Followup: Specialized Eskar tires

The new Specialized Eskar trail/all-mountain tire has been out for a while, and people are getting some miles on it. More than you wanted to know:


First, a word from Specialized

– The Eskar supersedes the Resolution. Chance Regina, product manager: “We designed the Eskar to match the Enduro bike better than the Reso. The Reso was nice but TOO SLOW and there was a bit of a hole in the transition area.”

– The tire was designed by Chris Wyatt, a nice guy and a hell of a rider. Chris worked on the ADvantage when he was with Maxxis, and the tires are visibly similar. Chris: “I took some knowledge from the feedback in the Advantage and applied that to this design. Basically all I was doing was trying to keep as many edges as possible and also create more transition off center with the flap sticking out.”

– Regina: “The Eskar rolls within a few percentage points of our fastest XC tires but has the bite closer to a Chunder.”

That sounds good to me.


Help: I can’t turn my Eskars!


Last week I cut the side wall on my Resolution Pro 2.3 rear tire so I replaced them front and rear with Eskar Control 2.3 tires. I run tubeless on Crossmax XL’s on my 06 Enduro pro. I have now crashed 2 times in flat corners on our now dry, loose, small rocky trails here in GA. The front tire gives no warning of washing out as it just lets go. This is very different then the Resolution tires I had been running. I am running them at the same pressure 34 front 40 rear. I am a 230lbs rider and if I run lower in the rear I bottom out the tire.

So here is my question is the Eskar really that bad of a cornering tire in the dry, loose stuff versus the resolution or did I forget how to corner? I spent a good amount of money on these tires and am really looking for any tips to get them to corner better as my body can’t take another crash at this point and my wife doesn’t want to see me drop another $70 on tires.

Thank you, Jeff

— — —

Hey Jeff,

I have a lot of time on both Resolutions and Eskars, in a wide range of conditions. I like both tires. I find that the Eskars roll significantly faster than the Reso’s, yet I can push them just as hard in the corners. Maybe harder, because the side knobs seem a hair less flexy.

As for your situation …

– Change of season? Were you riding your Reso’s on moister trails? The dryness can be a big factor.

– Compared with the Eskar, the Resolution seems like more of an “edging” tire. The Reso’ has taller knobs and an open channel between the center knobs and the transition knobs. If you are leaning the tire just a bit, those knobs will really dig in.

Good all-around tire: Specialized Resolution Pro

Specialized Resolution Pro D2 tubeless tire

– If you turn your bike by turning your bars (and not leaning very much), I can see how the Resos might work better than the Eskars.

– Try leaning your bike farther into the turns. Relax your hands and let the bars turn on their own (that’s an intrinsic feature of your bike’s geometry). Let all of the Eskar’s edges work for you.


— Lee


I wore out my Eskars: What next?

Hey Lee,

I have an Enduro SL and my Eskar’s have worn out. I love the Eskars, but am looking to try something new. I ride a mixture of cross-country and light downhill and need a tire that is going to perform well on the downhills while not weighing me down on the climbs. Any suggestions?

Thanks! Ian

— — —

Hey Ian,

Since you love your Eskars, I’ll assume you enjoy the combo of high volume, fast rolling and good turning.

One obvious choice would be the Eskar’s ancestor, the ADvantage.

If you’re curious, you can try any of the general-purpose treads: Maxxis High Roller or Minion, Kenda Nevegal, Hutchinson Barracuda, WTB Mutano Raptor, WTB WeirWolf LT (great on hardpack), WTB Prowler XT (I haven’t tried this one), etc …

Or: Stick with the same tires, and really learn to ride them. That’s what most pros do.


— Lee

Lee’s long-term report

I rode a pair of Eskar Armadillo Elite 2.3s over the fall and winter on my FOX-equipped Enduro SL.

– Why Armadillos? The Armadillo casing protects against punctures and tears. I tend to ruin tires here in rocky Colorado.

– Conditions: Hardpack, sand, snow/slush, loam and rocks. Lots of rocks.

– Impressions: The tires roll fast, grip well and have not flatted. That all makes me happy. More details: Two rides: Specialized Eskar Armadillo Elite 2.3 tires

– Wear: I have torn the heck out of the rear side knobs. I love to lean the bike deeply into the turns and pump with my legs. The bike hooks up like crazy, and it makes an awesome braaap sound, but I’m killing that poor tire. The front tire is wearing pretty normally.

– Next: I’m trying to get another set of Eskars for my Enduro. That tire is, indeed, a great fit for that bike.

Whew! More than you wanted to know …

— Lee

24 replies
  1. Mike says:

    are all these just down hill or xc or both? I’m a bit confused, they all look a bit heavy to use as a xc ride/race tire.

  2. leelikesbikes says:

    Eskars are “trail” or “all-mountain” tires.

    They are meatier than you need for XC racing, and not quite burly enough for full-on DH. They are made for all-around trail riding and ripping. Perfect for Super D racing.

    Here are the tire weights, from Chris Wyatt at S:

    – Eskar S-Works: 650g (For racing or lighter riders and non rocky conditions)

    – Eskar CONTROL: 700g (10% more puncture Resistance than S-Works with only 8% more weight)

    – Eskar Armadillo Elite: 760g (40% more puncture Resistance than S-Works with only 17% more weight)

  3. Jeff says:

    Thanks Lee, I had a feeling you would be able figure it out. I do tend to steer more then lean and my first wipe out was when I took a jump landed a bit of camber with my bars turned a bit. I guess I was used to landing like that and the resolutions saving me versus dumping me like the Eskar did.

    Trail conditions are really dry right now and that is a big factor, talking to the guys at the trail everyone is slipping and sliding right now.

    I had a better ride with them today running 30 psi up front and 35 in the back and I also did less steering and more leaning. I do love the extra speed these tires carry on the trail and the climbs are much nicer.

    Keep up the awsome advice your site really does go to eleven!

    Here is my second question I use stans but also was given some of the Specialized tire sealent. The two products claim to the do the same thing but look and feel much different. Right now I have Stans in the front and specialized in the rear. Do you have any feedback on the two, I would hate to be on an epic and have the specialized fail on me.


  4. ian says:


    Thank you for all the great tire info! I’m riding the s-works Eskar and would definitely agree that if riding in rocky conditions go with the CONTROL or Armadillo Elite. I ride in rocky conditions and all the rubbing on rocks (especially while climbing, tall rocks and tricky narrow trails!) has significantly worn the sidewall, especially on the rear tire. Best all-around tire I’ve ridden – Not too heavy and rolls smoothly, climbs well, and descends with authority! BRAAP!

    Heard anything on the new Maxxis Ardent?

    Thanks again LEE!

  5. Lance says:

    I found that Eskars just don’t perform. The bald strip on each side of the tire causes it to break loose when leaning into turns making it very unstable cornering on anything without a berm. I went back to Nevagals and problem solved. Anyone else notice this problem? Look at the tire – like the reso it is void of traction in that key area just outside the center nobs.

    Good alternative for the Enduro SL is 2.35 Kenda Blue Groove or Nevegal Front and 2.10 Nevegal rear. For me this setup is superior to the Eskar.

  6. Lance says:

    If you’re looking for more of an XC setup try running a 2.10 blue groove front and a 2.0 kenda small block rear. My XC pals swear by this setup.

  7. leelikesbikes says:

    Jeff: I know nothing about the S tire sealant, but those guys usually don’t screw around.

    Lance: That’s interesting, and unfortunate. The Eskar is supposed to address that issue.

    Kendas do rock. Tip: Nevegal in front for cornering kung fu. Blue groove in back — the lower, wider knobs hold up better to corner pumping. This one comes from the mighty-yet-smooth Jon Watt.

  8. ian says:


    I’ve ridden the Nevegal 2.35 Stick-E version. Am I going to notice much of difference in traction if I went for the lighter DTC, non Stick-E version?

  9. Lance says:

    I rode the Eskar for about 1 month and noticed that the front tire just didn’t hook up. I let a friend demo my bike and he even said the tires were sketchy. The thing I noticed with the Eskar is that you have to really lay the bike down to get the outside nobs to grab and not every corner on a trail requires that type of lean.

  10. Daniel says:

    I think that tires like the Eskar, Highroller, Advantage, Minion, Comp 16 and other tires with a bare strip between the edging knobs and center knobs are for more advanced riders. They require commitment on the lean angle in the corners but that commitment pays off big time. Tight knobs on the edges act like a big rail/hook to work together and grab the dirt, while keeping it from pushing through the gaps in the tread.

    All things being equal, other tires that have a more gradual transition such as Nevegal, Blue Groove, Larsen TT, small block 8, etc. will work better and be more forgiving if you are a little tentative or aren’t counter weighting the bike properly. Just look at what the pros ride on their downhill bikes and they almost all ride tires with the big gap between the edging knobs and center knobs.

    Now if you ride the tires with the gradual tranny and have a really sticky compound then you could possibly get the best of both worlds except that you will have more rolling resistance with the softer rubber.

  11. leelikesbikes says:

    Daniel: Nicely put.

    Chris Wyatt just emailed: “The Eskar is designed to be upright or dive into the turn for maximum cornering traction. If they sit in the transition, it will be sketchy.”

    The WeirWolf is another “expert” tire. You have to ride it very aggressively. If you do, it rails.

  12. Jeff says:

    Ahh those farmer johns were it, compared to other tires at the time they were big and slow but the traction was way above anything else. Anyone have any links to some of the farmer john ads, Tomac was the image of the 80’s

  13. Sean says:

    On Daniel’s post —

    I guess that may hold true if your dirt is soft and powdery, and your cornering style is to lean the bike way over.

    But any accomplished rider knows that there are many ways to turn a bike, to round a corner. Many ways. Watch any of the Clay Porter or Alex Rankin World Cup DH vids from the past 4 seasons, you’ll see a radical variety of cornering techniques and styles.

    Tread pattern also depends on preference. Some people like that space between the edge knobs and the main tread knobs, so that they can drift with control and then end the drift by either leaning the bike more (to bite the edge knobs into the dirt) or to make it more upright (to get the main tread knobs engaged).

    It’s ridiculous to allege that certain tires indicate “upper level” riding, though. Absolutely ridiculous. That’s just a very roundabout way of patting one’s self on the back in an e-forum, which is something that might help one’s boredom during the winter or when the trails are too muddy to ride, but it doesn’t help anyone learn better riding techniques.

    Lee’s 4/19 @ 8:57 post quoting Chris Wyatt tells an important fact: the transition zone is sketchy. If you are a rider who is used to tires that have knobs all the way around the tread (i.e. Nevegal, Minion DH Front, Tioga DH Pro) then you are used to the same grip all the way until you have passed the edge knobs in lean / bite angle. Being used to those tires is not a “lower level” rider thing.

    Some riders like open treads with a big transition gap. Some do not.

    Some riders ride where a big transition gap is useless. Where I ride, high alpine trails in the northern Rockies, we do a lot of sidehill off-camber contour trail riding. The trails are talus slope looseness, not powdery dirt, not loam, not solid rock. A tire with open transition zones is impossible to use in those conditions. It’s not a matter of skill. It’s a matter of the knobs being in the wrong place for that type of trail and riding.

  14. Jeff says:

    Sean nice post and very well put. Today at my local trail I ran into Trey a tire engineer for Maxxis and we talked about the Eskar as well as the advantage tire. Basicly he agreed with Lee and your self. He is going to get me a pair of CST caballero tires to try as he thinks they will really fit my riding style and our local trails.

    Back to the Eskar’s I had a really good ride with them today and have started to figure out the tires by riding exactly as Lee said to do, it was tough at first as it seemed wrong to not hold tight but it does work and the leaning does a really good job too bad there are some sections where leaning just isn’t possible do to trees and tightness of the corner.

    Again thanks Lee, hopefully one day I can take one of your classes, let me know if your ever in GA.

  15. Lance says:

    I’m a pretty advanced rider with 10+ years of “expert class” BMX race experience. I’ve been trail riding for a relatively short time but have adapted my skills well. I do think that the “expert level” tag slapped on the Eskar by a previous poster is not accurate. Terrain and riding style has a lot to do with it. Our trails here in the Palm Springs area are not well bermed and are very dry and razor rocky, there are plenty of areas where laying the bike over, counter wieghted or not, to grab the outer tread is not advisable – I ride the goats three times a week. I gave the Eskar a fair try and now they’re hanging in my garage. Maybe I’ll try them again at a later date. Let’s go ride next time you’re in so cal…

  16. Jeff says:

    Well I put my resolution back on the front today and went for a ride. My bike was back to being a well hooked up ride. It was very nice to have that secure feeling up front again. I really like the Resolution front Eskar rear setup. Hopefully the big S will bring back the Resolution.

  17. Phil Shep says:

    Hey Lee,

    Have you run the Armadillos tubeless? I picked up a set of Eskar Controls and LOVE them. The ultimate all-around tire for my Nomad. Unfortunately, I slashed the sidewall after my second ride! I’m wondering if running the Armadillo will help in the rock infested trails up in Ontario Canada. Only thing is I want to run them tubeless with Stan’s liquid. Had anyone ran these on 819 MAvic rims?

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