20 years/20 questions - Maxxis
Maxxis get to grips with our 20 questions
TO CELEBRATE THE TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF DIRT WE’RE SPEAKING TO THE BRANDS AND RIDERS THAT HAVE SUPPORTED US THROUGHOUT THE YEARS. WE’LL BE ASKING 20 QUESTIONS ON THE PAST PRESENT AND FUTURE OF MOUNTAIN BIKING TO THOSE WHO ARE TRULY IN THE KNOW. CHECK OUT OUR 20TH ANNIVERSARY BOOK THAT’S AVAILABLE TO PRE-ORDER HERE.
Maxxis have been keeping us firmly planted to the dirt for the past twenty years. Their palmares is practically unparalleled with a slew of World Champions from every discipline.
They don't rest on their laurels though, they are currently in the leading pack for e-bike and plus size tyres. We spoke to Stephen Robinson, brand manager for the bicycle tyre division at Maxxis UK, about mountain biking past present and future.
What achievement of the company are you most proud of?
“Maxxis has been making quality, performance-focused tyres for a massive range of uses for almost 50 years. But when it comes to our achievements on the cycle side of the business, I’d have to say that – after years on the market - our High Roller II remains the benchmark tyre for downhill. It’s still very much the tyre to beat, it tops independent poll after independent poll and has become somewhat of a status symbol for riders. That’s something we’re pretty proud of".
What has been you biggest product development?
“We’re constantly introducing new products and extending our existing ranges. Innovation in research and development plays a big part in the Maxxis strategy and always has. If I had to single out one development, I’d go for our wide trial tyres, which we launched at the beginning of the year at the Taipei Bike Show.
Recognising the trend for wider rims, we were quick to adapt our legendary Minion tyre to create a wider casing and internal width of 35mm – far better suited for modern trail bikes. Our Minion DHRII has caused a big stir in the market and definitely given the competition something else to worry about!"
What is the direction of the company setting up for the next 20 years?
“That’s simple. As far as the cycling side of the business goes, Maxxis has made no secret of the fact that ‘all discipline domination’ is our vision for the coming years. We’re so hot in mountain biking generally and have acquired a bit of a cult brand status for downhill riders especially. Yet, when it comes to other categories – like road or BMX, our products are just as strong but far less well known. We’re working hard on changing this but change does take time".
What influence has Dirt had on your company?
“Dirt has played a massive role in promoting Maxxis and making it the tyre brand of choice for downhill. The thing that Dirt does, that not all magazines do, is take impartiality very seriously.
As a reader, I fully trust that the review or article I’m reading is objective and therefore trustworthy. That gives riders confidence to try certain products and I think that’s partly why Maxxis tyres are so popular, because riders trust the reviews – try the tyres, feel the difference and don’t look back".
What do you dislike about working in the bike industry?
“Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE working in the bike industry and always have. Combining a hobby you’re passionate about with making a living is something I feel really lucky to be able to do.
However, one drawback is the misconception that the bike industry makes millions – it really doesn’t. Consumers might be spending a lot of money, but margins are tight for everyone involved".
Give us a story from your wildest moment in mountain biking?
“So, earlier this year I had the pleasure of riding the course ahead of the opening of the ‘Ard Rock Enduro & Mountain Bike Festival that we sponsor up in the Yorkshire Dales. We were filming a teaser video for social media ahead of the opening day. It was a pretty gnarly course and I was trying my best to keep pace with the event organisers when, BOOM, I misjudged a turn and face-planted straight into a rock.
A pretty epic nose bleed later and I was back on and filming the rest of the video like a true professional! The worst part, the Go Pro footage and sound effects that went viral around the office the following week. And, no, you can’t see it!
Your favourite or most memorable Dirt Cover?
“Downhill champion of the world – Danny Hart’s October 2011 cover. True legend!"
What would you like to see from Dirt over the next 20 years?
“Being the traditionalist that I am, I would personally love to see the magazine go back into print. Maybe even just for a one off, limited edition issue – say for the twenty year anniversary!"
How were you first introduced to Dirt?
“Dirt is completely entwined with my fond memories of working at the Specialised Concept store in Birmingham as a young man of 25. The mechanics who worked there at the time were huge downhill fans and to them, Dirt, was the bible! Pinching a copy to flick through on your lunch hour was a risk worth taking but god help you if you forgot to drop it back in the workshop when you were done!"
What has Dirt taught you over the years?
“Dirt has been great in keeping me in touch with the latest goings on. The main thing it’s taught me is that downhill doesn’t stand still, there’s always a new standard to meet and there’s always someone chasing your tail! It keeps me informed, which helps Maxxis stay one step ahead."
Press releases or journalism?
“Both have a place, for sure. We use press releases to get our news and views out in the public domain but I have to admit, there’s a lot more credibility in something that’s been written by a well-informed, well respected journalist – certainly from a consumer perspective. The great thing about DIRT is they take journalism very seriously and the loyalty of the readers reflects that for sure."
Who have been your favourite riders of the past 20 years?
“I’ve got quite a few. The guys on the Santa Cruz Syndicate are big downhill heros of mine, especially Steve Peat – who’s done so much for the sport here in the UK. Danny Hart is another personal favourite, along with the late, great Stevie Smith, who had so much personality, passion and skill and who was taken far too soon".
What has been your favourite or most memorable race?
“Without a doubt Danny Hart winning the World Cup in 2011. He absolutely annihilated his competition and showed balls of steel. And don’t even get me started on that awesome tail whip – an iconic moment in downhill history!"
What does the next 20 years bring for Mountain biking?
“Boundaries are becoming blurred. I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few years’ time we end up with a bike and tyre that can do everything from single track to downhill to enduro".
What’s your opinion on E-Bikes?
“I LOVE them! They’re great for the industry as they give people who haven’t ridden bikes for years or who have a low level of fitness an opportunity to get out into the fresh air and experience all that our industry has to offer. We’ve recently launched our first e-Bike tyre and there has been A LOT of interest from dealers looking to satisfy customer demand for e-Bike products."
What life lessons has Mountain biking taught you?
“You can always be fitter and faster! Speed is confidence and confidence is speed".
What’s been the most questionable thing to come out of Mountain biking?
“Again, e-Bikes. They’re the Marmite of the biking industry – you either love or hate them. They undoubtedly open up the sport to a new demographic of rider, which is great. Yet, they also incite a fair amount of ridicule from some members of the die-hard community".
Who doesn’t get the credit they deserve in the industry?
“Aside from brand managers of course, I’d have to say the guys and girls working in the factories, slogging away building the bikes and making the parts. The amount of technical skill involved must be massive yet all we see is the finished product with little appreciation of the build process".