Maxxis Assegai Tire
Following the recent launch of their first signature edition tire in some time, the Assegai, Maxxis gave us a chance to learn more about the tire from the people behind it, including former DH World Champion himself, Greg Minnaar.
Santa Cruz Bicycles’ headquarters played host to our merry tribe and gave us a chance to spend some quality time talking and riding with Greg and the Maxxis team to learn more about the development process, how things are going, and what may lay in wait down the road.
Development of the Assegai began in October, 2016 with Greg sketching out his tire idea after racing the Finale Ligure Enduro World Series. Greg was seeking a tire that would provide superior cornering and braking traction in hard pack, loose over hard pack, and moist conditions – something he wasn't finding in the current Maxxis line, at least not to his desires. This napkin sketch would be the beginning of a two year development journey that would culminate in the tire named after the traditional South African Zulu fighting spear.
First however, Greg had to convince Maxxis to trust him in making a new tire and adding it to their line. According to legend, it went something along the lines of Greg telling Maxxis he’d like to make a tire. They wanted some details, Greg produced the napkin and the project was a “go.” Support like this and trust in their ideas and experience goes a long way for athletes. Enter Ryan Huang, the athlete liaison for Maxxis and the person responsible for conveying the GOAT’s idea to the scientists and engineers at the rubber factory.
Ryan and Greg went back and forth on the tire's development, each of them telling us that the lion's share of credit belonged to the other. Greg said that while the concept of the tire was his, the actual science and final execution was done by Maxxis. Ryan said that he simply put the knobs where Greg said and sent it to the production squad. Humility aside, the team produced a knockout piece of equipment and all sides dub the Assegai a great success.
Maxxis Assegai Highlights
- 27.5 x 2.5-inch and 29 x 2.5-inch sizes
- Wide Trail casing optimized for 30-35mm wide rims
- Maxxis’ 3C MaxxGrip rubber compound
- Dual-ply DH casing with butyl sidewall inserts
- Tubeless compatibility
- Folding bead
- MSRP: $90 USD
The Assegai’s side knobs were boosted from the original High Roller tire, which Greg liked. The original “I” shaped lug was given a new bit of siping to improve traction when laying it down in corners. To assist in this mission, said lugs were beefed up to prevent folding when pulling maximum g’s (that’s lower case for gravity, not Greg).
Most noticeable on the Assegai are the small knobs placed in the space usually left open on the tire canvas – the channel between center and side lugs. These little guys were Greg's idea and the reason for the lack of "void" when laying the rubber over in corners. There is no irony in that this ride characteristic is a reflection of the man that made the tire.
When asked how many renditions or molds Maxxis went through in producing the rubber that is now being distributed, we were informed that this was the first go. Yes, Virginia, you read that correctly. The very tires that have been already proven in World Cup battle and under Vital's own testers are the first go-round of the project. Slow clap.
As for how this tire may have impacted Greg’s settings, he said setup remained the same. He is currently running between 26 to 32 PSI in the Assegai. While this is no different from what he has run in previous tires, Greg is looking to start experimenting with lower pressures.
Greg is currently the only rider on the Syndicate that is running the Assegai. When asked about tire choice, Luca Shaw said that for this season he is going to just run the Minion tires he is familiar with, but would be open to trying the Assegai this winter.
The remarkable traction of the Assegai has many riders weighing the virtues of performance and weight. The tire was conceived by the winningest man to ever race a downhill bike, so there is no shock in where its bias is. The truly strong will find this tire on their daily drivers and enduro race rigs, but many of the single crown crowd will forego the benefits of traction in lieu of reasonable weight. The light on the horizon is that Maxxis stated they will be bringing a lighter, trail oriented version to market. Alas, as so many Vegas strip stumbles have began, we cannot gauge the distance to that light. No timeline was given for the trail edition of the Assegai. For now, the Assegai remains as what it was meant to be: a gravity focused weapon for those that seek the utmost of traction.
Feature by Brad Howell // Photos by Duncan Philpott