Back in the Fall season, e*thirteen components expanded their tire lineup with a semi slick option in three different duty ratings: TRS, LG1 EN and LG1 DH. In run of the mill mountain bike verbiage, that translates roughly to Trail, Enduro and Downhill. There are varying levels of puncture resistance as well as a single compound “Plus” rubber and a dual compound “Race” rubber. In any case, that leaves a fair bit of crossover and options, but for the sake of this review, we’ll be looking specifically at the LG1 EN+ version, which sits right in the middle of the road, between trail and DH…
- 27.5″ or 29″ (tested)
- 2.35″ width
- Plus (tested) and Race compounds available
- 1 ply
- 120 tpi
- Apex side protection
- 1015 grams claimed – 1009 grams on our scale
The tread pattern on the SS doesn’t look to be a far cry from your average semi slick, although the corner knobs might not look quite as burly as some other offerings.
The weight of the SS came in just under claimed weight, within a couple of grams once you factor in the rubber band.
The LG1 SS has a folding bead in all configurations, but the single ply version is what you see here on test. If you look closely in the top right of the photo above, you can see that the side knobs are siped and ever so slightly scalloped in the corner opposite to where the knob initially bites into the ground. Those features seem to encourage some flex, which could be part of the reason for its cornering attributes…
On the trail
The Semi Slick tire arrived before an exceptionally wet winter here in Santa Cruz, so most of its testing occurred in recent months now that the trails have dried out a bit. Although it hardly needs mentioning, most riders don’t use semi slicks in muddy conditions, so we’re not focusing on that in this review. It also goes without saying that this tire is aimed at being run as a rear tire for 99% of the intents and purposes out there. Anyhow, onto performance…To be completely frank, in my opinion, I haven’t found a massive range in the ride quality and characteristics between the current crop of semi slicks available for mountain bikes. Schwalbe’s Rock Razor, Maxxis’ Minion SS and the Specialized Slaughter have all felt fairly similar, with mainly minor subtleties in how they feel when transitioning onto the side knobs, as well as when leaning hard into them. Some are better than others, but the LG1 SS was as surefooted, if not, slightly more so than many of the rest.
On first glance, I assumed that the e*thirteen LG1 SS was going to offer less cornering support due to the slightly smaller, more broadly spaced side knobs. But despite their small stature, they worked out far better than I expected. I’m no engineer, but perhaps the larger spaces allow each individual sharp edge to better bite into terra firma. All in all, semi slicks make sense for some riders, on certain terrain and in the right conditions. The one thing I did notice was that its braking and climbing traction did seem slightly better than other options that I’ve tried over the years. With that in mind, I’d be lying if I said it was vastly different from other semi slicks out there. It is worth mentioning that I was riding the harder compound “Plus” version. Climbing would surely be even better with the “Race” compound and its softer, grabbier center knobs. In terms of puncture resistance, I didn’t suffer any flats despite riding on rougher, more rocky terrain than I typically ride in Santa Cruz. I think this lends creedence to using Aramid, a very tough and interesting material, as a protective layer. That said, I did spend some review time with the Cushcore XC inserts installed. While the findings of this test pertains to the single ply EN, if you’re more prone to flats, the dual ply DH casing is likely worth a look, tacking on just 120 additional grams.
In summary, outside of slightly better climbing traction than most and a better transition in the corners than some, I didn’t find the LG1 SS wildly different than many other options out there…There’s a time and a place for a Semi Slick tire, and it’s certainly worth a look if you’re in the market for an extra fast rolling rear tire. One thing is for certain – there are a very wide range of options in terms of casing, rubber and ratings available, so you won’t have a hard time finding something suitable.