Things have changed a lot since Specialized’s original Ground Control was about the only decent mountain bike tyre you could get. But the latest GC is still competitive in performance terms, although a big price hike has undermined its previous high-value benchmark status a little.
The Control casing is heavier than the S-Works but that’s because it’s got more cut resistance and general toughness built in. The 2Bliss carcass blows up without any bother on a broad range of rims and while the 2.1in tyre pictured here is relatively low volume there’s a fatter 2.3in option.
Either way the tougher carcass doesn’t get in the way of a tactile feel that keeps you clearly aware of traction from the dual compound rubber mix. The alternating 1-2-1 drive and braking tread meshes into bigger, taller shoulder knobs via a row of angle F knobs, so wherever you are in terms of lean angle there’s a reassuring amount of rubber to hook into the trail.
There’s still enough space to chuck out chunks of mud easily though, so you’ll always be biting on fresh blocks unless it’s really thick clay or clag.
Rolling performance is okay but the low weight gives it a really responsive and eager feel as soon as you make an effort. Unsurprisingly it can feel flimsy and floppy at lower pressures though, so go for the reinforced Grid if you want more grrr from your Ground Control.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.