Cross-country riders and racers have historically leaned towards the lightest tires they could find in hopes of shaving seconds off their times; however, in light of cross-country racecourses becoming more demanding and bikes being more capable, XC tires have begun to evolve as well. Racers have been opting for wider tires than in years past for some added traction and confidence on the trail and racecourse. Specialized offers a broad range of XC-to-enduro tires. We put the S-Works Renegades to the test on our local trails.
Tech info: Specialized designed the Renegade to be the go-to tire for racers needing something efficient enough for marathon events while still being durable on moderately technical terrain. There are several cross-country tires in Specialized’s lineup, with the Renegade positioned as an all-around race tread for hardpack and rockier terrain with generous knobs in block shapes spread across the tire surface. These knob blocks are tightly spaced, with larger ones along the outside of the tire and sipes for extra traction when cornering. The transition knobs have beveled sipes to give riders more traction going in and out of corners.
There are two versions of the Renegade—the standard 2Bliss version and the lighter S-Works. Our pair of test tires is the lighter S-Works that uses a lighter casing with Specialized’s Gripton compound for added grip. The Renegades are offered in 26- and 29-inch diameters. The larger 29er tires come in a 2.1- and 2.3-inch width. Oddly enough, Specialized does not offer the Renegade in a 27.5 version. Retail price on our test tires
On the trail: We took a different approach with our testing, opting for a narrower 2.1 tire in the rear and a 2.3 up front. The 29×2.1 tire came in at 533 grams, while the wider 2.3 weighed 575 grams. Installing the tires on a pair of Enve M525 rims, they seated comfortably with a floor pump. We installed Orange Seal Endurance sealant in both tires and never had any issues with leaking during our testing.
Specialized recommends 25–50 psi for these tires. We took that recommendation and started with 25 psi in front and 26 in the rear. After our first ride, we dropped the pressures and settled at 23 in the front and 24–25 in the rear, depending on the trail. Hitting the dirt, the Renegades proved to be fast-rolling tires, with the narrower 2.1 rear tire providing minimal resistance. On our dry, hardpack trails, the Renegades provided about as much traction as we have ever had.
On steep climbs and pitches, the rear tire hooked up confidently, and it didn’t spin out or break loose when we were grinding out of the saddle. The broader shoulder knobs maintained speed in and out of corners and provided good traction when leaned over. The tread patter delivered consistent grip when transitioning in and out of corners. Our test riders felt the mixed tire widths delivered a good balance of speed and traction with a minimal weight penalty. The Renegades wore a bit quicker than we would have liked, but given the quality of the design and performance, we would give these tires a thumbs up for any aspiring XC rider or racer. www.specialized.com
-High-volume casing adds more compliance
-Short tread life
-No 27.5 version available
4 out of 5 Stars
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