When you’re thinking of buying new tyres for your mountain bike, which three brands do you immediately think of? If you’re not a Specialized bicycle owner, you probably didn’t list Specialized did you? Well, interestingly, Specialized is the second most popular mountain bike tyre brand in South Africa*. And there’s a good reason for that.

It’s not that widely known, but the first product Specialized ever brought to consumers back in 1976 was a tyre. Not a mountain bike tyre, because mountain biking was still being discovered/developed, but a touring bike tyre. Tyre technology has remained an integral part of Specialized, which has made mountain bike tyres for more than four decades, applying new design and technology in line with industry progress and also developing its own technology, such as Gripton®.

Gripton®, a patented, proprietary tyre compound developed by Specialized’s tyre engineers is the recipe for Specialized’s proprietary blends of synthetic rubber and an activated Silica compound. Gripton® maximises mechanical grip, damps vibration, and offers unparalleled traction in either wet or dry conditions by filtering low and high frequencies, keeping your tyres planted and you in control.

The Gripton measurement has been added to the sidewalls of new Specialized tyres (arriving South Africa in 2021) as a T measurement, either T5, T7 or T9. For tyres fitted to wheels that need to roll faster, such as those used for marathon racing, the Gripton® (T5) is formulated to be slightly denser to reduce rolling resistance, but still offer sufficient traction. For tyres that require maximum grip where rolling resistance isn’t a priority, the Gripton® is formulated to be less dense (T9). And for something in between, a blend (T7).

All Specialized mountain bike tyres are tubeless ready and carry Specialized’s 2Bliss label as confirmation.

From a South African perspective, it’s worth noting that Specialized tyres have won more editions of the Absa Cape Epic than any other tyre brand in both the men and women’s categories. The Western Cape terrain is well known to be high risk and choosing the appropriate model with the ideal casing to reduce any risk of tyre drama is essential when making an equipment choice.

Most South African trails are either hardpack or loose over hardpack or medium/firm (not dry, not wet) terrain in some parts – especially forest floors in the rainy season.


RENEGADE – Light and fast

SURFACE: Hardpack

STRENGTHS: Light, grippy, and supple; fast acceleration, excels at climbing hardpack. Fast rolling tread design with enhanced cornering traction.

DISCIPLINE: XC racing/Marathon racing on low-risk surfaces


FAST TRAK – Light with some serious bite

SURFACE: Loose over hardpack

STRENGTHS: Lightweight and fast; shoulder tread blocks designed for better cornering traction; tread block spacing configured for better self-cleaning.

DISCIPLINE: XC and marathon training and racing


GROUND CONTROL – All-conditions allrounder

SURFACE: Hardpack/ Loose over hardpack/ Medium

STRENGTHS: Versatile trail tyre; XC-orientated casing delivers big weight saving and a supple ride. CAD engineered knob shapes provides optimal braking performance and increased traction.

DISCIPLINE: Marathon training and racing


PURGATORY – Do-it-all trail tyre

SURFACE: Hardpack/ Loose over hardpack/ Medium

STRENGTHS: Tread features square lugs that bite in soft soil, while still providing support on hard-packed ground to achieve optimal performance. Centre knobs out under braking force for increased ground contact.



SLAUGHTER – Fast-rolling with high cornering confidence

SURFACE: Hardpack/ Loose over hardpack/ Medium

STRENGTHS: Designed for heavy-pedal, hardpack riding. The centre knobs roll quickly over hardpack while the taller shoulder knobs grip in looser corners. Best of both worlds.



ELIMINATOR – Fast-rolling with a mean cornering bite

SURFACE: Hardpack/ Loose over hardpack/ Medium

STRENGTHS: Has transition knobs that bridge traditional channel between the centre and shoulder knobs, making it perfect for enduro riding and riding in rougher conditions. The bite of a DH tyre with better hardpack manners.



BUTCHER – Super control on loose, steep trails

SURFACE: Hardpack/ Loose over hardpack/ Medium

STRENGTHS: New tread pattern boasts wider shoulder knobs that provide better support load under hard cornering and staggered centre blocks for a smoother transition when leaning into turns.



HILLBILLY – The best choice for loose and wet conditions

SURFACE: Loose/ Wet/ Mud

STRENGTHS: Small surface centre knobs increase the load on the ground and help surface penetration, while the shoulder knob row provides support in fast turns on all surfaces.





Table best viewed in landscape on mobile device






XC/Marathon Race

100mm travel

Light Renegade | S-Works Renegade | S-Works
All-round Fast Trak | S-Works Renegade | S-Works
Maxim traction Ground Control | S-Works Fast Trak | S-Works

100-120mm travel

All-round Ground Control | Control Fast Track | Control
Maximum traction Purgatory | Grid Ground Control | Grid

120-150mm travel

All-round Option 1 Eliminator | Grid Eliminator | Grid
All-round Option 2 Butcher | Grid Eliminator | Grid
Maximum traction Butcher | Grid Trail Eliminator | Grid Trail

To find out more about Specialized tyres, head over here.

* Specialized is the second most popular mountain bike tyre brand in South Africa

Paid partnership with Specialized South Africa.