Review: e*Thirteen TRS Plus/Race A/T Tire


The e*thirteen TRS Plus All-Terrain tire isn’t only a mouthful to say, it’s also a bit of a loose cannon. The TRS is that kid on the back of the school bus bouncing up and down in the seat, generously giving out wet willies and making weird faces at passing cars. Asking it to settle down is like asking that kid to not play the “I’m not touching you” game. With a profile as square and sharp as a military haircut, but with a personality like an ADHD-afflicted jackhammer, the TRS is, shall we say, a unique individual.

I ran the TRS in both the Race and Plus rubber compounds, with the Race up front and the Plus in the rear. The Race version uses a softer rubber on its side knobs for more traction, as well an added a layer of woven-aramid reinforcement within its sidewalls. The Race version in 29-inch weighs 1,094 grams, while the Plus version weighs 1,033 grams.

The first thing I noticed after I mounted the TRS was its profile—it’s very square. By comparison, a Maxxis Minion looks like a bowling ball. The below image compares a far-less-worn-out DHF, but a look at the angle of each tire’s side knobs says it all. The TRS really wants to sink its side knobs into dirt. And those side knobs are absolutely massive, not dissimilar to a mud spike. However, unlike a mud-only spike, the TRS’s side knobs are heavily reinforced to reduce squirm under load, and so, in theory, they should perform better on hardpack terrain, but more on that later.

Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5WT on the left, e*thirteen TRS on the right. The TRS has a much more square profile. It should be noted the DHF was run as a front tire and had less wear, but even new the TRS’s center knobs are only a couple millimeters taller than they are in this photo. Pay particular attention to the angle made by the surface of the side knobs. The e*thirteen’s knobs are positioned to dig and dig deep.

Apart from how exceptionally square the TRS looks, I was struck by how wide it is. Labeled as a “true 2.35-inch,” the TRS measured a full 2.5 inches side knob to side knob on a 27-millimeter inner-width rim. That’s only about 3 millimeters narrower than a Minion DHF 2.5WT mounted to the same rim. While a little added girth does wonders for traction, owners of bikes with clearance limitation should take note. If your frame claims only to accept a 2.4-inch tire, the TRS is probably not going to fit, or at least there will be clearance issues in mud.

The TRS is an ‘on’ or ‘off’ tire that was picky about where and when it wanted to provide traction. There were two reasons for this: the square profile and the size discrepancy of the knobs. While the side knobs of the TRS are about as burly as they come, the center blocks are downright dainty by comparison, and this created interesting tire dynamics.

When new, the center blocks have horizontal siping. The darker patches on the casing marks where the tire’s contact patch is.

In a straight line, the TRS has pretty average traction, similar to a Maxxis Ardent. The relatively shallow center blocks are fairly quick to roll, and offered adequate braking performance in most conditions. However, in wet conditions, the TRS struggled to find purchase, that is until I tilted the bike to one side; that was where things got interesting. The side knobs are so tall that tilting the bike even slightly will engage them, and with each pedal stroke and transition from bike left to right, traction ebbed and flowed, leading to the most peculiar sensation. In many situations, like off-camber climbs, the TRS hooked up better than most tires out there, but it was in a pulsing rhythm. The same thing occurred when descending. In a straight line, the TRS performed middle-of-the-pack, but hooked up well when leaned over.

As for cornering, this was where the TRS’s ADHD personality really came into play. When the trail was soft, be it from loam, sandy soil, blown berms or mud, the TRS attacked corners like a rabid jackal out for blood. Truly, the level of traction was frightening at times because there was so much of it. Especially on the front, it literally felt like the tire was following a set of rails in the ground when conditions were right. It took some adjustment as the steering was suddenly on a level of precision I’d never felt with another tire.

The side knobs are reinforced and have minimal squirm under load, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on the terrain.

Much was the same in the rear. When some tires would normally break loose, the TRS hooked up like that aforementioned bloodthirsty jackal. If you have loamy terrain or soft soil, the TRS will offer as much traction as you want. The harder you push, the more it will grip. If you’re someone that likes to kick out the rear though, things might get a little complicated. There was no middle ground for the TRS, either there was traction or there was not, and anything in between was a stuttering, explosive rodeo of a ride.

If the TRS wasn’t already wild enough, there was one particular condition where the TRS has actually scared me, and not in a good way. One of my favorite trails consists of mostly large (baby-head size) rocks with rounded edges. The tall, reinforced side knobs have very little give to them, and the along with its square profile, the TRS has very little grip on rock. A pinball game would be an accurate description of events—even with the soft Race compound, the TRS deflected left and right and it was very difficult to hold a line.

While there isn’t a lot of traction in a straight line, lean the tire a little to one side and those massive side knobs dig in.

Traction aside, the TRS’s single-ply casing held up surprisingly well, even in rocky terrain, with no pinch-flats or punctures. That being said, I did have to run upwards of 30 psi to avoid tire roll, and even then I could still feel the casing flexing under heavy loads. Luckily, e*thirteen makes the LG1 downhill tire with the same tread pattern and a dual-ply casing if you want more support. To be fair though, the on/off nature of the TRS’s traction combined with casing roll made for some spectacular feeling cornering experiences, the kind where roost was flying and someone was yelling and laughing maniacally (probably me).

The wear life of the TRS was about on par with a Schwalbe tire or a Maxxis High Roller—that is to say that it won’t be lasting very long. I believe this was due both to the rubber durometers used as well as the very open tread pattern, which put a lot of the braking stress on individual blocks and knobs, instead of spreading the load. The advantage of this, of course, is that while the tire is new, each knob or block will bite harder.

Even after completely wearing out the TRS, I’m still contemplating where it best fits into the tire world. It isn’t really a jack-of-all-trades like the Maxxis Minion DHF, but neither is it a niche tire. Rather, it falls somewhere outside the spectrum, inhabiting a world where it makes its own rules, kind of like that hyperactive kid at the back of the bus. You never really know what they’re going to do next, but you can count on it being a pretty wild ride.

For more information, visit e*thirteen’s website here.