The latest Purgatory tread, released as part of a refresh of Specialized’s tyre line-up last year, is a different beast from previous iterations. It has been redesigned as a lightweight trail tyre offering more braking traction for faster, more aggressive riders.
Like the rest of Specialized’s new mountain bike tyres, it’s the result of the brand enlisting a new manufacturing partner nearly a decade ago.
At the same time, Specialized assumed full control of production and development to design all-new casings and rubber blends. These are denoted by the letter T followed by the numbers 5, 7 or 9, with lower numbers harder and more durable.
Specialized Purgatory GRID 2Bliss T7 tyre specifications and details
Available in the potentially faster-rolling, firmer T5 blend, as well as this slurpier and grippier T7 version, the Purgatory tread has more aggressive shoulder lugs than many similar tyres.
Edge blocks are also reinforced for more support at high lean angles and jut out nicely from the rest of the pattern. This mixes sophisticated shapes, some with sucker-like hollowed-out centres and others with lengthways sipes or cuts through knobs.
Centre lugs are laid out in a forward-facing chevron pattern with slightly offset shoulder blocks. There are plenty of sipes to aid in conforming to terrain and digging in when braking or hunting for traction while climbing.
The foldable GRID casing is reasonably lightweight and supple, but also has some (Maxxis EXO-style) reinforcement on the sides where there’s no tread to prevent snakebites, scrapes, cuts or penetrations from sharp trail surfaces.
Specialized Purgatory GRID 2Bliss T7 tyre performance
Overall grip levels are high, with a stable, planted feel that offers a controlled ride. The trade-off for such good traction and mechanical grip is not being one of the fastest-rolling tyres in this category (at least in the T7 version reviewed here).
The Purgatory is well-cushioned, and even the 2.3in version blows up big enough to isolate the ground effectively and inflates with a flattened crown. This squared-off shape steers true, rather than tipping from side to side too easily when going fast. However, laying more rubber on the ground impacts on pure rolling pace too.
In terms of having sufficient control and stability to ride aggressively, this is a true downcountry mountain bike tyre. It benefits from Specialized’s new rubber blends, taking a massive leap from the older-generation Griptons.
The older tyres felt a bit firm at the knobs when absorbing micro bumps and vibrations, while also lacking support. This meant they could squirm when really leaning into the casing under heavy front braking or slashing big berms with the back tyre under full rider weight. This behaviour has been eradicated in the new Purgatory.
The side knobs are particularly stable and supportive for a tyre with this weight, tread depth and rolling speed.
This is still a lightweight tyre though, and one thing to be aware of is that in bone-dry and Velcro-like compacted dirt, there’s so much friction and leant-over cornering grip that you can overwhelm support and stiffness in the sidewalls, unless running higher tyre pressures (in the rear especially).
Though not the fastest-rolling when compared to quick cross-country-like tyres elsewhere, the Purgatory still has excellent grip and control, no excessive bobble or wobble and a price that’s so good you can almost buy a pair for the cost of one rival premium tyre.
Specialized Purgatory GRID 2Bliss T7 tyre bottom line
The new Specialized Purgatory is completely different from previous versions of the tyre. It’s a fantastic all-rounder that’s been repositioned in aggro trail territory.
Considering the vast amounts of grip and control it delivers, it comes at an absolute bargain price too.
How we tested
- Maxxis Rekon 3C Maxx Terra EXO+ review
- Michelin Wild XC Racing Line tyre review
- Specialized Purgatory GRID 2Bliss T7 tyre review
- Teravail Ehline Light and Supple review
- Vittoria Syerra 4C review