Don’t be fooled by the Mavic Charge Pro XL’s 29×2.35 narrow width here. These are incredibly well-damped and sensitive tyres, which absorb smaller roots and rocks with far less jarring than anything else of this sort of size.
The casing feels very elastic and flexible and the tread is moderately soft, meaning decent grip as well as comfort over roots and rocks. They do squirm easily when pushed hard into corners, though. You may need to run higher pressures to compensate and this will offset much of that comfort.
They come up very rounded in profile on our 25mm rim, meaning the tyre breaks away less suddenly when you push it too hard in a corner. They hold speed really well at low lean angles through grippy turns, but need to be really leant into the turn to grip well. When faced with greasy off-camber sections, they broke traction noticeably earlier than most other tyres here, with the exception of Bontrager’s SE5.
They also lock up very easily on loose, greasy straights. This would be forgivable if they rolled as fast as the SE5. What surprised us is that the Mavics consistently placed among the slowest tyres in our roll-down tests, ending up in eighth place despite the relatively shallow tread pattern. Still, they are superb corner carvers and the rough-terrain ride quality is up there with the best around. So if greasy off-camber isn’t your thing, they’re worth considering.
Seb's been riding and racing mountain bikes for half his life. Since getting hooked on mountain bikes aged thirteen riding a tiny 24Seven Crosser, he's raced downhill, enduro and cross country, and while no athlete, still enters the occasional race. Seb studied experimental physics at university, and he's now happily using (wasting) his degree experimenting with different bike setups, trying to work out what works best and why. You'll often find him riding the same track ten times in a day, changing just one thing to pin down the differences. Seb's much happier back-to-back testing suspension on a wet Welsh hillside than riding the latest five-figure bikes on some sunny press trip - although he quite likes that too!