Maxxis High Roller II Review

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Alongside the Specialized Ground Control, The Onza Porcupine and the Panaracer Smoke the original High Roller is probably one of the most iconic tyres ever created.

What’s the spec and cost?

High Roller II 26×2.4 EXO Folder 60a compound, £39.99

So, if the original is so great, why mess with a winning formula, right? What makes this a better tyre?

Well, firstly the original was a little prone to suddenly washing out sideways when it reached the limit of it’s traction – which admittedly took some effort – so this one has slightly angled side knobs which help resist this and give some additional cornering confidence. This is combined with a broader central tread to ensure there’s always some bite whilst leaning into corners as you shift weight onto the shoulders of the tyre.You’ll also notice that all of the knobs are now more detailed with sipes (the little cuts in the blocks) and slightly concaved edges – this should make the tread more flexible in certain directions by allowing the rubber to flex.The final difference in tread shape is that the braking surface is now more aggressively designed to bite when you throw out the anchor – the central knobs are squarer on the leading edge which should help them dig as you, er, tug.

Secondly, this tyre is noticeably deeper than it’s folding 2.35 predecessor. We like a folding tyre here at StS (when you are riding up 1000m climbs it’s a sensible place to try to shave a bit of weight)  – but the 2.35 LUST folder was ridiculously lacking in the carcass depth department. Few reviewers have mentioned these differences – but one of the reasons we stopped using High Rollers for guiding was that  the carcass was so shallow – reducing the air volume and therefore the ability of the wheel to shrug off rock strikes…..important in places like Spain and Andorra.

The full sidewall specDespite what you might have read elsewhere it certainly seems a wider tyre too – we don’t have an old High Roller kicking around to measure, but it was a well-documented fact that the 2.35 came up as being closer to a 2.2. Well, I have just measured the tread width on a DT Swiss XP1600 rim at 2.38″, with the carcass being 2.28″. That’s a decent sized set of boots.

How does it perform? Is it really better?

In a word, yes! We just spent 9 days riding this tyre in North Wales in all conditions imaginable – trail centre hardpack, wet mud, moist moss-covered rocks, gravelly berms, lethally slippery roots and dry flowing turns (we had a bit of a mixed bag of weather) – and it performed remarkably in all of them. And I don’t use the word “remarkably” lightly – these seemed to offer far more grip in the wet than I remember the original High Roller possessing – it was always good for traction and drive, but the older HR never seemed to hook up especially well in the wet…I used to swap to faithful Bonty Jones Muds for the sticky season. In this iteration of the High Roller however, it’s hard to see why you need a different summer/winter tyre choice to cope with differing conditions – they just grip and grip and, then, just when you expect them to let go, grip some more.

In corners the Cube Stereo Race was transformed – and the enormous contrast from the outgoing tyres (Schwalbe Fat Albert Triple Compound 2.4’s) simply served to even further drive the point home. Suddenly, rather than “just” being a great all-mountain bike the Stereo was transformed into feeling like a rip-snorting mini-DH bike. In part this also came from a cockpit change (more of that in a later review) made at the same time – but from a pure grip perspective I was able to lie the bike down into flat corners to a far greater degree, and I could attack the new berms on Coed Y Brenin’s fantastic new blue-graded “Slipway” section without even giving consideration to the brake levers.

Braking power – as always with High Rollers – was fantastic too, but it was the wet weather cornering that was the noticeable step-up from the original, along with an unerring new ability to clear claggy mud. On one particularly soggy section the person I was riding with found their tyres really struggling to clear – not so with the HRII’s. What tyres did he have? None other than my previous winter go-to-tyres, the Jones Mud.

How are they wearing?

No wear there.Well, after 9 days of attacking the rocky, abrasive trails in Snowdonia with new-found-grip-based aggression there’s not really any signs of wear at all! (The photos here were taken today, after the trip.) A recent review in MBR mentioned that the 3C version was showing some pretty severe degradation after a 10 day trip to the Alps – well, from what I have seen so far there’s plenty of grip to be had from the 60a version – with none of the longevity issues. However, I’ll be sticking some 3C’s on the Cube Hanzz big rig for uplift duties next summer to see how they go!

VEDICT 9/10

These tyres really smacked me violently about the face and neck with their rubbery loveliness. Go and buy some immediately. And we mean immediately – we’ve been told by a retailer that Maxxis prices may be about to go up by about 25%…even so, these are gert lush rim huggers.

"...the most perfect sun-dappled loamy singletrack any of us had ever ridden."

MBR Mountain Bike Rider

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