In South Africa, Specialized offer two variants of the Fast Trak 2Bliss Ready tyre. One features the GRID casing and the other does not. The GRID version, has a reinforced casing for extra flat and sidewall protection, while the ordinary Fast Trak sacrifices protection for a lighter casing. We tested the GRID version.
The latest Fast Trak tyres feature a new tread pattern. It is not just marketing hype, there have been significant changes. The outer and middle knobs have both been made more rectangular with the middle tread becoming almost diamond shaped. Previously they were more elongated. Both knobs appear to protrude slightly further from the tyres, giving it a more aggressive look. The new centre knobs are most recognisable but are now slightly shorter and thicker than the previous shape.
The Fast Trak GRID Tubeless tyres are available for 29-inch rims with two widths: 2.3 inch and 2.1 inch. There is also a 2.3 inch 650b tyre available locally. Specialized use their Gripton rubber compound on the Fast Trak tyres, which promises a tyre with a "livelier feel" and better grip in a variety of conditions.
Along with the wider 2.3" option, the lower recommended pressure is my favourite change to the Fast Trak. They now allow you to run as low as 25 PSI. On the previous tyres, that recommended at least 35 PSI, I incurred some premature sidewall wear after riding the tyres too soft but at my preferred pressure.
On the Trails
The Fast Trak tyres arrived in the office just before the Bloemendal XCO and I quickly slapped them on the Pyga Stage's SRAM Roam 40 wheels for the race. I placed the 2.3" on the front with the 2.1" on the rear.
The Fast Trak design has always provided good grip and the new design takes that even further. The combination of the new compound, tread pattern, and slightly wider front tyre have noticeably improved the traction on hand. There is a predictable feel when leaning the bike over into turns with no dead spots that leave you hoping for tread to kick in. The ability to run lower pressures has also gone into making the tyre more compliant under tough conditions, wrapping around features instead of skipping over them. The beefed up sidewalls do a good job of keeping unwanted tyre roll to a minimum.
With all the improvements aimed at the extra grip, the Fast Trak remains a fast rolling tyre. They are not, however, featherweight racing tyres and the GRID casing might not please those counting grams but, for me anyway, getting to the finish line without incident is a far greater time saver. In that regard, the Fast Trak tyres were faultless. A few objects did manage to pierce the rubber, however, the sealant quickly blocked any holes.
In the wet, the Fast Trak tyres manage to seek out a surprising amount of grip. Mud shedding was good with only a very sticky patch of clay being able to cling on long enough to cause problems.
The Fast Trak GRID 2Bliss tyre is great for South African racing conditions, and all the training that goes with it. At Bike Hub, we prefer to recommend practicality over weight savings and feel that the GRID casing is the option to pick from the Fast Trak line up. If you're after a tyre with good grip and decent rolling, the Fast Trak is a worthy consideration.