Bike Technology is moving so fast these days it’s hard to keep up. So and so's new suspension design promises to make you faster and be more efficient, while somebody else promises to shave a whole 20 grams off last year’s setup. After you've been in this game for over a decade it seems really easy to become a jaded grumpy bastard when it comes to anything new. Every now and then though you come across something that makes a lot of sense. That’s the case with Maxxis Highroller 3C's
.When it comes to rubber, the softer the compound, the more grip you get. A softer compound with slower rebound can give you an amazing amount traction in the wet (and dry) compared to something with a harder durometer and I don't know about you but I'm sure that has saved my white ass on more then one occasion. The down side to this extra grip is less tread life due to softer rubber that is more prone to chunking, leaving whole knobs on the trail behind you. If you've had a soft compound tire I'm sure you've noticed the cracks at the base your cornering knobs after a few weeks of pinning it, that’s from the whole knob flexing over on itself and eventually departing. Maxxis claims that their super special 3C compound is the answer, claiming to give longer tread life while retaining the ridiculous grip of a 'Slow Reazy' compound that has spoiled me for the rest of my riding life.
New 3C tire before the skidding began
The basic design of the Highroller remains the same as it has for years. Ramped leading edges on the center knobs with center channels that make for a reasonably fast rolling tire combined with predictable cornering tread. All of the ingredients for a winning tire. Throw in a 2ply sidewall with Maxxis's butyl insert and you have a winner right out of the gate. The most telling fact is that it has been the choice of most pros for years, even for a lot of World Cup rippers that have another rubber company’s logo on their jersey (nothing a black felt can't fix!). Only recently has the Minion, another Maxxis design, become the 'it' tire. No matter what fancy new pattern comes out though, for most people that ride Highrollers just once that is what you'll see on their hoops for years to come. Not content with the Slow Reazy that stays stuck to anything but rolls slow and wears fast or a harder compound that lasts longer but doesn't grab quite as well, Maxxis came up with the 3C compound.
Getting dirty and still holding strong
3C is pretty self explainatory, its basically a Highroller built using three different tread compounds. They start at the bottom with a 70a hard compound base layer. The harder base gives the knobs more support so they won't squirm or shear off as easily and hence forth have a longer life. The next step is a 42a compound crown ridge made up of the ramped rolling/braking knobs. While the 42a durometer still gives great braking traction, it will last substantially longer and roll faster then a 40a compound (slow reazy). Maxxis drops the Slow Reazy bomb where it counts though. The shoulder knobs are all made from the special Slow Reazy compound that seems to laugh at wet roots or dusty off camber corners. I'm actually pretty sure that Slow Reazy is made of a combination of pixie dust and super glue. If you haven't tried a 40a Compound Maxxis you owe it to yourself to give it a go. Maxxis hopes that the end result of all this chemistry is a tire that not only works as good as a soft compound tread but lasts longer for the regular consumer and rolls faster for the pinners out there.
Barring a short span this summer (which was spent on some surprisingly good Kendas) I have run nothing but 2.5" highrollers for the last 5 years. It would be an understatement to say that I am used to how they handle. Since I am so used to a "run of the mill" Highroller, I figured running the 3C's would be a perfect comparison test to see if this new technology is any better then the old standby's. If you can't see the 3C hot patch on the sidewall there is nothing to let you know that these Highrollers are any different from any other out there. There ain't no fancy colors or stripes in the rubber, just the same black rubber we're all used too. I think I had my pair of stealth super secret Highrollers mounted to my Orange 223 about 45 seconds after getting to the shop, I'm always a sucker for something so new that no one else has them in my little town yet!
They even work in the air-not really, but they look good
The great thing about the new 3C Highrollers is that they handle exactly like a Highroller should. With 23psi in the rear and a touch more then 20psi pumped into the front end as per usual I was never surpised, even when I was riding above my head. Consistant would be the word I would use to best describe a 2.5" Highroller. I've had the opportunity to rail these tires in every sort of condition one could ever expect, from India monsoon rains that turn the trails into rivers, the nasty stick-to-anything mud that follows a few days later and fast bone dry dusty trails from the 'Loops to Whistler.
If you need one tire to run all year these make a great choice as there doesn't seem to be a condition that they won't work well in. While being a great all rounder they do come into their own when the dirt is dry and not so hard. If you want the rear end to come loose you really need to use a lot of forward body english otherwise it'll stay glued and keep you upright. The same goes for the front. The back end consistently broke before the front but when both ends did come unstuck it was always a predictable drift instead of a death slide-low side! At 1150 grams they are about average for big meat but some what heavier then a faster rolling tire that many riders are specing on the back of their big bikes nowadays. If the conditions are hard and fast I would love to put on a Highroller semi-slick on the back and run a 3C on the front, maybe the perfect combination. None of this really came to me by surprise, as I said before I'm already biased that these are the best tires made. What I was testing and really hoping for was longer tread life and that is exactly what I got. I ride a lot. I know a lot of guys that say that, but they're usually at home while I am doing some dumb 4 hour loop on my DH bike, not to sure why but I can't get enough.
I can squeeze a month out of a Slow Reazy rear tire and if I'm feeling brave then maybe two months for a front and to be honest I wasn't really expecting to get a whole lot more then that with the 3C's but I was pleasantly surprised. I've spent just over two months trying to destroy these things and while the edges have certainly become duller I wouldn't think about replacing them yet. That’s TWICE as long and still going strong! They look far from new but all of the same performance I talked about above is still keeping me upright. I would have a hard time convincing anyone to buy the standard 40a Highroller when you can get all of the same advantages with the 3C version that will last considerably longer. These are high end tires but the price becomes much easier to justify once you combine the performance and durability together.
These tires found their way to me via NRG Enterprises
out of Nelson B.C., have a look at their site to see what other goodies they distribute.