Maxxis Rambler 40mm Tires: Getting Rolling

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Maxxis Rambler 40mm
The Rambler 40’s mounted up on Velocity A-23’s

Maxxis Rambler 40mm Tires: Getting Rolling-

The tubeless tire supply for gravel riders has really been opened up for 2016. One of the new players in the market is Maxxis who are offering what amounts to a big file tread road tire in the 27.5 X 2.00 Re-Fuse, and this new Rambler in a 700 X 40mm size. The Rambler comes in two versions, both with dual compound rubber, tubeless ready capabilities, and carbon reinforced beads, but one has a 60TPI casing and features Maxxis’ bead to bead “Silk Sheild” puncture protection technology while our test model is the 120TPI version with the EXO sidewall protection. You can find out weights and a bit more by going back to our introductory post HERE.

Maxxis Rambler 40mm
The Rambler has a nice, rounded casing with a block tread pattern.

The Rambler, with its EXO sidewall protection, was a bear cat to get set up correctly, or at all, on a few rims I had in hand here. The best luck I had was with a Bontrager TLR rim, and in the end, the Velocity USA A-23 rims. I have put in many e-mails to my Maxxis contact and the report I got back was that they were able to get their samples to air up on WTB TCS rims and some American Classic model they had. The tires are tricky to set up- you will likely need an air compressor with good air volume- and the beads should be lubricated liberally with a solution of soapy water. Or……just have the bike shop install them. Honestly, that’s probably the best way to do this. I will say these tires are by far the most difficult tubeless tires in this class I have tried to set up tubeless. These tires will live out the rest of the review period here on these rims, I can tell you that right up front!

Ride Impressions:

This may get modified as time goes on, because of my recent experiences with the Teravail Cannonball 38’s, (review here), which was a very stiff, unforgiving tire. The Rambler seems, at least for now, to be at the opposite end of the spectrum here in terms of ride feel. Damped, smooth, and fast are my initial impressions. I might add “fragile” to that list as well, as I had a freakish pinhole puncture on my third ride on these tires that the sealant didn’t seal, (sealant’s fault, not the tire), so I’ll also be keeping an eye on that as well. Oh, and by the way, the Rambler measures out to a 38mm on my A-23 rims, so that is a bit less than claimed. In fact, this tire looks about the same in volume as the Clement 36mm tire we also have on test here.

So Far….. The Rambler is a difficult tire, in comparison to the other gravel class tubeless offerings, to get set up tubeless. It is a light, fast, supple tire with decent grip. Perhaps a bit fragile? time during this review will tell on that front. Stay tuned……

Note: Maxxis sent over the Rambler 40mm tires to at no charge for test/review. We will always strive to give you our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.

Discuss and share your questions or thoughts about gravel bikes, gear, events and anything else on the Riding Gravel Forum.


Author: Guitar Ted

Guitar Ted hails from Iowa. Home of over 70,000 miles of gravel and back roads. An inaugural member of the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame and Co-creator of Trans Iowa in late 2004- Guitar Ted has been at the forefront of the growth of gravel events and riding since then. Creator of Gravel Grinder News in 2008, he produced the premier calendar of gravel and back road events. GT joined forces with Riding Gravel in late 2014.

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34 thoughts on “Maxxis Rambler 40mm Tires: Getting Rolling

  1. This is going to be my new back tire on my Tamland, with a Nano in front. Could you test the Rambler in wet conditions? El Nino is typically December–March, so we’re just at the very beginning of finding out what’s in store for us in CA.

    And SO GLAD i built my new wheels with WTB KOM i23s.

    1. Gotcha covered there, Mike. I’ve already done some mud riding with this tire, and I will be exploring wet/mushy gravel conditions soon since we’re about to receive a record amount of rain here, (supposedly), so stay tuned for that…….

    1. Other than the Bruce Gordon Rock & Road, we haven’t tested a tire with knobs wider than the casing here at, so this is a measurement taken at the widest part of the tire casing, which makes the biggest difference to people such as yourself, we feel.

  2. For “difficlut” to mount, suggest mounting them w tubes & let ’em sit for a few day. Put them in the sun helps also. Bead takes shape & bingo, difficult will generally pop right into place.

    1. James: Thanks for the tip, but in this case, the Rambler is difficult to mount for “other reasons” than you are suggesting fixes for.

      Having mounted literally hundreds of tubeless tires myself, I can say that in light of my experiences the Rambler has a different issue than many tires I have handled. It has a tendency to “curl” inwards, with the tread area being stiffer. Mounting it with a tube first, as an example, doesn’t take this issue away. Setting them in the Sun will not alleviate this issue either. That said, one thing I had missed does help here.

      With the valve core out, when you hit the tire with a blast of air from your compressor, you must simultaneously bounce the tire at the valve core area on the floor. The moment the beads contact the rim, the seal can start to take effect, and then the tire pops up into place immediately. It’s something I’ve done before with other tires, (fat bike tires come to mind), but hadn’t remembered to do right away with the Maxis tire. My technique was also confirmed by Maxxis as the way they have been mounting Ramblers as well.

      My final review will mention this, by the way. That still doesn’t make the Rambler “a less difficult tire to mount” however; since you really don’t need to do any tricks with other gravel class tires we’ve tested so far on the site.

      Hopefully that clears things up a bit and helps those reading this with getting their Ramblers to seat up more easily.

    2. James, if you do the hokey pokey after mounting them and before letting them sit in the sun, unicorns appear and lift the tire into place. Ha. Just messing with you. But seriously though, if a tire requires that type of process, I’d never use them. Tires should mount, with no tools other than a floor pump and maybe an extra hand from a family member…to hold your beer.

      1. Well stick w tubed tires for you luddy. Not a big deal to let tire take shape w a pre tube mount. And oh my a mysterious thing called a compressor?

        Just trying to help. And you?

        On that, the bounce can be replicated by wrapping the tire w a few straps around circumfrance. Old toes straps work well.

        1. To be completely fair, James, it is our experience here that reader feedback favors an “easier” tubeless set up. Just using a floor pump, for example, is preferable to having to go get an air compressor, which for many folks is not something they would use otherwise.

          Also, with some tubeless set ups, all you need is a floor pump, so it isn’t like it couldn’t be that way across the board, or at least, more so than it is now. Once that kind of “easy” set up is out and available, you can’t go backward. It’s going to not only be expected, but demanded by riders.

          So, we stand by our comments about how the goal should be a tubeless tire and rim combo that doesn’t require “bounces”, toe straps, and yes, even compressors. It’s been done, it’s out there being used, and there is no reason that it cannot be that way for new products, which for this Maxxis tire, unfortunately, isn’t the case.

          1. Well a compressor is hardly a special tool or that exp. And since tubeless bike tires take their cues from tubeless motorcycle tires, which req compressor press to seat, don’t expect the future to be pump seatable.

            Add no rim shape of width standard, and it would be near impossible for tire manuf to ensure pump seating across board. Heck, as of now, some tires are spec’d only to certain rims. So good luck w ‘easy’. I’ll worry about performance & not whine cause my floor pump won’t seat it first time, or I have to shape tire to the particilar rim w a tube first. Niether of which is very complicated imo. But you have yours & as always, you know more than everyone else here 😉

        2. Just ribbing ya. But, my personal feeling is that if straps and mandatory compressors are involved, that’s not the best solution for me (and I suspect many others based on the number of people who still ask and pay shops to set their tires up.) As far as helping, no, not really in my reply. Just sharing my thought on having a troublesome mounting tire. I’ve been running tubeless for many years, everything from splitting tubes to “ghetto” it to the simple Bontrager snap ins. But generally about the helping comment – I do spend some of my time working with another guy on a site about gravel cycling 🙂

  3. My bike shop was not able to mount the Maxxis Rambler on my WTB KOM i23 rim.

    A local team mechanic was in the shop at the same time and also could not succeed! This is in Marin County (the mechanics are good ones). He said the bead does not want to come anywhere near to seating, sealant is everywhere, etc.

    I am on the verge of giving up and binning this waste of money. I’ll call Maxxis tomorrow, first, but I am extremely pessimistic there will be a solution. I cannot imagine normal people will be able to routinely use this tire.

    1. Mike- This was my experience as well. VERY difficult to get set up on a few rims I had until I remembered something I do, almost without thinking, with fat bike tires and some mtb treads.

      When inflating the tire, remove the valve core, and orientate the valve so it sits at the bottom/ six o’clock position. Simultaneously bounce the tire sharply against the floor the instant you hit the valve with a blast of air. This action should momentarily seal the bead against the rim just long enough that the tire will begin to inflate.

      It was the only way I had success with these tires. Tell those wrenches to give that a try if they haven’t. Hopefully that helps out.

      Please do let us know what results they have. Thanks!

  4. ok will do. the bike shop charges an hourly rate for all work (which seems very fair and they are my fav shop and they are an institution here and the owner is very kind), but I cringe to think what this tire will cost me to have it mounted. Could easily be $60-70 with all the time spent (which I will be not too unhappy to pay if they succeed). But yeah I’ll never ever buy another Rambler! The team mechanic that was present and was stumped was from a team that raced in the Amgen Tour of CA.

    I knew it would be difficult to mount and debated being an a-hole and going to a shop with a flat rate for tubeless setup, but what is there in life if not loyalty…

  5. Talked to the mechanic this morning. He tried the strap method, he did the bouncing. No luck. Might try another shop. But seriously I’m pretty surprised they could not get it to work. Gonna keep the Maxxis as my spare tire I guess. If I use it with a 120g tube, I’m back at the weight of a Nano 40mm (~520g), albeit not tubeless. Lame. Buyer beware I guess.

    1. Sorry to hear that, Mike. I’ll pass that along to my Maxxis contact. Maybe they can make a design change down the road to make the Rambler a better fit for tubeless use.

      Thanks for the feed back.

  6. @James- Regarding your last comment above- Nice snark. However; no one is saying tubeless stuff is figured out yet, which you agree with. That wasn’t the point at all, which you are carefully avoiding.

    Thanks for your comment, “you know more than everyone else here”, but you really shouldn’t write that. Obviously, that title should be yours, no? 😉

  7. I was able to get the Ramblers (120 tpi version) to mount up pretty easily on a set of WTB i19 rims. (That said, given Guitar Ted’s experience, I’m worried about switching them onto my Roval Control SL rims, as tires fit more tightly on those rims than the WTBs.) For the WTB rims, I first mounted them with tubes and let them sit for a day. The next day I carefully broke the bead on one side and removed the tubes (leaving the bead seated on the other side), installed the tubeless valves, and inflated the tires using a Bontrager Flash Charger pump (which falls somewhere between a floor pump and an air compressor). For both tires, the bead immediately popped into place and sealed, even without sealant in the tires. I then removed the valve cores and added sealant.

    I have put over 500 miles on the tires so far and I love them. They roll really fast on the road and have a great ride on road and off. They grip really well on hardpack and they are decent on wet dirt. When it is really muddy, they are pretty poor, as they do not shed mud well. The tires don’t seem particularly fragile to me, but it is still early. No flat tires so far – finger’s crossed.

    A final note: my pair came in underweight at 366 g and 378 g.

    1. Thanks Dan! It is good to have more data points on a prticular tire. It would be really great for all if you would take the time to go to the forum here and add this comment as well, if you care to. More eyes over there than here, so it would help more folks.

      I would only add that by your having to do the tube set up dance, it makes my feeling that these tires are hard to deal with more firmly rooted. We should not expect, nor have to deal with tubeless tires in this manner. It has been proven by other tires/systems that it can be done without having to do anything other than taking a new tire, slapping it on a tubeless ready rim, and pumping it up. If it can be done that way, (and it can, by the way), we should hold all companies to that ideal. That’s my take.

  8. So I ended up buying a 38mm Trigger Pro. Mounted up easy on my KOM i23.

    Could I have finally figured out a way to get the Maxxis Rambler on my 23mm internal rim? Maybe Probably. Worth it? Well… Could I do it myself? No. Did I blow $40 having the bike shop spend time and failing, yes. Would I risk having to pay another shop $30-40 and fail to mount it again? No! Not when I myself can seat a Nano 40 TCS and the Specialized with a floor pump. I now think of the Maxxis Tires as a minimum $75-80/each tire, since I’ll need an expert to set them up for me.

    1. Mike- Interestingly enough, I found a review on the Teravail Cannonball 60TPI tire which has puncture protection only under the tread area, like the Rambler, and folks seem to be having similar issues with setting that tire up tubeless. Similar descriptions of “curling inward” beads sound eerily familiar to the Rambler here. (By the way, I reviewed the 120TPI casing Cannonball which has bead to bead puncture protection and did not have this issue at all.)

      Perhaps a manufacturing change should be considered which would render such casings to assume a shape that would be less curled inward once mounted to a rim. This seems to be the common denominator here when it comes to mounting difficulties.

      1. In response to the 38mm Specialized Trigger Pro above, I just tried setting them up on Enve M50 rims that came on my new Santa Cruz Stigmata. They set up easy but don’t seem to hold air overnight. Have you tried these wheels or other Enve wheels with a tubeless set up for gravel? I love the new Stigmata and I’m hoping to find a good tubeless compatible wheel for some gravel this spring.

        Thanks so much.

  9. Just FYI I got a set of Ramblers and mounted them up last night on my ironcross rims with no issue. I did use my air compressor but they did just pop on so this tire and rim combo seems to work good. I was a little worried after hearing about all the issues people have had with these tires but on the ironcross rims they seem to work fine.

    1. Derek, thanks for the feedback. It would be great if you shared your experiences in our forum as well, if you haven’t already. That’s going to reach a lot more people that way.

      Also, was this the 120TPI or 60TPI version? Thanks!

  10. I’ve been using the 120tpi Ramblers on Easton EC70 and Roval SL Trail carbon wheels without issue for a couple months now.
    Setting them up was very easy, but then I always spray soapy water on the rim/bead before using a compressor to seat them.

  11. I have been running a set of the 40c Ramblers since release. They are mounted on Velocity Blunt SS rims, and seated with a floor pump with removed valve core. They, in fact, held air for days with no sealant. Since adding sealant, and clocking on nearly 1k early season miles, I have not had an instance of burping, flatting or any other issues that plague tubeless tires. They are fast, ride wonderfully at 30psi, rugged (holding up to the rocky chunder outside of Belfry, MT), and light for the size. I will continue to ride these tires the remainder of the season, and when they pop back up in stock, I will pick up another set!

  12. Bounce method with valve core removed was God-send. Had spent over 1 hour trying to mount Ramblers in various fashion(s) without luck. Removed core, bounced lightly on inflating with initial blast from compressor and instant engagment. Many thanks for suggestion.

    Mounted Clement MSO’s, by contrast, without compressor but, though very no doubt durable tubeless tire, is less nimble and more slow to get up to speed (basically heavier/thicker sidewalls than Ramblers). Will use MSO’s for winter or self-supported endurance events but prefer Ramblers for speed and road/gravel feel.

    Also re: Ramblers, at 1000 miles had thinned out center casing and resultant herniation-like defect (on less worn front tire). In spite of this (and in spite of prior flat that did not seal on rear, which I patched from inside with conventional patch/glue), I still bought second Rambler and changed out from MSO’s back to Maxxis for the feel/speed. I may regret. . .

    Many thanks again for the bounce suggestion-new trick sure to come in handy in similar situations with other set ups.

  13. I have been running the Maxxis Rambler for approximately 500 miles and have completed four 50-65 mile gravel/mixed surface events over the last several months. I have had zero issues (I know tempting fate even saying that) with these tires, none. In fact they mounted up with a blast from the compressor with core removed with no problems on my Boyd Altamont rims (just built by Dustin Gaddis at Southern Wheelworks with White T11 Hubs!). PSA – this is my first real gravel tire setup and season so I have no basis for comparison as far as performance goes but I have beat the crap out of these tires in training and racing and have been very impressed with them for such a light tire. Even the 60 tpi with bead to bead silk shield (not exactly sure which are considered the “tougher” of the two?). Since this was my first setup for tubeless I enlisted the LBS to help me the first time. I did try to do it myself with my air compressor (valve core installed – I didn’t have a remover at the time) to no avail. When the boys at the LBS removed the core and hit em with the compressor they popped right on the bead not problem. They hold air over long periods extremely well and I have really have no complaints with performance. Although I have considered paring up the Maxxis Ravager on the front for some of the more loose surface races. I am curious about some longer term reviews of these and in comparison to similar (but much heavier) tires such as the Kenda Flint Ridge. Great ongoing Review Ted, thanks – keep em coming! (P.S. Sorry I missed you guys at the Middle Georgia – great race!!). JP

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