Liam Hallam is a sports science graduate. He is also a keen cyclist as well as being a lover of the Derbyshire Dales and Peak District.
A Dirty Review of the Maxxis Mud Wrestler
Whether Cross is Coming for you or you're mid-way through a cyclocross racing season and need the right tires for your demands there's sadly no one single cx tire that can capably perform from a dry September all the way through to a damp, soggy January. Cyclocross is tough on equipment and getting your tires right is a big challenge.
Maxxis has been pretty brazen with the naming of the Mud Wrestler. There are plenty of cyclocross tires specifically targeted at off-road use for muddy courses so just how will they compare?
- Aggressive side knobs for control
- Fast-rolling ramped central tread
- Sheds mud easily
- Tubeless ready (TR) version available
Mud Wrestler Tread Pattern
The Mud Wrestler features a fairly classic tread pattern for wet and muddy conditions. It features loosely spaced knobs of the tread to shed mud and a sharp edge tread to provide bite whilst cornering. All are currently available in a UCI compliant 33 mm width. Maxxis hasn't yet seen the potential benefits to non-competitive racers and winter warriors looking for a winter exploration tire.
A relatively continuous ramped central tread should help to roll relatively smoothly on firmer surfaces too. Maxxis bill the tire for loose, loose over hard, medium, mud, and wet conditions
Maxxis produces 4 versions of the Mud Wrestler
- 60 TPI Single Compound Wire Bead
- 60 TPI Single Compound Folding Bead
- 60 TPI Dual Compound Folding Tubeless Ready and Exo Protection
- 120 TPI Dual Compound Folding Tubeless Ready and Exo Protection
I've spent the last 18 months riding the 60 TPI Single Compound Folding Bead which came with a Merida Cyclocross 500 changing tires to suit conditions.
All are rated with a max psi of 75 which you would never logically use in a race. For training, I've been running them with inner tubes at around 50 psi without a significant number of punctures. Race-wise I've run them down to about 35 psi in the mud.
Early Season Performance
The ramped central tread gives the Mud Wrestler the ability to perform in more than just the mud. Dry and dusty trails create few issues except for maybe a little additional drag. The Mud Wrestler won't let you down in dry conditions, however, there are much quicker options available.
As conditions start to get a little softer the Mud Wrestler really starts to come out to play.
Performance in the Mud
The 2019–20 cyclocross season in the UK will be remembered as one of the wettest on record. That means that 'cross courses have been muddy and therefore a great test for a tire targetted at riding in the mud.
The Mud Wrestler performed admirably in moderately muddy conditions. Gripping well in the turns. The central tread pattern is a little too shallow to really bite on soft banks and in very soft conditions. It doesn't have the tread depth of the Vittoria Cross XL Pro tires I have on my primary bike. The tire clears better due to its lack of depth however lacks real confidence in sloppy conditions.
The lead photo shows me racing at a rather wet round of the Notts and Derby League at Berry Hill Park through a section of sloppy, wet mud. This was almost perfect for the mud wrestler due to its excellent clearing capacity as we moved from heavy and sloppy muddy areas under tree cover to more rideable compacted mud.
Could the Mud Wrestler Be a Great All-Rounder?
It's easy to see a tire with a name such as this as just a mud-specific cyclocross tire however the mud wrestler actually does a lot of things well as an all-rounder.
The mud-wrestler performs very well as conditions start to soften. There's a little more drag than a Challenge Grifo however the Grifo will more quickly become overworked as its tighter tread fills up with gloop. The mud wrestler also offers more reliable cornering thanks to its reassuring linear side knobs.
There's always a trade-off with an all-around cyclocross tire however there doesn't appear to be a scenario that the mud wrestler cannot handle with the exception of thick mud which would have all but the very best specific tires struggling. I'll happily use them year-round.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Liz Westwood from UK on May 12, 2020:
This is a very useful and thorough review.