Specialized Clutch SX Tires - Review

May 1, 2010 at 22:08
by Dave Mackie  

A while ago a friend of mine bought a wheelset on ebay that came with some Specialized Clutch SX tires already installed. He didn't think much about them, figuring they were OEM throwaways, but out of curiosity he left them on for a ride and was pleasantly surprised. A few more rides and he was even more impressed. After his glowing recommendation I decided to try a pair of these tires for myself, inside you can read about my impressions.

Read on...


This is Specialized's "freeride tire" and is 2.3" wide and uses their SX casing. The sidewalls would be considered a 1.5 ply, much tougher than a standard single ply. Weighing in at 970 grams, it is a bit heavier than your standard single ply tire, but at least 200-300 grams lighter than a full DH tire. If you're interested in saving weight, your wheels and tires are the most beneficial place to do it. The Clutch SX uses a dual rubber compound, 45a on the side knobs and 50a on the center knobs. That's pretty soft, I figured that would give them great traction, but lessen the tire's life. More on that later. Size wise, the 2.3" Specialized is very similar to 2.5" Maxxis tires. I run all my tires tubeless on Stans' strips. Bryan runs Mavic tubeless rims. Both setups worked well with the Clutch SX. We both use compressors for inflating tubeless setups so I can't speak for the ease of setting them up with a hand pump.




Dry Conditions

These tires hook up like glue in dry conditions. If you're wondering about grip, check out the sidewall flex in this photo. That's at 30psi, these tires are gripping hard and you never get the feeling that they are rolling over. I had these tires on my bike when we did the Race at the Ranch preview and found them to work very well in the dry, dusty conditions.




Wet Roots, Rocks and Loam

The Clutch SX works really well in wet conditions, the rubber is very soft and clings to wet rocks and roots like gum to the underside of a desk. Riding in the mud doesn't pose any issues, although they do seem to pack up quickly (while simply rolling along), but they clear out quickly as well (once back up to speed). I found them to be very predictable when starting to drift and rarely found myself in an uncomfortable situation that I wasn't expecting.

Here's a few shots of Bryan rolling some wet roots, rocks and loam. Sometimes you just have to know your tires are going to be there for you, and the Clutches never let him down. Braking on the wet rocks and roots didn't phase the tires, there's tons of traction. I'm assuming this is mostly due to the soft rubber compound and siped center knobs. The same goes for off camber roots and slopes. The softer side knobs grip like there's no tomorrow.





The tire is tough enough that you never have to shy away from any terrain, big or small. Here Bryan launches a burly line.
The tire is tough enough that you never have to shy away from any terrain, big or small. Here Bryan launches a burly line.



Climbing, Rolling Resistance and Tire Wear

If there can be a con to these tires it might be that they are slightly slow rolling. It's a bit noticeable on longer fire road like climbs, but I'll gladly take that trade off for the wicked traction they offer. Increasing the air pressure lessens the rolling resistance, but reduces traction as well. I run them around 30-32 psi and found it to be good on both characteristics. But if there's yet another pro, it would be tire wear. This took me completely by surprise since I thought for sure that the soft compound would result in quick wearing tires. I've got a couple of months on them so far and they look like new. Bryan has a full season on his set, he figures 40+ rides and they are still in fine shape. See below for a comparison photo of a brand new Clutch SX compared to season old tires on either side of it.

Brand SX in the middle with season old tires on each side
Brand SX in the middle with season old tires on each side

To summarize, Bryan and I both really like this tire. It is definitely an extremely good "do everything" tire as long as you are willing to sacrifice a bit of climbing efficiency for great traction during the descents. They exhibited great traction in all the conditions we had them in, and we really can't find anything worthy of a complaint. If you're building a light freeride bike and can't afford to cut corners on reliability or deal with pinch flats, these are definitely worth checking out. MSRP is $60 USD and considering the fantastic wear we're seeing so far, I'd say it's a bargain.

See more at Specialized's website.
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74 Comments

  • + 4
 I agree 100% with this review.

Specialized Clutch SX is an amazing tire that just won't stop gripping. Seems to grip better in the intermediate area of the knobs compared to a minion.
  • + 1
 What bike is that in the photos?
  • + 1
 Intense SS
  • + 2
 A full season (he did 40+ rides) hmm. 40 rides really isn't squat for a tire. You can do 40 rides in less than a month and a half if your riding every day.

Now, I do have about 175-200 rides on my specialized pro 2.4 dh tire and it is only now wearing to the point I gotta change it, just because I'm starting to break loose if I'm really diggin it into turns. other than that rides decent still. Specialized tires are no joke people. They are better than anything else I have tried, including maxxis.
  • + 2
 " A full season (he did 40+ rides) hmm. 40 rides really isn't squat for a tire"

I'd be stunned to get 40 proper rides out of an ST Highroller
  • + 0
 I got probably 300 "proper" 10 miles full blown out rock garden infested DH runs out of my Specialized pro tire on the front, and about 250 rides of the same out of my 24in panaracer DH rear tire.

40 proper rides for a tire is complete and utter bs. So basically 2 days in Whistler and you need to buy new tires. That's absolute shear and utter bullshit. You should be able to throw some tires on and ride them for a full season, or if you are losing traction maybe 2 pairs a season. But say running 50 pairs of tires in a Whistler season (at 140 a pair... do the math and your absolutely smoking crack, as that's 7,000$ in tires for one season). Race tires are different as people who are sponsored don't shell out coin for them. Everyone I know who is serious about racing and doesn't get free rubber buys shit that lasts near an entire season, as they have to have backup rubbers on hand incase one breaks (that's what she said).

And "proper" what do you mean by that. You saying us Cali guys don't ride "proper" rides? We shred our gear as hard as we can, in some of the most notorious riding conditions around.(there is a reason most pros speak about CA just as highly as Whistler and North Shore).
  • + 2
 Well you certainly seem furious. 2 days racing at fort william and a couple of uplifts saw a brand new highroller 2.5 turn into barely more than a slick. It worked great while it lasted though.

What is this "2 days in whistler" nonsense, 2 days isn't 40 rides, it's 2 rides.
  • + 0
 Wait, how is 2 days 2 rides? When your shuttling or chair lifting, each run = a ride. I wouldn't call a full day at whistler a single ride, especially when most people don't ride 100% of the day and take breaks etc btw whether at the bar, in the spa/pool etc. Guessing you haven't been to Whistler.

Also if your burning through a set of tires in 2 days at Fort William, you really need to learn how to stay off your brakes in rock gardens, basically chunking your tires into shreds. 2 days of berms won't kill a tire, and 2 days of rock gardens won't either, but basically skidding through rock gardens definitely will.

PS, judging by the gouges and dents in your hub splines in your pictures... there is definitely something wrong with the riding to cause that.
  • + 2
 maybe you two can take your bickering somewhere else
  • + 0
 It's the net. What else is this site for. Arguing, discussion, ideas, and opinions. You don't like personal opinions or debates (heated or not), go to China. Sure you'd like it there.
  • + 3
 I wouldn't really care what you two douchebags bitch about but unfortunately since it was my review I get notification every time one of you has to try and out needledink the other.
  • - 2
 Then why didn't you just say that "I wrote this article and am trying to keep it's integrity up comment wise" or something adult wise.
And the needledink comments generally come with people lacking in that area. If you can write good articles, why not present yourself as a professional adult in the comments, even when mediating between discussions.

And lastly, I could care less if you get a notification everytime someone posts. If you've bothered to read the integrity of posts on pinkbike over the past 6 years, you'd immediately know to use a secondary email for notifications.
  • + 2
 feel free to just refer to my last comment again
  • + 1
 Good review on a tire that I wouldn't have considered otherwise. Also great photos -- it's great to see the the fantastic scenery that I always seem to miss when riding down! Too bad the last rock drop wasn't more clear - it would've been POD worthy.
  • + 2
 I'd really like to see more info from Specialized on the "SX" casing. Their website is very lacking, and I just don't know if I would trust anything less than a full 2-ply in rocky, dh/freeride applications.
  • + 1
 Nice Review Dave! Surprised to see that from Specialized. I've tried the Eskars on other all mountain bikes and found the rubber too hard and sketchy. They were also 2.3. I guess they wanted a better climbing tire for dedicated all mountain. You can't have both. Awesome shots too. Must have taken some time to get those in the dark wet forest!
  • + 1
 i got a pair of them running tubeless at about 20psi and been doing very well all winter in very muddy condition, apart from they are bit heavy they are nearly perfect!!! but suppose u cant have a super light DH tyre with that level of grip and free ride feel!!!
  • + 1
 This comment may be years to late, but I have used clutch sx as a rear tire on my enduro for the past few years and I love them! They arn't very fast but the grip I have with them going uphill is amazing. The wear is great, I usually get 400-600 miles per tire in the rear. I only go to the bike park maybe twice a season, I mainly ride trail. They are out of production now, I snagged 4 from the bikes tores a little while back, I should be set for nearly another 2,000 miles of riding on the bike! I've used them in the wet super slick muddy jungles of hawaii to the super dry high desert of bend, california, the rock and root ridden trails of the north east, all conditions across the country and I am never disappointed with them.
  • + 1
 Hia

tubeless!?

I tried the Clutches for the first time on my Enduro 05 today. Super grippy, very draggy on the tarmac to the trail but I can live with that for the grip. I measured them as just a touch smaller than 2.5 Minions [maybe 5mm narrower] and, I think, almost as grippy as a supertacky and way grippier than Maxxpro compound.

I mounted them to Mavic 823 rims and after an hour of trying to get one to blow up tubeless I gave up and put in a tube. The beads seem pretty lumpy but actually I never got as far as asking them to seal because they never blew onto the rim.

I'm pretty long term tubeless [4-5 years no-tubes] normally I use Stan's rim-strips or my Mavic EX823's, I've mounted many tyres, proper UST tyres, "tubeless ready" versions and standard "non tubeless" inc Maxxis and Michelin and get on fine with almost every tyre I've tried.

But these just would not have it. Any tips please?

Maybe I got a pair with particularly lumpy beads. In fact, though, as they never blew out of the fitting groove in the middle of the rim I don't suppose that's it.

Strange, Bontrager Big Earl Wet ARC Tubeless Ready just blow up immediately (with the compressor of course) on those same rims. I did note that the Clutches asre quote loose, as in real easy to fit without tyre levers.

Please tell me how to get a seal on a Mavic tubeless rim guys.


thanks lots
  • + 3
 i got the clutches on my bike and they are really awesome, 300 grams lighter than a maxxis dh casing tire for about half the price. Best bang for the buck
  • + 1
 dude i bought the SX trail I the bike came w/ both the clutch and the chunder, i ride all mtn and freeride w/ a touch of downhill in the spirit, and seriously the mix of the two are unbelievable, i dont think i wanna ride other tires ever again, by the way us U.S. folks pedal to the top, and have all the energy to go back down and ride back up and do it again stinkylover, plus the fact all mtn is great for endurance!!!! Big Grin
  • + 1
 Funny, i just put up a wanted post looking for some of these under the wanted ads. I have a set of chunders that i love but i really want to try the clutch SX in the front. I'm just not willing to pay $80 US per tire from local dealers. Any idea where i can find some of these for less than that pm me.
  • + 1
 these came on my new bike, have only been for about 6 rides, 1 in the wet, and they seem GREAT, so much better then the ones on my old xc bike thats for sure!! not running tubless though...
  • + 4
 Nice review Dave. I might just be giving those tires a try myself.
  • + 41
 Swap them for a pair of Specialized Chunders, not only are they SUPER RAD, mine appear to have survived almost 4 years of abuse, plus i can constantly tell people i chundered everywhere.
  • + 8
 That made me smile
  • + 2
 My girlfriend has been on Chunders for about 18 months and also swears by them. Great for freeride and downhill, not too heavy either Smile
  • + 2
 all about s-works paddle tires in the front! great for high speed flat turns in dust and mud.. tho i probably lost 5 mph due to rolling resistance.. no joke
  • + 2
 The Chunders are tits for sure! It's just easier to find High Rollers at a good price...
  • - 1
 Yea i have both and the chunders ride similar but have way less roll resistance, either way they exceeded my expectations
  • + 4
 maxxis minion Smile
  • + 1
 I ride clutch front and a chunder rear(DH casing) on my demo 7 and chunders front and rear on my sx trail and will be swapping out the front chunder for a clutch because there is such a grip difference between the two.
  • + 3
 I was really surprised at how little they wore after a season
  • - 1
 Don't use the SX version for DH. My front one came of the rim (ex721) in schladming last year blocking the front and sending me head first to a full stop within 3meters. Took 3 months to repair my neck. Excelent allaround tire with amazing grip in wet conditions.
  • + 16
 Were you running the stock neck? Ive heard people upgrading to ride schladming
  • + 1
 yeah he's upgraded to ti bolts in there now, lighter AND stronger! but seriously though that sucks man, glad to hear you're all healed up though
  • + 1
 is this scottish humor?
  • + 2
 ach aye the noo
  • + 1
 word b
  • + 1
 Would it be possible to know where the photos from "Wet Roots, Rocks and Loam" section were taken?

That trail looks pretty cool.
  • + 1
 Vic's at Burke
  • + 1
 Thank you. I've been only once at Burke but I'm going to go back just for this trial.
  • + 1
 iam riding this tires too. with ust rims. they are realy like gum. much bether then my minions .
  • + 2
 After my Chunders wear out, I might just give these a try.
  • + 1
 no no... stay with the chunders... these are great, but the chunders are better. At least that's what I think... ha.

Cheers,
Beer
  • + 1
 Yeah, I've had the Chunders for a while now, couldn't be happier with them. They work a treat in any kind of terrain, awesome tyres. Wink
Might wanna try them out, just to differ.

Cheers Beer
  • + 1
 great review and they look and you say, feel good for the price hopefully i can get some of ebay! Smile
  • + 1
 Thing is for one in the uk they cost as much as a pair in the US, would have tried them otherwise.
  • + 1
 You can get these for £22.50 at Evans Cycles here in the UK
  • + 1
 cheers mate might give them a blast then
  • + 1
 I know I will once I get through my backlog of spare tyres!
  • + 1
 I am interested in this tyre to replace my minion in order to save some weigh. Is it as wide as a minion dhf 2.5 ?
  • + 1
 they are about the same size.
  • + 1
 Thank's !
  • + 0
 I have never likes specialized tires but when i saw this review and i will have a go tup
  • + 1
 I want to shot photos on that trail! Nice shots!
  • - 1
 I still like Maxxis more just for the fact they say Maxxis on the side Big Grin Looks cool. as eraz77 said though, good in the wet, maybe ill try them in winter.
  • + 1
 Been riding the Clutch SX 2.5's on my DH bike this year and love them.
  • + 1
 Never judge a book by it's cover!
  • + 1
 got them!
  • - 2
 Work well for dry dusty conditions... well wont be much use for Scotland then Razz , look like very good tyres none the less,
  • + 1
 scroll down yo

"The Clutch SX works really well in wet conditions, the rubber is very soft and clings to wet rocks and roots like gum to the underside of a desk."
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