Stated Width: 29” x 2.3”
• 56 mm (2.2”) knob width
• 55 mm (2.17”) casing width on a 26mm internal width rim
- EXO Casing
- Dual Compound
- Tubeless Ready
Blister’s Measured Weight: 900 grams
Reviewer: 5’9”, 155 lbs
Intended Use: all-around performance
Test Duration: 20 rides
Test Locations: Whitefish, MT; Fernie, BC
The Aggressor is a new tire in Maxxis’ lineup, and I’ve been spending a decent amount of time on it this spring on my Evil Following. The Aggressor is a fairly knobby, trail-oriented tire, and I’ve been comparing it to some of my other favorite tires in the Maxxis lineup such as the High Roller II and the family of Minions (SS, DHF, DHR II). Here’s my take on how the Aggressor stacks up to those old standbys.
Design and Construction
For the time being, the Aggressor is only available in a 2.3” width for both 29” and 27.5” wheels. Maxxis offers it in both the Exo casing (which I rode) and their newer DoubleDown casing. For those unfamiliar, the Exo is a single-ply casing with extra material added to the sidewalls to help prevent cuts and tears, but the tire remains fairly compliant and is not as heavy. The DoubleDown casing is burlier all around, and is more like a light-duty downhill tire. The DoubleDown gains about 200 g over the Exo version, and I’d really only recommend it to riders that have trouble with punctures and sidewall tears.
All versions of the Aggressor come in Maxxis’ “dual compound,” and while Maxxis doesn’t specify a numerical durometer, it means there’s a firmer rubber in the middle that’ll last longer and roll a bit faster, and a softer rubber on the side knobs to help out with grip.
You can categorize tires by tread pattern in a few ways, but generally speaking, I divide knobby tires into two types: those that have transitional knobs, and those that don’t. By transitional knobs, I mean knobs between the center knobs and the side knobs.
The upside of transitional knobs is that they can provide some traction in mild corners, and they create a tire that doesn’t lose traction as the bike is tipped over from upright to leaned in on a corner. The downside of transitional knobs is that they effectively take pressure off of the side knobs, and thus decrease the total limit of the tire’s cornering traction. Since the transitional knobs bear some load, they prevent the side knobs from really digging in and gripping as hard as they could.
Back to the Aggressor — it doesn’t have any transitional knobs in the way that a Maxxis Ardent, Kenda Nevegal, or WTB Vigilante do. The Aggressor has a defined, knobless channel between the center row of knobs and the side knobs.
The center knobs on the Aggressor are blocky and squared off, and they’re spaced semi-tightly. All of the center knobs are siped, but not all of the sipes run in the same direction. The side knobs on the Aggressor bear a little bit of similarity to the High Roller II — they alternate between a fairly rectangular block and an “L” shaped block, all of which are siped. The “L” shaped block, which is found on a lot of Maxxis tires, creates a little pocket to help braking while the bike is leaned over.
I measure the Aggressor to be a bit narrower than other Maxxis 2.3” tires. While the Aggressors measure 56 mm at their widest point, a 2.3” Highroller II on the same rim measures 57 mm, and a 2.3” DHR II measure almost 59 mm. The casing measurement follows the same trend; the Aggressor is the narrowest of the three.
Mounting and Setup
All versions of the Aggressor are dubbed “TR” or “Tubeless Ready” by Maxxis. I mounted them up on the Enve M60 HV rims with about 2 oz of my homebrew sealant, and everything went together super easily. I didn’t need any tools to get them on the rim, and I was able to seat them with a standard floor pump. I also tried mounting them on the Reynolds Enduro 29 wheelset and had similar results.
I’ve been running them at 28 psi in the rear and 25 psi in the front, which is about what I run most 2.3” tires on my Evil. Since mounting them, I haven’t had any problems losing air or burping.
To start, I mounted the Aggressors on both front and rear. For reference, the tires I had mounted immediately prior to the Aggressors were the 2.3″ DHF / DHR II, which is one of the better combinations of 2.3” tires if maximum traction is the goal.
Right off the bat, two things were pretty clear. First, the Aggressors roll noticeably faster than the DHF / DHR II combo, and second, the Aggressors don’t serve up quite as much traction overall. The Aggressors were a little quicker to break loose in a corner, they didn’t hook up on the climbs quite as well, and they didn’t dig in quite as well under hard braking.
But all that said, the Aggressors were never ill-behaved. When they broke loose in a corner, they telegraphed it nicely. The limit of the tire’s traction was entirely predictable, which meant I could push them into corners and know exactly what was going to happen.
The transition from the center knobs to the side knobs on the Aggressor is a little less abrupt than on the DHF or DHR II — on those tires, I find that there is a pretty distinct lean angle where the center knobs stop doing much, and there’s a similarly distinct point on the Aggressor where the side knobs all of a sudden catch and dig in, On the DHF and DHR II and there’s a decent amount of the gap between those points, and the tire drifts a fair amount through that transition.
The Aggressor’s transition from center knobs to side knobs is a bit less distinct than the Minion; the lean angle where the center knobs stop hooking up and the angle where the side knobs start hooking up is a bit closer. This makes it a little easier to roll them into a turn gradually, but it also means that the maximum traction that the tire generates is a little less.
As far as conditions, most of my time on the Aggressors has been in forgiving, loamy dirt. I’ve also had them on a decent amount of hardpack, gravel and some mud. Thus far, the only condition where I wasn’t a fan of them was in the mud — the tighter spacing on the knobs tended to pack up a bit.
A Note on Front vs. Rear
I spent time on the Aggressor mounted front and rear, and also as a rear only mated to a knobbier tire in the front like the DHF. While the Aggressor worked okay in the front, I preferred it on the rear, paired with a meatier front tire. The Aggressor breaks loose just a little bit easier than the DHF, which gives the bike a bit of understeer that’s kind of nice to have in loose soils. I like it when my rear tire breaks loose a little before the front, because when the front breaks loose first, I crash.
NEXT: Comparisons, Durability, Etc.