Specialized’s Purgatory tyres are precisely the sort of tyre that makes British riders perk their ears up and pay attention. They’re fairly large – these are 2.3in diameter 29in tyres, and they certainly have some heft to them – although they come up narrower than, for example, Schwalbe’s enormous Hans Dampfs but then, so do most things.
Still, there’s plenty of carcass to play around with. The tread pattern is pronounced; there’s little concession to rapid rolling here, and apparently the pattern has been optimised thanks to Specialized’s application of Finite Element Analysis to the original Purgatory, which results in (and I quote) “a faster, grippier tyre for any All-Mountain excursion”.
The Grid and the Control are essentially two slightly different tyres, with the same tread pattern. They’re both tubeless-ready; all they need is an appropriately treated rim, some tubeless valves and some sealant, and they both have a slightly harder centre compound of 60a rubber, with a softer 50a shoulder. This should in theory allow them both to have relatively low rolling resistance and everyday wear, while giving superior grip in the corners when you’re cranking hard and really need it.
The main difference (indeed, we think the only difference) between the two is in the sidewall. The Control has a relatively thin, pliable sidewall – which can, of course, do much to characterise the ride, and contributes to the relatively low weight of the tyre. The Control 29in tyre has a claimed weight of 755g – ours weighed in at 765g, so perfectly respectable.
The Grid, by contrast, has extra meat added to the sidewall, which should have a few implications. Firstly, it increases the tyre weight – the Grid 29in tyre has a claimed weight of 795g (ours weighted a somewhat more hefty 828g), but if you can cope with the small impact that an increase in rotating mass will have on your bike handling, that extra meat purports to increase the cut-resistance of the tyre by 23% compared to the Control. We’d also expect it to stiffen the tyre carcass somewhat, and change the ride characteristics.
And that’s pretty much what happened. Out on the trail, the Purgatory in both flavours was excellent at finding grip. Rolling resistance was acceptable; there’s no way these tyres are ever going to feel flat-out fast, but that’s not really what they’re for. The harder 60a central ridge keeps things grippy, especially in mud – of which we’ve had plenty.
Cornering was also impressive, although I noticed on the Control that those thin sidewalls have a habit of squirming a little if you run lower pressures in your tyres. For this reason the Control is not really a tyre that feels very comfortable on the newer generation of wider rims with their attendant lower pressures. The extra weight of the Grid makes all the difference in this context. That extra material stiffens the sidewall and lets you run lower pressures with more confidence.
Which of these tyres you will prefer depends on your riding style, of course, but if you run higher pressures you’ll not find much to complain about with the Control. Those of you who, like me, prefer a little more support at lower pressures – or regularly tear carcasses – would do well to look to the Grid as a worthy contender for the do-it-all crown.
|Product:||Purgatory Control and Grid tyres|
|Price:||Control £30.00, Grid £35.00|
|Tested:||by Barney for four months|