A summer mud tyre... because it’s not always* muddy
*Disclaimer: it usually is

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 9

e*thirteen Grappler Mid Spike tire


  • • Rubber compound has superb friction and damping
  • • Very predictable grip
  • • Clears mud well 
  • • Rolling speed is OK considering intentions
  • • Decent wear life


  • • Arguably not quite as slurpy and locked on as Hillbilly
  • • More expensive than Specialized equivalent


A mud tyre that works in the dry? That’ll be the e*thirteen Grappler Mid Spike, my new fave for mixed conditions


Price as reviewed:


The latest tyre from e*thirteen is called the Grappler Mid-Spike, with sticky rubber and big aggressive lugs it’s already one of the best mountain bike tyres out there for muddy or mixed conditions

Continental Argotal Enduro Soft tyres

The new Grappler Mid Spike faces stiff competition from the likes of Contis Argotal

Think about cut down mud tyres and classic mtb treads spring to mind like the Specialized Hillbilly, and popular Maxxis UK winter choice, the Shorty. Both these tyres work great in slime and slop, with Spesh’s tyre so ridiculously grippy in the worst conditions I named it in my Gear of the Year for 2023. 

More recently launched, there is a similar kind of tyre in Continental’s latest range called the Argotal and also joining the party now is this all-new mud tyre from e*thirteen called the Grappler Mid Spike.


E*thirteen Grappler tyre

The e*thirteen Grappler is a brilliant tyre for almost all conditions

I’ve already reviewed and given a maximum 10/10 to the regular e*thirteen Grappler, which is an incredibly grippy and supple tyre in a similar vein to a Maxxis Assegai. That Grappler arguably offers even more tenacity than the Maxxis with a squared-off profile and MoPo rubber that doesn’t let go in drier/firmer conditions, whereas this new spikier Grappler variant targets loose and wet conditions more than the do-it-all remit of the regular model.

Design and specification

Being a tyre for softer conditions, this Mid Spike comes in both 29in or 27.5in, but only in 2.35in width. This is a sensible decision based on cutting through slop without floating on top and maintaining rolling speed when it’s gloopy and sticky. Don’t expect rolling speed to be XC-like though with such a spaced-out spiky tread, even if each small square tread block isn’t as tall as a full-on mud tyre.

Mopo rubber is e*thirteens stickiest, and just as importantly the damping is first rate too

Another factor in rolling speed, or lack of it, is obviously rubber compound. With the same moped racing-inspired MoPo mixture as the normal Grappler, this Mid Spike has a very tacky and squishy rubber blend with a 42a durometer rating. That number is amongst the lowest you’ll find on a commercially available tyre, so while Maxxis and Schwalbe occasionally do even softer blends for sponsored DH racers as race run-only options, wear life is presumably so poor neither brand releases them to the public.

As well as just being very soft, MoPo also has slow rebounding properties, so there is minimal pingy-ness or bouncing about if you mix it up with rock and root alongside pure mud and loam. This aspect is critical to the Grappler’s good performance and, much like the Hillbilly, ensures it’s one of the most versatile mud-focussed tyres around that can also handle harder passages of armoured surfaces or slimy roots and bedrock without spitting the dummy.

The Individual tread blocks all use cross shaped cuts to splay over hard surfaces a little better and the actual casing here is also slightly thinner than most full-on DH mud tyres for extra compliance.

The Mid Spike uses ply layers with a 90tpi weave rather than the more common, thicker (60-ish tpi) weaves. This means individual threads in the carcass are thinner than a true DH tyre, but e*thirteen also adds extra protection with an Apex bumper close to the bead to protect against snakebite damage, and a nylon liner layer to resist cuts and abrasion. The resulting product weighs almost as much as a DH one (1,265g in 29in), but should also be more compliant and deform more easily to the terrain at equivalent pressures.

Cross-marked sipes in the Grapplers lugs help it reform to the trail

The Mid Spike’s tread follows the same pattern of blocky, spaced-out lugs and heavy siping as most equivalent tyres, although they’re marginally more spread out here. The central tread ridge also has a slight directional slant, which sees each individual block angled towards the direction of rotation a bit like subtle arrows pointing forwards.


It’s a well-known ‘secret’ e*thirteen tyres are manufactured by Thai rubber brand Vee and therefore hardly surprising this tyre bears more than a passing resemblance to Vee’s Snap WLT with similar riding intentions. 

This is no bad thing though when Vee already has a well-deserved reputation for super damped, grippy rubber and that’s been further developed and refined through racing DH with Aaron Gwin and Intense Factory Racing over recent years. 

The central lugs point in the direction of travel, helping to boost rolling speed

Gwin himself reckons e*thirteen just has the edge for superior tread patterns though, which is presumably why Gwin Racing is rolling on e*thirteen rubber on his own DH team this year.

I also really rate both Vee and e*thirteen’s MoPo blend and casings, and that’s probably the only thing the multiple DH World Cup winner and I have in common. Whatever way you slice it, this tyre is very predictable and assured, and equally at home in smashed up dry loam as much as mud and slime. 

The MoPo rubber compound has brilliant friction and hold on wet or dry edges and the rolling speed here doesn’t feel that much slower than its regular Grappler sibling – it’s definitely not as much of a tortoise on hardpack and fireroads as something like a Michelin mud tyre. In slop and ruts steering never feels strange and the tyre doesn’t pull you into and out of groves or skip up harder rock-flecked berms like some mud tyres can. It’s also pretty stable and confident crossing sections of off camber roots and angular rocks.

When I tested Vee’s WLT (Wet Loose Tyre) it was in the GXE Enduro casing and weighed 1,100g. With what looks the exact same tread, I’m not sure if e*thirteen has changed anything other than the casing, but with another 150g in the tyre I found it even more damped and stable, and getting close to what I feel is the ultimate grip monster in this category for me; Spesh’s latest Hillbilly. Being thinner when inflated, the Mid Spike feels slightly more like it cuts in better at lean angles, but lacks the ultimate calmness and slurp of the Hillbilly being so glued to the ground.


If you’re looking for maximum control in foul conditions without hamstringing yourself on mixed/harder surfaces, this Grappler Mid Spike is a great option. The rubber is very grippy in all temperatures and conditions and I’ve yet to find a type of rock, clay or root it can’t handle. It’s slightly thinner and easier to turn than Specialized’s Hillbilly too, although the latter just edges it for ultimate grip and calmness in the worst conditions.


Weight:1,265g (29in)
Wheelsize:27.5 or 29in
Size : 2.35in
Colours:Black only