Bikes tested on: 2011 Turner DHR, 2011 Specialized SX
With as much as the downhill world emphasizes tires, it has struck me as odd that so little discussion is available on something that Maxxis snuck into their lineup this year.
As of this spring, the long awaited and severely needed update to the handicapped brother of the Minion DHF, the Minion DHR, has become a reality. Some photos were floating around last season of some prototypes, but that’s been about the extent of the buzz. Well, they’re here, and I’ve been riding them. A lot.
The most popular tire in downhilling has for years had to deal with its crazy toothless cousin who drools on the table and bumps into walls. If you believe in doppelgangers, that’s what the old Minion DHR is: a Gollum-like relative to the pretty brilliantly designed DHF. The DHF has meaty knobs where they’re needed; angles that work to hold dirt in corners and in braking; and most importantly, space between the bumps to let them dig in and do their thing.
And then there’s this:
Pay special attention to what constitutes the upper edge in this photo (circled). That’s essentially the form this tire takes when rolling along at 20mph through the woods. There’s a big prevalent channel down the centerline, so, you know, it’ll roll straight. It grips laterally when the centerline is engaged, like in a big banked berm.
But moving out from that centerline, that profile is one thing: round. Very round, like a road bike tire. There’s no defined channel to hold dirt in “real” leaned-over corners. The side knobs are kind of blocked off by those big siped knobs that reach out pretty far.
The side knobs next to those siped braking knobs are a little taller, but then every other sideknob on each side of them reaches too far into the profile to really maintain a channel to genuinely grab material as it’s rolling along in a corner.
The unsiped “intermediate” knobs are big and flat so they help the thing roll faster—and the way they form a little “V” on the braking edge grabs dirt—but as a whole, the original DHR amounts to one thing: nothing special. If all you do is roll in a straight line and drag your brakes, then this is your tire. But, then again, you also have about a hundred other options, too.
Having owned exactly one of these tires in the past, I quickly learned all I needed to know: lean this thing over hard, and the back of your bike is sliding. That’s all there is to it. Even with a soft compound (slow reazay/40d at the time), this thing was pretty useless in corners.
Whether you ride DH, XC, or a unicycle, if you think tires are all sorta the same, you need to read this review. (Besides, it might just be the best tire review ever written....)
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