Most of us hate switching tires. Aren’t we all looking for the one tire that’s a keeper? Whether you’re descending on dry, loose, blown-out corners as well as a bit of mud, Maxxis claims their Shorty handles it all well. They designed it it for the steep, technical monsters that are today’s World Cup downhill tracks, but if you’re looking for a lot of grip, you’ll love it on your home trail, too.
I love grip. In fact, I’m willing to take a hard hit in rolling resistance for a really grippy tire. I’d rather ride a tire that slows me down a bit but brings me plenty of traction. I’m also set it and forget it in approach – once a tire has seated tubeless, I’m rather reluctant to take it off just because of a change in weather. The thought of a tire switch conjures the image of a puddle of tubeless milk on the floor, which I seem to manage most of the time. I guess I’m not alone. Most of us can easily imagine something better to do than a changing a tubeless tire – like, being out, riding. Many of us are looking for the one tire that is an ideal generalist, a tire that does not fail us throughout the year. Maxxis claims their Shorty is that tire – and I’ve tested the 2.3 and 2.5 versions to find out.
The Shorty is available in a variety of wheel sizes, widths, casings and compounds. For this review, I tested the Shorty in the 2.3 width I’ve been riding for a while, as well as the recently introduced 2.5 version, both in Maxxis’ lighter EXO Protection casing and grippy 3C MaxxTerra compound. In addition to EXO, Maxxis offers the tire in wire bead and, recently, a 27.5″ in their double down casing, which is halfway between EXO and DH.
I had the opportunity to run the tire on three bikes: On 26“, 650B / 27.5″ and on a 29er. My experience with setting up Maxxis tires tubeless has always been pleasant and hassle-free, and the Shorty was no exception: The tires seated properly on the first try, without any issues whatsoever.
One noticeable difference between the 2.3 and the 2.5 versions is that Maxxis increases the knob sizing along with the tire width. Maxxis actually tends to do this across their range of tires, but they don’t specifically advertise it, so it is sometimes overlooked. The difference is readily apparent if you look at both tires next to each other, and it is felt on the trail, with the bigger knobs providing more grip and increasing rolling resistance beyond what’s created by the size difference alone. Still, the general behavior will be pretty similar, and chance are, if you’ve liked the tire in one size, you’ll probably like it in the other, as well.
Recently, Maxxis introduced Wide Trail, a new designation for tires with a refined design to better fit wider rims. This caused some confusion, because you can now buy a DHF 2.5 in a standard and a Wide Trail version, and people have been wondering which one to get. Maxxis says the Wide Trail design is optimized for 35mm internal diameter rims, but there’s more to it: The regular 2.5 tire is actually the old version that was significantly smaller than its 2.5 designation. All the new, wide 2.4 and 2.5 tires are Wide Trail. The new tires are labeled as Wide Trail in the US, whereas in Europe, they were first introduced without the Wide Trail.
A Maxxis spokesperson said all the tires in all the markets will get a Wide Trail label soon, though. But what if you’re not running one of the new, wider wheel sets? Not a problem, I’d say, because what’s now, in comparison, a narrow rim, was considered a wide rim just a while ago. Unless you run a cross-country wheel set, you should be safe to take the new, Wide Trail versions. If you find the tire is too wide for your rim, feel free to send it to me. Most of the older Maxxis tires, such as the DHF, ran a bit on the narrow sidel, and Maxxis said you should not focus so much on the size (2.3, 2.5, etc.), but look at the ETRTO number. In case you didn’t know, but need to know, ETRTO stands for European Tire and Rim Technical Organisation, has its own website and wikipedia entry, which says it „exists to specify and harmonize sizes of rims and their associated pneumatic tryres“. It is all about being a standard, apparently, a term that draws a lot of heat in the bike industry – but this one won’t hurt.
The ETRTO standard designation consists of two numbers, the first being the approximate tire widths, the second being the approximate diameter (corresponding with the wheel size). For instance, the 26“ x 2.50 Shorty has an ETRTO designation of 63-559, which means it should run about 63mm wide (they’re the Wide Trail design). In contrast, the 26“ x 2.50 DHF are designated 55-559, indicating that they stem from the older design and will run less wide.
Ride Report: Any shortcomings of the Shorty?
With its wide knob spacing, the Shorty looks like a trimmed mud tire (hence its name). The spaced profile helps self-cleaning, and it comes as no surprise that the Shorty shines in wet conditions and on soft ground. We’ve had plenty of that until late spring, when the terrain started to dry. In the wet season, the Shorty’s big corner knobs worked wonders, replacing a mud tire in all but the most muddy segments. How would it perform in the dry season? I’ve had the 2.3 since last summer, so I have some experience in super dry terrain, as well, and I can say it does not disappoint at all.
Outstanding. The Shorty provides awesome amounts of grip. Even though the 2.3 version is a bit smaller than, for instance, a 2.35 Magic Mary, it offers plenty of traction, but the 2.5 takes it to another level. No matter how steep or rough your terrain, the Shorty never falls short. Its directional stability is excellent – to find more performance in this aspect, you’d have to look at tires with a different, less intermediate profile (such as a Minion DHF), but these tires quickly lose that advantage on soft ground or in wet conditions.
For an intermediate tire, cornering couldn’t be better. Both widths perform exceptionally well, but I felt railing corners was even more confident on the 2.5 version. The big knobs connect well with the ground, providing plenty of precise traction. Yes, there are dedicated downhill tires that are famous for cornering, but the Shorty is really close and offers much better performance in the wet compared to those, who tend to clog faster, failing you in the mud. Aggressive cornering on hardpack can cause the knobs to squirm a little, but not enough to cause any issues. The Shorty’s cornering capabilities actually surprised me a little, because I had expected the performance drop from, lets say, a DHF or DHR II tire to be more significant. Unless you’re racing or riding on a pure hardpack track, I don’t think you’ll lose much with the Shorty in the cornering department, but gain a lot in other areas. Moreover, the many trails consist of mixed conditions: Soft ground alternates with loose over hardpack, and small stretches of mud and the occasional rock surface. I found the Shorty to be a great overall choice for mixed terrain.
Despite its open profile, the Shorty brings braking performance that equals or exceeds a lot of tires. It helps that the Shorty’s knobs are fairly large, and in addition, every third row of center knobs is a horizontal block that supports braking. On the trail, this translates into a massive amount of consistent braking traction. Even in super steep terrain, I never wished for more braking power, and the tire always felt predictable and in control. In fact, it brings so much front braking traction, that the Shorty will even take an excellent braking rear tire (such as the DHR II) out for a dance. Especially the wider 2.5 with its massive knobs is sure-footed and steady when you throw out the anchor.
Even though the tire is not as comfortable as, lets say, the Magic Mary, the Shorty is stout. It gives you direct feedback from the ground and lets you know precisely where you’re at in terms of traction. This translates into stability, and I can’t report any punctures, burping or any other issues – the tire just worked.
I’ve not used it as a rear tire, even though I may, come next winter. On the front, the Shorty’s rolling resistance is less than I had expected, especially with the 2.5’s meaty profile. I’d not hesitate to run a 2.3 on the rear and a 2.5 on the front for everyday riding. Unless your wet season lasts most of the year (think UK), I’d say you can probably get away with a lighter tire on the rear if you prefer to, but it is good to know the 2.3 Shorty will not drag you down as much as its knob pattern may suggest. Still, it is a big tire, and you’re not going to win any climbing competition with it.
In 650b, the Shorty weighs 865 grams for the 2.3 width (650b) and 965 grams for the 2.5 version. This is a more than respectable weight given its capabilities. I’d even say, for a front tire, the additional 100 grams for the 2.5 are well worth it unless you want to deliberately run less widths.
Terrain & Conditions
I had originally planned to ride the Shorty mostly from autumn to spring, and switch to a different tire once the trails start to dry, but an early dry spell has made me change my mind. The Shorty performed so well it really works as an all rounder. Of course, it shines in the soft and wet. On soft ground, you’d hardly find a better tire. It bites the ground, fighting for grip with the ferocity of a shepherd dog protecting its flock. It is very predictable and stable in the wet and light mud. The 3C MaxxTerra compound works well in winter, and only stiffens when temperatures are near or below freezing. At that point, most of us are more concerned about catching a cold than taking their tire to the edge of its ability. Whether it was the compound or the clever profile, not once did the tire fail me on roots, whether wet or dry. On loose over hard surfaces, it still provides plenty of confidence, losing grip late and regaining it quickly. Even on hardpack, it performs almost flawlessly and much better than its profile would indicate. Its sturdy side knobs are well-supported and take a lot of force to fold. On a mostly hardpack track, you’ll probably be faster and more confident on another tire, but the Shorty will not feel completely out of place, either.
Tim’s Take: The Shorty is awesome, and it is not going anywhere. I plan to keep it on the front all year, and I’d only consider mounting a summer specialist if its gets hot, dry and dusty or if I know the terrain will be mostly hardpack. If you’re looking for a tire that does everything well, has superior self-cleaning and offers outstanding traction in all conditions, the Shorty will not fall short.
Wheel sizes: 26×2.3 – 26×2.5 (tested) – 27.5×2.3 – 27,5×2.5 (tested) – 29×2.3 (tested) – 29×2.5 (tested)
Weight: 925 (26×2.5) – 965 (27.5×2.5) – 910 (29×2.3) – 1025 (29×2.5) (weights according to manufacturer, EXO Protection, 3C MaxxTerra compound)
Price (MSRP): 69.50 € – $78