Editors Note: Yeah, yeah…..another year end review! Tis the season! So, here are my favorite things that have passed through the Twenty Nine Inches review process during the past year. I want to point out a few parameters that I used for what I chose here.

1. The product had to be in the review process during the time period of December 2010 through to the end of November 2011. Reviews that are currently in process I did not include and will be eligible for my 2012 Top Ten list.

2. They had to be products or bicycles that I personally used during this period. Nothing any of the other Twenty Nine Inches staff reviewed on their own could be considered for my list. This list doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone but me, Guitar Ted.

3. The reviewed products were provided to Twenty Nine Inches at no charge for review.(Except where indicated) I was not paid or bribed for this review. I will give/gave my honest opinion or thoughts through out.

That said, let’s get on with this……

groundcontrol 006

Number Nine: Specialized’s Ground Control 29″er Tires: Specialized has had a “Ground Control” tire off and on in its tire line for almost as long as they have been making mountain bikes. This is the first time they have brought out the model name in awhile and when they did, they hot patched it to a 29″er sized chunk-o-rubber. See my “Sneak Peek” and “Part II” posts on this tire, (tested as a prototype), here and here.

Why They Made The List: These tires are designed in a new way by Specialized using FEA analysis and “Adaptive Tread Design” which is claimed to give better rolling resistance while not sacrificing traction abilities. This all wrapped up in a 2Bliss casing weighing less than 600 grams for a 2.1″ width. Pretty impressive, but Specialized also claimed 18% better rolling resistance compared to tires not using these technologies. That’s a pretty stout tech list and the tires seemed to back up the claims.

groundcontrol 001
My Two Cents: Specialized showed me a big commitment to the 29″er by hauling out the hallowed, old Ground Control moniker and sticking it on a 29″er tire. But it isn’t just a marketing ploy. They actually used some cutting edge technology on these tires, and in my viewpoint, it works. These might not be as wide a ranging “all arounder” as The Captain tires which Specialized also makes, but they aren’t far behind, and they definitely roll better.

The Ground Control has great traction too. The casing is supple, and of course, it sets up tubeless really easily. All through the test, these tires were always fun to ride, felt fast, and never gave me any issues. Offered in 1.9 and 2.1 inch widths, the Ground Control is only missing a wider variant, which I think this tread design is very worthy of. That said, I am fully impressed with the way Specialized made a grippy tire roll like a fast, XC type tire. That’s why it is Number 9 on my Top Ten 29″er Products list this year.

Stay tuned for more from Guitar Ted and c_g’s Euro Top Ten coming soon!