The Tomahawk is a relatively new tyre in the Maxxis lineup having been released a couple of years ago. The thing is, not many people seemed to notice. This might have been because around the same time, the Minion Semi-Slick was brought out which overshadowed the Tomahawk so it’s gone under the radar it seems to a lot of riders.
Having run either a Minion DHR II or High Roller II on the back of my Rallon for the last couple of years, I’ve got used to the grippyness…and the relative dragginess of a blocky tyre on the back but with summer fast approaching, I fancied something faster rolling – like the barely used Ardent in my shed. At a reasonably narrow 2.25” and having already punctured a hole in that on only its second ride, I haven’t really trusted it to put it on so the Minion SS was on my list. The Ardent does also comes in a 2.4″ version but by all accounts, is bloody massive and not what I want on the rear! Fortunately, I stumbled across the Tomahawk with Maxxis’ new Double Down casing going cheap at half the price on Chain Reaction so figured it was worth a punt.
To look at, the Tomahawk is fairly similar to the Ardent with a rounded profile created by a low centre tread and low angular side knobs. At 2.3” its plenty wide enough for me and this one is (as expected) tubeless ready. It’s also the 3C Maxx Terra version so mid-range in Maxxis’ rubber compounds. For those not in the know, the ‘Double Down’ casing evolved from EWS enduro racing as riders were looking for tough sidewalls and better pinch puncture protection but without having the weight penalty of lugging around a dual-ply downhill tyre. The DD casing is still a dual-ply tyre (2x 120tpi) but not as heavy as a full on DH dual ply and has around 200g of added rubber over a standard EXO tyre. I’ve got a tendency to clatter the back end through rock gardens these days (full suss-induced laziness!) and have managed to puncture holes too big for tubeless spaff to fill on several tyres over the last few years, so the added protection of the DD casing on the rear definitely appealed to me.
So how does it ride? The trails around my way have dried out nicely lately and are mostly, what Maxxis would label as ‘loose over hard pack’ now i.e. loose granite rocky descents or hardpack leisure trails linking the good bits, and the tyre zips along very quickly. Having been used to blockier tread on the rear, it feels great having less rolling resistance and is very noticeable. As mentioned, the Minion SS was on my list, but the lack of tread down the middle, to me, meant a lack of breaking grip as much as a lack of rolling resistance. The Tomahawk rolls well but still stays quite well planted under heavy breaking in a straight line. Breaking through a corner and the lack of chunky side knobs does mean it’s a bit more likely to skip and slide about, which depending on your viewpoint is either a bit unnerving, or damn good fun. The only time it’s felt a bit out of its depth so far was in the woods on on particular long downhill off-camber right hand bend in damp dirt, where the lack of a square edge bite meant the back end swapped right around. Funny when dicking about but might catch you out if you’re not ready!
In theory, the stiffer sidewalls and dual-ply carcass means you can run lower pressures and not worry so much about the tyre folding over or pinching against the rim. I’ve pumped this up to my usual 30psi – ish for the rear at the moment. My Topeak tyre pressure gauge is not working at present due to sealant in the valve (when it works it’s great, but it hardly works!) so accurately trying lower pressures is limited to the ballpark figure of my track pump gauge followed by the pinch-the-sidewalls-with-my-thumb…”ooh, that’s about right” method.
What about the weight? 200g sounds like a large amount to add to rotational weight but in honesty, I’ve really not noticed it. I think the extra weight when compared to my previous DHR II or HRII is offset by the reduced rolling resistance so it balances out and it’s not something of any concern.
A really good tyre for the rear in the dry especially if your trails are rocky and hard. The Double Down casing provides a nice bit of security without too much of a weight penalty.
I went for a ride on my favourite local hill this week which is full of big rocks and granite outcrops and gave the descents a good go to test the tyre out further. It dealt with some proper hamfisted moves through the rocks very well so I feel confident this will be a really nice tyre for the summer. Just be a little careful on damp off-camber trail sections!