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The Maxxis Ravager is essentially a 700C mountain bike tyre for your gravel bike. It looks very very much like a scaled-down version of the Maxxis Minion SS MTB tyre and you can treat it very much as such, allowing you to take your gravel bike to places other slender treaded bikes might shy away from.
People's interpretation of gravel varies enormously. While for some it's cruising along nicely graded paths, grass-down-the-middle roads and the odd bridleway, for others it's taking a skinnier tyred drop-barred bike everywhere and anywhere they fancy off-road, and frequently somewhere that might patently be more suited to a fatter-tyred and flat-barred mountain bike because it's fun to be skipping along the edge of stupidity on an inappropriate bike. The Maxxis Ravager definitely veers towards the latter use.
As you might expect from looking at the tread pattern, these tyres are designed for more off-road duties than on, and are a little draggy on tarmac compared with many gravel tyres that typically have a slicker centre tread. That doesn't mean they're noticeably sluggish, though.
That's the payback for their more tufty tufty play dirt manners. The centre knobs do a great job of providing grip in drier soil and damp loam but are still tightly packed enough that the tyres will gum up with sticky mud if you're piloting through well-hydrated gravel.
The more aggressive side knobs do dig in marvellously and save any slide that might result from too-deep dirt or from you getting over-excited, so you can rely on them to keep you straight-ish.
The tyre size of 40mm is on the skinnier side for a modern gravel bike (but a comfy dream if you're used to old school 32mm cyclo-cross tyres). But then a slimmer tyre does offer better frame clearance, which could come in useful if you're heading into the stickier and muddier terrain that the Ravager isn't too bothered by.
The Ravager comes with a 60tpi (threads per inch) sidewall casing, which doesn't make them the most supple tyre around, although it does play well to their rugged strengths, making them more resistant to rock and root thumps and able to shrug off impacts that more delicate sidewalls would crumple over.
With a suggested range of 35-60psi, it's advisable to run them as low as you dare according to your weight, riding style and terrain to get them to perform at their most combative, much as you might a mountain bike tyre.
With that in mind, it's best to ride these tubeless to embrace their hooligan character that might otherwise result in too many pinch punctures with a tube in place. The Ravagers mounted tubeless quickly and easily onto both some Hunt and Kinesis wheels.
These Ravagers benefit from Maxxis's Silk Shield which is its bead-to-bead protection; this gives an additional level of defence to both the sidewalls and underneath the tread. Protection from punctures can often be more down to luck than science, but the Silk Shield does appear to work as these Maxxis tyres have been trouble-free over some quite testing terrain and cavalier riding.
Around my way there's the tyre-eating double act of hawthorn bushes and sharp flints to deal with, which can breach a tread and destroy a tyre sidewall seemingly at will, and the Ravagers have shrugged them off – and countless other bumps, thumps, thunks and whoops – with no whimpering.
The tyre is also available in an EXO Protection version, which is a cut and abrasion-resistant yet flexible material added to the sidewalls.
You'll feel the drag of the tread on tarmac and smoother off-road, and the heft of the Ravager can be noticeable if you think about it when getting up to speed, but the flip side to this is being able to be far more carefree should you venture into more challenging terrain, where slicker and lighter gravel tyres might have to tip-toe their way along.
In a giggly highlight, the Ravagers showed their true colours by belligerently following two mountain bikes down some rooty technical single track through the trees, along slightly damp trails, at night. The tyres made a very, very respectable fist at allowing a totally outgunned bike to keep up with its fatter-tyred and more capable friends for longer than you might consider necessary, until relying on tyres that were a fraction of the ideal width suddenly made itself felt.
Gravel tyres that offer a level of grip and work in more challenging terrains that you might encounter should you turn left or right off gravel are not common, but they are becoming increasingly so as more people push the bounds of whatever gravel might be.
You might be tempted by the Schwalbe G-One R tyre which looks quite tready and ready to take on similar terrain to the Ravager, and in a more supple way, but the Maxxis does win on side tread, sturdiness and being a fair bit cheaper (the Schwalbe is £70).
In a similar 'it's a mountain bike tyre really' vein, the WTB Resolute has a chunkier centre tread but in a more open overall pattern, which does play well in the proper off-road arena, and comes in 650B sizing as well. It is still more expensive at £55, though.
The Maxxis looks like it could go head-to-head with the slightly cheaper (£45) Specialized Rhombus Pro 2Bliss Ready, with the Ravagers' centre tread looking a bit more road- and buffed gravel-friendly over the Rhombus' more gnarly overall tread pattern.
For venturing beyond gravel and onto pretty much everything and anything else, the Ravager is a really capable and, more importantly, fun tyre, if you can live with the slightly sluggish tarmac manners and slim profile.
More 'off-road' than many might consider 'gravel', and it's great at mucking about in the dirt
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Maxxis Ravager Folding Tyre
Size tested: 700 x 40
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Maxxis says the Ravager is a gravel tyre for the riders out there willing to brave unknown and aggressive terrain with only their drop bars and a bit of rubber beneath them. 'Aggressive gravel tyre perfect for deep, loose gravel and optimal for off-road touring and adventures.'
Yeah, I'd agree with that, it's a tyre for when gravel gets bigger.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Silk Shield Protection
It's a sturdy tyre that puts up with a lot.
For the terrain it's designed for it's an amazingly good fun tyre.
It's been used almost exclusively for months and the tyres have limited tread wear and are standing up incredibly well to willing off-road abuse.
It's a chunky tyre, but that merely plays to its strengths.
It's not the most supple of tyres, but the tread soaks up a lot of off-road rumble, and it's more comfy over terrain where other gravels tyres would whimper.
If you want a fit and forget tyre that you can use all year round in all terrains then the Ravager is well worth it.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For a tyre designed for more aggressive terrain than your standard gravel and able to deal with loose off-road conditions and damper mud, the Ravagers do a great job. A favourite bit-of-everything let's-muck-about tyre.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Loamy mud grip, chunkiness, ability to treat your gravel bike as much like a mountain bike as a 700C tyre will let you.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Wee bit draggy on road.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Schwalbe G-One R tyre looks quite tready and ready to take on similar terrain to the Ravager, and in a more supple way, but is £70. In a similar 'it's a mountain bike tyre really' vein, the WTB Resolute has a chunkier centre tread but in a more open overall pattern, which does play well in the proper off-road arena, and comes in 650B sizing as well. It is still more expensive at £55, though. The Maxxis looks like it could go head-to-head with the slightly cheaper (£45) Specialized Rhombus Pro 2Bliss Ready, with the Ravagers' centre tread looking a bit more road- and buffed gravel-friendly over the Rhombus' more gnarly overall tread pattern.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Lots of my friends take their gravel bikes where people take their mountain bikes, so yes.
Use this box to explain your overall score
If you like to take your gravel bike over all sorts of terrain, especially where it might be rocky, rooty, muddy and deliberately more off road then the Ravager is a great tyre. It copes with just about everything although it's not the swiftest on tarmac, and it's big boned enough to put up with a lot of inappropriate bike for the terrain abuse.
About the tester
I usually ride: It varies as to the season. My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.