My 2020 Turbo Levo Comp has 390 miles on it, and am loving every minute of it. While not perfect in every way, everything that I have had an issue with I have been able to address. For example, the suspension was very bumpy, but I solved that by removing the tokens from the forks and rear shock that the factory opted to pre-install. The brake levers had way too much slack, but I fixed that by designing DeSlackinators. The 32-tooth chainring didn’t allow me to pedal much above 20 mph unless I was turning more than 100rpm, so I changed that to a 36 and later to a 38 – and then designed a chainguide adaptor to keep the factory look. Even the 38-tooth ring has been no problem for climbing the steepest of hills, making me wonder why it had a 32 to begin with.
During this time, I learned a lot about tires. I rode the original Specialized Butcher/Eliminator 2.6″ tires for 72 miles and knew that they had to go when they slipped on wet roots more than I think they should (based on my experience with my Nobby Nic Addix that I am mostly happy with on my manual bike). While I don’t ride on wet roots often, it is not the everyday case that I need extreme grip for. Rather it is more the occasional scary surface is what I want to be protected from because any tire does ok on normal surfaces. My rule for tires is to always get the best, but the hard part is finding out what is the best, and the best for one riding condition will not be the best for the other.
Some tires I was interested in were Maxxis DHR2/DHF, Assegai, Schwalbe Magic Mary and Eddy Current, and Michelin Wild Enduro. I started by getting the DHR2/DHF in 2.6″ width, 3C MaxxTerra, EXO+. I rode them 272 miles in dry and wet conditions, going for Strava eMTB KOMs in dry, and trying to hit every root in wet. I am 142lbs/64Kg and used them at about 18psi rear and 14 psi front, just like the stock Specialized tires. At this pressure, they were about 2.45 inches wide on the casings on my 30mm internal rims. I could tell right away that they were amazing, and I was not able to slip on the wet roots that caused me trouble before. I also did intentional panic stops on wet wooden bridges, also without any drama. Also, even though the knobs are not massive, I did not break traction climbing the steepest of hills, even when they were sometimes not the most firm dirt. Great all-around tires for sure.
Still, I could not leave well enough alone, and was dying to try the Eddy Current because they were said to being designed without regard for rolling resistance. That is bad right? Yes. But, I figured they used a really soft compound that would give them amazing traction in exchange for that added rolling resistance – and since it was an eMTB, I would only give up battery life and not really any speed. I got the 2.6 inch front and rear. They also measure about 2.45″ casing width at the same pressures. As of this writing, I have 46 miles on them, and I learned something interesting: The open block tread pattern feels weird on roots and solid rocks. You can sometimes feel the knobs snap off the root, and that is an unpleasant and sometimes scary feeling. And the same time, that large open tread has got to help on mud and sand – perhaps making them great winter tires. But for me, the wet root thing was still on my mind – I didn’t like these tires for where I rode, and decided to go back to Maxxis – but not before I tested rolling resistance.
There is a website https://www.bicyclerollingresistance.com which I love – but I asked the author if he could review more tires like the DHF and Eddy Current. He explained that people who buy aggressive treads just don’t care about rolling resistance so he was focusing on tires designed for efficiency. I took this to mean that people care about tire weight, but not the much more important rolling resistance – probably because it is hard to measure and quantify. So how could I find out which tires rolled the best? In general, when reviews say a tire “rolled well” or “did not roll well,” I don’t trust that they even can tell.
So I devised a test and rode a pre-planned trail-ride with the Maxxis and Eddy Current, both at 100% assist, and with me trying to end with the same segment time. I wanted to see how much battery the bike used up for each tire.
The test was successful. The DHR2/DHF won the rolling-resistance test. As far as I can tell, it rolls better, and there is certainly no evidence that it rolls worse! So, good job Maxxis with that tire that is also plenty grippy.
Now I wanted to test the Assegai, and went all out and got them in MaxxGrip with the DoubleDown casing. While the Assegai had an astonishing amount of grip on the forest floor, they were actually slipping on wet roots, even though they are MaxxGrip, so they were not infallible either. I also almost crashed when the front hit a minor patch of shallow mud – I bet the Eddy Current front would not have blinked at that. I am thinking I prefer the DHF MaxxTerra to the Assegai MaxxGrip, all things considered (price, weight, grip, rolling resistance).
So then I tried a Magic Mary 2.6 up front. To me, this was the best looking tire. I loved the snake-skin cross-pattern on the casing, and the sides of the knobs were nicely stylized. In general, this tire gripped equal to the DHF on most surfaces, but I think worse on wet roots. I say “think” because it is impossible to know for sure because each ride is a different path. The wet-root experience was more like my Assegai ride – and again, I am not sure why the Assegai slipped more than the DHF given it was a softer compound, so I do have doubt DHF is actually the best. Most likely, I perhaps just happened to hit the roots in a way that didn’t result in the tire slipping on my DHF ride.
Other factors to consider was that Maxxis installed really easily – I could probably do it without tools, which would be helpful for field repairs. The Eddy Current were the opposite – I broke a tire lever and needed to use a Pedros lever to install them – and even then, at great difficulty. This was a function of the super-tough sidewalls, so perhaps for the extra effort you get durability. I have seen people tear the Maxxis EXO+ sidewall on their Turbo Levo rims and don’t see any chance of that happening with the Eddy Current. In fact, I hit a hard object and my rim edge did put a hole in my DHR2 that I later patched from the inside. But, I did get better at installing the Eddy Current, and would not use this as a reason to avoid them. I would buy this tire again, at least for the rear – and for the front in loose or muddy conditions.
So what will I do going forward? I think the DHR2 or Eddy Current (rear or front) are great rear tires. For a front tire, I will stick to the DHF 3C MaxxTerra EXO+ after I use up the Assegai. I will skip the Assegai MaxxGrip DD due to the extra energy required and weight, as that makes my 700Wh battery behave as if it were a 630Wh. The Magic Mary was nice and I would be happy with that as well, but if I had nothing and was starting over, I would personally opt for the DHF/DHR2 combo again.