Review: The Maxxis Chronicle 29+ Tire
After working over the classic Knard, the Vee Trax Fatty, and the mud carving Dirt Wizard, I looked forward to putting the Chronicle through its paces. Here is the full review and comparison chart.
When first announced, the Chronicle appeared to be a promising 29+ tire solution for rides that serve up a buffet of surface conditions, such as the mixed-terrain bikepacking routes I’d been riding: mosaics of technical and rocky singletrack, fast hardback, rough jeep road, loose stone, gravel, and requisite stretches of tarmac. After 500+ miles of bikepacking and trail riding, these tires did not disappoint.
A fresh pair of Chronicles replaced a set of Dirt Wizards on my Surly Krampus prior to riding the Kokopelli Trail, White Rim, and a fair share of trail riding around southwest Utah, Moab, and Fruita. The tubeless ready Chronicles easily snapped in to a pair of Surly Rabbit Holes rims and set up with no issues. The rims were prepped with a trimmed down Surly rim strip and a layer of Gorilla Tape (click the thumbnails below for captions and details). No flats, burping, or issues to speak of, so far.
To start, the Chronicle is Maxxis’ first 29+ tire and is marketed for adventure. That is a big claim requiring a burly enough tire for backcountry exploration without the overhead worry of ripping a sidewall. The version I tested features a 120 TPI casing which is relatively light compared to the 60 TPI casing on the Dirt Wizard and the 27 TPI casing on the wire-bead Knard. For me this would normally be a slight concern on long-distance bikepacking trips where anything could happen. However, Maxxis uses their EXO sidewall protection technology in the Chronicle which acts as a layer of cut and abrasion resistance. So far, the tire has held up to an impressive mix of sharp and rocky terrain.
The tread profile on the Chronicle may seem specialized at first glance, but I found it to be nearly perfect for mixed terrain. The profile is characterized by short 2mm center directional tread that gets more aggressive as you move outward to the 5mm angular side knobs. The resulting squat profile means more tread on the ground, but the outcome of the Chronicle’s dual compound design is a surprisingly fast-roller… on hardpack, gravel, and tarmac. The soft yet warlike outer tread was happy to be pushed into corners, even on loose hardscrabble. My only complaint in the traction department comes when braking on very steep loose stuff; oddly enough, the tire climbs fairly well on steep loose rubble, but when railing down the same surface it’s easy to lose grip with a tap of the rear brake.
The size and general shape of the Chronicle is very comparable to the Knard. In fact, the casing and tread measurements are nearly identical. At 1,050 grams the Chronicle weighs slightly more than the Trax Fatty, 190 grams less than the 27TPI Knard (70 grams more than the 120TPI Knard), and ~100 grams less the 60TPI Dirt Wizard.
Maxxis Chronicle 29+ vs The Surly Dirt Wizard (cornering + versatility)
The Surly Dirt Wizard was the first 29+ tire that took cornering seriously, but it fell slightly flat on gravel and got a bit sludgy on pavement. This became strikingly evident while testing the single compound variation on the Stagecoach 400 route (comprised of 25% pavement). On hero dirt, they are fantastic, but when the route calls for some spinning on flat and hard surfaces, they are a bear. The Chronicles don’t have quite the downhill cornering capacity as the DWs, which might been compared to the legendary Kenda Nevegal in that regard. But the Chronicles hold their own in the cornering department, and maintain an a comfortable ride on almost every other surface.
Chronicle vs the Vee Trax Fatty (wow factor)
The Vee tire was fairly underwhelming. It simply performed OK in most categories; unlike the others, there was no wow factor in any particular specialization. That being said, the Chronicle’s wow factor is in its versatility. Another downfall of the Vee tire is the oversteer pull generated by it’s rounded profile; this is a non-issue with the Maxxis.
Maxxis Chronicle 29+ vs The Surly Knard (27tpi) (long-term bike travel)
Considering its burlier casing and overall weight, perhaps the wire bead version of the Knard should not be directly compared, but it was a tire that blew me away on our trip across Africa. It held up remarkably well over 7,500 KMs. I am not sure if I can say the same for the Chronicle; only time will tell. But after 500+ miles on them over 3 bikepacking trips and a lot of trail riding, I am definitely impressed. However, right now I might be slightly torn, but I think I would employ the Knard for a large international trip.
The below chart illustrates my findings when comparing the four tested 29+ tires. The performance of each tire is rated by category from 1-5 (1=ridiculously awful and 5=unbelievable). MC=Maxxis Chronicle / DW=Dirt Wizard / KN=Knard / VT=Vee Trax Fatty
Overall, the Maxxis Chronicle is an impressive multi-purpose tire fit for bikepacking and trail riding on the 29+ platform. With the recent slew of plus-sized bike introductions, we are bound to see many more tire options. Hopefully that means a 27+ Chronicle and a Surly ‘Knar-wizard’ (or something to that effect).
And the winner(s) are (I guess every comparative review needs a winner):
Mixed Terrain Bikepacking: The Maxxis Chronicle
International Dirt Touring: Surly Knard (27 TPI), although the Chronicle is very tempting
Fatpacking (sand, beach, etc.): The Maxxis Chronicle
Trail Slaying (hero dirt and mud): Surly Dirt Wizard
Trail Riding (southwest rock and scrabble): The Maxxis Chronicle