Vittoria Mazza Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers Pros: Great cornering and braking traction, fair price, long tread life, supportive sidewalls, work in a wide range of conditions
Cons: Tread may be too aggressive for some riders/locations, a little heavy
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|Pros||Great cornering and braking traction, fair price, long tread life, supportive sidewalls, work in a wide range of conditions||EXO sidewall protection, excellent cornering grip, good on front or rear, dual compound increases longevity||Great cornering grip, good braking traction, aggressive tread pattern, super damp ride quality, available in 2.6 and 2.3-inch widths||Versatile, affordable, great all-around use, intermediate tread height, fast rolling||Reasonably priced, versatile yet aggressive tread design, good all-around performance as a rear tire|
|Cons||Tread may be too aggressive for some riders/locations, a little heavy||Not the best for hardpack, high rolling resistance, requires good technique||Moderate weight, not the fastest rolling||Not the best braking traction||Moderate braking traction, firmer rubber compound|
|Bottom Line||An aggressive tire with excellent cornering traction, braking bite, and above-average durability||One of the most popular tires ever, and for good reason||Specialized's classic aggressive trail riding tire with a new rubber compound, enhanced grip, and same great value||A versatile and well-rounded do-it-all rear tire for any kind of riding||A versatile, well-rounded, and reasonably priced trail riding tire best suited for use on the rear of the bike|
|Rating Categories||Vittoria Mazza||Maxxis Minion DHF 3...||Specialized Butcher...||Maxxis Aggressor 2....||Specialized Elimina...|
|Pedaling Traction (20%)|
|Braking Traction (20%)|
|Rolling Resistance (15%)|
|Specs||Vittoria Mazza||Maxxis Minion DHF 3...||Specialized Butcher...||Maxxis Aggressor 2....||Specialized Elimina...|
|Size tested||29" x 2.4"||29" x 2.5" WT||29" x 2.6"||29" x 2.5" WT||29" x 2.3"|
|Weight as tested||1090g||954g||1123g||950g||945g|
|Front, Rear, or Both||Front, Both||Front, Both||Front, Both||Rear||Rear|
|Casing Tested||Trail||EXO||GRID Trail||EXO||GRID Trail|
|Compound Tested||4C Graphene 2.0||3C Maxx Terra||Gripton T9||Dual||Gripton T7|
|Tread Count (TPI)||120||60||60||60||60|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Mazza is an aggressive new tire option from Vittoria tires. It bears a striking resemblance to one of the most popular mountain bike tire designs ever, the Maxxis Minion DHF. The DHF is an often copied tread design, and for good reason, because it works so darn well. It turns out that Vittoria's Vice President of Marketing and Product, Ken Avery, was a product manager at Maxxis tires for a decade, and he was instrumental in the design of the original DHF. While these tires share many design characteristics, the Mazza sets itself apart in a number of ways. We were very interested to test these two tires back to back and see the differences for ourselves. We found the Mazza to be at least as good as the DHF, and we'd urge riders to give them a shot.
The Mazza looks like it was designed to excel in the corners, and that's where this tire truly shines. The stout row of side knobs pairs with the aggressive directional center tread and generous longitudinal siping on all the knobs to provide a very predictable and confidence-inspiring cornering grip. Vittoria's 4C rubber compound was grippy on virtually all surfaces, with sturdy side knobs and supportive sidewalls that held strong under heavy cornering forces.
At first glance, the Tread of the Mazza looks incredibly similar to that of the Maxxis Minion DHF. A closer inspection, however, reveals some notable differences. One of the primary reasons for the Mazza's excellent grip in the corners is the substantial row of side knobs. These knobs are tall, generally rectangular, and alternating with one slightly inboard and the other a little further out on the shoulder. The outboard knobs have a shallow C-shaped cutout on their outer edge as well as a deep longitudinal sipe down the center with 2 shallower sipes on either side. The inboard knobs have a shallow L-shaped notch cut on their inside edge with 2 shallow longitudinal sipes on top. The cornering knobs are spaced between the alternating sets of center tread lugs with a small amount of open space (less than the DHF) in the intermediate zone. The center tread features tall knobs and alternates between 2 smaller rectangles with lengthwise sipes and 2 larger angled knobs with deep lengthwise flared sipes. The smaller center tread lugs have ramped leading edges, while the larger ones have small steps cut in them.
One of the main differences we noticed between the Mazza and the Minion DHF was that there was less of the dead space feeling when rolling onto the cornering knobs. The transition from the center to the side felt a little more seamless, likely due to the smaller gap in the intermediate zone. Once on edge, the Mazza hooked up and held impressively well in virtually all conditions we encountered while testing. Cornering traction was predictable, strong, and confidence-inspiring and the edge of control was communicated well. It felt easy to commit to corners, and the side knobs held strong and didn't squirm or roll under heavy loads. The siping on all of the tread knobs seemed to be very effective, allowing them to flex and conform well to the surface. We found the Mazza gripped well around flat, hardpacked corners and when rolling across sidehill rock slabs.
Vittoria is one of the only brands using 4 rubber compounds in their tires. Their 4C tires layer separate base and surface rubber compounds to tune the tire's performance exactly how they like. In the case of the cornering knobs, this involves a stiff and supportive base layer with a softer, tackier rubber at the surface. The tacky surface rubber grips and hooks up, while the stiffer layer supports the knob and resists folding. The Trail casing we tested is the lighter of the two available casing options and we found it to provide a good blend of support and suppleness. It handled cornering forces well while still allowing the tire to conform to the trail surface, even at air pressures in the low 20's. For those interested in a more substantial construction, the Mazza is also offered in an Enduro and E-MTB casing, though it comes with a 300-gram weight penalty.
Pedaling traction is another strong suit of the Mazza. With such an aggressive tread, it would be hard for it to not hook up while climbing in virtually any condition. The tread's open spacing really allows each knob to claw into the trail surface, and this tire proved capable of scrambling up just about anything we put in its path.
The Mazza was designed for use as both a front and rear tire. As a rear tire, it provides heaps of traction on the climbs. The tall knobs and open spacing work well in loose soils and have sharp edges to grab onto roots and rocks. The leading edges of the center tread are ramped on the smaller pairs and stepped on the larger knobs. The stepped edges are intended to work like ramps and still provide sharp, grabby edges for climbing. It may sacrifice a bit of rolling resistance, but we were quite impressed with this tire's climbing traction.
The braking traction provided by the Mazza is very good. We'd say that is on par with other tires that have a similar tread pattern. The tall knobs and relatively open spacing really allows it to dig into loose soils, while the siping helps to improve grip on firm and off-camber surfaces. The Mazza translated a great feeling of control and was not prone to breaking into a skid unless that was the intention.
The tall center tread knobs have relatively open spacing which allows all of them to dig into the soil when you apply the brakes. The braking edges are vertical and relatively sharp, which further helps them grab a hold of the surface. We tested the Mazza primarily in dry and dusty late summer conditions, although we did encounter a few mud holes and slippery roots. The open spacing seemed to clear mud quite easily, though we never tested in truly wet and mucky conditions. In addition to providing predictable and confidence-inspiring braking traction in loose conditions, we found the Mazza to work quite well on firm dirt and rock. The wealth of siping on the tread was noticeable, and we could really feel the tread grip where others would occasionally slip. We have lots of granite slabs where we test in South Lake Tahoe, CA, and these tires did very well on sidehill and steep slab rolls.
The Mazza has a pretty aggressive tread pattern with relatively open spacing. This design has inherently more rolling resistance than something lower profile, but these tires were designed with cornering and braking traction as the main priorities. There are certainly faster rolling tires out there, but considering the Mazza's intended use and other qualities, we feel that is a trade-off that many riders are willing to make. It is worth noting that the 29" x 2.6" Mazza Trail we tested tipped the scales at 1,090-grams, which is roughly 85-grams heavier than the claimed weight of the Minion DHF in a 29" x 2.5" WT with the EXO casing.
Admittedly, we rode the Mazza primarily as a front tire where rolling resistance is a bit less noticeable. On the back of the bike, we found it to feel a bit more draggy, but not egregiously so. That said, we'd typically keep this tire mounted in the front, with something a bit faster rolling in the rear. At any rate, Vittoria has taken steps to reduce the rolling resistance of this tire. The alternating center tread knobs have ramped leading edges on the smaller pairs and stepped leading edges on the larger sets. The ramps and steps help to ease the knobs into the surface as the tire rolls forward.
We've tested a few different Vittoria tires and we've generally been impressed by their durability. The Mazza continues that trend, and this tire is still going strong with well over 500 miles on it. At this point, the inside edges of the side knobs are showing some serious wear from cornering in the loose, dry decomposing granite soils we encountered for most of our test period. That said, it took a pretty long time before we noticed the deterioration. One explanation for the above-average tread life is Vittoria's use of Graphene in their rubber compounds. They claim that Graphene fills the space between the rubber molecules which makes the rubber more durable and resistant to abrasion and cuts. We aren't molecular scientists, but our experience tells us that there might be something more than gimmicky marketing talk going on with Vittoria's long-lasting rubber.
The Trail casing we tested has also proven to be quite durable. We've ridden lots of chunky miles with sharp rocks scraping the sidewalls and we've had no cuts or excessive abrasion to speak of. Sure, they are beginning to look a little worn, but no more than should be expected at this point. They aren't even seeping sealant the way other brands tend to do over time. Several poor line choices have also led to numerous hard rim-outs, yet we experienced no pinch flats or punctures through the sidewall or the tread.
Installing the Mazza was pretty straightforward. It went on the rim mostly by hand, with the use of a tire lever for the very last part of the bead. With a little more effort, we probably could've coaxed the tire on completely by hand. Once on the rim, we were able to use a standard floor pump to inflate it and seat the bead without any hassle.
We feel the Mazza is a strong value. They are offered at a competitive price and they work very, very well. Not only does the Mazza perform as well, if not better, than the Minion DHF, but they have proven to be impressively durable as well. If you're looking for an aggressive front tire that works well in a huge range of conditions and lasts a long time, check out the Mazza.
The Maxxis Minion DHF may be one of the most popular tires of all time, but now its got some competition from the lesser-known brand, Vittoria. The Mazza is an excellent new aggressive tire that works well front or rear and performs very well in all conditions. It rails corners with confidence and its braking traction is top of the heap. We also found the Trail casing to be quite durable and the 4C Graphene rubber lasted longer than most. If you already love the DHF, or you're just looking for a great aggressive tire, we feel the Mazza is absolutely worth trying for yourself.
Vittoria makes the Mazza in 27.5 and 29-inch diameters in both 2.4 and 2.6-inch widths. They make two different casing constructions, the lighter weight Trail and the beefier Enduro & eMTB.
— Jeremy Benson
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