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Going fast is all about trust. Trusting that your stem is tight, your frame and wheels won’t explode, and that your tires will hold the ground until breaking loose in a predictable, manageable fashion. A trail rider by nature, I often have a hard time trusting many fast and race-oriented tires. Sure, they’re light and roll fast, but when it comes time to carry that speed into a corner things can get a bit dicey.
The second of their tires to take advantage of Finite Element Analysis during development, Specialized’s new 2012 Fast Trak is claimed to offer better grip and lower rolling resistance than its predecessor. After a month of riding the new tire, has it earned my trust? Hit the jump to find out.
Weighing in at 515g in the 26×2.0 size with a desert-friendly Control casing, the Fast Traks (like the Roval Control Trail SL wheels they’re mounted on) are considerably lighter than their 580g claimed weight. On the 25mm wide rims, they measure just over 2.0in (51mm) wide after a month of use. Suggested retail is an awesome $50 and 29er versions are available.
Having used- and loved- everything about the first generation Fast Traks but their paper-thin casing, I was excited to get some miles on the new version. You can see Tyler’s article about Specialized’s Adaptive Tread design (linked above), but in short the revised tread features wide-based knobs designed to decrease both flex (squirm) and rolling resistance. The wing and shoulder knobs are siped to provide additional biting edges under pressure.
Regardless of the thinking behind the 2012 Fast Trak, these tires rail. Though the light weight of our Project 24.2 bike’s wheel and tire combination certainly contributes to the feeling of speed, the Fast Traks hold speed not unlike a 29er. On the loose-over-hard conditions of Albuquerque’s foothills- similar conditions to the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo course- the Fast Traks are easily among the best tires I’ve ridden. In most conditions, the Fast Traks have held as far as I’ve dared to lean them. In really loose corners, the tires will break free, but it’s always been with a bit of warning and ultimately recoverable. In damp conditions and packed snow, they’re even better. Though not a mud tire by any stretch, the tapered knobs don’t seem to hold onto mud, either.
Unlike most soft, race-oriented tires, the Fast Traks’ knobs are in excellent condition after a month’s hard use (see image above). I really should pull them off to save them for the race- but I’m having too much fun going fast.