The Maxxis High Road SL is currently the fastest road tyre Maxxis offers, and is designed purely for speed and grip. It feels really sprightly thanks to a ridiculously low weight, while both wet and dry weather grip is excellent. Limited tread depth means they just don't last as long as other road tyres, though.
The SL takes over as the flagship racing tyre from the old High Road. Some serious weight has been shaved (37g), some TPI gained (up 50 threads per inch to 170) and rolling resistance reduced – Maxxis claims 12%. The High Road SL is available in 23, 25 and 28mm widths and I'm running the latter. They're all for tubed use only, although rumour has it a tubeless version is in the works.
Despite plenty of studies showing that wide tyres are just as fast – if not faster – than their skinny counterparts, I often find wide rubber feels a little sluggish. This is certainly not the case with the High Road SL, probably thanks to the amazingly low weight.
At just 177g on our scales these 28mm versions are actually 2g lighter than claimed, and they're ideal for hill climbs where every gram counts. A lot of tyres we've reviewed recently are tubeless compatible, which makes them heavier, but even against non-tubeless offerings there's a fair few grams to be shaved. For example, the Wolfpack Road Race Cotton weighs 233g in 26mm, while a Specialized Turbo Cotton weighs 240g – also in the narrower 26mm.
Due to the lack of racing over the review period (thanks Covid), I've been using them for fast-paced training rides... which often turn in to races anyway. Across more than a month of testing I've been nothing but impressed with the SL's performance in both wet and dry conditions.
I'm a rider who likes to attack descents, and for this the High Road SLs are ideal. Dry grip is on a par with the highly-regarded Vittoria Corsa Speed, while the new HYPR-S compound is similarly impressive in the wet.
One area the old High Road could have fared better in was ride comfort, and this appears to have been addressed with an new 170tpi casing. Although still not the most supple tyres I've ever used, ride quality is good and on a par with the Continental GP5000.
I was worried about punctures, as Maxxis make it very clear these are for racing only. Despite not using them for time-trial miles, on a velodrome or indeed any of the other recommended uses, I was thoroughly impressed to not pick up a single puncture (despite the hedge cutting in my local lanes).
The High Road SL has Maxxis' K2 protection, a Kevlar composite layer they say is more resilient than regular Kevlar or Vectran. They also say it's still light and supple, and that's easy to confirm.
After 950km, some signs of wear are showing. There are no large cuts of note, but the rear is just beginning to square off. Maxxis says quite clearly this tyre is designed 'to be fast, not to last,' so we can't criticise that.
At such a low weight, limited mileage is to be expected – low weight means low mass, so less material to wear away – and I'm predicting around 1500km from a pair (with a front to back swap). That's roughly half what I get from a set of GP5000s.
It's a little lower than other race tyres too – I got 1900km out of a set of Turbo Cottons before punctures became too frequent to ignore. Only you can decide whether the compromised mileage is worth it for the weight saving.
At £49.99, the High Road SL stacks up well against the competition, though obviously it will need replacing more often. For instance, the Specialized Turbo Cotton is £61 and the Vittoria Corsa Speed is £64.99, though the Veloflex Corsa Race TLR beats the High Road SL by costing just £45.
The Maxxis High Road SL is an excellent, high-performance tyre and one of the lightest out there. Other tyres certainly last longer, but competition of this quality usually comes with a financial penalty as well as a weight one. In my opinion, for hill climbs or TTs (if you don't run tubs) it's a no brainer, while for road racing – so long as you can justify the more frequent replacements – its speed and grip make it an excellent choice.
Very light clincher tyres that are fast – and don't really last
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Maxxis High Road SL 700x28C
Size tested: 700x28C
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?
The company says it's: "The fastest and lightest road tyre developed by Maxxis. Building on the success of the HYPR compound which debuted on the original High Road, the new HYPR-S compound retains exceptional grip while decreasing rolling resistance by 12%.
It also features, "...our K2 breaker beneath the tread for puncture protection; and our lightest and most supple 170 TPI casing."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Up to 12% less rolling resistance than the High Road
All-new HYPR-S compound making it extremely lightweight
Fully slick tread design
Available in 23,25 and 28mm
K2 kevlar composite puncture protection
179g per 28mm tyre
Some of the best tyres I've used – if I won the lottery I'd use these for every ride, because going fast is fun.
No large cuts or punctures, but even Maxxis says they're not built to last.
Improved over the old High Road.
It's one of the cheaper ways to improve handling/save weight/go faster, but they will wear out faster than many other tyres.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well – they're light, roll fast, are easy to fit and have more than adequate puncture protection for racing.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
I enjoyed weighing my bike with them on... sad, I know.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I mean, ideally they would last forever.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Many are more expensive than this, although plenty offer tubeless compatibility and longer lifespans too. Others of this performance, though, are usually heavier as well.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
They perform brilliantly – they're some of the grippiest tyres I've used – and they're so light! No, they don't last long, but that's not what they're designed for and the puncture protection and mileage is actually better than I thought it would be. They're exceptional, and a nine.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized venge pro 2019 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,