock Razor. The medium tread of the Continental Trail King and WTB Trail Boss will slow you down just as well. Tires with more aggresive center tread lugs like the Maxxis Minion DHR II and the WTB Convict offer better braking traction in loose conditions, but sacrifice rolling resistance as a result.

Rolling Resistance


Considering the braking and pedaling traction that the Aggressor has, testers found it to roll with relatively little resistance. The knobs maintain a consistent height which may slightly increase their rolling resistance but it was nothing that ever felt sluggish to us. In fact, with this tire being one of the first we mounted up, we felt it was pretty darn roll-y until we got on some of the smoother designs.

Billed as an all-around tire by Maxxis, we'd say the features that make this tire excel in braking and pedaling can be directly linked to its middle-of-the-road feel as it rolls along. It may not be the fastest rolling tire, but its ability to hold a line downhill was favored by many testers. The semi-slick Specialized Slaughter and Schwalbe Rock Razor offer less resistance but you should be totally sure you're willing to sacrifice pedal and braking traction before going for broke in the fight against the clock and gravity.

Three of the fastest rolling tires in our test. From left to right  the Schwalbe Rock Razor  Maxxis Aggressor  and Specialized Slaughter. Note the differences in tread design. While they each roll fast  the Aggressor has far superior braking capabilities due to its taller center tread and more open spacing.
Three of the fastest rolling tires in our test. From left to right, the Schwalbe Rock Razor, Maxxis Aggressor, and Specialized Slaughter. Note the differences in tread design. While they each roll fast, the Aggressor has far superior braking capabilities due to its taller center tread and more open spacing.

Longevity


We tested the EXO casing and it held up well for a quite a few miles, showing only scuff marks on the sidewalls. In our hands, the Maxxis tires just feel beefier and more robust. Unfortunately, our tire suffered a small tear/puncture just above the tire bead, millimeters from where it exits the rim. Full disclosure, this damage can be blamed on extremely poor technique on the author's part when he plowed into a rocky uphill transition in Downieville, CA with zero finesse or regard for the well-being of his rear wheel.

We were on the renowned Butcher Ranch Downhill, so perhaps the thicker, Double Down casing (not tested) should have been the go-to selection that might have prevented this catastrophe. Outside of this test, we rode the 29er version of this tire and were impressed with how the tread on the tire held up to repeated skidding on granite. The tire was ridden off a trail feature that dropped onto a rock slab forcing the rider to immediately shut things down by skidding. After running the same feature about 25 times, the tire looked ever-so-slightly worse for the wear than at the outset. In terms of tread wear, longevity is very much a function of how much rubber you have to wear through and how hard that rubber is. That being said, we expect these to have a longer service life than the Specialized Slaughter and Schwalbe Rock Razor. The Continental Trail King just plain failed in this category both in tread and sidewall.

Installation


The Aggressor doesn't actually have a tread design that's anything too gnarly to warrant its name  but it sure did help us smash the mountain like a big truck tire
The Aggressor doesn't actually have a tread design that's anything too gnarly to warrant its name, but it sure did help us smash the mountain like a big truck tire

Astonishingly, this tire was seated the first time using only a floor pump. Grabbing it for a friend to try out the day it arrived, in our haste we forgot to bring along our JoeBlow Booster. Halfheartedly, we decided to give it the old college try, lathering it with soapy water and dumping a bunch of Stan's sealant in there. That unexpected ping, ping, badda-bing was music to our ears as we thought for sure tubing them up would be the only way our buddy was riding them that day. Subsequent installations have been just as straightforward.

Best Applications


The Aggressor is a great all-around trail tire with applications ranging from long XC trail rides to enduro racing. If you prefer a more controlled descent versus one of linked recoveries, the enhanced traction and cornering prowess of this tire will likely make up for any deficit you may incur in rolling resistance. The durable EXO casing fends off rocks adequately and provides a hefty amount of sidewall support that allows a wide range of tire pressures to suit individual rider preferences.

Value


With a list price of $62, we'll buy this tire all day long. The innovative design and exceptional ride make this tire an exceptional value. Not to mention the fact that you'll be hard pressed to find a condition aside from deep mud that will necessitate an alternative tire choice. With entry fees for enduro races not going down anytime soon and bikes costing 10 grand, the Aggressor just might be the least expensive performance enhancer not yet on the banned substances list.

We love running the Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5" up front and the Aggressor 2.3" in the rear. It's a combination that's hard to beat.
We love running the Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5" up front and the Aggressor 2.3" in the rear. It's a combination that's hard to beat.

Conclusion


It was love at first ride with this tire back when we tested enduro bikes and the affair continues even stronger to this day. We knew it was the real thing when there was hardly a time we ever wanted to be away from this tire. It's fast, but not at the expense of being able to slow down effectively like some other tires with minimal center tread. It holds a firm line through corners but is just as happy to be flicked and tossed around with a little unweighting. This tire is an excellent new addition to an already stellar lineup from Maxxis. If you're not ready to jump on the semi-slick bandwagon but don't want to run an aggressively knobby tire out back, then this is the answer.

Other Versions


The Aggressor comes in a variety of wheel sizes, widths, casing and rubber compounds. For 26" wheels, it is offered in a 2.3" width in either the EXO or Double Down casing in their Dual rubber compound only.

In both 27.5" and 29" wheel sizes it comes in 2.3" and 2.5"WT widths and in both EXO and Double Down casings in their Dual rubber compound only.


Sean Cronin and Jeremy Benson