e*thirteen TRS Tires (discontinued)

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Tested: e*thirteen TRS Tires

Rating: Vital Review

Review and photos by Fred Robinson and Brandon Turman

e*thirteen- the name is synonymous with chain guides, guide rings, drivetrain innovation and more recently wheels. But tires? We not going to say it’s rare to see a component brand take on tires, but we will say we were a bit surprised when they showed us some early prototypes, complete with hand-cut modifications, at the EWS in Finale Ligure last year. As you might have gathered from our recent article showing the ins-and-outs of e*thirteen as a brand, it’s clear they are in the business of creating products that don’t necessarily complete their line of components, but rather advance the development of a particular component in a meaningful way.

So where do tires fit into that equation? We’ve all struggled at some point setting up a

Review and photos by Fred Robinson and Brandon Turman

e*thirteen- the name is synonymous with chain guides, guide rings, drivetrain innovation and more recently wheels. But tires? We not going to say it’s rare to see a component brand take on tires, but we will say we were a bit surprised when they showed us some early prototypes, complete with hand-cut modifications, at the EWS in Finale Ligure last year. As you might have gathered from our recent article showing the ins-and-outs of e*thirteen as a brand, it’s clear they are in the business of creating products that don’t necessarily complete their line of components, but rather advance the development of a particular component in a meaningful way.

So where do tires fit into that equation? We’ve all struggled at some point setting up a tubeless system, and e*thirteen thought they could make that process easier by providing a complete package, including wheels, tubeless valves, sealant and tires. But, in true e*thirteen fashion, they didn’t just want to make a tire that fits into the system well, they wanted that tire to be a top performer in all arenas, including traction, durability and flat protection.

This lead to the creation of the TRS tire, which is an aggressive, wide-rim-specific (24-31mm) enduro / all-mountain specialist. After plenty of back-to-back testing on not only their own tire, but pretty much every other major tire out there, e*thirteen is confident they’ve brought to the table a top contender in a lighter weight package.

e*thirteen TRS Tire Features

  • Enduro casing
  • Reinforced pinch flat zone
  • Reinforced sidewalls
  • Tubeless-ready
  • Folding bead
  • Width: 2.35”
  • Wheel Size: 27.5” or 29”
  • Compounds: Sticky Triple Compound (TRS race) and Durable Dual Compound (TRS plus)
  • Weight: 27.5” - 900g // 29” - 930g (TRS race) and 27.5” - 870g // 29” 900g (TRS plus)
  • MSRP: $69.95

Initial Impressions

It’s clear e*thirteen put quite a bit of thought into the TRS tire. From the accordion-cut side knobs to the offset center-to-side knob orientation, the modifications and revisions between the proto tires we saw last year and the production versions are quite apparent. While the fancy sidewall details may look like they’re for added reinforcement, the design is purely for looks. Speaking of looks, e*thirteen has put big, bold graphics on the TRS tire, which lines up with the graphic on their TRS wheel...at least on the TRSr. For some reason, and we’re not sure if it’s because we got a pre-production version of the tire, or if this made it to production, but the graphic on our TRS+ tire is a bit smaller and doesn’t line up like the TRSr. Not a big deal, at all, but worth pointing out.

The casing is notably thick, especially in the tread area, where it’s roughly equivalent to the Maxxis Double Down casing. While it's not is quite DH-level thick, it is a bit thicker than Maxxis' EXO casing. And while e*thirteen states these tires measure a true 2.35”, the massive side knobs make them look quite a bit bigger. They look "downhill big." Measuring them up, however, we found they’re actually 2.37” wide when measuring the tread, with the casing being pretty much the same.

e*thirteen sent us both TRS+ and TRSr tires to test, so we mounted the harder TRS+ tire out back with the mega sticky TRSr tire up front. We tried the TRS tires on a variety of rims, including SRAM RAIL 40’s, ANVL Scales, and e*thirteen’s own TRS+ wheels. One thing e*thirteen set out to do is create a complete tubeless wheel system that works well together. While we did have to use compressed air to mount the TRS tires on both the RAIL 40’s and the Scales, we were able to easily air them up with a floor pump when we mounted them on the TRS+ wheels; a testament to e*thirteen's idea of complete "Wheelsystem." We didn’t even have to remove the valve stem. Mounting and dismounting the TRS tires required no tire levers, despite what wheel we were using. We used e*thirteen's own Tire Plasma sealant (it smells like kahlua) which, after two months of use, has yet to clump up or dry out. Starting with our preferred pressures in the high 20’s to low 30’s, we were finally ready to hit the trails.

On The Trail

One of the first things you’re going to notice with a new tire is the perceived rolling resistance as you pedal the flat or slight incline to your local trail head. While it wasn’t quantifiable, we did feel like the TRS tires rolled a bit slower when comparing them to our previous tire setups, which on one bike was a Specialized Butcher / Slaughter combo and on the other was a set of Maxxis Aggressors. While climbing, this sensation was practically an afterthought and we didn’t feel bogged down by any means. Traction, even in the steeps with the loose-over-hard conditions we predominantly rode the TRS tires in, was admirable.

When it came time to descend, initially we felt a little bit of deflection or “bounce” as the tire tried to track the uneven terrain. Dropping a few PSI compared to what we’d normally run helped substantially, and overall we found the tires to work best slightly below our typical pressure. Chalk it up to the stout casing, sidewalls and tread. Even at lower pressures, we never experienced a flat during the entire duration of or test with the TRS tires, nor did we notice an increase in sidewall flex or roll when pushing hard into corners.

Braking performance, especially on trails consisting of decomposed granite and small baby heads, was definitely impressive with the TRS tires. We found ourselves braking later and later into corners due to the tire’s tendency to skid just a touch before the tires would regain traction and roll smoothly into the turn, slowing us to a comfortable speed in a controlled manner.

Now where did the TRS tires impress us the most? That would easily be cornering traction. Simply put, these tires hold traction quite a bit longer than most when it comes to laying it over and pushing hard. Thanks to the well-thought-out and robust side knob design, we found the TRS tires to bite well without any weird squirm at any point during the turn. That vague transition zone between the center and corner lugs we’ve mentioned in plenty of tire reviews was unnoticed, and traction, despite our lean-angle, was plenty. It’s quite inspiring, really, and takes some time getting used to before we learned how much we could really start pushing the tires.

Production: Left // Proto: Right

What about performance in the wet? We had the opportunity to get a rainy ride in while the tires were still in prototype form (above, right). The rocky trails of San Luis Obispo, California have a high clay content and can be a challenge in the wet. In these conditions we again noted great braking traction, though the trails lacked any roots or gnarly turns to really try things out. The prototype tires cleared well in regular soil, but clay proved to be a challenge (when isn't it?). With a bit of speed and the occasional puddle, however, even the tighter-spaced prototypes cleared. As you can see in the photo above, the side knobs of the production version are now offset relative to the center tread, which clear far better in all soil types and offer better cornering bite when you really lean them over.

Long Term Durability

After our first three slickrock-filled rides, we were impressed when we looked down to see almost no wear. This trend continued as time went on, and after two months of riding, the tires are wearing quite well and have seen use in a good variety of terrain. They're barely showing signs of undercut side knobs, and the cutting is nowhere near our experience with the current market leaders, Maxxis and Schwalbe. The center tread is maintaining nice, sharp braking edges as they wear, rather than prematurely rounding out. There's a bit of side cutting going on the inside of the siped side knobs at the same depth as the sipes, which may eventually reduce this sipe's usefulness. That said, the TRS tires are wearing better than we expected. Our TRS+ rear (harder compound) TRSr front (softer compound) is likely helping out in this department, too.

Things That Could Be Improved

Is it possible for a tire to be too sticky? After mounting the tires and setting off from the trailhead for our first spin, we were amazed as the front tire began to throw A LOT of sand in our face. Talk about sticky rubber! This continued in sandy terrain throughout our test. While this isn't really something to complain about, it's a slight annoyance. Depending on your soil type you may want to install a fender or wear sunglasses.

This is a really big tire, and it barely squeezes into a number of bikes we tested them on due to how tall it is. While the Transition Smuggler and Trek Slash are both a little slim on clearance to begin with, we haven't experienced clearance issues with Maxxis or Specialized tires mounted to the same wheels and bikes. The tall height of the tire combined with its ability to pick up small rocks resulted in a fair amount of paint damage to the seat stay arch on the Smuggler, and on the Slash we experienced quite a bit of rub on the right-side chain stay every time we’d push hard into a right-hand corner. The rub on the Slash occurred regardless if we were running the tires on the 23mm wide (internally) SRAM RAIL 40 wheels, or e*thirteen’s own TRS+ wheels. It's worth noting that the TRS+ wheel did reduce the rub a bit, but it still occurred on occasion.

When we contacted e*thirteen regarding the issue, this was their response: “We did a survey of a bunch of modern frames when we chose tire width, height, and profile. There shouldn't be rubbing on most frames, but there are some exceptions. That being said, it's certainly a balance that the frame engineers try to strike between chain stay length, tire clearance, and stiffness. We are sympathetic to that compromise, but with Boost 148 taking hold and most modern frame 142mm designs providing clearance for 2.4" tires, we decided to stick to our guns on the design envelope of the tire.”

We will note, that on both the Devinci Django and Intense Spider 27.5c we also tried the tires on, we experienced zero rub. But do make sure you have a reasonable amount of clearance before mounting up the TRS tires.

What’s The Bottom Line?

We’re impressed, especially considering this is the first time e*thirteen has attempted a tire. Cornering and braking traction is superb, and we’re quite surprised by the even, slow wear of the tires over the test period. Despite the large volume and stout casing, the TRS tires still come in a competitive weight when compared to other tires in their class. While we loved the profile and the resulting handling characteristics of the TRS tire, it came at the cost of having some clearance issues with select frames. That said, for those of you currently riding frames with ample clearance or Boost spacing, the new e*thirteen TRS tires should definitely be near the top of your list of tires to try. We'll be running them until the knobs fall off.

For more information, visit bythehive.com


About The Reviewers

Fred Robinson, a.k.a. "Derf," has been on two wheels since he was two years old. He picked up a mountain bike in 2004 and started racing downhill in 2006. He has seen moderate success racing CAT 1 but focuses his efforts on building, maintaining and riding his local trails. He's deceptively quick for a bigger guy and likes steep, fast trails where he can hang it off the back of the bike. As a SoCal native he mostly rides trails covered with loose, traction-less turns and sharp, immovable rocks. Besides downhill, he rides trail bikes, road, and also enjoys the occasional dirt jump session.

Brandon Turman likes to have fun, pop off the bonus lines on the sides of the trail, get aggressive when he feels in tune with a bike, and really mash on the pedals and open it up when pointed downhill. Formerly a Mechanical Engineer and Pro downhill racer, Brandon brings a unique perspective to the testing game as Vital MTB's resident product guy. He has on-trail familiarity with nearly every new innovation in our sport from the past 5-6 years and a really good feel for what’s what.

Specifications

Product e*thirteen TRS Tires
Riding Type Trail, Freeride / Bike Park, Other
Wheel Size 27.5" (650b), 29"
Tire Width 2.35 inches
Tubeless Compatible Yes
Bead Folding
Durometer Sticky Triple Compound (Race) // Durable Dual Compound (Plus)
Sidewall Enduro casing, reinforced pinch flat zone, reinforced sidewall
Weight
  • 1 lb 14.7 oz (870 g)
  • 1 lb 15.7 oz (900 g)
  • 1 lb 15.7 oz (900 g)
  • 2 lb 0.8 oz (930 g)
Miscellaneous Compound Conditions:
Race - Rocks and roots, loose to soft, wet to dry, slippery conditions
Plus - Rocks and roots, loose to soft, wet to dry
Price $69.95
More Info

​www.bythehive.com

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