We’ve long approved of tubeless tires for racing ’cross, and just can’t emphasize enough how much the variables matter to achieve a burp-proof setup. Maxxis aims to be the tire variable of choice in tubeless cyclocross setups, and is entering the cyclocross tubeless market with the new 700x33c Mud Wrestler Tubeless Ready tire. It’s something we learned about at Outdoor Demo at Interbike 2013, but after a scowl from one Maxxis employee to the other after we were told the news, the news never left our audio recorder.
Now the news and tire are out and public, and we got a first-hand look at Maxxis’ first tubeless cyclocross tire at Frost Bike 2014.
First, what makes this version of the Mud Wrestler tubeless? “We redesigned the bead, it’s not exactly a UST type, but it’s more of a square profile,” Maxxis’ Derek Bond explained to us. “We also slightly tweaked the actual compound and structure itself so now you have the ability to use any sealant without any kind of issue whatsover.”
The Mud Wrestler will come with 120tpi casing and weigh in at 370g, but a 60tpi version coming in at 390g (just 25g heavier than the 60tpi non-tubeless version) is also in the works.
Bond says they’ve tested on Shimano Road Tubeless rims as well as Stan’s NoTubes rims at low pressure with success, but because everyone’s definition of “low pressure” is different, we’re looking forward to doing our own testing with lower-than-inner-tube pressures. “You will need a tubeless-specific rim,” Bond cautions, but it will work, “As long as your rim is capable of handling a tubeless-specific tire.”
The Mud Wrestler Tubeless Ready comes in a 700x33c size, just legal for UCI racing (depending on the width of the rim), and uses their EXO protection to reinforce the sidewalls. The good news is that the tires have just arrived, giving you plenty of time to experiment before cyclocross season.
We’ve liked the Mud Wrestler tread, and found it to have good mud shedding capabilities, but only wished it had more volume and a bit taller knobs. It’s a decent universal tire though, with good cornering grip and doesn’t have such an aggressive tread you feel bogged down on fast grass or hardpack courses.
The new Mud Wrestler Tubeless Ready clincher certainly will make many reconsider Maxxis as a tire option when riding tubeless. We’ve never had good luck running standard Maxxis clinchers on tubeless setups, either on converted rims or NoTubes rims, and we’re not the only ones. Veteran racer and multi-time National Champ Gunnar Shogren (see our profile of Gunnar in Issue 21) raced standard Maxxis Mud Wrestler clinchers on his Stan’s NoTubes rims last year at Masters Worlds, only to be knocked out of the running for the win after he rolled one of the tires off the rim (his only tubeless problem all season). The newer bead and compound aim to eliminate burps and sealant leaks, and we’re excited to see if that’s indeed the case.
Many cyclocrossers struggle with Road Tubeless rims and burping, and when using Road Tubeless rims, the bead shape really matters. The new Mud Wrestler Tubeless Ready tire looks like its boxy bead might make it be a good option to use with Road Tubeless rims (Shimano, Easton, etc.). Hutchinson’s Tubeless Ready and Vittoria’s TNT, with their boxy, tight beads are two brands that have worked well in our testing, but cyclocrossers can certainly benefit from more options and treads.
Maxxis also still makes the Mimo and Raze (pronounced Rah-zay) cyclocross tires, and is considering releasing those models as tubeless ready versions. We also got one update that bums us out a bit: One of our favorite dirt road (or aggressive gravel) tires, the high volume 35c Maxxis Locust, is no longer available as an aftermarket tire, although it still exists as an OE spec tire. So you can still find them, you just may have to look a bit harder.
Tubeless options are really growing in cyclocross. In the past year, we’ve seen new treads from WTB and Kenda introduced, and Reynolds just showcased their new tubeless 29 XC wheels that look perfect for cyclocross earlier this month while Stan’s NoTubes introduced even more tubeless wheels last summer and has its carbon Valor rim that Jake Wells raced to within an inch of victory in the Masters 35-39 race. That carbon rim wheelset should be shipping soon.
Stay tuned for the exact MSRP of the Maxxis Mud Wrestler Tubeless Ready, although we expect the tire to retail somewhere around $60, a tad more than the $48 standard folding version.
More info: maxxis.com.
See more cyclocross tires, bikes and other goodies from Frost Bike 2014 in our ever-growing coverage.