The Maxxis Treadlite is a 1990s race MTB semi-slick reincarnated in 2017 as a tyre pursuing an activity that really boomed in the 60s and 70s. The 2017 guise comes tubeless-happy with a middling 2.1″ footprint in all three rim sizes. We rode the goldilocks size mostly on a mongrel alloy hardtail with drop bars.
Now, you wouldn’t expect your 1.3litre Corolla to out-drag a Ferrari, nor would you expect a Heineken to taste particularly hoppy. With reasonable expectations of a semi-slick mountain bike tyre, you will be rewarded with a rather nippy hum on the road, a grippy tyre on dry-ish hardpacked surfaces, and a decent enough tyre for rolling singletrack on.
The great improvements from your nostalgia-tinged / horror-inducing Michelin Wildgripper Jets or Sprints are of course that tubeless tyres and disc brakes now provide more grip from the stronger tyre carcass and more sane pressures, and you get more control through more consistent (and available!) braking. The high-ish volume on wide rims also help with the ride quality on all surfaces.
A few of our testers rode these tyres on various trips, which of course equals varying surfaces, and even more so varying degrees of success. The very nature of the types of bikes the tyre is being used on dictates how well it is judged to have performed; i.e if you stick them on your long travel mountain bike and attempt to ride wet, slippery and steep trails, you’re not going to have much fun. However, mount them on a gravel or cross bike and rail it up a long dirt road and then hit some twisty, loamy singletrack before heading home down the highway, you’ll be singing the praises of its versatility and capability. They also seem to be warding off any major signs of wear and haven’t suffered a puncture or any cuts in both tubeless and tubed modes.
While the Treadlites are not really a jack of all treads, they are versatile, durable and rather good on most surfaces. And that’s a pretty good testimonial for any tyre, especially one that is forced to wear many hats and still look good in them all.