Read here for background. I love my MTB, it is a fantastic bike with great knobby tires for rough technical riding. But for long gravel rides I needed a tire that is lighter with less rolling resistance. The Schwalbe G-One allrounds did not work, having multiple failures that made me walk back from rides. So I tried the Maxxis Rambler.
It comes in 2 styles: EXO/TR with 120 TPI, and Silkshield with 60 TPI. The latter is a bit heavier and more rugged. I opted for the former. They are size 650-47, which fits 27.5″ wheels. They have a directional tread pattern, but the directional arrows on the sidewalls are subtle and could be easily overlooked. They weigh 550 and 551 grams on my scale, which is a bit heavier than their specification. By comparison, the DHR/DHR weigh 900 / 820 grams respectively, and the G-One allrounds weighed 626 grams each. The 47mm width means you’ll probably have the widest tires of anyone showing up for that gravel ride. But it’s perfect for typical MTB rims; any narrower may cause problems with fit or tire shape. And for light weight and minimum rolling resistance, you don’t need it any wider.
They mounted easily on my Reynolds AR carbon wheels. I used 2.5 oz of Stan’s in each tire, and I also apply the sealant between the tire bead & rim. But they didn’t want to seat, not only requiring a compressor, but also removing the valve stem core to increase airflow volume. Once seated, fit & seal were perfect.
I rode them a couple of hundred miles, a mix of pavement & gravel. No flats or other problems, and I could feel that they were a bit lighter and faster than the knobby tires. I tried a few different pressures and ended up with 37 rear, 30 front being about ideal. After this initial success, due to their generous 47mm width, I wanted to test them on more rugged terrain, so I rode them on Tiger Mountain. That turned out to be a mistake!
Tiger is a steep, rugged, network of trails for intermediate & advanced riders. My route is only 13.5 miles, but it’s over 2,000′ of climbing. For the first half, things were going well. The Ramblers did great on the uphill, including 25%+ grades where lesser tires might have slipped. They lost traction a few times in downhill turns and obstacles where the knobbies would have gripped. But they were predictable and controllable, no crashes. About 9 miles into the ride, I heard the dreaded shwoosh of a tubeless tire going flat.
I stopped and inspected the rear tire. It had a gash over an inch long, on the sidewall running radially from the bead to the tread. The sealant spewed out within seconds. The tire was too damaged to remove the valve core and put a tube inside. It was destroyed. So I walked the last 4.5 miles, pushing my bike.
Lesson learned: Maxxis Ramblers are good for converting your MTB into a gravel bike. But don’t let their width & tread fool you into thinking they can be used on rugged MTB terrain. OTOH, perhaps the heavier Silkshield version would have held up.