ULTIMATE GUIDE: SPECIALIZED TIRES

A comprehensive look at Specialized mountain bike tires

It can be argued that tires may be the most important (and most affordable) upgrade you can put on your bike. This rings true whether you are riding a long XC loop, descending your favorite local trails, or riding laps in the park. 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 your 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.

SHOP THE NEWEST SPECIALIZED MOUNTAIN TIRES

 

Specialized Tires Technology

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

Specialized Tires by Discipline

XC TIRES  |  |  TRAIL TIRES  |  GRAVITY TIRES  |  SPECIALIZED TIRE FINDER

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, Specialized 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.

TREAD COMPOUNDS

To simplify the tire buying experience, Specialized has given their compounds easy to understand names from T5-T9. T stands for Tread Compound and the numbers correlate to an increasing level of damping. T5 has the lowest damping and fastest rolling and T9 provides the most damping. T5 and T7 compounds are not new but are now being called out to differentiate them. All Specialized trail tires from last year were T5 or T7 and the new gravity-oriented T9 offers a new level of grip in comparison.

T5 Compound

T5 is a cross-country oriented compound. It offers low rolling resistance and maximum speed. Although it has less grip than T7 and T9, it still has more than enough grip for XC purposes.

T7 COMPOUND

T7 is a standard trail compound. All Specialized trail tires have been using T7 for a while and many riders agree, it's great! However, for riders who are on the steepest trails and need the most grip possible, Specialized created T9.

T9 COMPOUND

T9 is an all-new gravity compound available exclusively in the Butcher, Slaughter, and Hillbilly. T9 brings confidence to the most aggressive riders.

Tread/Compound/Casing Matrix

 

Tire S-Works Control GRID GRID Trail GRID Gravity
Renegade T5 & T7 T5      
Fast Trak T5 & T7 T5 T7    
Ground Control T5 & T7 T5 T7    
Purgatory   T5 T7    
Eliminator     T7 & T9 T7 & T9 T7 & T9
Butcher     T7 & T9 T7 & T9 T9
Slaughter       T7  
Hillbilly       T7 T9

TIRE CONSTRUCTION

BEAD

The function of the bead is to keep the tire in contact with the rim while the tire is inflated. All Specialized tires have a folding bead but both bead types are defined below:

  • 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 - A foldable bead also keeps the tire secured to the rim but is lighter weight and easily transported. The bead is made of spun aramid fibers.

CASING

The casing is the supple cloth material that arches from bead to bead and it's 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 to help prevent punctures either by being tough or simply by being thick. These extra layers are usually associated with higher rolling resistance.

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.

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. 

 

2BLISS READY (2BR)

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. 

Back to Top

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, speed, and control needed to stand on top of the podium. The new generation of S-Works mountain bike tires have been developed with one goal—to win races.

  • Supple XC Race Casing
  • T5 Center Compound
  • T7 Shoulder Compound
  • 120TPI Nylon for supple ride and decreased weight
  • Overlap panels for puncture protection

CONTROL

The Control Casing creates the perfect all-around XC tire. With upgraded sidewall protection, Control tires provide improved support, increased flat protection and better control during braking. A slight extension in the casing overlap provides the best prevention of pinch flats. Control tires are the perfect choice for any XC or down-country bike.

  • All-around XC casing
  • T5 Single Compound
  • 60TPI Nylon
  • Overlap panels for puncture protection

GRID

The GRID Casing creates the perfect all-around trail tire. It features increased strength, improved protection, and more aggressive tread. GRID tires are supple yet durable, perfect for anyone seeking increased flat and sidewall protection, or additional stability. GRID tires make great front tires for trail and all-mountain bikes.

  • Light yet tough trail casing
  • T7 Single Compound
  • New T9 option
  • 60TPI
  • Sidewall panels
  • Increased pinch-flat protection

GRID TRAIL

The GRID Trail Casing is GRID extra. Designed for aggressive trial riding, the GRID Trail features even thicker sidewalls than GRID. This delivers better handling at lower pressures—all while increasing pinch flat protection by 15% and puncture protection by 30%. It's the perfect choice for all your gravity excursions.

  • All-purpose trail casing
  • T7 Compound
  • New T9 option
  • 60TPI
  • Bead to bead protection
  • Anti-cut panels for puncture and pinch flat protection

GRID GRAVITY

The new GRID Gravity Casing gives you indestructible performance without an indestructible weight penalty of a full DH tire. With a heavy-duty two-ply design, the new GRID Gravity casing is redefining what an enduro tire is capable of. Designed to smash through rocks day after day, the new GRID Gravity casing is perfect for a front or rear tire.

  • Strong gravity casing
  • New T9 Single Compound
  • T9/T7 option for Enduro
  • 60TPI
  • Designed for Enduro, Park, and Downhill
  • Folding, 2-ply protection

BLCK DMND

At the top of the mountain is BLCK DMND. It’s a bombproof tire casing designed for gravity applications and e-bikes. With extra thick sidewalls, BLCK DMND tires strike the balance between suppleness and extreme pinch-flat protection. In order to descend all-out, you need as much traction as possible.

  • Strong gravity casing
  • Designed for Enduro, Park, and Downhill
  • 2-ply protection

An Inside Look at GRID Gravity

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

Find the perfect tire: SPECIALIZED TIRE FINDER

Back to Top

Renegade

HARD PACK

Light, Fast, Sheer, Acceleration

  • Available in T5 and T7 Compounds
  • Available in S-Works and Control Casings
  • 2Bliss Tubeless Ready

The Specialized Renegade Tire is suitable for both XC training and racing with its light, grippy, and supple properties. Accordingly, it's perfect for fast accelerations and climbing in hard-pack terrain. It has a fast-rolling tread design with engineered knob blocks that enhance cornering traction and creates better braking effectiveness.

SHOP: RENEGADE TIRES

Fast Trak

HARD PACK | LOOSE OVER HARD

Cross-country racing with a bit more bite

  • Available in T5 and T7 Compounds
  • Available in S-Works, Control and GRID Casings
  • 2Bliss Tubeless Ready

The Specialized Fast Trak Tire is a lightweight and fast tire designed to handle the most technical courses and the most grueling conditions. Specialized improved an already proven tread design by having more consistent shoulder blocks for better cornering traction, as well as having the block spacing being configured for better self-cleaning. 

SHOP: FAST TRAK TIRES

Ground Control

HARD PACK | LOOSE OVER HARD | MEDIUM

The all-conditions choice for XC riding 

  • Available in T5 and T7 Compounds
  • Available in S-Works, Control and GRID Casings
  • 2Bliss Tubeless Ready

Specialized designed the Ground Control Tire to be an exceptionally versatile trail tire. The tire features CAD engineered knob shapes which provides optimal braking performance and increased traction while still maintaining the best possible ground control. Meanwhile, an XC oriented casing delivers exceptional weight savings and a supple ride.

SHOP: GROUND CONTROL TIRES

Specialized Trail Tires

Most mountain bike riders will find themselves 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 TIRES  |  SPECIALZIED TIRES

Find the perfect tire: SPECIALIZED TIRE FINDER

Back to Top

Purgatory

LOOSE | LOOSE OVER HARD | MEDIUM

The do-it-all trail tire

  • Available in T5 and T7 Compounds
  • Available in Control and GRID Casings
  • 2Bliss Tubeless Ready

The Specialized Purgatory Tire is designed for trail performance. It has a completely redesigned tread that features square lugs that bite in soft soil, while still providing support on hard-packed ground. Additionally, flexible center sipes fold out under braking force for increased ground contact and adhesion.

SHOP: PURGATORY TIRES

Slaughter

LOOSE | LOOSE OVER HARD | MEDIUM

Fast rolling with high cornering confidence

  • Available in T7 Compound
  • Available in GRID Trail Casing
  • 2Bliss Tubeless Ready

The Specialized Slaughter Tire is designed for heavy-pedal, hardpack riding. It has vertically stepped knob shapes for more knob core stability and additional biting edges. The center knobs roll quickly over hardpack while the taller shoulder knobs grip in looser, sandier corners. Get the best of both worlds, speed when riding straight and grip in the corners. 

SHOP: SLAUGHTER TIRES

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

Find the perfect tire: SPECIALIZED TIRE FINDER

Back to Top

Butcher

LOOSE | LOOSE OVER HARD | MEDIUM

Total control on loose and steep trails

  • Available in T7 and T9 Compounds
  • Available in GRID, GRID Trail and GRID Gravity Casings
  • 2Bliss Tubeless Ready

The Specialized Butcher Tire is receiving an entirely new tread pattern with wider shoulder knobs that provide better support load under hard cornering and center blocks that have been staggered and spaced better for a smoother transition when leaning the bike over. Once you ride the Butcher, you will never want another tire for your gravity excursions.

SHOP: BUTCHER TIRES

Eliminator

LOOSE | LOOSE OVER HARD | MEDIUM

Rolls fast yet digs deep

  • Available in T7 and T9 Compounds
  • Available in GRID, GRID Trail and GRID Gravity Casings
  • 2Bliss Tubeless Ready

The Specialized Eliminator Tire combines an aggressive block design with a well-balanced tread pattern. It has transition knobs that bridge the traditional channel between the center and shoulder knobs. This makes it perfect for enduro riding and riding in rougher conditions. The Eliminator still has the bite of a DH tire, but also brings the manners to handle well on hardpacked trails.

SHOP: ELIMINATOR TIRES

Hillbilly

LOOSE | WET | MUD

Max Control when the trails are wet or loose

  • Available in T7 and T9 Compounds
  • Available in GRID Trail and GRID Gravity Casings
  • 2Bliss Tubeless Ready

The Specialized Hillbilly Tire is designed to work well in loose and wet terrain. It is a perfect tire for the front of your bike to maximize your grip while riding. Small surface center knobs increase the load on the ground and help surface penetration, while the shoulder knob row provides support in fast turns on all surfaces.

SHOP: HILLBILLY TIRES

SPECIALIZED TIRE FINDER

 

Experience Use   Front   Rear
XC Race  (100mm of travel or less) Light

All Around

Max Traction
  Renegade S-WORKS

Fast Trak S-WORKS

Ground Control S-WORKS
  Renegade S-WORKS

Renegade S-WORKS

Fast Trak S-WORKS
XC Trail  (100mm - 120mm of travel) All Around

Max Traction
  Ground Control CONTROL

Purgatory GRID
  Fast Trak CONTROL

Ground Control GRID
Trail  (120mm - 150mm of travel) All Around

All Around

Max Traction
  Eliminator GRID

Butcher GRID

Butcher GRID TRAIL
  Eliminator GRID

Eliminator GRID

Eliminator GRID TRAIL
Gravity  (150mm of travel or more) All Around

Max Traction
  Butcher GRID GRAVITY

Hillbilly GRID GRAVITY
  Eliminator GRID GRAVITY

Butcher GRID GRAVITY

 

SHOP TIRES BY MODEL:

RENEGADE | FAST TRAK | GROUND CONTROL | PURGATORY | SLAUGHTER | BUTCHER | ELIMINATOR | HILLBILLY

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?