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How to Pick the Right Specialized Mountain Bike Tyre

Words by Cycles UK

on 26/08/2021 11:37:57

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Specialized make some of the best mountain bike tyres around but their naming conventions can be a little confusing at times. For 2022 model year they have tyres with names such as Fast Trak Control 2Bliss Ready T5 and Fast Trak Grid 2Bliss Ready T7. Visually these tyres look very similar but have a £5 price difference between them so how do you tell the difference?

Tread patterns/tyre families

The first thing to know is the general type of tread and profile of tyre that you want:

Fast Trak – Specialized’s fast XC race tyres. They are a relatively low profile and are good for dry conditions.

Ground Control – Specialized’s all purpose trail tyre with a decent tread that can be used for long rides in all conditions.

Purgatory – a slightly lighter trail tyre which excels on softer trails but can still handle hard ground.

Butcher – is designed for aggressive trail riding and gravity focussed riding with a strong tread for accurate steering and fast cornering. There is also an downhill (DH) focussed version of this tyre.

Hillbilly – uses a slightly smaller tread which dig in better on softer ground. These are ideal as a front tyre for better grip in the mud.

Eliminator – is an enduro and ebike focussed tyre with a denser tread than the Butcher for more predictable handling on soft ground

2Bliss

Lots of Specialized tyres now are listed as 2Bliss Ready. This simply means that they are tubeless compatible. So if you want to run your tyres tubeless these are the ones to go for.

Grid, Grid Trail, Grid Gravity, Control and Sport

This is the casing which is the main body of the tyre underneath the tread. The different casings offer different amounts of rigidity to the tyre and different levels of puncture protection.

Sport Casing – normally the cheapest tyres in the range they normally come as a non-folding wire beaded tyre.

Control Casing – light and durable for XC racing.

Grid Casing – still a light tyre but with some additional strength and rigidity in the sidewalls for extra puncture protection. These tyres are good for XC and trail riding, so a good general purpose option.

Grid Trail Casing – this adds another layer of reinforcement to the Grid casing so you can run tyres at lower pressures while having more puncture protection. These tyres are ideal for enduro riding.

Grid Gravity Casing – these are the heaviest duty mountain bike tyres with a 2-ply construction. They are ideal for downhill racing.

Tyre T Numbers

For 2022 Specialized have started to add T numbers to a lot of their tyres. This indicates the elasticity and rebound of the tyre tread (how much it deforms and bounces back under pressure). This is important as your tyres act as your first level of suspension, but how the rubber behaves under pressure also dictates whether your tyre dread digs straight into the ground or moves around.

· T5 tyres are designed for XC riding. They have moderate rebound and high tensile for a faster tolling tyre.

· T7 tyres are designed for trail riding. They have low rebound and hardness.

· T9 tyres are designed for downhill riding and offer the most damping and slowest rebound for a tread that really digs into the trails.

Bringing it all together

So, to go back to our initial example we had 2 tyres the Fast Trak Control 2Bliss Ready T5 and Fast Trak Grid 2Bliss Ready T7. They are both Fast Trak tyres so will have the same XC focussed tread pattern. So what’s the difference?

Fast Trak Control 2Bliss Ready T5 – this is going to be an out and out fast XC tyre with a light casing, and moderate rebound. So ideal for racing.

Fast Trak Grid 2Bliss Ready T7 – this version will have the same tread pattern but a stronger casing for more puncture protection and a lower rebound that’s more suited towards trail riding. So ideal for more all round cross country rides.