We spotted a range of new top-end S-Works-level XC bike tyres from Specialized at the Albstadt round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup at the weekend.
The new range of tyres uses established names in the Specialized lineup: Renegade, Fast Trak and Ground Control. However, the S-Works models have been pared down to become XC racing specific models.
The range aims to offer the lowest weight possible while maintaining the traction and reliability required of a race-winning tyre.
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All of the models feature a new 120TPI (as opposed to the 60TPI of old) casing, using a lightweight 210Dn thread. The casing is essentially a woven cloth which gives the tyre its structure when inflated. A higher thread count and thinner threads generally result in a lighter and more supple tyre.
That’s because the tight weave means the casing absorbs less rubber, making it lighter and more flexible. That does come at the expense of some cut resistance in the sidewall, with less rubber present to protect the threads.
The tyres use the same proprietary GRIPTON compound used in Specialized’s 2Bliss range. This rubber is claimed to have lower hysteresis — meaning it absorbs less energy when it deforms — than traditional carbon black compounds, supposedly resulting in better rolling characteristics.
Data provided by Specialized claims equivalent rolling resistance for the new Renegade S-Works compared with a Schwalbe Racing Ralph Evo (2.1in), while being almost 100g lighter.
Updated tread patterns
At a first glance, the tread patterns appear to be the same as previous incarnations, but they have actually been refined and updated for XC racing.
The tread is spaced slightly wider, reducing the number of knobs and saving a little weight. Specialized also claims that this results in increased pressure on the individual knobs, improving traction.
The overall width of the tread has also been redesigned to match the narrower width of XC tyres.
There are five new tyres in the lineup.
S-Works Renegade 2.1-inch
- Lightest tyre in the range at 511g
- Designed for smooth and dry hardpack conditions
- Its light weight makes it well-suited to climbing
S-Works Renegade 2.3-inch
- Weighs in at 575g
- Extra volume adds capabilities on rough, rocky and dry hardpack terrain
S-Works Fast Trak 2.1-inch
- Weighs 550g
- Fast tread design for varied courses
- Suitable for dry to damp and moderately loose conditions
S-Works Fast Trak 2.3-inch
- Weighs 595g
- Extra volume adds rocky and rough terrain capabilities
S-Works Ground Control 2.1-inch
- Weighs 595g
- Suitable for wet, soft and loose conditions