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If outright speed is the name of the game, few tires deliver like the Specialized S-Works Fast Trak T5/T7. As Specialized's best XC tire they utilize a Gripton T5/T7 compound which the American brand also claims offers puncture protection, too. Despite the super low weight of 594g and thin sidewalls, the S-Works Fast Traks are well poised and deliver amazing feel and feedback on the trail thanks to the super-sticky T7 side compound and fast-rolling T5 center tread.
We tested them in a variety of settings ranging from cross-country laps and open gravel roads to trickier and gnarlier trails. Read on to see how they faired.
Visually the S-Works Fast Trak has a very distinct look, something that helps it stand out among the rabble of other xc tire options. The branding is fairly low key but Specialized makes no bones about its S-Works intentions, the latter taking on a red color treatment. The 120 TPI 'S-Works' casing is designed to be super-lightweight and it is — 594g to be precise — but this does also mean it offers less puncture protection than its rivals.
The Fast Trak is what Specialized refers to as its mixed-condition XC race tire boasting a T5/T7 dual compound. The 'T' indicates the damping rate of the rubber - the higher the number the slower the rubber rebounds, and, as a result, the Fast Traks use T7 on the shoulder and T5 down the middle. The alternating diagonal center line tread combines with closer-spaced intermediate and lower shoulder tread for increased traction and speed.
The Fast Traks are full of feel and communication but you can't run the tire pressures too low as the thin sidewalls do have a tendency to fold over or crumble under lateral cornering force. This lack of sidewall reinforcement is a concern for those who race competitively — XCO and marathon included — so you'll need to run higher-than-normal pressures for peace of mind. During my testing, I ran the pressures at 24-26psi front/rear (at 62kg) and this seemed to do the trick in terms of balancing control with speed. That said, there was some tire bounce over choppier trails.
In terms of speed, the S-Works Fast Traks really show their mettle up the climbs and along rolling terrain — an attribute that allows you to accelerate and punch up steep kickers with absolute ease. Grip is in abundance, too, despite the tire's somewhat narrow width (it's only available in 2.2in) and small tread blocks, the trail speed is up there with the Vittoria Mezcal and Bontrager XR2 Team Issue.
Even with slightly higher pressures, I still felt the need to nurse the tires over rockier and rooty sections of trail for fear of piercing those delicate sidewalls.
The Specialized S-Works Fast Trak T5/T7 is a really good tire. It's light, fast, and supple but the former comes at the expense of puncture protection which is a big deal for the average rider. Nobody wants to flat during a race, which brings me to their intended use: racing. This is not a training tire and should only be used in racing scenarios where keeping weight to a minimum and going as fast as possible is the chief concern.
On those grounds alone, the S-Works Fast Traks are hard to beat but as a dedicated, all-round tire capable of being used as both a training and racing option, you're better off with the Vittoria Mezcal or Bontrager XR2 Team Issue.
Tech Specs: Specialized S-Works Fast Trak T5/T7
- Price: $70/ £45 / €51
- Wheel size (inches): 29-inch
- Compound: T5/T7 Gripton
- Carcass: S-Works 120tpi
- Dimensions: 2.20
- Weight: 594g (29 x 2.20 tested)