By: Troy Templin
As much as we know Maxxis tires from their sponsorship of the UnitedHealthcare pro road team and large family of tubular, clincher and tubeless ready road tires, we were surprised to get an invite to a new tire launch in, of all places, Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Get-A-Way located in their backyard in their home state of Georgia. While this initially seemed like an odd place to invite RBA, we were assured that there were miles of beautiful county dirt roads to ride on. Dirt roads? That means we’d be on gravel bikes – now it all made sense.
What Maxxis wanted to show us was their new range of tubeless tires designed for more dual purpose riding chores; the Rambler and the Re-Fuse. While Maxxis has already been in the tubeless game with their well-received Padrone road tire, this was the first time the tire brand was speaking specifically to the gravel friendly market.
UP IN THE HILLS
Mulberry Gap offers everything a person could ask for when looking for a cycling adventure. There is a number of small cabins on the property for those looking for a warm bed each night while also offering countless locations to pitch your tent. There is a community barn (more of a high ceiling Clubhouse) that offers a dry and nice place to eat or just hang out after a day of riding. The atmosphere is infused with true southern hospitality and cooking is like nothing we have experienced. Not only are you treated as family they also know their stuff when it comes to riding in the area and can guide you on the best options for your trip.
Having such a great riding location so close to the office makes it clear why Maxxis was holding their launch here. Pivot Cycles founder Chris Cocalis was there to supply the bikes and all the tires were set up tubeless thanks to Stans NoTubes which helped make for a weekend of flat-free riding.
I was the only journo sporting lycra shorts and testing the new 700cx40mm Rambler and 700cx32mm and 40mm Re-Fuse tires and with the endless dirt roads I was able to put in a few miles return and switch up the tire combinations quickly for a very real comparison between both tires.
The 120 tpi Rambler ($64) has a claimed weight of 390g and has a dual compound design, while the 60 tpi Re-Fuse ($64) has a claimed weight of 520g for the 40mm and 390g on the 32mm it is definitely less dirt capable than the Rambler.
The dirt roads were fast and smooth when in the distinct tire grove but when that faded you would be forced into wet slightly muddy sections with water filling the deep holes. I found that having the Rambler mounted in the front matched with the Re-Fuse in the rear was the best combination for speed and control in almost every situation. A few times when racing down the short hills trough corners I could have used a bit more tread in the rear but overall very confident and efficient combination.
With more drop bar bikes with true fat tire capabilities like the Cannondale Slate and Open U.P. that come equipped with 650b wheels and 2.1 mountain bike tires, we also took a turn riding mountain bikes to test some of the rubber that may bleed into the gravel category in the future. While there wasn’t a Re-Fuse 650b 2.0 on hand to try, the sound of it could make it consideration for this type of bike as long as staying on the pavement was a priority.
Maxxis has obviously poured a lot of effort and technology into their products and it was nice to see that the road and mountain specific technologies are starting to mix and combine to deliver an elevated experience. We’re looking forward to getting the tires back home to test them on our familiar terrain to see how they compare to the growing market of gravel/ adventure tires offered.