Review: The Maxxis Chronicle 29+ Tire

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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.

Maxxis Chronicle 29+ Review, Bikepacking

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.

  • Maxxis Chronicle 29+ Review, Bikepacking
  • Maxxis Chronicle 29+ Review, Bikepacking
  • Maxxis Chronicle 29+ Review, Bikepacking

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.

Maxxis Chronicle 29+ Review, Bikepacking

I’ve the Maxxis Chronicles set up tubeless and maintain the tire pressure somewhere around 10-12 psi (maybe slightly higher when bikepacking with a load); this light pressure makes for a nice supple ride when paired with a helping of body finesse and the bulletproof Rabbit Holes that can handle an occasional rock skulling. The reinforced sidewall provides the tire a confident feel without being squirmy or shifty at low pressures.

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.

Maxxis Chronicle 29+ Review, Bikepacking

  • Maxxis Chronicle 29+ Review, Bikepacking
  • Maxxis Chronicle 29+ Review, Bikepacking
  • Maxxis Chronicle 29+ Review, Bikepacking

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+ Review, Bikepacking

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.

Maxxis Chronicle 29+ vs Dirt Wizard, Bikepacking

Temporarily laying off the Dirt Wizards…

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.

Vee Trax Fatty 29+ vs Dirt Wizard Tire Review

The Vee Trax Fatty shown next to the Surly Dirt Wizard.

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.

Maxxis Chronicle 29+ vs Surly Knard, Bikepacking

Relatively the same size, but the Chronicle exhibits a much more aggressive side knob profile.

Maxxis Chronicle 29+ vs Surly Knard, Bikepacking

The Chronicle on the right has a less rounded profile than the Knard.

Comparison Chart

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

Condition
Maxxis Chronicle
Dirt Wizards
Surly Knard
Vee Trax Fatty
Mud
3.5
4.5
3
2
Pavement
4
1
5
3
Gravel
4.5
2.5
4
3
Sand
4
3.5
3.5
4
Tech. S-track
4
4.5
3
2
Slickrock
4
2
4.5
Cornering
4.5
5
2
2.5
Mud Clearance
2
4
2
2
Durability
4
4
5
3
Treadware
4
2.5
5
3

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

Maxxis Chronicle 29+ Review, Bikepacking

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  • James Cowan

    I’d be curious to see how the Bontrager Chupacabra measures up against the Chronicle for mixed-terrain bikepacking. I’m on the fence about which tire to use for my Colorado Trail ride this summer, as the Chupacabra has been receiving some rave reviews (ranked well above Chronicle).

    I’m sure you’ve seen this already but here ya go anyways:
    http://fat-bike.com/2015/01/bontrager-chupacabra-mid-term-review/

    I tallied up the total scores (see image, from link above, Fat-Bike.com), Chupa wins by a landslide.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    I have not seen that, interesting though. Strange they have a differing opinion on rolling resistance… I have found the Chronicles to be very good on flats, hardpack and pavement. I haven’t tried the Chupacabra yet, but I have also heard good things.

  • James

    Yeah, they seem to like the Vee Trax Fatty a bit more than you did too…
    Seems like their testing was a bit different: more trail riding than mixed-terrain bikepacking.

    It might come down to price and availability for me, between the Chronicle and Chupacabra.

    Thanks for the great content, this site has become part of my morning coffee ritual.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Thanks James!

  • http://www.hikinginfinland.com/ Hendrik Morkel

    Off Topic: Could you guys please set up an RSS Feed? Makes it so much easier to follow your awesome content =) Thank you!

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Hi Hendrik. There is one, try the RSS link at the bottom of the page, or maybe this: http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/feed/ Were you trying something else with an issue?

  • http://www.hikinginfinland.com/ Hendrik Morkel

    Awesome, thank you! The RSS Link at the bottom was too to overlook that I just didn’t find it – and usually my RSS Reader finds it if I just copy the URL in. Now I’m subscribed =)

  • http://www.worntreads.com Patrick Dowd

    Getting on the Vee Trax always takes a second to get used to with that countersteer on road. I forget where I saw it but there was a piece about the Chupacraba that mentioned how the wider tire benefits from smaller knobs (sorry I don’t have the link).
    I too am curious and hope you review the Chupacabra. I plan on ditching the Vee Trax tires after Tour Divide this summer.

  • Allan B

    Nice review, very helpful as are all your reviews that I’ve read. Would you consider a mix and match with Chronicle (f) and Knard, (r) or other way around?

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ bikepacking.com (Logan)

    Thanks Allan! A chronicle in the front with a Knard in the rear could be a pretty good mix. That would give you a little cornering bite up front and solid treadware in the back. The more I ride the Chronicles, the more I like them though… this set is still going strong.

  • Justin Bles

    Thanks for the detaied review you have helped me make up my mind for my first 29er fat tire experience.

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Sure thing. Enjoy it!

  • mikeetheviking

    Finally made enough memories on my 29+ chronicles to actually comment on them. They have been outstanding. They have never left me stranded through many miles of unforgiving off the trail central Texas bushwhacking. Running on Velocity rims set up tubeless with Orange Seal. I think I’m gonna have to see what the Chupas are about after this stellar review. On a side note: no tire is bulletproof a buddy of mine tore a one in. slice right through the middle of his chronicle within less than 30 miles.
    However I can vouch that the chronicles are just as good if not better than many tires out there.
    Another special note: Both tires commented on here were 120 tpi EXO

  • http://www.southdownsmtbskills.com jim barrow

    I currently run Bontrager Chupacabras, but I’m not really happy with them. Do you think the Chronicle would make a good choice for the GDMBR? I’m doing it this summer.

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    The Chronicles would be my top choice for the GDMBR. We are currently using them on our Trans-Uganda loop… love ’em!

  • http://www.southdownsmtbskills.com jim barrow

    Awesome, thanks for the reply

  • http://www.fyxo.co/ fyxo

    I’ve ridden Chronicles for a week – Chupa’s are still my pick.

  • StaySaneSleepOutside

    I’ve ridden the chupas a fair amount and they seem fantastic. i only have one, though, on the front. still knard in the rear. chupa seems to be all the knard is and wants to be. not enough miles for durability opinion though, but i can say that even the 120 knards are exceptionally long-lasting it seems! been riding them on multiple bikes for years and still seemingly excellent tread life left. i would not purchase knards again, however, as they don’t have very good grip on non-hardpacked surfaces, while other tires that grip better, still seem to roll just as fast as the knards on hardpack.
    additional note: over the years, i’ve had two pretty good cuts in my 120 knards, one from a sharp rock on the denali park road while running way too high of pressure and one just recently from a piece of glass on pavement. the former was over 1/2 inch long and the latter was just under. Both sealed up just fine with stans. the larger one has been sealed permanently for years!

  • Al

    Any further feedback on Chupas vs Chronicles Andy? Where do the Chronicles fall down?

  • http://www.fyxo.co/ fyxo

    More of a grip preference. I felt the chronicles gave way in the corners easier than the chupacabra. I can’t speak for long term wear.

  • http://www.fyxo.co/ fyxo

    I really like the WTB Ranger and the price point is much more accessible. Whatever you do, don’t get panaracer fat b nimble.

  • Al

    Thanks for that. Sorry to hear you got caught in the panaracer ruse too.

  • http://www.fyxo.co/ fyxo

    I figure nearly everyone who orders them will be disappointed at the size of them. They are marginally bigger than 2.4 ARDENT and as straight as a mad mans turd.

  • matthew

    Hi! Posted this over on the Dirt Wizard review page but hadn’t gotten a response, so reposting here!

    Anyway: Looking for some sage advice on tyres!

    I’m planning an extended route across the eastern Tibetan Plateau and thru the mountains
    of the ‘Stans starting next year, on dirt roads and tracks as much as possible. My ride is a 29+ with Krampus-like geometry and clearances, and while a tubeless Maxxis Chronicle on a WTB Scraper rim gives me ‘adequate’ clearances of about 5mm to the chainstays, I’m concerned about how tight that is if I run into thick clay mud or (worse) if I whack a rim a few mm out of true in a way that can’t be immediately remedied on the road.

    So: tyre choice? A Dirt Wizard is a bit narrower than a Knard or a Chronicle, but not ideal for the long
    inevitable distances on pavement. A Vee Trax Fatty is closer to a 2.8, but no one really rates it highly. An Extraterrestrial is an option, but wonder if the tread is really aggressive enough should I go off-piste in search of adventure. I could run any of a variety of 29×2.4 tubeless-ready tyres (some of which are wider than others), but I really have no idea what would be a good choice. Or am I better off just sticking with what I have?

    Any wisdom to provide on this subject?
    Cheers and thanks as always!

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