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Specialized Ground Control tyre review

A fast-rolling tyre that grips well in a wide range of conditions

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
GBP £49.00 RRP | USD $60.00 | EUR €49.00 | AUD $65.00
Specialized Ground Control mountain bike tyre

Our review

A versatile fit-and-forget XC tyre that's also suitable for lightweight trail riding
Pros: Capable and grippy in a wide range of conditions
Cons: Not the lightest XC tyre
Skip to view product specifications

Specialized’s original Ground Control tyre was launched way back in 1986 when mountain biking was a younger sport, but it’s been brought bang up to date with this latest version.


The Ground Control is a versatile tyre that is fast for cross-country racing but also aggressive enough for more ambitious trail riding thanks to its tread pattern and Gripton compound.

Specialized Ground Control 29 x 2.3in details

The Ground Control is available in plenty of variants including an affordable wire bead option alongside the more expensive 2Bliss Ready (Specialized’s name for tubeless-ready) tyres.

Specialized offers three different casings including reinforced GRID for increased sidewall support, and the Control casing — tested here — which hits the sweet-spot between the weight penalty of the GRID tyre and the lightweight regular casing.

There are 26in, 27.5in and 29in versions in 2.1in and 2.3in widths. The 29 x 2.3in I tested weighs 791g. All tyres share the company’s Gripton tread compound and 60 TPI casing construction with easy tubeless installation.

Great for…

  • Using as a front or rear tyre
  • All-round trail use or hardcore XC riding

Specialized Ground Control 29 x 2.3in performance

The Ground Control’s chunky tread pattern, with its arrangement of large shoulder blocks and broad centre blocks interspersed by smaller squares, provides impressive levels of grip in a wide range of conditions.

It’s fast-rolling in the dry and thanks to the tenacity of the tread compound sticks to slippery roots and rocks longer than many lighter XC tyres.

This means the Ground Control is versatile enough to be good for trail riding, especially if speed and weight are priorities alongside grip and reliability.

Specialized Ground Control mountain bike tyre
The Ground Control has a chunky tyre tread.
David Arthur / Immediate Media

The Control casing gives more sidewall support than the lighter version without incurring the weight penalty of the GRID casing, and cut resistance is good. Generally, this a tough tyre that lets you push your limits on an XC bike.

The beefed-up casing doesn’t dent the suppleness either as the tread blocks and pattern find grip when you’re tackling tricky root-infested descents.

It performs well in a wide range of conditions, making it a good fit-and-forget option for people who don’t like to regularly change tyres.

The tread pattern has adequate open space to ensure it clears mud quickly when you encounter wetter sections and it continues to grip well, finding traction on slippery climbs and off-camber corners.

Specialized Ground Control mountain bike tyre
The space between the blocks on the tread ensures mud is cleared quickly.
David Arthur / Immediate Media

The weight is on the high side, so pure XC racers might find it overkill, but more extreme XC riders and lightweight trail riders will find it a suitable choice.

Tubeless installation on my DT Swiss XR1501 wheels was a breeze using just a floor pump.


Specialized Ground Control 29 x 2.3 Control bottom line

A fast and grippy tyre with good sidewall support that works in a range of conditions. A bit on the heavy side for XC racers but ideal for trail riding.

How we tested

We pitted 10 of the best cross-country-style tyres against each other to find out which we think is worth your time and money.

Also tested

Product Specifications


Price AUD $65.00EUR €49.00GBP £49.00USD $60.00
Weight 791g (29x2.3)
Brand Specialized


Features Compound: GRIPTON
TPI 60