e*Thirteen Semi-Slick Plus 2.35 Review
Cons: Sub-par braking bite, very specific application
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Evaluating tires that have such a specific use and application is always easy. For instance, a dedicated cross country tire will be very fast-rolling, but cornering and braking traction will be sacrificed. That was the situation with this semi-slick tire. As you might expect, it rolled very well, and pedal and braking traction were less impressive. Thanks to the more substantial shoulder knobs, cornering abilities remained solid once you found the cornering edge. Riders who definitely want a semi-slick tire will love the TRS Semi-Slick. If you ride in loose or wet conditions often, we recommend looking elsewhere.
Cornering abilities were precise and predictable. Once you found your way onto the shoulder knobs, this tire held an edge well and offered decent communication. When pulling through a bend, it was easy to feel the shoulder knobs, and it was clear where the edge of control was, and when you were about to push beyond it.
Unlike the low profile rolling tread, the shoulder knobs are quite substantial. They bear a very strong resemblance to those on the eThirteen TRS All-Terrain tire. The knobs are uniform, and they make a stout row of unstaggered rectangular blocks. Each of the lugs has a diagonal sipe or cut, in them, designed to spread and conform to the trail as you lean this tire over. It can be hard to determine exactly how well this works, but this tire does offer excellent edge hold on a broad range of surface conditions.
Transitioning from the rolling knobs to the shoulder knobs as you work into a turn is relatively smooth and predictable. There is a little bit of a gap in the tread between the small rolling knobs and the shoulder tread. We paid extra attention to this transition, as this dead space can lead to a little bit of a skittish zone. It was a non-issue with this tire. The transition from the center tread to the shoulder knobs was smooth.
It should be noted that this tire does not handle well in the wet or mud. Turning through wet, muddy, or root-filled corners is downright sketchy. This tire washes out easily, and it simply doesn't have the traction needed for such endeavors. Obviously, semi-slick tires aren't designed for wet climates. We would suggest being absolutely sure you want a semi-slick before pulling the trigger on this tire.
Rolling speed is a highlight, but pedaling traction is not a selling point of the TRS Semi-Slick. Traction is fine when spinning away in the saddle on hardpack and solid surfaces. Climbing up steeper, moist, or loose pitches requires smart use of momentum and very cautious placement of weight.
Looking at the tread pattern, it should be evident that there isn't boatloads of pedal traction. The rolling knobs are quite small and compact. They do have a square edge that helps engage the trail, but it certainly doesn't have much of a bite to it. Working up fire-road and well-laid-out singletrack climbs where you can sit and spin it out, the tire works well and rolls fast.
When things get steeper, looser, or wet, it gets a little funky. When you are up and out of the saddle, the rear wheel receives less weight, and this tire has a tendency to spin out. Loose or gravely surfaces are problematic as are wet roots. When there is a long section of wet roots or loose-over-hard dirt, you need to ride smart; carrying as much momentum as possible is helpful. The more momentum you carry, the less power you'll have to put into the rear tire over a problematic area. This goes a long way in keeping this rear tire under control.
The TRS Semi-Slick delivers decent braking traction for a semi-slick. This style of tire emphasizes rolling speed rather than braking traction. If you're concerned about shutting down speed in a hurry, we feel there are much better options.
Let us quickly get something out of the way. It might sound obvious to some, but it is worth saying. This tire does not brake well in wet or damp conditions. This isn't a knock; it is just the nature of semi-slick designs. The manufacturer would more than likely agree as this is a tire designed to prioritize rolling speed in dry conditions. In wet or loose conditions, the small and tightly packed center tread doesn't have lots of bite and is prone to packing with mud and debris.
In dry or moderate conditions, this tire delivers solid-braking bite for a semi-slick. It doesn't have the bite of the more aggressive options, but it does brake well for how fast it rolls. The rolling knobs have a squared edge which, although small, do bite into the trail well-enough. The Center tread is in an alternating pattern and all of them have small sipes in them. These flex under braking loads and help bite the trail. On fast and flowy trails, this tire slows down well. In steeper terrain or in loose conditions, you can find this tire's limitations, and it can be a little skiddy compared to non-semi-slick options.
If there is one thing that stands out about the eThirteen Semi-Slick is how fast it rolls. Indeed, when you want a fast-rolling rear end, a semi-slick tire is the best option.
Looking at the tread, the rolling blocks are very short. Shorter knobs don't disturb momentum as much as larger ones. In addition, these knobs are tightly spaced. This tight placement further helps to reduce drag so you can accelerate more quickly and better maintain momentum. When you are going in a straight line, this rolling speed is definitely noticeable, especially when compared to rear tires with more aggressive tread designs.
If you find yourself motoring down flow trails frequently, few tires will be as fast as this one. Oh yeah, this tire is also quite light. At 892-grams, it is one of the lighter tires we have tested. This low weight further reduces rolling resistance. If you haven't picked up a theme, this tire rolls quite fast, and it is easily its best attribute.
Throughout our testing, we observed no noticeable wear on our TRS Semi Slick. The little fuzzy hairs are starting to pull off, but the tread is in immaculate condition. A common area to detect early signs of wear is the inboard side of the shoulder knobs; ours still look pristine.
Tip of the cap to e*Thirteen on this. We appreciate a long-lasting tire. Riders who are out on their bike 2-3 times per week will have no problem burning through a soft, fast-wearing, tire. We feel confident that you could get an above-average life-span out of these.
The installation process was about average with the TRS Semi-Slick. We used a ToPeak Joe Blow Booster floor pump to set the tire up tubeless. We were able to seat the majority of the bead on the first shot. We added about 15-seconds of supplemental pumping to finish off the stubborn areas.
Our 2.35-inch test tire measured 2.4-inches when mounted on our 30mm rim.
It should be noted that we used e*Thirteen rims for tire testing. It stands to reason that the eThirteen tires play quite well with the e*Thirteen rims as one would imagine they were used during the development of the tires. It is possible this skewed the installation process favorably. Mounting these tires on a different rim could prove to be an entirely different experience.
The TRS Semi-Slick is a pretty solid value with a retail price that falls at the low end of the price spectrum for mountain bike tires. This tire operates quite well within its intended application, and we think it should have a long lifespan. If you're looking for a fast-rolling rear tire that still has good cornering abilities, this is a good value.
The eThirteen TRS Semi-Slick is a quality semi-slick rear tire. This is a great option for riders who find themselves almost exclusively in dry conditions. This tire rolls very fast, has passable braking and pedal traction, and corners quite well. Also, it has an impressively low weight that further reduces rolling resistance. This tire is a fantastic option for the right buyer.
This tire is available in the 27.5 and 29-inch wheel sizes. If you have a 26-inch bike, you are out of luck.This tire is available in two compounds. The Race is softer and grippier but will wear more quickly. The Plus(tested) is harder, longer-lasting, and faster rolling.
— Pat Donahue