The Maxxis Minion DHF Tire is Still the One to Beat [Review]

The Maxxis Minion DHF is an extremely capable and versatile mountain bike tire.
Maxxis Minion DHF tire side view

I hate the Minions. No, not the tires, I’m talking about the little yellow guys in overalls. They’re mostly unintelligible and despite their best intentions, they’re hapless and generally ineffective. Contrast that with the Maxxis Minions, which are incredibly effective at carving singletrack and ready to serve in almost any conditions.

I’ve ridden the Maxxis Minion DHF tires while testing countless bikes over the years, and it’s likely most of our readers have a lot of experience with them as well. Curiously, Singletracks has never published a full review of the Minion DHFs, perhaps because they’re so ubiquitous. What can be said that hasn’t been said already? For those in the know this review won’t cover a lot of new ground, but for mountain bikers who haven’t tried the Maxxis Minion DHF tire, my hope is that this will serve as a proper introduction.

Maxxis Minion DHF specs

There are currently five flavors of the Minion; two are fat bike tires and one is a fast-rolling, semi-slick that I really like, though it doesn’t seem to be a huge seller. That leaves the Minion DHF and DHR II, both of which are massively popular and are specced on builds from many top bike brands. The DHF, which I’m reviewing here, is recommended as a front tire, while the DHR II is recommended for the rear.

Maxxis says the Minion DHF is an all-conditions tire that’s appropriate for everything from light-duty trail riding to downhill racing, depending on the tire’s construction. And boy, are there a lot of sizes and constructions to choose from! Buyers can find the Minion DHF in diameters from 20″ to 29″ and widths from 2.3″ to 3.0″ (not including the Minion FBF fat bike front tire). The Maxxis Minion DHF is offered with dual, 3C MAXX Grip, or 3C MAXX Terra compounds and every casing configuration from lightweight EXO/TR to burly DH construction.

I haven’t kept track of all the versions of the Maxxis Minion DHF I’ve tested over the years, but a quick scan through my photos shows 2.3, 2.5, and 2.8″ widths, and both the dual and triple compound constructions, though most of the likely thousands of miles I’ve put in have been on the lightweight EXO/TR casing. The bikes I’ve tested long term with Minion DHFs ranges from light-duty trail bikes to all-mountain e-bikes, and from high-end to budget full-suspension builds. Clearly the Minion DHF is a well rounded tire.

The Evil Following trail bike I’m currently testing is set up with the Minion DHF 29×2.50WT with 3C Maxx Grip compound and EXO/TR casing. As far as 2.5″ wide DHF tires go, this configuration is one of the lighter-weight versions designed for trail riding.

Maxxis Minion DHF tire front

Minion DHF tread pattern

Maxxis points out that the Minion is one of the most imitated tires in the sport, and a quick look at other brands shows that most have a tire in their lineup with a similar, though not identical, tread pattern. In fact I’ve compared more than one tire to the Minion DHF in past tire reviews. A couple years ago Ken Avery filled us in on how he and pro rider Colin Bailey worked together to design the original Minion, which Avery described as being “moto-inspired,” and while tire tech and construction has evolved a great deal, the tread pattern has remained much the same for over 20 years.

The Maxxis Minion DHF features two repeating sets of blocks down the middle. A pair of ramped, squarish blocks alternates with a pair of deeply siped and angled blocks with ample spacing down the middle and along the sides for clearing mud and debris. There aren’t any dedicated transition knobs, though the angled center block pairs seem to go toward serving this purpose.

Cornering knobs alternate between squared and siped and a funny-looking, Tetris-like geometric shape. Overall the tire has an aggressive, knobby look that’s unlikely to be mistaken for a cross-country tire.

One of many Minion DHF test rides over the years. Photo: Chris Kelly.

On the trail

The thing that stands out to me as a product reviewer and a rider is how consistent and familiar the Maxxis Minion DHF feels on the trail. Switching to a new tire, particularly in the front, can involve some trial and error to get comfortable with transitions into corners, but not so with the Minion DHF. I’ve found it’s completely and immediately intuitive, something that’s extremely rare among front tires. It’s a mystery — to me anyway — how the Minion DHF manages this; after all, I found few if any of the Minion copycat tires to be similarly intuitive or consistent.

Leaning into corners, the Minion DHF transitions smoothly, whether it’s a quick flick or a gradual lean. The stout cornering knobs provide firm reinforcement on the edge, and I never find myself wondering if the tire will hold. I’ve leaned farther toward horizontal on the Minions than any other tire, and they’ve never let me down. Cornering is really where front tires shine, and for my money there isn’t a better front tire out there than the Minion DHF.

Braking traction is excellent as well, and this comes into play more often than not on steep descents where more weight is bearing down on the front end of the bike. The Minion DHF digs in and rarely slips, whether I’m feathering the brakes for a tricky, technical descent or just giving a tap while blasting down a flow trail.

I’ve found the Maxxis Minion DHF truly serves as an all conditions tire, from loose to firm and from wet to dry. Obviously the compound makes a difference when it comes to hard surface traction, as does tire pressure. The Minions do a good job clearing mud and clay, and cut through sandy washes better than most.

Thinking back over hundreds of rides on the Minions DHF tires, I can’t recall a single pinch flat despite running “just” EXO/TR casings. Honestly most riders should be able to get away with a lighter casing on the DHFs since it is a front tire after all. That’s not to say I haven’t had punctures due to sharp objects, though no more or less than other tires.

Of course no tire is perfect, and if I had my way the Minion DHF would be lighter weight and faster rolling. And yet, I hope Maxxis doesn’t try to make it faster or lighter because there’s a good chance that could take away from the things I already love about this tire. So the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.

Choosing a version of the Minion DHF can be confusing because there are so many choices available. For trail bikes, the 29×2.50WT with 3C Maxx Grip compound and EXO/TR casing is a safe choice, and one that I’ve seen specced on many builds. From there, you can go with a lighter, faster rolling version or a burlier, tougher version depending on your riding style. With 16 configurations available in the 29er diameter alone, the only problem is finding the tire you want in stock at your local bike shop or online.

Pros and cons of the Maxxis Minion DHF tire


  • Amazing cornering and transitions
  • Excellent grip
  • Intuitive


  • Number of choices can be overwhelming

Bottom line

When riders say mountain bike tires are one of the biggest upgrades you can make to your bike, they’re talking about the Minions. At least I am, anyway.

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