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.