Finding the ultimate rear tire for your bike can be a challenge as there are so many factors that come into play. Thinking about where you are riding; is it dry, wet, muddy, loamy? Are there many rocks or roots? Is the trail maintained, is the trail hammered, are you even riding on a designated trail? And you should also think about how you are as a rider! Some riders prefer more grip than others, some riders are heavier and need tougher tires that can hold up to them and the riding they do. Some riders prefer a certain amount of slip to maneuver corners better as well as decreasing the rolling resistance as seen on more aggressive tires. The e*thirteen Semi-Slick Tire is fairly new and although it comes after the original e*thirteen AT Tire that we have come to love for its square and grippy tread, the SS tire has very opposite features which might come as a surprise to many riders.
The e*thirteen SS Tire has a round profile as opposed to the square profile on earlier e*thirteen tires and it also resembles many other popular rear tires such as the Maxxis Minion SS, with its very small and tightly packed center knobs that keep rolling resistance at a minimum but backed by the soft and chunky corner knobs e*thirteen is known for. Keeping you’re cornering under control but giving you enough speed to stay on par with your friends or to get that KOM you have been striving for. I was fortunate enough to get a tire sent over from e*thirteen to do a little review on this tire because they were so stoked on it. To be honest, looking at the tire I wasn’t too impressed but if there is something I have learned from riding bikes and testing parts for so many years, you never judge a component based on how it looks. Take the Trust Message Fork, for example, that thing looks unique, many would say ugly but it does a great job at what it is designed to do. With this mentality in mind, I took off my WTB Trail Boss and threw on this E13 SS Tire to see what the hype was all about.
The Semi-Slick Tire is offered in a few compounds and casings to dial in any rider to any riding condition although only available in a 2.35” width for both their 27.5” and 29” diameters. We can all agree that the names e*thirteen decided to use for all their components are quite confusing but luckily they sent over a cheat sheet to help us explain the differences between each model.
Installing the tire was super easy and I actually ran it on both an e*thirteen LG1R EN Carbon wheelset as well as a DT Swiss M1700 wheelset (alloy) and there was no issue getting the tire on the rim or seating the bead on either wheel. The heat patch along the side of the tire allows you to line it up perfectly with an E13 rim to complete the logo. Something aesthetically pleasing but not performance enhancing!
Upon inflation I was pleased to see that the tire inflated to just about what was labeled on the tire. Not a big thing to get excited about but a lot of companies are far off from what is labeled and a lot of older bikes do not actually have the clearance to fit the tire if it inflates larger than what is labeled. Bravo E13. Bravo.
"Roll fast, and corner faster with e*thirteen's SEMI-SLICK tire. Speed doesn't always have to come at the cost of traction. We say, "Have your cake, and eat it too."
The tightly-spaced, straight-stacked center knobs provide low surface resistance without reducing traction in heavy braking or climbing situations. Angled sipes soften the side knobs for predictable traction, without allowing the tire to "squirm" or roll under heavy cornering. Finally, directional sipes benefit braking and cornering, without sacrificing durability." - e*thirteen By The Hive
Having just come off the WTB Trail Boss for the past year, trying a new tire was a little awkward, but not bad. I could definitely feel a difference in rolling resistance with the e*thirteen SS Tire. It rolled extremely fast in the dry and sandy dirt we have by the California shop and although we had been experiencing some rain, the dirt only got better allowing the tire to perform far better than I had expected. Coming from more aggressive tires like the Maxxis Minion DHF and WTB Vigilante and Judge, I honestly did not think I would enjoy the tire as much as I do.
It is hard to directly identify the pros and cons to a tire because it really comes down to a rider’s personal preference in what they want to ride. For me, there were so many advantages to the tire. I really enjoyed the speed advantage from the low rolling resistance of the center tread. That center tread also resulted in a slippery contact that I actually enjoyed as it helped me get around corners easier while the corner knobs helped pick up traction and maintain speed through the corners. The best advantage I could see overall was the braking traction. At no point did I feel as though the tire was drifting out of control and even after a few skids, the tire quickly caught traction and kept me rolling with confidence.
Although tt was a pro for me, I do see the slip experienced by the center tread as a disadvantage for many riders, especially those who are not as experienced or do not have as good of bike control overall. Losing traction and maintaining control of the bike is a skill learned over time and not overnight and it is something I enjoy experiencing on all sizes of bikes from BMX bikes to enduro bikes, BUT many riders may not like this. The only other con I can think of is the naming of the tires which even after reviewing the cheat sheet, I am confused and constantly have to reference for support. Not an exact issue with the tire but more of an issue for riders trying to determine exactly what compound they need for their riding.
"I do see myself continuing to run this tire for many months to come to really see what its true potential holds for many other trails. Although I would recommend it as a tire for those searching for something lightweight, fast and trustworthy, I find it hard to recommend for those riders who are still developing their cornering and climbing skills. For novice riders or those looking for a lot more grip out of a rear tire, I do recommend looking at the e*thirteen AT Tire. For those looking to really speed up their ride and test their limits on the bike, give the e*thirteen Semi-Slick tire a try! You may just be as surprised as I was and just as stoked to (SoCal Surfer/snowboarder voice) get pitted in that brown pow…" - Reamonn Ryan