The Specialized Eliminator undercuts many of its rivals on price but not performance.
Until about eight years ago, Specialized was the absolute value kings of the best MTB tyre world. It sold classic treads like the original Butcher and Purgatory that were actually manufactured by rubber masters Cheng Shin Tyres (who owns Maxxis) and offered performance to match that brand’s in-house tyres too. All for prices way cheaper than equivalent Maxxis options.
Our guess is at some point CST weren’t overly keen on bike brands like Specialized (and to an extent Trek/Bontrager) selling big volumes of MTB tyres that worked great for lower prices and made using all its know-how and rubber technology, and the relationship somehow changed.
Specialized duly went away and started working with other manufacturers to develop new products and its own proprietary rubber blends and casings. In came Grid and Gripton, prices crept up, performance nose-dived and for new Spesh owners, the first upgrade became fresh rubber.
Well, the good news is that Specialized is now totally back in the game. It’s been a long road with multiple attempts and revisions to get back to a place where everything is fully dialled, but with its latest alphanumeric rubber blends and casings, its latest products now offer true top-tier performance. Even better, with the brand back in control of production, it’s recently rolled back the clock in terms of pricing and firmly put itself back in the position of value kings.
This Eliminator is therefore literally half the price of some other brands top-level models. Yes, it does cost more money in the tougher, dual ply Gravity casings or squidgier T9 rubber blend, but Spesh’s excellent price never exceeds £50 in any version.
That wouldn’t mean much unless it delivered, but this has a great inflated shape, much tougher and more supportive casing than previously and a sensible tread pattern that is excellent on the back end. The T7 rubber compound here performs much like a MaxxTerra or Addix Orange blend, which are two of the leading rivals on the market, and there’s also the T9 version mentioned that’s incredibly sticky and well damped, but a lot slower rolling. Overall, the Eliminator reminds us a lot of a Maxxis Dissector, but with less of a severe on/off feel to the cornering grip when leant over, which will arguably suit more riders.
The Eliminator doesn’t quite clear mud or scrub off speed in the wet as well as some rear rivals, but that’s pretty much the only chink in its armour. Chalk this tyre up as a total bargain then, as we’ve gone from dreading flimsy, hard-to-judge Spesh trail tyres to being perfectly happy riding them everywhere in one generational change.
At this price, the Eliminator (and front option Butcher) are well worth a punt if you’ve not strayed from your regular big brand for years and don’t fancy eliminating your hard-earned cash too quickly.