Aggro rubber for big wheels – Our Maxxis Shorty 29″ tyre review

Wideopen test-pilot Paul Mackie shares some thoughts on rubber for big wheels and natural trails – it’s the Maxxis Shorty.

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  • A mid-spike for pedaling in loose conditions
  • Tested in 29″ x 2.4 but also available in 26″ and 27.5″
  • Available in 3C and Super Tacky
  • Wire bead
  • From 1,215g
  • From £46.99 each
  • On sale here.
  • Dealer listing here.

Released in winter 2014, Maxxis describes the newly released Shorty as: “a mid-spike for loose or slightly muddy conditions; more versatile than the Wet Scream”.

The abridged version of this review would agree with that! It’s not an all-out mud spike, and it’s not an all-year-round trail tyre – it’s something in between. If you ride predominantly steep, technical natural trails through the winter, then this is an excellent tyre. If you’re riding more at the trail centre on a stony surface, then this tyre isn’t going to work as well as something else out there – but then again, it’s not designed to do that.

“If you ride predominantly steep, technical natural trails through the winter, then this is an excellent tyre”

Maxxis now has a pretty comprehensive range of downhill/ aggressive tyres to choose from, with the Shorty seemingly filling the gap between the all out filthy condition Wet Scream and the drier condition High Roller II. For hard pack, bone dry conditions, the Minion DHR and DHF are well equipped with stout tread blocks.

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As a predominantly 29er size wheel rider these days, it’s great to see a bigger selection of ‘aggressive’ tyres becoming available for wagon wheels. And the Shorty is very much a welcome addition. The tyre tested here is the 29er version, although it is assumed that the performance translates to the other wheel sizes available.

For simplicity, I’ve ignored the compound types and tyre carcass options available for this tyre and concentrated on the tread pattern and grip performance, which to me is a tyre’s DNA. I would add however that Maxxis are getting it right (after several years of getting it wrong) with the tyre width and volume. The 2.3” wide tested here is bang on the money for intended riding style.

So, to the testing: What struck me first about this tyre after fitting was how similar the tyre tread silhouette is to the High Roller (I and II) and also the Minion DHF and DHR. There is a block of tread in the centre, before a gap to the strong, ‘aggressive’ shoulders on the side, and the whole thing is relatively angular and square shaped.

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So, the Shorty follows other Maxxis Tyres with its tread silhouette, but being a muddish spike the tread pattern is more spaced out than the intended drier condition tyres like the High Roller II and Minions. This spaced out pattern, and taller tread blocks provides better mud clearance and soil penetration for grip. The trade-off is that this is not so good on a harder trail surface.

On the trail, the tyre pretty much did everything I expected of it: it offered good, predictable straight line, braking and cornering grip in loamy, muddy conditions and wasn’t as grippy in the corners on a hardpack surface as the High Roller II. No surprises.

“it looks like a moto-cross tyre, and to a certain extent performs like one”

What is noticeable about this tyre is the square block pattern. It seems that this is a trend now with many tyre manufacturers, especially for tyres aimed at muddier conditions – Schwalbe has enjoyed great success of late with their Magic Mary and Hans Dampf tyres, both of which have a square tread blocks.

You can’t help notice the similarity to moto-cross and trials tyres here that have been using the square block pattern for years – and with good reason.Mountain bikers are riding faster, more aggressively and over more challenging terrain than ever before and they need tyres they can trust in a variety of situations.

The square tread pattern favoured by motorised bikes offers good consistency in grip and no surprises – they are predictable. And this is what I like about the Shorty: it’s a no-nonsense tyre. There are no gimmicky diamond patterns, ramps, wedges or Tetris shapes here: it looks like a moto-cross tyre, and to a certain extent performs like one.

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All tyres have a trade-off, there is not perfect tyre for all conditions. The Shorty is very good for natural, loamy trails and the simple, stout block pattern is predictable and confidence inspiring. Not being and out-and-out mud spike, the Shorty isn’t bad on harder trails but then again it’s not as good as something that is designed for that terrain (like a High Roller II), and that’s your compromise.

In conclusion: if you ride steep, soft, natural trails then ‘get Shorty’!

Paul Mackie lives and rides in Bristol. Alongside joining us as a product test-pilot for 2015, Paul is a co-owner, bike designer and tester for Zealous Bike Co.

For more from Maxxis check out their UK homepage.

You can buy the Maxxis Shorty 3C EXO TR 29er here  or at your local dealer.