Specialized Storm Control mountain bike tyre£24.99

Winter square-blocker

BikeRadar score3.5/5

We’ll admit it – Specialized’s square-blocker isn’t the most grippy winter cross-country/trail tyre we've tested. That said, it’s much better than your average standard tyre, and its tubeless-ready versatility is an absolute bargain.

The square-block tread pattern isn’t exactly revolutionary, but it does a good job of biting grip out of wet, sticky and loose loam conditions. Complete all-angle coverage from centre to shoulder means it works on the flat, across off-cambers and when you’re carving soft turns.

Broad spacing makes it clear fast in the really claggy stuff too, and it’s not likely to clog your frame, however sticky it gets. The dual-compound rubber mix gives more stiction on the shoulders, and there’s enough knob stiffness to give a predictable slide when you push harder than it can cope with.

Despite the alleged 50/60 duro rubber compound, the stiffer tubeless-ready carcass is slightly more slippery on wet roots and rocks than on pricier tyres, so it needs extra care in the woods. It lasts longer than soft-compound tyres though, so you can leave it on for loose woodland work when things have dried out for spring.

While it’s not that supple, the Control sidewall is tough enough to survive regular rock outings, and it’s fat for a 2.0in tyre. The 2Bliss carcass is also easy to seal without being awkward to fit and remove, which is great if you do get a puncture on a cold, wet winter ride. The widely-spaced knobs reduce speed and increase noise on hardpack trails though.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 44
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster tfhan the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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