specialized fast trak tyre tire grid 29x2.3 gripton

Review | The Specialized Fast Trak GRID 29×2.3 is a fast AND tough XC tyre

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Wil reviews the Specialized Fast Trak; a fast-rolling XC tyre with a tough GRID casing

When it comes to choosing race-worthy components for XC and marathon bikes, the traditional approach has been to go as light as possible. After all, it’s your legs that have to push the extra weight up the hills and around the race course. And surely everyone knows that lighter bikes accelerate faster right?

However, not every XC race course is a beautifully groomed magic carpet ride. At the World Cup level, race tracks are getting more technical and more demanding, both on the rider and on the bikes. And while having a sub-500g race tyre might be good for acceleration, it’s not exactly an advantage if you’re having to stop and repair a puncture after your paper-thin sidewalls have been slashed open.

That’s where this GRID-reinforced version of Specialized’s speedy Fast Trak tyre comes in.

specialized fast trak tyre tire
The box-fresh Specialized Fast Trak with the reinforced GRID casing.

On The Fast Trak

A popular and well-established name in the Specialized tyre lineup, the Fast Trak is ideally suited to XC riding and racing in dry and hardpack conditions. The tyre itself is engineered in the company’s German office, and like the rest of the Specialized tyre range, it’s manufactured in-house, and not under license by a different company.

Compared to the previous version, the latest tread pattern features more consistent edging blocks to bolster the Fast Trak’s cornering traction. It’s also now equipped with Specialized’s own Gripton rubber compound, which according to Big Red, gives the tyre increased grip and a ‘livelier feel’.

As for the wider lineup, the Fast Trak slots right in between the Renegade (the lightest and fastest option) and the Ground Control (an all-condition trail tyre).

specialized fast trak tyre tire
The Fast Trak comes in a load of different sizes. I’ve been testing the 29×2.3in option.

Specialized Fast Trak GRID 29×2.3in

Options vary depending on the market, though the Fast Trak is primarily available in 2.1in and 2.3in widths, in both 27.5in and 29in diameters. You can get it with a standard casing, the GRID-reinforced option we’ve got here, or in a super light S-WORKS version that drops significant weight at the expense of durability.

Here are the specs for the tyre I’ve been testing over the past few months;

  • Size tested: 29×2.3in
  • Gripton rubber compound
  • 60tpi casing w/GRID reinforced sidewalls
  • Casing width: 2.34in (59.51mm)
  • Width at tread: 2.23in (55.68mm)
  • Claimed weight: 720g
  • Confirmed weight: 755g
  • RRP: $75 AUD / £42
specialized fast trak tyre tire grid 29x2.3 gripton
The latest Fast Trak gets Specialized’ proprietary Gripton rubber compound.

Installation Notes

I’ve mostly been running the Fast Trak as a rear tyre, with a Specialized Ground Control GRID up front. This seems to be a pretty popular combination for Specialized – it specs this exact setup on the Epic EVO. The Rockhopper hardtail also gets the Ground Control/Fast Trak combo.

I’ve tested the Fast Trak on a few different bikes, including my Santa Cruz Blur longtermer, the Giant Trance 29, and the Merida One-Twenty. It’s lived on a Santa Cruz Reserve 27 rim for most its life, but it’s also hung out with the Giant TRX 1 wheelset, and more recently popped onto this FSA Gradient WideR wheel.

specialized fast trak tyre tire grid 29x2.3 gripton merida one-twenty
Fitted to the back of a Merida One-Twenty test bike, but you can run the Fast Trak front or rear.

Internal rim widths have varied from 27-30mm. On the current FSA rims (29mm wide internally), the Fast Trak’s tread measures up at 2.23in, with the casing bulging out a little wider at 2.34in. This is pretty typical for an XC tyre.

The profile is fairly round, though it’s not quite as rounded as the Ground Control. Like the Ground Control, the Fast Trak is directional and can be run front or rear.

To handle our viciously rocky local trails and my 70kg riding weight, I’ve run the Fast Trak between 26-27psi.

specialized fast trak tyre tire grid 29x2.3 gripton
On a 29mm internal rim width, the Fast Trak blows up pretty true to size.

On The Trail

Coming off much chunkier rubber lately, the pickup of the Fast Trak is immediately noticeable. This is a fast-rolling tyre, with a very consistent centre tread pattern that ensures a smoother ride on hardpack surfaces.

As well as being positioned closely together, the centre tread blocks are ramped on their leading edge, which helps to ease their arrival at the contact patch. The transition knobs are also ramped on their leading edge, further decreasing rolling resistance.

specialized fast trak tyre tire 29x2.3in grid gripton
Closely-stacked blocks through the centre aim to maintain rolling speed.

The Fast Trak excels in dry and dusty conditions. It has a consistent feel to it, with that slightly rounded profile giving it a very comfortable feel as it’s leant over. And while the rectangular cornering blocks aren’t particularly deep, because they are quite long they maintain stability pretty well when you’re pressing hard into a turn. On dusty and rocky hardpack trails, I was plenty happy with the Fast Trak’s cornering nous.

When it does reach its limits, I found the Fast Trak to behave predictably as it stepped out. When you do start sliding, those rectangular cornering blocks help to latch on and push the tyre back on line. I recall plenty of drifting action with the Fast Trak on the rear, but I can’t recall ever sliding out completely.

2019 giant trance advanced pro 29er 1 wil australia
The Fast Trak has come in handy for some XC racing in around my local trails. Photo: Brent Mackenzie.

When things get rockier, the Fast Trak does a commendable job of holding its composure. A lot of this has to do with its flexible 60tpi casing, which provides a high degree of damping with superb comfort on rough trails. Something that hardtail riders will no doubt appreciate.

Climbing traction has also been excellent. Specialized has scalloped out the each of the tread blocks, which boosts the number of micro-edges that are able to claw at the trail when you’re out of the saddle and laying down the power. Even when climbs are loose and blown-out, as long as I kept on top of weight management, the Fast Trak kept driving with minimal spin-out.

Though the Fast Trak is fantastic in the dry, it does find its limits in wet conditions. Rapidly. That’s hardly a surprise though, since the knobs are just too shallow and too closely spaced to really reach down into the mud. And though the soft Gripton compound does pretty well on wet rocks, there’s not enough purchase there to hold on in the slop.

specialized fast trak tyre tire grid 29x2.3 gripton
Close encounters with the slashy-rock kind.


Over 500km of testing, including a 50km half-marathon race and a 65km point-to-point backcountry trip across some very rocky terrain, I’ve had zero problems with the Fast Trak.

It has aired up tubeless on all rims tested, though it’s worth noting that the pliable casing may require more encouragement in some cases. I haven’t had any ride-ruining punctures, though there is a small one through the crown of the tyre which is currently holding with sealant.

There are a couple of light scores on the sidewalls, and there’s also some wear starting to develop on the inside edge of the cornering blocks. That’s compounded by the fact I’ve been using the Fast Trak as a rear tyre on the back of a couple of trail bikes, so it was always destined for a hard life.

specialized fast trak tyre tire grid 29x2.3 gripton
The edging blocks have had a hard time on the back of a few different trail bikes.

A week before fitting the Fast Trak, I did write-off a 2.3in Specialized Purgatory GRID rear tyre after walloping the rear wheel into a sharp embedded rock. Consequently, I have been a little more cautious with the Fast Trak.

Having ridden the regular non-GRID version of this tyre though, I can say confidently state that the GRID reinforcement adds noticeable stability. It’s still a very supple tyre though, so I’d recommend starting at a higher pressure to begin with before attempting to go super low.

Even on the front, I wouldn’t want to go much lower than 24/25psi at my weight. Otherwise it just gets too wobbly at those lower pressures. For this reason, I’d find it hard to recommend the non-GRID version of this tyre. The 100g weight drop may be worth it for a race-day wheelset, but for everyday XC riders, the GRID option is the one to go for.

specialized fast trak tyre tire grid 29x2.3 gripton
The 2.3in GRID-equipped Fast Trak hits the balance points nicely.


At 755g, the GRID-equipped Fast Trak isn’t exactly the lightest XC tyre out there. And purists might also be put off by the 2.3in size, though you can always go for the 2.1in width if you prefer a narrower tyre.

In my experience though, the 2.3in Fast Trak rolls plenty quick enough, and that supple high-volume casing gives it very comfortable ride quality that’ll help fight off fatigue on longer XC rides and multi-day marathon events.

You could run it front and rear for a reliable race setup on hardpack XC trails, or alternatively, stick it on the back of a trail bike for a drift-friendly injection of speed. Either way, the Fast Trak is a good performer.

Review Info

Brand: Specialized
Product: Fast Trak GRID 2Bliss Ready
From: specialized.com
Price: $75 AUD / £42 per tyre
Tested: by Wil Barrett for 3 months

Comments (4)

    Nice to have some more choice for some aggressive trail riding and XC racing. I’ve been using the Vittoria PEYOTE/MEZCAL combo on hardpack/sandy conditions (recommended to me by some hardy national XC racers). The Peyote on the front offers good cornering confidence, the Mezcal doesn’t like the wet much, but summer is here now (lol), both are great in 2.3 and pretty light with 120TPI sidewalls. Maybe worth a spin if you haven’t already.

    Specialized UK don’t import them?

    @fivealive – Cheers for the tip on the Vittoria tyres! I’ve heard good things about their latest range, so I’d be keen to check those out for sure.

    @Sir HC – Looks like you can get the 2.1in width, but not the 2.3in width option in the UK. I think it depends on the distributor as to what tyres are stocked in what countries, so I’m guessing the 2.3in Fast Trak is a less popular choice in the UK.

    [ST Wil]

    As per Sir HC, can’t get the GRID option in the UK. Sizes not an issue.

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