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Specialized Purgatory GRID Review

A versatile rear tire that will work splendidly for many riders
Specialized Purgatory GRID
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Price:  $60 List | Check Price at Backcountry
Pros:  Attractive price, fast-rolling, decent braking power, versatile
Cons:  GRID casing is a little weak
Manufacturer:   Specialized
By Pat Donahue ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 18, 2019
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74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#22 of 29
  • Cornering - 25% 7
  • Pedaling Traction - 20% 8
  • Braking Traction - 20% 7
  • Rolling Resistance - 15% 8
  • Longevity - 15% 7
  • Installation - 5% 7

Our Verdict

The Specialized Purgatory GRID is a rock-solid and predictable tire is best-suited for duties on the rear wheel. When mated with an aggressive front tire, this is a reasonably fast-rolling option with decent braking bite and a casing that is tough enough for daily trail riding. The Purgatory is a reasonably light rear tire coming in at 964 grams in the 29 x 2.6-inch width. This is quite notable as this is significantly lighter than some of our favorite rear tires in the same size. The GRID casing is fine but doesn't feel as substantial as the trail casings from some other manufacturers. This is the classic trade-off…lighter tire with thinner casing or heavier tire with more protection. Still, the Purgatory is a solid performer, and it is offered at a very competitive price.

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Awards  Best Buy Award Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award 
Price $60 List
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$60 List
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Pros Attractive price, fast-rolling, decent braking power, versatileGreat cornering grip, good braking traction, aggressive tread pattern, super damp ride quality, available in 2.6 and 2.3-inch widthsReasonably priced, versatile yet aggressive tread design, good all-around performance as a rear tireVersatile, affordable, great all-around use, intermediate tread height, fast rollingReasonable price, low rolling resistance, versatile tread works well in a range of conditions, comes in 2.4 and 2.6-inch widths
Cons GRID casing is a little weakModerate weight, not the fastest rollingModerate braking traction, firmer rubber compoundNot the best braking tractionNot the best braking traction, moderately heavy, not great in mud or sloppy conditions
Bottom Line A versatile rear tire that will work splendidly for many ridersSpecialized's classic aggressive trail riding tire with a new rubber compound, enhanced grip, and same great valueA versatile, well-rounded, and reasonably priced trail riding tire best suited for use on the rear of the bikeA versatile and well-rounded do-it-all rear tire for any kind of ridingA durable and fast-rolling trail and all-mountain tire well suited to duties on the rear of the bike
Rating Categories Specialized Purgato... Butcher GRID Trail T9 Eliminator GRID Tra... Maxxis Aggressor 2.... Michelin Force AM2 2.4
Cornering (25%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Pedaling Traction (20%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Braking Traction (20%)
7.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Rolling Resistance (15%)
8.0
6.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
Longevity (15%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Installation (5%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Specs Specialized Purgato... Butcher GRID Trail T9 Eliminator GRID Tra... Maxxis Aggressor 2.... Michelin Force AM2 2.4
Size tested 29" x 2.6" 29" x 2.6" 29" x 2.3" 27.5" x 2.3" 29" x 2.4"
Weight as tested 964g 1123g 945g 885g 1051g
Front, Rear, or Both Rear Front, Both Rear Rear Rear, Both
Casing Tested GRID GRID Trail GRID Trail EXO Gravity Shield
Compound Tested Gripton Gripton T9 Gripton T7 Dual Gum-X
Bead Folding Folding Folding Folding Folding
Tread Count (TPI) Dual ply/120 60 60 60 3 x 60

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Purgatory posted solid scores in most review categories. It never blew us out of the water by doing anything exceptionally well, but it also doesn't do anything poorly. The low price tag makes it a viable option for less aggressive riders or those who ride buff trails primarily. It would be easy to ignore the Purgatory due to its okay scores in most categories, but it's still a great choice for many riders, especially those who don't want to break the bank.

Performance Comparison



The girthy high volume 2.6" width along with a moderately aggressive...
The girthy high volume 2.6" width along with a moderately aggressive tread with substantial side knobs give the Purgatory solid bite when cornering.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Cornering


The Purgatory delivers solid cornering performance. The rubber compound felt supple and tacky enough to deliver traction and the shoulder knobs were quite pronounced. This is a great tread pattern for the rear.


We are big fans of this style of tire. Even though the Purgatory appears to have been designed for use in the rear, Specialized didn't skimp on the shoulder knobs. Yes, the center tread pattern is less aggressive, but the shoulder knobs appear quite similar to the Butcher, a better front tire from Specialized. This means that when it is time to wrap around a corner, this fast-rolling tire hooks up quite well. Other tires with a more rounded profile can have a more vague feel. When you are leaning into a corner, the Purgatory has a nice and defined feel. You can tell when you are on the edge riding the shoulder knobs, and you also know when you are about push beyond them. This defined and somewhat edgy feel is a desirable attribute for most riders.

The Purgatory fared best turning over rocks, hardpack, or even some fresh loam. You can push into the corner quite hard. In the loose over hard cornering scenario, which is particularly difficult to ride, the Purgatory broke free occasionally, especially under braking loads. If you can avoid braking too hard in this situation, you will enjoy a higher success rate.

The Purgatory is no slouch on the climbs. Rolling resistance is...
The Purgatory is no slouch on the climbs. Rolling resistance is minimal and it hooks up pretty well in most conditions.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Pedaling Traction


The Purgatory delivers reliable climbing traction. This isn't some wimpy semi-slick that breaks away far too easily. Instead, the center knobs are tall and substantial enough to deliver a nice amount of bite in most situations.


When working up a rocky and rooty technical pitch this tire works quite well. This is especially true in dry conditions. Add some moisture to the equation and the tire spins out far more easily. That said, there aren't many tires that stand out as excellent trying to climb wet roots.

Traction on hardpack was pleasant as well. You can feel a nice, firm, bite into a nice brown-pow situation. Steep and looser punches can be problematic. When you stand up and smash the pedals, this tire can spin fairly easily, especially in loose dirt. Again, this is a situation where few tires stand out. However, if you are careful with your weight distribution, this tire does just fine.

There are better performers in terms of pedaling traction, but the Purgatory can still hang with most.

Siped lugs deliver a nice amount of braking traction, though their...
Siped lugs deliver a nice amount of braking traction, though their shorter height and tighter spacing doesn't excel in loose conditions.

Braking Traction


When it is time to slam on the binders, the Purgatory has okay bite to it. When you are really ripping downhill, it does take noticeably longer to come to a halt with this tire compared to some more aggressive tires.


The same design properties that allow the Purgatory to be a fast-rolling and efficient tire also detract from its braking performance. The tread in the center of the tire has sipes, or notches/cuts, in it. These sipes are designed to allow for more sharper braking bite. The problem with the Purgatory is that the siped center tread is lower profile and more tightly spaced giving the lugs a little less bite. If the tread blocks were taller, this tire would have better-stopping power.

The Purgatory has a nice blend of rolling speed, cornering...
The Purgatory has a nice blend of rolling speed, cornering abilities, and braking bite.

Rolling Resistance


The Purgatory scored well in the rolling resistance category. It isn't the fastest rolling tire in the test, but it offers a great balance of rolling speed and traction. This is a high compliment. Some of the purebred semi-slick tires definitely roll quicker, but the Purgatory still posts a nice score.


This rolling speed is particularly noticeable on fast and flowy trails. This is true when grinding uphill or ripping downhill. The relatively low amount of rolling resistance paired with the low weight creates a nice, efficient, feel. Going fast is fun, and if you are used to big, aggressive, enduro tires, the Purgatory feels noticeably lighter and quicker. This can save you a good bit of energy over the course of a long ride.

We started to see a little bit of deterioration on the tread after...
We started to see a little bit of deterioration on the tread after plenty of miles.

Longevity


Throughout the testing process, we observed no signs of significant wear on these tires. We put approximately twelve rides on these tires and the lugs are still in excellent condition. No, these tires don't look brand new anymore, but they are in great shape. There is a touch of wear on the lugs where you can start to see some deterioration, but this is quite normal.


The GRID casing withstood some pretty rough riding. We tested this bike on a hardtail mountain bike. As a result, we were not exactly seeking out the rowdiest trails available. That said, we rode plenty of rocks at reasonably quick speeds. We experienced no cuts or punctures. Speaking on past experience, we have had extensive experience with the GRID casing on other Specialized tires. We have cut and punctured this casing multiple times on rough trails. This has happened to lightweight testers and heavy testers alike. Based on this experience, we think this tire is best suited to flowy to moderate terrain.

We expect the lifespan of these tires to be on-par with some of the longer-lasting tires if you can avoid cutting or puncturing the casing. That is a big if.

Installation


The Purgatory was easy to set up tubeless. We were able to seat the bead with a compressor very easily and with a tubeless booster pump. We brought the tire up to approximately 45 PSI during installing and that was all it took to seat the bead. It was easy to pull the bead into position with only one tire lever.


Value


The Purgatory is a strong value at $60. This tire is substantially less expensive than some of the other big players in the world of mountain bike tires. That savings is more than enough to get you a jug of Stan's or Orange Seal.

The new Purgatory GRID is a great all-around trail tire that is best...
The new Purgatory GRID is a great all-around trail tire that is best suited for the rear of the bike.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Conclusion


The Specialized Purgatory GRID does most things pretty well without standing out in any categories for riders who are seeking an affordable and functional rear tire. There are better options for those who frequently find themselves in gnarly scenarios, but the Purgatory will make a lot of sense for a lot of riders and terrain, without breaking the bank.

Other Versions


This tire is also available in a Control casing. The Control casing is a good bit lighter but offers less protection than the Grid casing we tested.

Pat Donahue