Review | Specialized connects you to earth with the Ground Control GRID 29×2.3 tyre

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Wil reviews the latest version of the venerable Specialized Ground Control tyre

I seem to have been riding a lot of chunky tyres lately. I’d say it has a lot to do with the influence of living in a steep valley amongst the Pennines for the last couple of years, where the ‘eclectic’ Todmorden weather ingrains a just-in-case attitude into every mountain biker who lives within it. The result seems to be equipping oneself with a lot more bike, more suspension, and more tyre than is often needed. But when the skies inevitably turn grey, unleashing sopping mizzle on the previously-not-muddy trail before you, it’s always a good idea to have a bike (and rubber) that’s ready for it.

mud snow pedaling innovations catalyst flat pedal orange stage 4 winter
We’re not in Todmorden anymore Toto.

Now I’m back in Oz though, I’ve been re-familiarising myself with the many dusty and rocky hardpack trails around my hometown of Bendigo. These are trails where the durability and stickiness of tyres are still important, but given it hasn’t rained substantially since December (I’m typing this in late-April), the need for mud-cutting traction is basically non-existent.

To suit my local conditions, I decided to seek out something a little faster and better suited to these dry and rocky trails. The combo I’ve been rolling on for the past few months? A Specialized Fast Trak out back, and a Ground Control up front – both with the GRID casing and in a 29×2.3in size.

specialized ground control tyre
The latest Ground Control tyre features Specializeds’ own Gripton rubber compound.

Major Tom To Ground Control

The Ground Control is without doubt one of the most storied names in the history of Specialized. As one of the original high-performance off-road tyres in existence, the Ground Control was launched in 1986 alongside input from WTB. Things have changed a little bit since then, though the modern day Ground Control aims to encapsulate the same spirit of versatility of its forefather.

Compared to the last version, the latest Ground Control gets a completely reworked tread pattern that Specialized says has ‘CAD engineered knob shapes‘, which I think is a good thing. Overall the tread is spaced a little bit more tightly, and there have been substantial changes to the shape and arrangement cornering blocks too.

Within the broader Specialized off-road tyre range, the Ground Control slots in between the Fast Trak (a hardpack XC tyre) and the Purgatory (a toothier loose-condition trail tyre). It’s billed as an all-condition trail tyre that you can ride year-round through all the weathers.

specialized ground control tyre tire 29x2.3 grid gripton
The Ground Control uses smaller tread blocks, but more of them.

Specialized Ground Control GRID 29×2.3in

Depending on where you are in the world, there are a number of different versions available in the Ground Control. The Ground Control mostly exists in a 2.3in width in both 27.5in and 29in diameters, where it’s available with or without the heavier GRID casing.

Additionally, the Ground Control can also be had in 2.1, 2.6 & 3.0in widths, and there’s even a fat bike version.

  • Size tested: 29×2.3in
  • Gripton rubber compound
  • 60tpi casing w/GRID reinforced sidewalls
  • Casing width: 2.33in (59.14mm)
  • Width at tread: 2.28in (58mm)
  • Claimed weight: 810g
  • Confirmed weight: 857g
  • RRP: $75 AUD / £42
specialized ground control tyre tire 29x2.3 grid gripton
GRID refers to reinforced sidewall protection.

Installation Notes



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Review Info

Product:Ground Control GRID 2Bliss Ready
Price:$75 AUD / £42 per tyre
Tested:by Wil Barrett for 3 months

Comments (2)

    It’s a tyre I like on the rear, but have never tried it on the front. I tend to go with a Purgatory up there, for exactly the reasons mentioned – there’s not enough in the way of cornering blocks on the Ground Control.

    Regarding the comments about sidewall burliness, yes, Spesh do make the black diamond casing on beefier tyres, though I wasn’t aware it was available on the Ground Control. The GRID casing is the burlier version, with tougher sidewalls than the standard 2Bliss version. I’m a fairly big ‘hardcore hardtailer’, and these have done a good job of standing up in plenty of tough terrain for me.

    I’d love to see a review of a back to back test with the 1986 version. That was ‘the’ tyre to have back then…..

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