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Maxxis Overdrive Excel Tyre
720g £34.99

The Maxxis Overdrive Excel Tyres are marketed as a trekking model.; one with scope for rougher roads and lighter, hardpack trails. They’re surprisingly quick for a big section tyre and seem very dependable in the broadest sense. Aside from the slightly old school 26x2.0, there are 700c options, which would be good fits for hybrids and indeed cyclo cross/gravel bikes needing to earn their keep.

Pros: Low rolling resistance, dependable handling-especially along wet, greasy roads, scope for weekend/lightweight touring, good puncture resistance, good range of sizes.

Cons: Minor points but off-road capability limited to dirt roads and dry trails.

bicycle cycle ike trekking touring tyre tire

Specification

The Overdrive Excel features a reassuringly high specification and one that I’d expect, given the dual-purpose narrative. Before I get on to that, aside from our big 26x2.0, there’s a narrower 26x1.75 and three 700c options- 700x32, 35 and 40mm (about 1.57 in) which should suit most people. Either way, they feature supple dual compound casings, which promise leach like tenure on metaled roads-albeit with some potential trade off in terms of durability.

The grooved channel continues this grippy narrative and is also designed to channel water out, which helps on the puncture repelling front. As we’d expect, there’s a dedicated puncture repelling belt running bead to bead, beneath. Maxxis call this their “Silk Shield” technology, which guards against sidewall flats, while the silkworm only covers the centre strip.

 

Staying with the sidewalls, these are wire bead only, but also feature reflective detailing- great for winter/commuting duties and operating pressures on our 26x2.0 range from 35-60psi. Maximum payloads of 90kilos (75 for the 700c) suggest they’re stout enough for lightweight/weekend touring. That said; Maxxis do not recommend using old school bottle dynamos. Despite being wire beads, they’ve rolled effortlessly, tool-free aboard 19mm rims and only required a single lever to scoop them off.

Test Bike/ Contexts

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bicycle tyre forks stand

Ursula was the obvious test-rig, especially since the mucky waterlogged roads had resembled Paris-Roubaix and been giving the unwelcome “gift” of flats recently. December and January have weaved between freezing and extremely wet- ideal conditions for evaluating a tyre’s qualities and performance. I’ve tested ours along rural lanes, town centres, unmade/dirt roads and firmer bridlepath.

Ride/Handling 3.75/5

From the outset, I was surprised by their low rolling resistance. They accelerate much faster than a 715g tyre might imply. They’re similarly easy to keep on the boil. I’ve typically found myself going a sprocket up, in comparable contexts and maintained a 1.5-2mph higher average speed throughout. On longer, 50-mile outings, I’ve felt noticeably fresher compared with similar distances with the bikes 850g defaults. Qualities that are appreciated in any context, but bode well for day rides, or weekend touring.

Run at 65psi, I was surprised to discover a more direct feel than I’ve come to expect from rubber of this size. 65psi didn’t result in any skittishness, or uncertainty, especially when cornering and/or descending at pace. 

Even at this pressure, no more caution than usual was needed when tackling railway crossings and other raised ironworks. However, tackling metalled roads, 50-60psi seemed best across the board. With temperatures dropping to freezing and at 55psi they still delivered decent traction when climbing and provided I hadn’t got complacent, same story on the descent.

 

Ride quality over rougher, pock marked backroads and battle-scarred town centres is supple and compliant, due in part to the big sections. Rumble strips and other traffic calming measures were passed with similar finesse, although these obviously scrubbed off a few mph. 

 

That confirmed; I’ve pushed them to 30mph on greasy descents without them missing a beat and there’s ample feedback, so black ice or similar hazard aside, it could be attributable to rider error. Acceleration is swift, meaning it's easy to recoup momentum on a sudden sharp climb, or when negotiating stop-start traffic.

 

Again, their sprightly persona meant they could be flicked around holes and other hazards with surprising ease-even at the end of the day when mental tiredness has begun creeping in. Off road prowess is best kept to dry/dirt roads but I was similarly impressed by their speed and compliance when tackling unmade roads, the sort dressed in fine stones/chippings- great for exploring, or short cuts.

 

The tread pattern supplying reassuringly good traction, without being overly prone to collecting stones, flints and other sharps. Much the same story along dry bridlepath and singletrack. Tackle softer, silty tracks and they’ll fill quickly, becoming slicks quicker than a gravel specific tyre, such as the CST Pika. However, in common with the Pika, they will also shed these quite efficiently, given a couple of miles on metalled roads. 

Puncture Resistance/Durability 4/5

Much as I’d hoped, no punctures in the last 600 mixed terrain miles and I’ve ridden through lanes paved in dung, slurry, deliberately charged through brambles, shards of glass and similar sharps. Not so much as a nick or cut in the casing. Similarly, the casings still look fresh. Frankly, I’d expect that at this stage, regardless of price, or test conditions. Casual conversation with someone suggested they’d done 2,000 miles on a 700x35c and theirs were only starting to show signs of wear. They also remarked they were yet to puncture in this time.

Value 3.5/5

£34.99 is a competitive price point. Provided you were looking for 700c, Continental Contact Plus  comes in at £39.99. It’s incredibly puncture resistant and, in my experience, durable. They also roll a bit faster than the 978g would suggest. Narrow 28mm through to 47mm caters for most builds from old fashioned cross bikes, through to rough stuff tourers.  However, there’s no 26-inch mtb version and they are still relatively hefty.

suspension fork bicyc;e cycle bike tyre tire test review

Vittoria Adventure Tech are also available in an mtb 26x1.75 section and 32, 35 and 38mm 700c. They're also designed to work with faster, R75 e-bikes and at £29.99 are a few quid cheaper. That said; their 3mm puncture repelling belt only covers the centre strip and at 820g for a 700x38, they’re relatively hefty. 

Summary

The Maxxis Overdrive Xcel are another very capable tyre for general riding, whether that be commuting, winter, or more adventurous touring. There are limits to their off-road capabilities but provided you’re sticking to dirt roads and dry bridlepath/singletrack they’ll cope competently enough. 

Verdict: 3.75/5 Frisky, yet dependable tyres for more adventurous commuting and lightweight touring.

 

Michael Stenning

 

Madison.co.uk – The UK’s largest cycle parts & accessories distributor

PUBLISHED MARCH 2023

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