Strengths: S-Works 2.3" Ground Controls reviewed here - don't see a separate category for them. Best blend of high traction and low rolling resistance I've experienced in memory. Light weight for size - mine averaged 575g each for a pair.
Weaknesses: Still not a true 2.3", but they are bigger than the 2.1" tires in my lineup so I can't complain.
I swap tires around for the changing conditions of seasons, to ride long or race, for new or different terrain, or just out of boredom. I was on a Kenda Blue Groove (front) + Nevegal (rear) kick for years. Great traction, but rolling resistance I could feel. Ran Maxxis Aspen 2.2 semi-slicks for a year. Fast and furious, but slickery as expected. Schwalbe Nobby Nics showed me that fast pedaling tires could have big knobs, but I was not happy with their cornering ability - tall side knobs would fold over and have me puckering. This year, I tried a pair of 2.3 S-Works GC's and have zero complaints. They are light, grippy, and roll fast both on and off road. My typical conditions are loose over hard and mega rock gardens. I've set many Strava PR's, which has me thinking I've lost nothing coming from semi-slicks or chunky Nevegals.
Strengths: Great rear tire, weight savings, ease of mounting tubeless, low rolling resistance
Weaknesses: lack of depth
Just bought a 2012 29 stumpy, LN, that came with the 29X2.1 GC on the rear. I've put in about 50 miles on it now and it is a rock solid tire. Some people may describe it as an "all arounder" but I think I would just say that it just does its job. It's one of those tires you just dont have to think about back there and I like that. It climbs well, breaks well, handles mud decently, hard pack, roots and sand....its a consistent tire. If I had to replace, I think I could use a little more size by going to the 2.3 that is now available. It rolls fast and grips awesomely well for its weight. I may go with it on the front once my Purg wears out since I think the Purg is a slight overkill for my terrain. I dont ride in loam or in mud very often. Most of our trails are HP, sand and roots. Dont hesitate to give it a try.
Strengths: Better than some. Not horrible when functioning. Not that heavy. Tread appears like it should grip better than it does.
Weaknesses: If you ride actual technical singletrack, you will rip your sidewall. Medium grip, not bad, not good. I don't trust it for corners at speed, feels skittish.
Last weekend I sliced the sidewall like it was paper on front tire 2.3 29er GC. This weekend I'm doing an xterra race on a course without any sharp rocks and the rear 2.1 opens a 1/2 inch slit. Ugh, Dnf, thanks specialized.. These came Oem on my camber Running tubeless and Stan's couldn't seal up a 1/2 inch cut... I did replace the front after previous weekend fail with a purgatory, now I'm worried that will also fail on me...I will say the purgatory has 2x the grip tho, liking it so far but obvious not trusting paper sidewalls. Rear will be replaced with ird fire xc 29er... The only tire that hasn't let me down.
Similar Products Used: Sb8, panaracer fire xc 26er, ird fire xc 29er, purgatory 29, jones, smoke, dart, etc..
Bike Setup: Camber 29er x9, Reba, etc
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: May 5, 2013
Strengths: Brillilant all rounder, does almost everything great. Wonderful rolling and acceleration given the amount of grip it gives. Great grip both front and rear for XC / trail riding. Low weight. Nice price compared to the competition. Handles all types of weather well.
Weaknesses: The stated 2.5 bar (35 PSI) minimum really *is* realistic, the sidewalls are too flexible to run the tire at lower pressures. Handles mud well, but not too well.
I switched to this tire because my Nobby Nic rear was wearing out too fast. I wanted a cheaper rear tire, so I got the GC Sport at first, the 2.3 width. I fell in love with it, fast! Grip was comparable to Nobby Nic, the nice volume gave good flotation, but the tire rolled and accelerated uphill more like Racing Ralph. Compared to another tire I was trying out at the time (Rubber Queen UST, 1150 grams!), the weight and acceleration was immensely better. I ran the Sport version tubeless with Joe's sealant, no problems, but required a compressor.
Then I figured I'd try the Control version up front, I like to have matching tires, and the price (EUR 30) is a lot nicer then Schwalbe's (EUR 50). The Control version actually came at below 600 grams, even though the official weight is 650, hats down to Specialized! Mounting the 2-Bliss-Ready was super easy with a floor pump. Then I rode it during the whole winter, and it was fine, but I decided to reserve judgment till dryer trails enable me to press the tire a bit harder... Well, spring came, started to ride it a lot more, and am now totally convinced in it. The tire rolls beautifully, the rounded profile works great on harder surfaces. Still, on dry trails it inspires confidence, putting some weight on it makes it hold well when cornering. All things considered, this is the best tire I ever rode, and at almost half the price of the competition!
Two minor issues make them not absolutely perfect for me. First, once the tire went off the rim when I had it inflated at around 1.8 bar. The stated min pressure is 2.5 bar, and I think that is reasonable. Most of the time I rode it at 2.0, and I think that will do 98% of the time, but if you start pushing it on a rocky, fast technical trail, you just might catch the wrong rock and experience an instant de-presurisation. Happened to me, will run them at 2.5 from now on, fairly high for a 2.3 tire, but the grip is still good. The other thing is that this tire will slide a bit when cornering in mud, the threads aren't that deep. It is not per se a mud tire. I still use it year-round and will continue to do so, but at that transition in spring when you start speeding up, but the trail is still occasionally muddy, well, I lost grip. Never fell though...
All in all, love it and it is by far the best tire I know. Add to it the pleasant price, and it's a no-brainer for me: I am sticking to it.
Strengths: Lots of grip across varying dry surfaces, loamy, sandy, leaf covered over hard. Inflated with a floor pump. 565 grams and 560 grams for the two I bought.
Weaknesses: None so far.
I am running the 26x2.3 S-works version on Stan's Flow Ex wheels with yellow tape and sealant. Lightweight, inflated with floor pump, held air very well right from day one. These tires have lots of grip in varying dry conditions. I haven't had a chance to ride them in wet conditions. I'm 215lbs with gear and was able to run 24psi rear and 21psi front thanks to the wide profile of the Flow Ex. I felt the rear squirm just in bit in hard g-out type turns but it never burped. That tells me I'm right on the lower limit for rear pressure. It's done nothing but rain here for the last three days, I predict a wet ride or two in my future.....
Strengths: very good on hardpack, loose, gravel and mud. great all-rounder.
Weaknesses: none noted so far.
I'm running this as a front, the 29 x 2.3, on Stans ztr 355 w/ truckerco latex. It was just a little tight to get on, but that was expected for 2bliss, and seated easily tubeless, - I'm pretty new to tubeless.
I've raced it in dry (hardpack, sand, and gravel) and now muddy with slippery roots. I doubt anything is perfect in mud/roots, I did slip around a bit and put a foot down a few times, -only went down once due to a root trapping my foot as I stepped off, lots of guys crashed on this course.
I really like this tire, good predictable grip all around, a very confident ride. I think I want one for the rear too.
I have the 29x1.9 as a rear, tubeless on Cobalt 2s (Rampage 2.35 on front).....its a great fast tire and when you need to get up to speed to pass the guy in front of you at the line....its awesome. But due to the sidewalls, I'd suggest not getting too stoked about popping into the granite around Tahoe or any real rock obstacles. It holds well on packed, pretty good in mud, but not too gret on loose gravelly descents...but heck what is.
Strengths: Fast rolling , sticks in fast corners., A very predictable tire
Weaknesses: Could haves little stronger sidewall . I am a heavy rider so lighter people might not think the same.
In central Texas trail conditions can goo from dry dusty to wet and slick in a blink of a eye . This tire has been great to me .Never the slip climbing even over roots and rocks . A great fantastic all around tire .
Road these 2.3 tires tubeless for a mixed bag racing/riding season of high desert decomposed granite loose over hard pack in ABQ environs, dry talcum trails of crested butte & angel fire, rocky chunder in otero. Excellent grip in all dry conditions, can't speak to wet. Corners with confidence. Very fast tires when compared to equal laps vs conti trail kings, not quite as grippy as that black chili.
Good tires if you can afford to replace at 6-8 months. Fat alberts & trail kings good for 12 months minimum, more on the front.
Strengths: Holly poop this tire grips! Grip grip grip. It feels like velcro, almost too much grip. On our loose over hardpack dry trails these tires grip. No slipping or scratching sounds in the climbs, it feels like it's really grabbing the trail. Not as heavy as the 2.0 Captain it replaced. Did I mention grip? I run it tubeless, with Stans, and it setup and sealed really quick.
Weaknesses: Feels a little slow, but maybe it's because I've been riding a worn Captain for too long that couldn't grab and rolled like a slick going downhill. A little narrow looking for their claimed size.
When I went to the LBS, I intended to by a Tioga Psycho, because I have one up front and like it. But I saw this tire and it brought back memories of my favorite tires from history, the Team Master and Team Control I used to use in the 90s. So I bought 'em. It is similar, in that it is not a big air balloon casing like what is popular now, seems narrower than it's claimed size. It finds traction somehow on sand and pebble covered hard pack and I can just sit and grind up the climbs and my effort is not wasted in tire slippage. After riding a Captain in back for the last several years, I am glad I did not buy another one of those, this tire just plain out performs it. Sometimes I think it is too much traction, but it will wear a bit and break in (only had it for about a month) and I am sure loose a bit of that bite and should age into a good all around tire. The Captain, by comparison, started out OK and just got worse. Only 4 chilis for value, because they were almost 20 bucks more than the Tioga I was going to buy. Overall, 4 chilis because I have yet to see how they hold up long term, and how the traction will be once they break in a bit.
Strengths: Great all-around tire. I'm running the 2.1 F and R. The series seems to be a bit narrower than tires marked the same-size. i.e. This 2.1 seems like a 2.0 to me. They are very predictable, never breaking loose w/o warning. I've had no unexpected wash-outs like with The Captain. After 6 months of riding so. cal. trails, the rear is just starting to slip a bit on climbs due to knob wear. I'm surprised a tire this supple has held its tread this long. These tires are fast and grip well. Rounded profile leans into turns well.
Weaknesses: Maybe price but I'm very happy with the performance so not a big issue with me.
A light, fast and predictable tire for F and R use.
Similar Products Used: Maxxis CrossMax, Spec. The Captain.
Bike Setup: SC Superlight 26 with R-kit
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: May 27, 2012
Strengths: Light very good all around tire
Weaknesses: $50 for a bike tire, really? That goes for any bike tire.
Continuing my upgrade for my 9 year old Lite Speed Pisgah. I used Stan No Tube system with these ties and the combo was great, expensive, but great. Very good traction in the Denver Front range area. My front tire tracks well and the rear seldom slips. The ride I get on my hard tail Ti bike is given a great boost with these tubeless tires.
Strengths: Pretty light for a full depth tread tire. It's the BEST tire I've ever used on a rear wheel in terms of climbing traction. Grip for days on dry rocks, roots, loose over hard and tacky soil. Seals up on stans rims very easily with a floor pump.
Weaknesses: After about 6 months of riding in rocky conditions and constantly scrubbing the sidewalls I've worn through the rubber and some of the casing threads are getting exposed. Then I got a small cut stans couldn't seal. If they made the sidewall rubber thicker, weight would go up, so I can live with it. They need a 29" size with more volume - 2.25 or 2.3 (supposedly coming out for 2013, prototypes have been given out to testers).
In only use it as a rear tire and I LOVE it for that. I run a captain control up front. Great combo for the mixed surfaces in SE PA. Love how spech. tires work so well with stans rims.
Plenty of grip on hard-pack clay and still inspires confidence in sandy spots. Using it as a rear so I don't know how well it works for a front. As a rear it doesn't let go much, even when I try my best to slide the rear around a corner just for a bit of fun. Lots of confidence climbing and cornering. Much more so than WTB Wolverine tires. Of course, the drawback to the Ground Ctrl is that it doesn't roll as fast as the Wolverine. It's a love/hate thing right now. I miss the insanely fast rolling Wolverines, but the Ground Ctrl has sooo much more grip. Looking for a middle ground at the moment.