Specialized Announces Updated XC Tires

Jun 7, 2021 at 19:05
by Daniel Sapp  

Specialized have updated their XC tires with new rubber compounds, casings, and naming. The Renegade, Fast Trak, and Ground Control tires now use the same naming and T-numbering system to differentiate the rubber compounds and puncture protection offered by the tire. As with their heavier duty siblings, the 'T' indicates how much damping the rubber compound of the tire provides. The higher the number, the slower the rubber rebounds, meaning a higher number = more traction.

Where the more Enduro and DH oriented models are offered in T7 and T9, the new XC tires are available in T5, T7, or a dual compound depending on the tire and its intended use. As far as tread patterns go, the Renegade is made to be light and fast, ideal for hardpack conditions. The Fast Trak is what Specialized considers its mixed condition XC race tire, and the Ground Control offers more grip in muddier conditions and technical terrain. The tread patterns have been updated on each of the tires with a new motocross tire-inspired 'block-in-block' design which Specialized claim increases grip and stability.

The old Ground Control (Left) and the new tire (right).

The old Fast Trak (Left) and the new tire (right).


The T5 is designed to be the fastest rolling, made for good wear and tear protection. The T5/T7 combination is found only in the S-Works tire and is made to have plenty of speed with a harder T5 compound in the center and then softer T7 on the side for more traction and damping. The T7 compound is what Specialized believe is the ideal tire for a wide range of XC terrain, with maximum grip and minimum added rolling resistance.

In the S-Works model, all of the tires feature a T5/T7 compound. In the Control casing, the Renegade and Fast Trak are available in both T5 and T7 while the Ground Control is only available in T5. For the Grid casing, the Renegade is available in the T5 compound and both the Fast Trak and Ground Control come in T7.


There are three casing options for the tires. A 120 TPI 'S-Works' casing is designed to be the lightest and most supple option, also offering the least amount of protection. The 29" x 2.2" S-Works Renegade weighs a claimed 570g. The 60 TPI 'Control' casing offers more protection than the S-Works however it's still made to be light enough for competitive XC racing. The 60 TPI 'Grid' casing is made to be still plenty light and supple yet more appropriate for trail riding and everyday use. The heavier duty 'Grid Trail' and 'Grid Gravity' casings are only found in Specialized's more gravity-oriented tire models.

Tires will sell for $60 USD in the Control and Grid casing and then $70 for the S-Works. There are 29", 27.5", and 26" diameter sizes available. The tires come in width options of 2.2" or 2.35", depending on the model.

For more information, visit specialized.com


60 Comments

  • 54 2
 I don't know why all the hate on Specialized tires. They're one of the few brands still selling for a reasonable price, and they are pretty darn good (full disclosure, I haven't tried the new T-series tires, but the ones before were very good). My local stores have 10% off sales pretty regularly too.

I bet half the people posting here hating are still riding their early-2000's Minions, explaining to everyone else that you "just have to get past the transition and then they'll start to corner, i promise". Or maybe they've upgraded to the Assegai for that "so much grip it's like riding with your brakes on" feeling.

Branch out a little. Be glad a company is putting out good tires and still asking reasonable prices. You don't have to run them or like them.
  • 3 0
 I tried Specialized tires and really liked their compounds and tread patterns, but their grid casings were too fragile for everyday riding. Now they have their new grid trail, maybe that’s better, but unreliable tires suck so much, it’s hard to be encouraged to try something new and unproven when you don’t know if it will leave you on the side of the trail.
  • 3 0
 I'm a big fan of the Fast Trak as an all-around XC tire. I've tried out a lot of different options: Conti X-King, Maxxis Ikon, Ardent Race, Aspen, Kenda Saber Pro... I've yet to find a better all-rounder in terms of weight, confidence, and (perceived) rolling speed.
  • 1 0
 I ran 26" butcher front and slaughter rear, and I wasn't impressed with how they held up. I switched to maxxis dhf/dhr and couldn't be happier with the performance. Although I will say I did have a maxxis SS double down casing fail after one ride...never doing that again.
  • 3 0
 @nattyd: if you get the chance, Bontrager’s XR line, specifically the XR2 and XR3 are great as well. Raced XC on those all last year and really liked them. Light, put them through hell, no flats, very good and predictable grip, solid all around.

Just threw a set of S-Works renegades on to try on hardpack for this year. Liking them so far.
  • 1 1
 I've rode them in the past and the sidewalls do not hold up to rocky terrain. S-works, control doesn't really matter, everyone I ever tried got destroyed/flatted. If you ride flow trails or don't have a lot of rock in your area the purgatory was a good cornering tire, but needed to stay in it's arena or else failure is almost a guarantee. Just ask Jared Graves how many flat tires he had when he went to the big S, downhill casings/inserts didn't matter. Lots of other companies out there making good tires, Specialized in my experience, has been the worst.
  • 2 0
 @Rastis1: I'm an XC rider and relatively light, so probably not that hard on tires, but I've never had a problem with sidewall cuts.
  • 1 0
 @Rastis1: I've heard similar reports but their GRID sidewalls (and now the GRID Trail) have changed a bunch over the past few years, so it's hard to say definitively that their tires have issues. I had an Eliminator for a rear tire fairly recently (again not the new T-series) and it held up just fine in my area which is extremely rocky and hard on tires. Then again maybe I just got lucky with it, but I've had plenty of Maxxis tires that didn't make it more than a month...my last 2.3 Aggressor got trashcanned after the third hole in the center of the tread running @ 30psi.
  • 4 0
 Off topic a bit but my new bike came with Dissectors front and rear. It's like both minions and the high roller 2 had a baby. By far my new favorite tire. Corners 95% as good as a DHF here in the California dust/kitty litter, but rolls so much faster. Try it, you'll like it. /rant off
  • 1 1
 Because, if I want to use a Barzo, I'll buy a Barzo.
  • 1 0
 Yes, their tires seem to be the most optimized tires for grip, handling, wear and weight for the money. I have a Schwalbe HD in the front that I only buy when in sale...since they not optimized for $$ lol
  • 48 4
 so sick of the industry shoving 26" down our throats... let us ride the most pure form of mtb's: mullet 29/36 gravel fat bikes
  • 8 0
 I prefer a 24” rear and 36” front..,
Sub 400mm CS for that flickability, but retains the monster truck roll over up front.
  • 26 0
 @ReformedRoadie: You're just one step away from reinventing the penny-farthing
  • 21 0
 I'd feel like a major Tom riding those.
  • 45 0
 Take your pro-team pills and put your helmet on
  • 14 0
 @mattg95: and here you’re sitting on a carbon can far above the world
  • 15 0
 for AXS rider: your circuit's dead! There's something wrong!
  • 11 0
 @mattg95: tell my bike I love her very much - she knows
  • 3 0
 And I'm shredding in a most peculiar way And the rocks look very different today
  • 14 0
 Every other tyre company: We measure our rubber hardness using the world-wide industry standard durometer
Specialized: We measure our rubber hardness with an arbitrary scale that starts at 5 and goes to 9

Every other tyre company: We provide tyre size measurements using world-wide industry standard ISO/ETRTO
Specialized: We don't do that because we're Specialized
  • 4 0
 It worked for Schwinn...S6 S7....Oh, wait...
  • 7 0
 The Specialized Eliminator is a very underrated tire. I have been running them front and rear for the last 12 months. I love it. Rolls fast and hooks up on my soft sandy soil. No vague slippy transition to think about just consistent traction and excellent feedback when it starts to slip a little. I am a big fan. I especially like the understated hot patches that don't clash with every other color in the world.
  • 2 0
 Just really looking at the Eliminators now after your comment and they look solid. The new Ground Control in this article reminds me a bit of the Mavic Quest Pro tires that I actually really liked (now discontinued). Not many light tires with knob sizing and spacing quite like that, so I am excited to see a major brand offering something.
  • 7 0
 Those are some damn hairy tires
  • 7 0
 They’re taking the mullet theme for reals
  • 4 2
 Hairy women: yes
Hairy tyres: no way!!
Continental does exactly the same: they don't shave their tyres!
(no comment about unshaven german women, the grip is perfect)
  • 6 0
 Yes 26" sizes! It's been hell trying to find decent 26ers recently
  • 4 11
flag spaceofades (Jun 8, 2021 at 11:28) (Below Threshold)
 Keep looking, these are Specialized tires.
  • 6 0
 That Fast Track looks suspiciously similar to the Cross King.
  • 1 4
 My first modern MTB came with a 2020 Fast Trak "Sport" rear and Ground Control "Sport" front tires. Garbage, both of them. Low grip on our dry, loose-over-hard conditions. Fast-rolling on asphalt, but the hard rubber compound didn't even hold up.

I replaced them with a fully-loaded, Black Chilli B+ ProTection Cross King rear and Trail King front after 200 miles. It felt like I'd swapped out my bike for an all-wheel drive model!

The Cross Kings have been excellent tires. I've got ~650 miles on them and they show some wear, but I can't notice a difference in grip. They've held on to Conti's tubeless potion quite well, whereas I managed to get a flat on the tubed Fast Track twice in those 200 miles.

That was enough experience for me to stay away from Specialized. I have no interest in trying out their more expensive compounds. Why feed the beast when players such as Schwalbe and Conti are less scummy AND putting out better tires?
  • 2 0
 @Eiriksmal: you can't really compare the Specialized "Sport" tires to the Continental Protection level tires. If you got the same wire bead base model Continentals, you'd be simarly disappointed. Rubber compound, construction, everything except the tread pattern is different.
  • 1 0
 @Eiriksmal: I liked the X-Kings as an XC tire, but mine wept sealant like crazy.
  • 2 0
 Rode an endurance event at the weekend on my trail bike and swapped out my Magic Mary / Hans Dampf tires for the Fast Traks. Aside from a couple situations I was really impressed with the performance of the tire. Spesh did a nice job.
  • 2 0
 I've been riding Specialized tires - primarily a combo of Ground Control and Fast Trak - for almost 10 years with no complaints. Perfect for my style of riding in my area. Light for how durable they are, great grip if it's not wet (can't ride wet trails here anyway). I know people love to hate the Big S, but I look forward to trying out these new versions.
  • 5 0
 So...show of hands, who likes learning new jargon?
  • 2 0
 \m/

T 4 2
  • 5 1
 Hope they made them less... Slippery when not wet... If you rode them before you know what I mean
  • 3 0
 are we sure these arent maxxis tires with the branding scribbled out in black sharpie with specialized rewritten in silver sharpie
  • 1 0
 I was wondering myself, which tires do Specialized team riders actually race on with sharpie ink
  • 1 0
 Exactly. The Ground Control looks like a Maxxis Beaver (my favorite all time lightweight XC mud tire).
  • 2 1
 The old FastTrak was $30CAD and the new model is $60USD.. I’m sure it is a way better tyre but why not make it a different one all together. I loved the old one for throwing onto city bikes and old booze cruisers.
  • 11 0
 The $30 CAD model was the “sport” with a wire bead, didn’t play nice tubeless
  • 3 0
 Do they provide the ISO/ETRTO measurements for these this time? Or do we still guess how wide they are in real life?
  • 1 0
 Call me crazy but I love the Fast Trak Armadillo. On a wide rim its like a square XC tire with a DH casing that you can also ride on the road with to the XC trails and the road is NYC and there's glass everywhere
  • 2 0
 Try the purgatory grid. You wont be disappointed. Fast rolling and great grip. Very underrated tire.
  • 2 0
 Punk tyres, every lug of tread gets it's own little spikey mowhawk.
  • 1 0
 Lol, I checked Spec's website - They are already out of stock on some models like the S-Work Renegade
  • 1 0
 ground control rear, butcher up front is a pretty good summer combo for trail bike pedaling.
  • 2 0
 So no more 29 x 2.6 Ground Control? WTF, that's an awesome trail tire.
  • 2 1
 The S-Works and Control casing photos are identical. +$10 for the logo I guess.
  • 1 0
 120 vs 60 TPI. The Control cased tires are much tougher than the S-Works. The S-Works are a great feeling tire but they're just too fragile for the desert SW. In places that are more dirt than rock they'd be great but not here. I've been running Fast Track Controls since late '18 and have only had one I had to toss before its time.
  • 1 0
 So... Did the Renegade tread pattern stay the same?
  • 1 1
 I hope they do the tyre in a Mullet!
  • 1 0
 these actually work
  • 2 3
 what a stupid naming system
  • 35 0
 should've gone with something obvious and easy like "3c double down maxx terra" or "evolution line super trail TLE Addix Ultra soft"
  • 5 0
 @zachcalton: My #1 deterrent for trying Schwalbe tires is that it takes several days of study to sort out which model is the one I want, and I usually lose motivation before then.
  • 8 0
 @nattyd: I run a Schwalbe R.R. front and an R.R. rear. In the winter, I switch to R.R. front and R.R. rear, unless it's really muddy, then I swap out to R.R.s.
  • 1 0
 @hellanorcal: So helpful.





You must login to Pinkbike.
Don't have an account? Sign up

Join Pinkbike  Login
Copyright © 2000 - 2023. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv56 0.024105
Mobile Version of Website