ULTIMATE GUIDE: SPECIALIZED TIRES

It can be argued that tires may be the most important (and most affordable) upgrades you can put on your bike. This rings true whether you are churning out miles on pavement, grinding gravel backroads, racing your local cyclocross course, or blasting dirt trails on your mountain bike. Getting the most out of your bike by matching quality compounds, impeccable construction, and cutting-edge tire tech is firmly rooted in the ethos of Specialized. Tires were the first product that Specialized offered and continues to be a fundamental focus of research and development for the brand.

In order to choose the correct tire for your needs, you'll want to consider your bike setup, trail conditions and terrain, and how you plan to ride yoru bike. Beyond that, you'll want to prioritize your needs for grip vs rolling resistance, protection vs weight, and several other factors. From XC to DH, we've broken down Specialized tires to help you find the right tire for your ride. Get started by clicking the links below to learn about tire compounds, casings, and tread patterns, or click the link to your favorite riding style to see what tires we recommend.

 

Specialized Tires Technology

THE GRIPTON® COMPOUND  |  TIRE CONSTRUCTION  |  2BLISS READY  |  TIRE CASINGS

Specialized Tires by Discipline

XC TIRES  |  |  TRAIL TIRES  |  GRAVITY TIRES

THE GRIPTON® COMPOUND

The GRIPTON® compound is found within all Specialized tires. Regardless of road or mountain, they all have some element of GRIPTON® in them. GRIPTON® is a proprietary compound technology constructed of synthetic rubber reinforced with activated Silica using a special patented formula. Specialized can differ the composition and layup of GRIPTON® to manipulate the dampening, rebound, grip and rolling resistance characteristics of each tire based on its intended application. The Mountain tires use a stickier version of the Grifton compound and the road tires use a harder, faster-rolling version. Each blend is unique for various riding conditions and demands, so you can be confident you’re riding the best tire for your personal riding needs. Overall, GRIPTON® has better rolling resistance and grip than any other compound on the market.

WHY GRIPTON® WORKS

The key to GRIPTON® is how the specific compound blend and tire carcass damps a range vibrational frequency in symphony while keeping tire hysteresis numbers low (low means fast). This provides heaps of grip while still letting you make the most of every watt pedaled. Soft and grippy compounds usually wear out fast and slow you down, but the proprietary blends of Silica in Specialized tires keep you efficiently rolling mile after mile without worry.

THE BEST RECIPE NEEDS THE BEST KITCHEN

Specialized wasn’t satisfied with just having a great tire compound recipe. They wanted to be able to control every aspect to ensure quality of production and have the flexibility to make on-the-fly changes, so they can deliver the best tire products. To do this, they established exclusive partnerships with rubber manufacturers and a tire production factory. Being the sole bicycle tire brand coming out of this factory allows them to scrutinize, control, and adapt every step and process in tire production. This attention to detail has allowed Specialized to produce World Championship winning tires that are available to everyday riders and pros alike for every discipline of riding.

TIRE CONSTRUCTION

BEAD

The function of the bead is to keep the tire in contact with the rim while the tire is inflated.

  • WIRE BEAD - A rigid metal wire is utilized as bead material in applications where ultimate strength is needed and transportability is not a factor.
  • FOLDABLE BEAD - Also keep the tire secured to the rim but are lighter weight and easily transported. The bead is made of spun aramid fibers.

CASING

The casing is supple cloth material that arches from bead to bead and is what gives a tire its shape and primary ride characteristics. There are 2 main types of casings:

  • SINGLE-PLY CASING - One layer of nylon wrapped from bead-to-bead. A single-ply casing conforms well to the terrain and is lighter weight. Ideal for XC and trail riding.
  • DUAL-PLY CASING - Two layers of casing material are used from bead-to-bead, providing additional protection and sidewall stiffness for enduro and downhill applications.

SIDEWALL

The sidewall of the casing is the part from the bead to the tread and is designed to support and dampen the tread. A more supple sidewall will provide more traction and smooth your ride, but can be prone to damage from trail obstacles. Thicker sidewalls with additional protection are heavier, but will hold up to rowdier conditions and harder charging.

PUNCTURE PROTECTION

Some tires include an extra layer between the tread and the casing (as shown in the cross section pictured above) to help prevent punctures either by being tough or simply by being thick. These extra layers are usually associated with higher rolling resistance.

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TREAD

The tread is the part of the tire that contacts the ground to provide traction and provides protection from casing wear. For mountain bikes these tend to be composed of knobs of varying height, shape, angle, and durometer (hardness) to provide specific ride characteristics while riding upright or in a corner. Knobbier tread provides more grip, but increases weight and rolling resistance.

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THREADS PER INCH (TPI)

The number of threads that cross through one square inch of a single ply of the tire’s casing. Lower TPI gives better puncture, cut and abrasion resistance but is heavier. Higher TPI conforms better to the terrain, offering a smoother, more comfortable ride while reducing the weight of the tire. Maxxis TPI ratings are the threads-per-inch of a single casing ply, as compared to some competitor TPI ratings.

2BLISS READY

 

Specialized 2Bliss tires are ready for the demands and expectations of modern cycling. As the name implies, 2Bliss Ready Tires are tubeless ready, meaning they will hold air without a tube inside. This allows you to run lower air pressure for improved traction without the fear of pinch flatting. Tubeless ready wheels are standard on almost all modern day mountain bikes and gravel bikes. Also, don't forget to install tire sealant into your tubeless tires to quickly seal any punctures looking to end your ride. 

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TIRE CASINGS

S-Works

The S-Works Casing is the lightest tire casing that Specialized offers. Designed for competitive XC and Road racing, S-Works tires provide the grip and speed needed to stand on top of the podium.

Control

The Control Casing creates the perfect all-around XC tire. With upgraded sidewall protection, Control tires provide improved support and protection from pinch flats and more control during braking.

GRID

The GRID Casing creates the perfect all-around trail tire. It features increased strength, improved sidewall protection, and more aggressive tread. GRID tires are supple yet durable, perfect for the front of a trail bike.

GRID TRAIL

The GRID Trail Casing is GRID extra. Designed for aggressive trial riding, the GRID Trail features even thicker sidewalls than GRID. This allows for lower tire pressures enabling excellent cornering capabilities.

GRID GRAVITY

The GRID Gravity Casing gives you indestructible performance without an indestructible weight penalty. Falling between GRID Trail and BLK DMND, the new GRID Gravity casing is redefining what an Enduro tire is capable of.

BLK DMND

At the top of the mountain is BLK DMND. It’s a bombproof tire casing designed for gravity applications and e-bikes. With extra thick sidewalls, BLK DMND Tires are ready to handle everything the mountain has to offer.

TIRES BY DISCIPLINE

Specialized XC Tires

Cross-country riding is all about being lightweight, fast and agile, and XC tires are built to match this focus. These tires tend to forego extra protection, additional layers and larger knobs to ensure a lightweight carcass with low rolling resistance.

FEATURES

  • Thinner casings for a lighter weight construction
  • Lower profile knobs for lower rolling resistance and weight savings
  • Less protection saves weight and isn't as necessary on smooth and fast tracks

SHOP: SPECIALIZED XC TIRES  |  SPECIALIZED TIRES

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Rekon Race

HARD PACK

Semi-slick XC race tire

  • EXO Protection available
  • Semi-slick XC race tire
  • Tubeless Ready (TR)

The latest in Maxxis's long line of World Cup-winning XC tires is the new Rekon Race! This semi-slick tire borrows its tread design from the trail version of the Rekon, but with smaller and shorter knobs. Use it as a rear tire paired with a more aggressive front tread, or front and rear for short track racing.

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Pace

HARD PACK | LOOSE OVER HARD | MEDIUM

Pick up the Pace! The Pace was designed to meet the needs of World Cup XC racers.

  • Ideal for hardpack XC courses
  • Low profile tread design

A high-volume, low-profile tread design offers minimal rolling resistance and consistent traction across the profile of the tire. Continuous side knobs keep you planted where traction is critical, and the single compound balances traction and tread wear. The Pace is available in all three wheel sizes.

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Ikon

HARD PACK | LOOSE | LOOSE OVER HARD | MEDIUM

Maxxis's most versatile XC tread

  • 3C Triple Compound Technology
  • EXO Protection offered in select models
  • High-volume, lightweight true racing tire

The Ikon is for true racers looking for a true lightweight race tire. With 3C Triple Compound Technology, high-volume casing and a fast rolling tread design, the Ikon provides exemplary performance in all riding conditions. As its name suggests, the Ikon represents all that is true in racing.

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Aspen

HARD PACK |  LOOSE OVER HARD | MEDIUM

High-volume casing, low-profile tread

  • Aggressive side knobs
  • Dual Compound
  • Lightweight XC race tire
  • Race inspired low profile design

Maxxis has done it again with its latest XC race tire. The new Maxxis Aspen pushes the limits of a lightweight XC tire designed to have minimal rolling resistance. The Aspen is designed with a high-volume casing to smooth out the roughest roots and rocks, while the dual compounds give optimal traction in the corners. So if crossing the finish line first is your top priority, then the Aspen was designed for you.

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Ardent Race

HARD PACK | LOOSE | LOOSE OVER HARD | MEDIUM

Bridging the gap

  • 3C Maxx Speed available
  • High-volume casing
  • Ideal for technical XC race courses
  • Medium knob height
  • Tubeless Ready (TR) available
  • Wide trail (WT) casing is optimized for 30-35mm inner width rims

The Ardent Race tire from Maxxis is ideally suited for technical XC race courses and endurance-length events. With its medium-height tread, the Ardent Race bridges the gap between the XC-oriented Ikon and the trail-oriented Ardent. The center knobs are ramped to reduce rolling resistance, and the side knobs are angled and stepped to provide great biting traction in corners. Choose the Ardent Race for your next demanding XC race or epic trail ride.

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Crossmark II

HARD PACK | LOOSE OVER HARD | MEDIUM

Designed for speed, revised for control

  • Designed for speed, revised for control
  • Open-side knob design for versatile cornering
  • Tightly packed center knobs for speed over hardpack

The CrossMark II improves on the speed of its predecessor while improving grip in intermediate conditions. The legendary center ridge still flies on hardpack, and the updated tread pattern provides better braking and cornering over a wide range of trail conditions. A great choice if you want to go fast everywhere.

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Forekaster

LOOSE | LOOSE OVER HARD | MEDIUM | MUD | WET

With the Forekaster on your bike, you can forget about the weather and hit the trails.

  • Aggressive XC Tire
  • Dual Compound
  • Optimized for loose or wet conditions
  • Tubeless Ready (TR)
  • Wide trail (WT) casing is optimized for 30-35mm inner width rims

With the Forekaster on your bike, you can forget about the weather and hit the trails. Mid-height tread blocks are spaced evenly to allow penetration through loose trail conditions and openly for better mud-clearing compared to other race tires. Wide cupped knobs down the middle provide excellent braking on the sloppiest singletrack. When the leaves start falling and the weather becomes more unpredictable, the Forekaster is the late-season tire of choice.

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Rekon

HARD PACK | LOOSE | LOOSE OVER HARD | MEDIUM

The Rekon is an aggressive trail tire inspired by the Ikon

  • 3C MaxxTerra Available
  • Designed for aggressive XC trails
  • Reinforced EXO construction Available
  • Wide trail (WT) casing is optimized for 30-35mm inner width rims

The Rekon is an aggressive trail tire inspired by the Ikon for intermediate and technical terrain. Wide knobs down the middle provide control under braking and L-shaped side knobs assure support when carving loose turns. With confidence like this you can race more and scout less with the Rekon.

SHOP: REKON TIRES

Specialized Trail Tires

Most mountain bike riders will find themseleves looking for tires from this category. These tires look to balance the benefits of light weight, low rolling resistant tires with more aggressive knobs and extra protection. Like this style of riding, these tires are aimed at being good in most conditions and terrain. On the enduro end of this spectrum, many of these tires will share the same tread patterns of their DH siblings with just a bit less protection and weight.

FEATURES

  • Casings feature additional layers for more puncture protection
  • More aggressive knob profiles make these tires competent in a wider array of terrain and conditions
  • Multi-compound rubber gives a balanced mix of grip and longevity

SHOP: SPECIALIZED TRAIL/ENDURO TIRES  |  SPECIALZIED TIRES

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Ardent

HARD PACK | LOOSE | LOOSE OVER HARD | MEDIUM | WET

The do-it-all trail tire

  • Aggressive, high-volume tread
  • EXO Protection offered in select models

An aggressive tread in high-volume casing, designed with great traction in mind. The Ardent doesn't forget the racer with large block-style side knobs offering numerous edges for high-speed cornering. The center tread, while ideal for braking and accelerating traction, also features ramped knobs to minimize rolling resistance. With a wide variety of size offerings, the Ardent captures every mountain rider's needs.

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Aggressor

LOOSE | LOOSE OVER HARD | MEDIUM

The new standard in enduro tires

  • DoubleDown (DD) 120 TPI dual-ply construction available
  • Dual-compound
  • Excellent all-around performance
  • Tubeless Ready (TR)
  • Wide trail (WT) casing is optimized for 30-35mm inner width rims

The Aggressor is designed for high-speed modern mountain bike trails. Advanced knob shaping creates extra gripping edges, and reinforced side knobs offer enhanced stability when cornering at speed. An all-around trail tire excelling on everything from loose cross country race courses to heavy all-mountain riding.

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Dissector

HARD PACK | LOOSE | LOOSE OVER HARD | MEDIUM

Troy Brosnan's go-fast signature tire.

  • Ideal for dry, fast trails
  • Tubeless compatible
  • Wide Trail casing optimized for 30-35mm rims

Designed in conjunction with Aussie DH racer Troy Brosnan, the Dissector seeks to minimize drag while retaining cornering control. This versatile tire can be used as a front, a pair, or as a rear depending on trail conditions.

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Minion SS

HARD PACK | LOOSE OVER HARD | MEDIUM

A semi-slick with dependable Minion cornering capabilities

  • 3C MaxxGrip, and Super Tacky available on select models
  • Semi-slick center with Minion side knobs
  • Single-ply, DoubleDown, and DH casings available
  • Wide trail (WT) casing specs are optimized for 30-35mm inner width rims

The Minion SS fills the gap between a fast rolling XC tire and a grippy DH tire by including a cluster of short, ramped knobs, flanked by the much-loved Minion side knobs. This combination creates a fast-rolling tire with a square profile that hooks up in loose terrain. Perfect for summer shredding. The Minion SS is available in trail, enduro, and downhill specs.

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SPECIALIZED GRAVITY TIRES

Enduro, park, and freeride bikes have blurred the lines between trail and gravity riding. A DH bike is still the best tool for true gravity lines but many modern bikes are taking on downhill trails while still being able to pedal to the top. For riders of these bikes, choosing a balance of durability, protection, grip, and weight will be dependent upon how much pedaling they'll be doing and how gnarly the terrain is. Protection and predictable grip tends to win out over light weights and low rolling resistance. 

FEATURES

  • Dual Ply Casings feature tough additional layers for even more puncture protection
  • Most aggressive knob profiles designed to dig deep in loose terrain and muddy conditions
  • Single and Dual Compounds make for longer durability and let the knobs profiles provide the grip.

SHOP: SPECIALIZED GRAVITY TIRES  |  SPECIALIZED TIRES

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High Roller II

LOOSE | LOOSE OVER HARD | MEDIUM | WET

The second generation of the legendary High Roller

  • 3C MaxxTerra, 3C MaxxGrip, and Super Tacky available on select models
  • Easily clears debris
  • Open tread design
  • Single-ply, DoubleDown, and DH casings available
  • Wide trail (WT) casing specs are optimized for 30-35mm inner width rims

An open and aggressive tread design gives the High Roller II excellent soil penetration and mud-clearing ability. A square profile provides a solid, consistent feel across the knobs. Modified knobs on the shoulder and center improve braking performance and traction on hard surfaces. An excellent choice for technical, loose terrain. The High Roller II is available in trail, enduro, and downhill specs.

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Minion DHF

LOOSE | LOOSE OVER HARD | MEDIUM | WET

The standard by which all tires are judged

  • 3C MaxxTerra, 3C MaxxGrip, and Super Tacky available on select models
  • Large cornering blocks
  • Ramped, directional tread design
  • Single-ply, DoubleDown, and DH casings available
  • Wide trail (WT) casing specs are optimized for 30-35mm inner width rims

With a tread design that deftly balances rolling speed with braking and cornering traction, it's hard to find fault with the Minion DHF. That's probably why it's one of the most imitated tires in mountain biking. Whether riding local trails, a backcountry epic, racing enduro or World Cup downhill, there's a Minion DHF spec to meet your needs. The Minion DHF is available in trail, enduro, and downhill specs.

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Minion DHR II

LOOSE | LOOSE OVER HARD | MEDIUM | WET

Refined and redesigned; ready to shred any line

  • 3C MaxxTerra, 3C MaxxGrip, and Super Tacky available on select models
  • Ramped and siped tread to roll fast and track straight under braking
  • Single-ply, DoubleDown, and DH casings available
  • Wide trail (WT) casing specs are optimized for 30-35mm inner width rims

With side knobs borrowed from the legendary Minion DHF, but widened to provide more support, the DHR II corners like no other. The center tread features ramped leading edges to improve acceleration and sipes to create a smooth transition when leaning the bike. Paddle-like knobs on the center tread dig in under hard braking and help keep the bike under control. Pair it with a Minion DHF up front for the ultimate aggressive trail riding tire combo! The Minion DHF is available in trail, enduro, and downhill specs.

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Assegai

LOOSE | LOOSE OVER HARD | MEDIUM | WET

World Cup Champion Greg Minnaar's signature tire.

  • 3C MaxxGrip rubber compound available
  • Dual-ply downhill casing
  • Tubeless compatible
  • Wide Trail casing optimized for 30-35mm rims

The Maxxis Assegai tire is named after the iron-tipped spear used by the Zulu people of South Africa. Greg Minnaar, a native of South Africa, thought it was a fitting name for a tire ready to do battle on the mountain. The tall knobs punch through dust and loam to find traction, but also offer support and confidence on wet roots and rocks. While other tires excel only in certain conditions, the new Maxxis Assegai is built to go fast everywhere.

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Shorty

LOOSE | MUD | WET

A versatile mid-spike for deep loam or loose powder

  • 3C MaxxTerra, 3C MaxxGrip, and Super Tacky available on select models
  • High-volume casing
  • Mid-spike tread design
  • Single-ply, DoubleDown, and DH casings available
  • Wide trail (WT) casing specs are optimized for 30-35mm inner width rims

Maxxis pro athletes needed a mid-spike tire that could handle dry, loose, blown-out corners as well as a bit of mud. The Shorty is that tire. A high-volume casing makes the Shorty a more versatile option than a dedicated mud spike like the Maxxis Wet Scream. Large, tall and slightly staggered side knobs penetrate loose soil to provide predictable, stable cornering at warp speeds. The Shorty is available in trail, enduro, and downhill specs.

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Wetscream

MUD | WET

A mud-spike for DH racing in the worst conditions

  • 2-Ply DH Casings with Butyl-Protected Sidewalls
  • Sheds Mud Quickly
  • Widely Spaced, Sharp Square Design

Designed for the muddiest downhill racecourse in the world: Les Gets France. Not for your local trail, the WetScream is intended for competition use only on professionally maintained courses. When the course turns ugly, trust the WetScream to carry you to victory.

Still Need Help Finding the Right Tire?

We get it! There are a dizzying number of treads, casings, puncture protection tech, and tire widths to choose from, not to mention all the different options from great tire brands. Luckily, we got you covered. Our employees spend a lot of time getting to know the vast array of tires that we offer and can give you personal knowledge, let you know what other customers have liked, and the lowdown on the latest and greatest tire tech that's coming from our brand partners, so you can find exactly what you need.

Want help finding the right tires?