Specialized Ground Control CONTROL T5 Tire

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Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
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New Specialized XC Tires Tested
Specialized's new XC tires deliver fast rolling performance but will suit riders with clean line choice above all.
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Vital Review
New Specialized XC Tires Tested

The last two years were marked by an abundance of new XC tech, driven by the evolution of cross country race tracks around the globe. Geometry is becoming more relaxed and suspension travel is increasing, while dropper posts are more and more commonplace too - last but not least, tires are evolving too. Specialized has been addressing their whole tire selection recently with updates to compounds and casings across the board, and based on the excellent results we’ve seen with the new enduro and DH tires, we wanted to know if the XC range would perform similarly well - read on to find out what we think of the new FAST TRAK and GROUND CONTROL tires.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Good overall grip, braking and cornering
  • Fast rolling considering the amount of grip
  • Stable and supportive at relatively low pressures
  • Prone to flatting

Specialized GROUND CONTROL Control T5 Highlights

  • Casing: 60 TPI
  • Bead: Foldable
  • Butyl wrapped bead = 2Bliss Ready
  • Compound: GRIPTON T5
  • 26 x 2.35", approximate weight 670g
  • 27.5 x 2.35", approximate weight 720g
  • 29 x 2.2", approximate weight 800g
  • 29 x 2.35", approximate weight 845g
  • Higher volume compared to the previous version
  • Sharper looking knobs all around
  • MSRP: $60 USD

Specialized FAST TRAK T5 Control Highlights

  • Casing: 60 TPI
  • Bead: Foldable
  • Butyl wrapped bead = 2Bliss Ready
  • Compound: GRIPTON T5
  • 26 x 2.35", approximate weight 605g
  • 27.5 x 2.35", approximate weight 640g
  • 29 x 2.2", approximate weight 625g
  • 29 x 2.35", approximate weight 670g
  • MSRP: $60 USD

Initial Impressions

After some positive experiences with the older Fast Trak and Ground Control tires, we were keen to see how they might have improved even further now. At first glance the added volume is noticeable and although Specialized kept the overall tread pattern looking the same, especially on the Fast Trak, the knobs themselves were the subject of an overhaul in the shape and texture. The T5 rubber is part of Specialized’s new “Gripton” family of compounds, developed specifically to improve performance right across the whole range of tires on offer. In developing these new compounds, Specialized focused on getting the rebound speed of the rubber just right, and from that point on, they played around with different formulas to produce discipline-specific final compounds. The T5 compound we tested is aimed directly at XC riding and racing, and as such, it favors rolling speed over pure grip. These tires are available with grippier and slower rolling T7 compound as well. Similarly, reviewed here are the tires with the “Control” construction (not to be confused with the “Control” in “Ground Control'' which is the actual name of that model of tire). The Control casing features a 60 TPI build and has a slight extension in the casing overlap to provide the optimal amount of pinch flat prevention at the given weight.

Installation and Set-Up

Easy as it gets - we installed these tires on several different rims with hands only. They exhibit good air retention and popped right up onto the rim with just a floor pump. No air leaks to be found even before we added the sealant. So far - success.

On The Trail

Fast Trak:

Nothing super surprising here as the previous version was very good. We did feel that the added volume is an improvement, the tire feels smoother on the surface from the get go. No matter if it’s tarmac, gravel roads or a single track, throughout testing, the Fast Trak excelled in any type of dry terrain. It is not the fastest rolling tire out there in terms of pure efficiency as it still has proper knobs, and we tested the 2.35-inch version which weighs nearly 700 grams.

The tire’s overall performance mix is what made it one of our favorites, it’s fast enough, offers good amounts of grip over hard pack, loose and rocky stuff and gives a nice cushion at 25 psi. We also started testing the ultra-fast S-Works version of the Fast Trak, but we wrote it off on the first ride…this one is for racing only and for somebody with very clean line choice and riding style at that. Now is probably a good time to mention that this tester was temporarily without an enduro bike during this testing period...so the XC bike was definitely thrown into the deep end of the pool while the lifeguard was off on lunch break...

Ground Control:

The Ground Control is the tire that really surprised us. The knobs are visually taller and bigger and you’d guess that it will not roll as well as its faster siblings. Well let us tell you - this tire rolls incredibly fast in light of its aggressive appearance. We mounted these tires up on our Trek Supercaliber, which is a quick XC machine, and we almost didn’t feel a change in the very efficient and agile behavior of the bike. The grip is great both when cornering and braking.

Considering our only issue with the tires was the resistance of the casing, we can assume that the Ground Control GRID T7 would definitely be a winning trail bike tire, with its low rolling resistance compared to the amount of grip it offers.

Things That Could Be Improved

We couldn’t find any major issue with these tires other than that we kept getting flats a bit too easily. As mentioned in the previous section, Specialized does offer these tires in tougher GRID casing, so we would probably have needed to test those as well to see how they would handle a long, hard summer of riding dry, fast and rocky trails.

Long Term Durability

We suffered several flats with both tires relatively early into the testing period, which means we can’t really report on how the tires would hold up over the course of a couple thousand of K’s. We can tell that after 400-500 K’s the degradation of the knobs was minimal and the condition of the sidewall was good. Previous experience with specialized XC tires would point to many K’s of riding ahead, as long as you don’t flat too much.

What’s The Bottom Line?

Specialized is hitting the nail on its head once again with the addition of two revised tread patterns that were successful in the first place. The light casings we received suffered under this non-forgiving, ruthless tester but that was the only real issue we encountered, and since we know and have tried the other casings Specialized has to offer, we are fairly confident that every rider can find his\her ideal combination of weight, puncture protection and grip for their riding style and needs.

More information at www.specialized.com.

Star Rating

Durability: 3 stars
Performance: 4.5 stars

Overall: 3.5 stars


About The Reviewer

Yonatan Yatom - Age: 27 // Years Riding MTB: 15 // Height :6'0" (1.83m) // Weight: 161 pounds (75kg)

Yonatan is a born racer and a bike addict. As a true competitor the only thing on his mind when lining up in the start gate is the finish line. With a background in local enduro and DH races and even the occasional appearance in an Enduro World Series on his resume, Yonatan has more recently applied himself to building bigger legs and trying his luck racing XC as well. Throughout the week he’ll be manning the spanners at the bike shop, reading about new stuff on the internet, and thinking about how to improve everything he rides. Yonatan’s riding style is fully pinned, smooth, and quiet but he can be nasty to his bike when needed.

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Specifications

Product
Specialized Ground Control CONTROL T5 Tire
Riding Type
Cross Country
Trail
Wheel Size
26"
27.5" (650b)
29"
Tire Width
29": 2.2 inches
26", 27.5", 29": 2.35 inches
Tubeless Compatible
Yes, 2Bliss Ready
Bead
Foldable, Butyl wrapped
Durometer
• GRIPTON compound improves high frequency damping, better attaching the tire to the ground over small bumps and rough sections, while low frequencies of the rolling tire deflections pass through unfiltered, leaving no energy to be absorbed and keeping the speeds high
• T5 is Specialized's fastest rolling compound with excellent wear and tear protection
Sidewall
60 TPI; CONTROL casing has a slight extension in the casing overlap to give the best prevention of pinch flats
Weight
26" x 2.35": 1 lb 7.6 oz (670 g)
27.5" x 2.35": 1 lb 9.4 oz (720 g)
29" x 2.2": 1 lb 12.2 oz (800 g)
29" x 2.35": 1 lb 13.8 oz (845 g)
Miscellaneous
• Extremely versatile tread pattern which can be used from cross country race to trail
• Rolls fast with exceptional amounts of confidence and grip
• Block-In-Block design uses a taller adaptable inner block to pierce the ground and claw for traction
• Larger outer structure supports the inner block for additional speed, traction, support and stable handling
• Rated for 25-50psi
Price
$60.00
More Info
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Where To Buy
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
$39.99
Free U.S. shipping on orders over $50, except bikes.
There is a $50 destination fee for bikes.
Free U.S. shipping on orders over $50, except bikes.
There is a $50 destination fee for bikes.
$0.00
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
$39.99
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