A little in the middle, a lot on the sides. What sounds like a nice way to describe a bald patch is actually the tread pattern of the Reaver, MAXXIS’ new all-round gravel tire. Its combination of different treads is supposed to make it a very well balanced gravel tire. But how does the latest MAXXIS offspring perform?
As gravel bikes are becoming more differentiated and specialist, so are gravel tires. After all, gravel is not the same all over the world. There are different types of terrain, and different ways to ride them. The reality is that we don’t usually ride endless gravel roads like in the US. In Europe, a gravel tour is usually a mixture of forest paths, bad roads, farm tracks and maybe a little singletrack trail here and there. This variety of surfaces increases the demands on a gravel tire, and the new MAXXIS Reaver is designed to be the ideal choice for such a mix of conditions. What does the new gravel all-rounder look like and how does it perform?
MAXXIS Reaver – The design of the new gravel tire
Looking at the MAXXIS Reaver gravel tire, you might be surprised by the number of different knob types that coexist on this tire. In the centre of the tire you’ll find a flat tread – not quite slick, but rather a miniature tread with tiny diamond-shaped knobs arranged both lengthwise and crosswise. These are surrounded by grooved cross knobs designed to increase grip while minimising rolling resistance. On the outer edges, robust “shoulder knobs” with small slits are ready to provide plenty of cornering traction. Visually, both the tread and the tire as a whole have an appealing look.
Tubeless is a necessity for today’s gravel riders, which is why the new MAXXIS Reaver is labelled TR (“Tubeless Ready”). Equally important is the emphasis on puncture protection. The Reaver features EXO Protection on its sidewalls, which has been meticulously engineered to provide superior resistance to cuts and abrasions. According to MAXXIS, this material offers exceptional durability and the same technology is used on MAXXIS MTB tires. The Reaver also features Dual Compound technology, which expertly blends two different rubber compounds to achieve the perfect balance between grip and durability.
MAXXIS Reaver – Sizes, colours and placement in the range
MAXXIS are taking a cautious approach to the launch of the new Reaver. Only two tire widths will be available from November, but they happen to be the most popular choices for today’s gravel bikes: 40 mm and 45 mm for 700c wheels. These options are both available black or tan sidewalls. Although they look like a cotton casing, they’re actually made of dyed rubber. Nevertheless, the deep, dark colour matches the tires remarkably well. Within the MAXXIS range, the new Reaver is positioned between the semi-slick Receptor and the more aggressive Rambler. The MAXXIS Rambler is a very popular tire, often found on the newest gravel bikes from various manufacturers. However, it may not be the best choice for gravel rides with a significant amount of hardpack or road terrain. Conversely, the MAXXIS Receptor offers insufficient grip for serious off-road adventures. The MAXXIS Reaver has been meticulously designed to bridge the gap between very off-road and very road-oriented terrains. It should excel on hardpack and rather loose natural ground. Yet, according to MAXXIS, it’s not recommended for muddy or exceptionally loose ground conditions.
On the knobs, get set – Testing the MAXXIS Reaver
After just a few kilometres on a variety of surfaces, it is clear that the MAXXIS Reaver gravel tire is a well-balanced mix of fast-rolling tread and supple sidewalls. However, the difference between this all-rounder and a specialist off-road or road tire is noticeable on their respective terrains. On tarmac, the Reaver performs reasonably well. You don’t feel that the various knobs slow you down significantly, although there is a distinct rolling noise and it’s clear that this isn’t the fastest tire on smooth surfaces. Despite the wide side knobs, the gravel tire delivers confidence-inspiring cornering on tarmac. Where the Reaver really shines is on both compact and loose gravel, offering a fast and efficient ride. Sure, there are faster tires out there, but with a weight of 435 g at 40 mm, the Reaver offers a solid performance. The grip is more than adequate, even on lighter gravel. The side knobs add to the traction, although it’s important to note that the MAXXIS Reaver isn’t a real grip monster.
We were pleasantly surprised by the MAXXIS Reaver’s performance in damp and wet conditions. While MAXXIS themselves don’t claim the tire’s best performance in these environments, it certainly exceeded our expectations. Particularly on wet hardpack, it adheres remarkably well and provides a reassuring sense of security. When it comes to trail riding, however, it’s best reserved for dry conditions. The centre of the tire lacks the aggressive profile required for muddy terrain. On the other hand, it still shows a commendable level of agility on trails. Its excellent compliance comes in handy when navigating over roots and stones, taking the sting out of all but the more rugged gravel paths. In terms of puncture resistance, we have no complaints; it never let us (or itself) down.
Our conclusion on the MAXXIS Reaver
The new MAXXIS Reaver effectively fills a gap in the MAXXIS range. It excels as a reliable all-rounder when the ground is not especially loose, offering a high degree of cornering stability on both dry and wet surfaces. However, its limitations become apparent when faced with excessively muddy terrain. The MAXXIS Reaver should not be confused with a high-speed gravel tire, as it lacks the agility and manoeuvrability required for such performance. It does, however, excel in terms of compliance and puncture resistance, offering very good results in these areas.
- very good all-round properties
- works surprisingly well in wet conditions
- lots of grip in corners
- a little slow to start
- only available in two sizes for now
For more information on the new Reaver, visit maxxis.com.
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Words: Martin Staffa Photos: Martin Staffa, Calvin Zajac