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Maxxis High Roller II 3C EXO TR Tire: Reviewed

That's a Mouthful of Rubber

Words by Morgan Taylor. Photos by Morgan Taylor.
July 11th, 2014

There was a time not long ago when the market wasn’t flooded with 150 and 160mm 650B bikes, a time also marked by a serious shortage of tire options in the mid-wheel size as the first of those bikes were becoming available. For most of 2013 the aftermarket had yet to catch up with what had become a flooded OEM for 27.5.

This was the heyday of the 2.3″ Maxxis High Roller II 3C EXO TR. When we found this tire on a test bike, we rejoiced, and conversely, when we didn’t find it, we found a way to make that happen. The biggest reason we loved this tire was the casing. Easy and reliable tubeless setup, good sidewall support, and puncture resistance without a serious weight penalty.

nsmb-intense-tracer-t275-20

The HR2 has become ubiquitous on OEM builds. Here it is on a Flow EX on the Intense Tracer T275.

At the time, the HR2 was the only 27.5″ 2.3 EXO TR tire in the Maxxis lineup (and one of the only midweight tires available in all three wheel sizes, which is part of why Keith Scott chose it for his Educating the Debate comparisons). Since then, Maxxis has molded DHR2 and DHF tread on to the EXO TR casing, which in turn puts the HR2 under tighter scrutiny.  The casing remains a favourite, but is the HR2 still the pick of the litter?

The HR2 2.3 has relatively small center tread blocks, spaced fairly wide, with not much in the way of transition knobs. When descending steeps or braking hard in a straight line, the tread helps to slow you down but not in a confidence inspiring manner. The side knobs provide decent hold but you have to get the tire sideways before they’re going to bite and even at that, they don’t grip like a Minion side knob. As a result, I find the HR2 to be a fairly drifty tire.

juliana-furtado-23

This photo shows how shallow the center tread depth is. On the Juliana it was mounted on a WTB i23 rim.

After running a variety of other tires, my impression of the HR2 has come to be that it rolls relatively slow for how little grip it actually provides. With the availability of the DHR2 and DHF, I now enjoy the HR2 as a rear tire. I tend to push my front end hard into corners and don’t mind the rear end getting squirrelly.

I enjoy riding tires that can be run at lower pressures without risk of burping, and the Maxxis EXO TR casings definitely fit into that category. Because of its squarer profile shape, the HR2 runs similarly on both wider and narrower rims, whereas the rounder DHR2 and DHF respond well to being mounted on wider rims such as the (25mm inside width) Flow EX.

2014-santa-cruz-5010-nsmb-13

Widely spaced tread blocks make for loose straight line feel, but the side knobs still grab decently when you lean the bike over.

It is worth mentioning that the 2.3 and the 2.4 are notably different tires. Maxxis historically has adjusted tread block size with different casing size. The 2.4 (seen in Tim Coleman’s review of the DH casing version HERE) is a heavier tire with deeper center tread blocks and beefier side knobs, and does provide quite a bit more grip – at the cost of weight.

I’ve personally come to prefer DHR2s front and rear if I had the choice, but there are others who really like the HR2 as a front tire. The bottom line is, the HR2 casing feels as good as ever, and now we’ve got a bunch more options for tread patterns. A year and a half ago I would have recommended the HR2 as a choice tire for aggressive riders on 650B wheels, and now it sits amongst a variety of excellent options. You can’t really go wrong with the 2.3″ EXO TR casing.


The HR2 looks to still be an EXOllent choice…

  • Dan

    “Because of its squarer profile shape, the HR2 runs similarly on both wider and narrower rims, whereas the rounder DHR2 and DHF respond well to being mounted on wider rims such as the (25mm inside width) Flow EX.”

    I think this may be why our experience of these tyres differs. I’m running them on comparatively narrow Arch EX rims, and find that the HR2 has quite a bit more bite than the DHR2, which wasn’t what I was expecting before riding them – I hadn’t considered how wider rims would affect different tyres, but the DHR2 definitely looks visibly rounder on these rims.

    • Morgan Taylor

      The Flow EX is 4.5mm wider than the 21mm Arch EX so that would make sense. The DHF and DHR2 have a noticeably more rounded profile on the WTB Frequency i23 (23mm inside) so I could see them not working as well on the Arch.

  • Ricky Pincott

    Give us some frigging 60a versions of this Maxxis
    I find I also prefer the HR2 over the DHR2. Not as good in the braking to be fair, But a more consistant feel to the tire

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