Maxxis Assegai Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Excellent cornering, unbeatable traction, durable supportive sidewalls
Cons: Very heavy, expensive
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Maxxis released their new DH tire, the Assegai, in the spring of 2018. As we were selecting tires to add to our mountain bike tire test, we thought it might be interesting to add a couple of gravity-oriented options to compare to our otherwise trail-oriented selection of tires. The Assegai appealed to us because it is brand new on the market, but also because it looks a lot like the award-winning Minion DHF, one of our top-performing tires. Obviously, being a DH tire, the Assegai is on the heavy side and has noticeably more rolling resistance than many of its competitors, but that is to be expected. Testers were amazed by this tire's cornering grip and outrageous traction and didn't seem to mind pedaling this heavyweight contender around as a result. We think gravity riders who put a premium on traction and performance and don't mind the weight will be hard-pressed to find a better tire than the Assegai, our Top Pick for Gravity Riders.
After riding the Assegai, our testers realized that they'd never quite experienced a tire that has that much traction when cornering. Sure, we'd all ridden the Minion DHF and the Specialized Butcher Grid and thought they cornered well, which they do, but riding the Assegai we all learned how it really felt to rail a turn.
With tall and very stout rectangular side knobs, a deeply lugged center tread, and tacky 3C MaxxGrip rubber, the Assegai is pure hookup, on all surfaces and conditions. The profile of the tire is somewhat square, which often results in a tippy feeling when getting the tire on edge, but we didn't experience that with the Assegai. It transitions seamlessly between the center and side knobs with no drift in between.
Testers also found themselves committing to and pushing harder into turns than they usually would, as this tire inspired the confidence to do so with its tenacious grip. Like any tire, it does have a limit in its cornering grip; it just happens to be much higher with the Assegai. The thick and supportive sidewalls of the Assegai also allow you to run lower tire pressures without the fear of the sidewall rolling or folding, even down to around 18psi. The beauty of the stout DH casing is that even at a pressure that low, there's little fear of pinch flatting.
Due to the aggressive tread design of the Assegai, it has loads of pedaling traction. All of the knobs are tall, with most of them having squared-off edges, although the rectangular center knobs are slightly ramped, and they claw into loose dirt with ease. The edges of the knobs bite quite well, and there is siping on most that enhances the grip on hardpack and solid rock.
It performed exceptionally well in loose dirt, and it was extremely uncommon to lose traction while climbing with this tire. Its pedaling traction was on par with the WTB Convict, the Maxxis Minion DHR II, and the Schwalbe Hans Dampf. We used it primarily as a front tire, but of course, it can be used either front or rear. If using it in the rear be prepared for it to scramble up anything, you'll just pay for that traction with lots of weight and rolling resistance.
Not surprisingly, the Assegai also shines in the braking traction department. Again, the tall knobs and relatively wide spacing of them provide lots of bite into the surface, whatever that might be. The knobs are vertical and grab into the dirt like claws. If you're looking for a tire that slows and stops with the best of 'em, even in super loose conditions, the Assegai has got you covered.
It shares the highest marks for braking traction with other aggressive tires like the WTB Convict, and the Maxxis Minion DHR II. By contrast, the semi-slick tires we tested, like the Specialized Slaughter Grid, have a faster rolling low-profile center tread and consequently less braking traction.
As you've probably already guessed, the Assegai has some of the highest rolling resistance in our test selection. The combination of the deep aggressive tread and the stickier 3C MaxxGrip rubber definitely slow this tire down. Not to mention the fact that it weighs 1303g, or 2.87lbs, per tire, which also adds a bit of rotational weight and even more resistance to rolling, at least when pedaling on flat or uphill.
We expected it to feel slower than it actually does, but we found it to be comparable to the WTB Convict, but faster rolling than the Schwalbe Magic Mary. Of course, it rolls way slower than tires designed to have less rolling resistance like the Specialized Slaughter Grid, but these tires are meant to do different things and are worlds apart in their performance.
Throughout our testing, the Assegai has proven itself to be a rather durable tire. The beefy dual-ply DH casing shows virtually no signs of wear, and we aren't even sure we could pinch flat this tire if we tried. The 3C MaxxGrip rubber compound is impressively tacky, and that softer rubber compound is likely to wear faster than something harder.
We haven't had the chance to ride the Assegai enough to wear them out, but many of the other tires in our test are showing more wear on the side knobs after the same amount of riding. Perhaps this is due to the tread design that has tread in the transitional zone to share the load of the cornering forces? It's safe to assume that when used as a rear tire, the side knobs would tend to wear more quickly. Either way, we're impressed with the longevity of the rubber considering the softer compound used.
Installing the Assegai was very easy and painless. The tire took little effort to get on the rim and could be done completely by hand without the use of a tire lever. Once on the rim, seating the bead was equally easy and required only the use of a standard floor pump. We were impressed with how easy it was to mount and feel that most people should have no trouble doing it at home or even in a parking lot as long as you have a floor pump. In contrast, all of the new Schwalbe tires we tested were much more challenging to install, requiring the use of a high powered compressor, and in some cases, the removal of the valve core to blast air in quickly enough.
The value of this tire is definitely up to the individual and what you want and need from your tires. Do you want a big burly tire with ridiculous traction? At retail, the new Assegai in the Double Down casing doesn't come cheap, but if you're looking for a confidence-inspiring tire with outrageous traction for dominating the downhill course or your local shuttle laps, then we think this tire is worth the asking price. If you're more of a trail rider who earns your descents, then you're probably better off looking elsewhere at lighter weight and potentially less expensive options. Fortunately, this tire is now made in the lighter EXO and EXO+ casing options, with a slight reduction in price.
The Maxxis Assegai is our new Top Pick for Gravity Riders Award winner. This is not a tire for weight-conscious riders or those who earn all of their descents by pedaling; this is a downhill crushing machine. If you let gravity do the work and you're looking for a tire with outstanding cornering capabilities and seemingly endless pedaling and braking traction, you'll want to give the Assegai a try. Mount 'em front and rear on your long travel rig for an unbeatable combination for smashing downhill.
The Assegai is currently offered in both 27.5" and 29" wheel sizes in a 2.5" width. It is also available in EXO and EXO+ plus casings and 3C MAXX TERRA, 3C MAXX GRIP, and Dual rubber compounds.
— Jeremy Benson