First ride: Specialized Purgatory 27.5×3 GRID tire

I’ve been riding plus tires all season on a Specialized Fuse and Stumpjumper 6Fattie. Both bikes came with 27.5×3″ Purgatory front and Ground Control rear tires, all in the lightweight Control casing. Both bikes are super capable and fun to ride.

Last weekend I rode the new Specialized Purgatory 27.5×3 GRID tires on both ends of my Stumpy. WHOA.

The bike

2016 S-Works Stumpjumper 6Fattie

• Roval carbon wheels with 30mm internal width
• FOX fork and shock
• Shimano XTR brakes, upsized to 8-inch front and 7-inch rear
• Dialed cockpit courtesy of Spank

This is a very, very nice bicycle.

Stumpy 6Fattie with stock tires on Captain Ahab in Moab, UT.

The tires

The Purgatory is, in my mind, an aggressive yet general-purpose tread. Its knobs are evenly spaced from edge to edge. While it lacks the absolute side hold of a Butcher, it’s more consistent at all lean angles, which makes it a better front tire for most riders.

Compared with the Control-model tires, these GRIDS:

• Have burlier casings. Until now, plus tires have tended to be too heavy or too fragile, which has prevented plus bikes from meeting their full shred potential. It looks like Specialized is looking for the sweet spot.

• Have Gripton rubber. According to my sources at Specialized, this compound is somehow grippier yet not slower rolling. If that’s true, awesome.

The trails

On Saturday we did a full day of downhill runs at Trestle Bike Park in Winter Park, CO. Our trails were blue and black with tons of berms, lots of jumps, plenty of braking bumps and some rocks. Conditions were dry. Stoke was high.

I’ve ridden the same trails on my Stumpy with Control tires, and that was super fun.

I spent the morning on a 2012 Demo 8 with Butcher 26×2.5 DH tires, and that was fun too. Wow, I forgot how rad a DH bike can be!

At mid afternoon I swapped the Demo 8 for the Stumpy — not because I wanted to give up the DH love, but to test these tires. I was expecting to feel a downgrade in shred factor, but …

The ride

As soon as I got on the bike and gave it a pedal, I was like “whoa, the tires are heavier.” It wasn’t deal breaking, but I have so much time on the lighter tires that I noticed. That feeling became normal very quickly.

Holy cow this bike is fast!

After rolling the DH bike all morning, it was astounding:

• How fast the Stumpy with GRID tires rolls. I was hauling ass on the flatter sections. Acceleration was just happening. No more thought to tire weight.

• How much traction this bike has. If you’ve ridden a dialed DH bike with tubeless downhill tires, you know what real traction feels like. Well, the Stumpy with these Purg GRIDs has way more traction. Way more. Same trails. Higher speeds. Less sketch factor.

The stock Control tires have next-level traction. These GRIDS … that’s the next next level.

Let’s be clear here: My Stumpy with the Purgatory GRID plus tires rode these moderate* downhill trails faster than my Demo 8. The speed was easier, with way less pedaling. The speed was more controlled, with way less tire drift. As fun and awesome as the Demo 8 was in the morning, the GRID/plus Stumpy was even more fun and even more awesome.



*These are not the steepest or rockiest DH trails. When I can, I’ll run the same comparison on the double blacks.

Know more. Have more fun!

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30 replies
  1. Murch says:

    Great feedback on the tires. Did you get any trail miles on them to see how they do going up and downhill? I own the same bike and have been waiting for feedback on the new Grids and while the downhill sounds good I still have to earn it by going uphill first.

  2. leelikesbikes says:


    Great timing. I just got back from our local trail ride at Heil Ranch just north of Boulder, CO. Right now I’m riding a pretty big stoke.

    I’m stronger than ever and PRed the climb by more than 10 percent. The tires feel a bit heavier when accelerating, but they roll great. The bike was not slow uphill. With the GRID casing you can run even less air than with the Controls, so that would help on a rocky climb (I didn’t drop pressure until I reached the top).

    On the flats, the bike rolled as well as or better than the stock Control tires. Corner speed was higher, so that’s an overall win.

    The descent was a whole new level of easy speed on some dry, loose dirt on some rocky, technical corners. I was hauling ass in a very smooth, controlled way.

    The Gripton rubber compound seems to be very special: somehow both fast rolling and grippy. Specialized hired a tire chemist from Continental then bought their own tire factory, so no one else can get their hands on the secret sauce. I’m told there will be a full line of tires with the compound. Watch out!

  3. Murch says:

    I stopped by my local shop and they checked for me, it’s early September right now.

    BTW thanks for all the brap over the years, let me know next time you’re out at Blankets Creek in GA as I would love to take you for a ride on our trails.

  4. Bill says:

    I’m also rocking a ’16 Stumpy 6Fattie. I saw you at STCP. That’s my backyard trail network. I’m sure you know rocky ridge/stiles and can imagine what this bike can do to smooth out those trails. Anyway, I’ve been plagued with my stock Purg/GC tires seeping/sweating more than a fay guy in a sauna. So hoping to try out the GRIDs ASAP.

    How does that thicker casing affect the suppleness of the tires?

    That’s one thing I loved about the 3.0 controls at 15/16 PSI (I’m 150 wet). I can ride them up the Santa Teresa side of Joice trail then up to Coyote peak, then they smooth out RR and Stiles, then up the super-steep (35% grade?) section of Joice all without mucking with tire pressure. Pretty rad to be able to pedal up the steeps and pin it down the rocks on the same bike

  5. Mikie Yo says:

    Lee – Been having issues with pedal strike on my 2017 Stumpy 6fattie running flats…thats with the 3.0 Purg grids. I was thinking of trying some 2.8’s in a Maxxis for fun and cannot imagine lowering the bb anymore.

    Are you banging the pedals? I assume you still are on the flats. Any advice? I am riding western CO, & Utah primarily.
    Thanks man!

  6. leelikesbikes says:


    Yes, I do bang pedals once in a while. I’m currently riding trail on a pair of XTR Trail pedals, which have a lower profile than most flats.

    You gave me an idea for a cool post about pedal strikes. For right now, real quick:

    • Try smaller pedals.
    • Try shorter cranks.
    • Focus on balance. Most of the time riders pedal technical sections in the saddle or too far back. This loads the read suspension and drops the BB even more. If you balance on your feet, this will prevent many strikes.
    • Get light when you’re on top of rocks. This takes pump skills and adds pedaling.
    • Practice timing your pedal strokes.

    You can learn a ton at my online MTB school:

  7. jeffj says:

    For those considering shorter cranks, I would recommend first making sure that the cranks you are considering actually have shorter crankarms rather than just drilling the pedal holes in a different position.


  8. Eduardo says:

    Good morning and congratulations on the article. In your opinion, what is the difference between the wheels carrying the stumpjumper (29mm) and the fuse? (40mm) in that field which wins and loses? Thank you

  9. leelikesbikes says:


    I often ride both the 29mm rims on the Stumpy and the 40mm rims on the Fuse, and I have to say they both work great. The bikes are so different — a carbon suspension bike and an aluminum hardtail — I honestly can’t tell you which rim is better or worse.

    The media is saying you need super-wide rims with plus tires. I believe that is not true. If a 29mm rim is lighter than a 40mm rim, and it works just as well, then maybe that’s a deciding factor.


  10. Bill says:

    Did you run the same pressure or lower than the controls for your testing? I just swapped my leaky controls for a pair of these. Definitely more grip, but also definitely less supple at the same PSI – 15 front, 16 rear. Oh and new PR’s up all the hills…

  11. Lee McCormack says:

    Miles, that is rad.

    That’s a great question. A 3.0 Purgatory fit into a non-boost 36 on my Enduro 29.

    There was very little space for mud, but that experiment convinced me I wanted to try a plus bike.

    If you have a way of comparing the tire space between a Lyric or 36 with your 34 that might answer your question.

    BTW: This Stumpy currently has the 2.6 Butcher/Slaughter combo. It’s a lot slower rolling than the Purgs, but — dude — crazy traction.

  12. DanTae says:

    Hey Lee,
    Thanks a ton for the awesome info on your site, it’s always a pleasure to read. Had a question about tires. I have a ’16 stumpy 6fattie. I mostly ride very technical trails (very rocky and rough) with some climbs but nothing too crazy. Traction is very important especially on rocks but would still like to keep rolling resistance low. Don’t ride in muddy conditions as it damages the local trails.
    Which tires would you recommend?

    For front
    – Butcher
    – Purgatory
    – DHF

    For rear
    – Purgatory
    – Slaughter
    – Rekon+

    Would running a 2.8 instead of 3.0 lower the BB further. Already hate the pedal strikes.


    • leelikesbikes says:


      Those are all good tires.

      2.8 will lower the bottom bracket a bit compared with 3.0. If you’re worried about that, stick with the 3.0 Purgatories front and rear.

      My 2016 Stumpy has worn 3.0 Purgatories; 29×2.3 Minions; 2.8 Butcher/Slaughter and right now 2.8 Rekons. The Rekons are fun to ride, but they don’t have the same hookup as the stock Purgatories.


      • DanTae says:

        Thanks for the quick and detailed response and a quick follow-up question.
        It’s cool to see that you are still enjoying the ’16 Stumpy. I have tried many bikes on demo days over the years but haven’t lost the love for my Stumpy 🙂
        Will the Reckon/Slaughter make the bike much faster than the Purgatory in the rear?
        Which one of the tire combinations you mentioned is your favorite.

        Appreciate your help!

        • leelikesbikes says:

          Sorry to say nothing, but each of those combos is my favorite in a different way.

          The 29er wheelset felt like it rolled pretty quickly and “knifed” into turns. But it lacks the cushion of the plus tires.

          The 2.8 Butcher/Slaughter were SLOW (this was before Gripton rubber) but they provided insane traction.

          The 2.8 Rekons feel light and quick (relatively), but they don’t have ultimate grip.

          The 3.0 Purgatories are very, very good overall.

          The “best” choice depends on your rides and riding style.


          • DanTae says:

            I wanted to thank you again for recommending the 3.0 Purgatory GRID. I got the tire and set it up tubeless. I was able to clear some technical climbs that I couldn’t before, overall much more confidence inspiring as the grip is a lot better. The tire rolls quite well too, in fact, I broke PRs on some segments too. Overall a great tire, love it!

  13. Jay says:

    I have the 2019 Stumpy 27.5 with the stock 2.6 Butcher front and 2.6 Purgatory rear, both GRIDs and on 38mm Roval Carbon wheelset. I love how I’m able to dig in the corners with full confidence. The bike with the tires just likes to be leaned over but the issues that I’m having is the BB being a bit low that’s causing me to pedals strike or even second guess some sections. I didn’t have this issues with my previous bike, 2016 Stumpy 29 with same tires but in 2.3’s. Even on my Old Santa Cruz Nickel with 2.25 Nobby Nics, I don’t second guess the technical climb or steep downhill. I think it has something to do with the BB on my new bike being a bit low. My question is:

    Will the 27.5×3.0 Purgatory provide the same amount of traction and the same amount of pedaling efficiency (ok maybe not the same but at least very similar feel) like my current tire combo?

    Reason for the 3.0 is because I want to raise the BB a little. I have a 160mm Pike RC, my current is 150 Pike RC but I will use the 160 with 3.0 and then flip the chip to High settings to gain .5+” on my BB.

    Please note I do 30 mountain miles on weekdays, 2x and this bike at 30 lbs can do 50 miles without me feeling exhausted. This bike and my tire setup is very capable. I’m 144 lbs, 5’6″ and I’m finesse kind of rider where I’m light on my feet and I move a lot on my bike as opposed to sitting and plowing. I’m always pumping the suspension and popping off small stuff. I want to gain the technical climbs and steep descends just like with my previous bikes.

    I ride in STCP, Skeggs, Demo, Santa Cruz and had met you few years ago at Demo.

    Thank you.

    • Lee says:

      Stumpies do have relatively low BBs. A Stumpy 6Fattie with 2.6 tires will make the BB even lower. Mine currently has 2.8s, and it’s OK for me.

      The 3.0 Purgs have a lot of traction. They roll really well for what they are. I don’t have science for this, but the Butcher is not a fast tire, so the 3.0 Purgs might be comparable in rolling or a bit slower.

      Many pedal strikes are related to poor timing and especially to having your weight too far back when technical climbing. Cleaner technique will help.

      Consider 2.8s.

  14. Ilkka says:

    Thanks for the review etc. I changed my mind and instead of maxxis chronicle or rekon+, I now have a pair of 27.5/3.0 purgatories, which actually fitted pretty nicely on my univega emtb (35 mm rims) against all the warnings…

  15. Bill says:

    Hi Lee. Still rocking and loving my ’16 Stumpy 6fattie fsr. the Purgatory grid 3.0 tires have been awesome, if a little slow rolling. I was going to replace them with new, but I see that specialized also released the Ground control Grid 3.0 with Gripton rubber. Have you tried those? any feedback? I’m thinking about using a Ground Control Grid as a rear tire with Purgatory grid up front. It might provide lower rolling resistance, but I worry about less cornering/braking grip in the rear. Could provide more Braaaap though. Thanks!


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