The Specialized Cannibal tire of the 1990s has been reinstated in a bid to place the Specialized Gravity team members, Loic Bruni, Finn Iles and Christopher Grice, atop World Cup Downhill podiums. Though the official launch comes only today, the tire was seen on the Specialized Demos of all of the abovementioned racers at Lourdes back in March, where Finn and Loic placed 2nd and 3rd respectively – not bad for a first outing.
It is no secret that the Specialized Gravity riders have historically shied away from running Specialized’s own tires come race day, with sharpied-out Minions having been spotted underneath them on more than one occasion. Seemingly, the brand has never kicked up too much of a fuss about that. Now, things may be different, with Specialized having invested a lot of resources in the creation of the new Cannibal.
Specialized Cannibal Downhill Mountain Bike Tire
- Intention: Downhill Mountain Biking
- Intended Conditions:
- Casings: Grid Gravity
- Compound: Gripton T9
- Sizing: 29″ x 2.4″ and 27.5″ x 2.4″
- Pricing: $80 USD / €75
You’ll be pleased to see the new Specialized Cannibal bears no resemblance to the Cannibal of the 90s, except for the fact that its black and round, of course. The tread pattern of the original Cannibal looked like it had been literally thrown together, at random, with a striking disregard for symmetry. This latest tread pattern is a different beast altogether.
At the risk of stating the obvious, those tread blocks are large, presenting a lot of surface area to contact the ground; that’s true of both the center tread blocks and the side knobs. We were struck by the distinct lack of siping at the edge. Jorge Mendes, a Specialized Tire Engineer who has been working on the Cannibal since the beginning, said this was a specific request made by the Gravity team riders. Siping is usually used to introduce a bit of flex into a tread block, or to add an additional edge against which to grip, but Loic specifically was firm in his request for side knobs with very little flex for maximum cornering stability and improved braking traction.
At the center tread, we see three distinct blocks. First, a very broad single block, subtly shaped like an arrow, with siping running both in the direction of travel and perpendicular to it. Next up is a pair of narrow, elongated blocks, each with a sipe running perpendicular to the direction of travel. The third is a much broader pair of blocks, similarly siped, but with a more dramatic rearward flair, presenting more surface area at the trailing edge for braking. All center tread blocks see a subtle ramp at their leading edge.
The Specialized Cannibal is, for now, only available in the Grid Gravity casing, a dual-ply of 60 TPI fabric with an Apex inserts at the side walls extending up from the tire bead to improve side wall stability and to protect against snakebite punctures. The Apex insert is something the Specialized Tire Engineers were forced to pay pay attention to following some conflicting feedback from team riders. A rider would complain about the tire sidewalls being too stiff at one location on one day, then complain about the sidewalls being too flexible and wallowy on another occasion; on both occasions, the same tire casing was being tested.
Specialized chopped up the tires in a bid to understand this, finding that the connection between the Apex insert and the tire bead wasn’t always as they would like it to be. Jorge Mendes tells us that this connection is critical in determining the flex properties of the inflated tire. To tackle this inconsistency issue, Specialized has worked closely with their supplier to develop new tooling ensure the casing fabrication process incorporated the Apex insert correctly and consistently for every batch of tire.
Throughout the development process, the team also tested tire casings with an Apex of varying heights; three heights were tested but the team settled on 23mm, as they felt it produced the best ride feel.
Pricing & Availability
The Specialized Cannibal is available now in the Grid Gravity Casing only with the Gripton T9 compound. Get it in 29″ x 2.4″ or 27.5″ x 2.4″ for $80 USD / €75.