29er tire braaap squadron

The 29er adventure officially begins when all the parts arrive and coalesce.

Tires are covered in a big way.

If all goes well, I’ll soon be riding a Stumpjumper FSR 29 Expert Carbon with a Fox non-Brain shock and a Fox 34 fork.

This bike will be seeing all kinds of use, from quick trail (riding part of Trans Rockies with my man Vance McMurry) to general trail (coaching lots of XC riders these days) to gravity racing (Sea Otter DS and maybe DH, plus some Super D and the Winter Park Enduro) to serious gnar (I think this bike will move into Specialized Enduro territory). The only thing this bike will not do (probably) is race XC.

I like the idea of mixing and matching various tires to suit conditions. I asked Specialized tire genius Chris Wyatt for his recommended tire arsenal.

Here is Dr. Wyatt’s prescription, from fast to gnar:

• Ground Control 29×2.1 – On test 29ers they’ve been faaaast and pretty grippy.
• Purgatory 29×2.2 – An easy, consistent tire in both wheel sizes.
• Ground Control 29×2.3* – The Stumpy 26 loves this tire.
• Butcher 29×2.3* – When you ride Butchers, you ride with impunity.
• Purgatory 29×2.4 – Big meat for mega gnar.

*These tires are model year 2013. They should be available in summer 2012.

All tires have the Control casings, which are pretty light and so far plenty durable here in rocky Colorado. They are tubeless ready, but if I’m switching around I’ll use tubes.

Thinking about combos, from fast to gnar:

• Ground Control 2.1 rear and Purgatory 2.2 front
• Ground Control 2.1 rear and Ground Control 2.3 front
• Purgatory 2.2 rear and Ground Control 2.3 front
• Ground Control 2.3 rear and Butcher 2.3 front (probable default)
• Ground Control 2.3 rear and Purgatory 2.4 front
• and so on …

Stay tuned.



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22 replies
  1. Flatlander says:

    Don’t know speci, but ima 29fs rider–Ells evole with 120 TA up front. I roll some king/flows with 2.3 Nevegals and they look a lot like butcher above. My light wheels are the Mavics with a vulpine rear and a saguaro front ~ 2.1/2.1. Love this quiver. That purgatory looks suspiciously like the Ardents I run on my SS?

    Gonna make it back to MI?

  2. Sergey says:

    Lee, I see you plan to go brainless on the Stumpjumper. Do you see any issue with brain for what you are going to do on that bike? Looks like you build it very “enduro-esk”.


  3. James Manchester says:

    Hi Lee,

    Are you switching to a 29er full time or only for certain types of riding? I have been riding a Stumpy FSR 29 and am debating wether or not to try 26ers. I really struggle to get up steep pitches and manual,jump,ect on the 29er. Based on your experience, is there a significant difference or do I just suck?

  4. Tjaard says:

    What, no Eskars for you?!
    Also, are those prototype tires? Because right now, there is no Ground Control 2.3 or Butcher listed in 29″ size.

  5. leelikesbikes says:


    The Ground Control and Butcher 29×2.3 tires are model year 2013. They should be publicly available this summer.

    Eskars. Oh the mighty Eskars. Specialized is discontinuing them, so they will not be part of my 29er domination campaign.

    I still have some Eskar 26es, and I’m currently running them fore-aft on the P.3 and on the front of Captain America. The Eskar is a great tire, but it doesn’t work well for many riders (you really have to lean in the corners). Hence the discontinuation.

  6. leelikesbikes says:


    I plan to run my Stumpy 29 for pretty much all trail riding, plus Sea Otter dual slalom and maybe downhill. Theoretically, that bike will have the tightness and lightness of a short-travel bike but the smoothness of a long-travel bike. That seems like a potent combo.

    How can I say this politely? You might suck. It’s OK, I do too. We all suck — but our it’s lifelong quest to continually suck less and less.

    In my experience, the 29ers:

    • Climb way better.

    • Jump great.

    • Take more effort to manual, but can be manualed fine with good technique.

    The Stumpy 29 is a solid bike. I suggest learning how to ride it.

    Consider, in this order:

    • The book Mastering Mountain Bike Skills
    • The book Teaching Mountain Bike Skills
    • Taking a skills clinic with me

  7. BrianS says:

    Hi Lee,

    I run Specialized tires on all of my bikes. On the 26ers I have the option of Grid casings which works better for my size/weight running tubeless. When I run Control casings bad things tend to happen.

    Specialized needs to step up and bring more Grid options to the 29er lineup. Right now I am limited to only a few like the Captain. I would love a Purgatory Grid in 29er sizing.


  8. leelikesbikes says:


    I could swear the Stumpy Comp 29 I tested had Captain Grid in the back and Purgatory Grid in the front (these tires rocked). Maybe the Purg was pre-production? Let me check …

  9. BrianS says:

    Thanks Lee. If they have a 29er version I’ll gladly go knock on the headquarters door begging for one. 🙂

  10. Dylan says:


    Just curious why you picked the Stumpy 29ner Carbon and not the Stumpy FSR EVO 29ner? Seems like the EVO has slacker, aggressive geometry which seems like a better fit for some of your racing plans? Is the carbon weight a priority for you? Could you put a angle set in the carbon bike and bring the head angle down to 68 degrees?


  11. leelikesbikes says:

    Hey Dylan,

    Honestly, I am happy to run whatever I can get. I would have been stoked with either frame, but I think the Stumpy 29 Carbon is going to be extra awesome:

    • Lighter and stiffer than the aluminum version.

    • The Fox 34 fork at 140mm is about an inch taller than the stock Fox 32 at 130mm. This will slacken the head angle from the standard 69 degrees to about the EVO’s 68 degrees. We plan to run the 34 at 130mm, which will split the difference geometry wise.

    • At some point later, I can install the EVO link, which will lower the BB and increase the rear travel — AND be lighter and stiffer than the aluminum version. This would be crazy-rad, but I don’t think it will be necessary.

    From my experience riding a 29er Epic, Camber and Stumpy, the big wheels make the bikes way more DH-capable than their travel and geometry would suggest.

    Super sweet!

  12. James Manchester says:

    You don’t have to say it politely, I do suck. But half the fun is getting better. My cornering speed has improved significantly using the techniques from your book. Next is a clinic with you to work on jumping and manualing. Is a private lesson the best way or is that more for pros?

    The stupid thing is when I raced motocross, jumping was one of my strong points. But on a bike I am useless. I am hoping it is just bad technique and not old age.

  13. leelikesbikes says:

    Private is ideal, especially if you have specific goals, but group sessions are super helpful (and less expensive).

    Motos are very much like bikes, but they’re different enough to require some new skills!

  14. max says:

    I find on the 29ers I’ve ridden, pulling a manual was not much of an adjustment, but j-hoping/bunny hopping required much more effort and the timing was totally different from a 26er.
    Looking forward to seeing the finished bike.

  15. Art Schwadron says:

    That’s a nice selection of tires. I’d offer to share my Rampage and Ardent 2.4, two of the best front tires around, if you want to pool resources and do some tire comparisons.

  16. mzeatwzad says:

    I’m partial to Kenda myself. Been rocking a Nevegal 2.3/Smallblock 8 2.1 combo on the Monocog Flight for about a year now. I was a little concerned about the smaller tread on the Smallblock at first, but it seems to hook up at just the right moment.

  17. MW says:

    Add a S works Captain and fast track in 2.2 to the mix and you have a XC rocket. I went from my 2.4 to that combo and the difference feels like switching from a Enduro to a Epic. I was told the Evo link wont work on the standard 29er frames only 26. The Evo and non Evo frames are different, well thats what the rep said.

    Im rockin a 34 set at 120 and a “yet to be released shock” at 120. The bike flat out rips on any terrain. Your going to be stoked!

  18. Ramses Sarmiento says:

    Hi Lee

    I bought a ground control 2.1, do you think is a good idea to put it on the front with a captain control 2.0 in the back?, i do a lot of sandy terrain.

  19. leelikesbikes says:

    That would be a good combo. The Captain should give you solid driving and braking; the Ground Control should give you solid braking and consistent cornering.

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