Throwback Thursdays: 1986 WTB-designed Specialized Ground Control Tire

19 September, 2013

It may seem strange that a Specialized product is being featured on WTB's Throwback Thursday's post but this Specialized product was designed by WTB for Specialized.  In fact, it was one of 25 different tread patterns that WTB designed for Specialized from 1985 through 1993.  It wasn't just tires either, there was the Specialized ProLong saddle as well, but more on that later.

The Ground Control tire is incredibly historic.  It had big, meaty blocks as is now very vogue in tire design, and it was one of the first truly high performance tires designed for a mountain bike.  Many tires previously had been odd tires originally designed for for different types of riding that happened to work out as mountain bike or klunker tires.  Not so with the Ground Control.  This tire was wholeheartedly designed around mountain use and also started the trend towards high end tires.  The tread was well thought out with blocks that created an even shelf that could be ridden while still really digging in for braking.  Side knobs were big and reinforced.  What's particularly interesting about the tire pictured below, the slightly later Ground Control 26x1.95 S is that it was a folding tire - all seemed to be wire or steel beaded previous to this, and that the Umma Gumma compound displayed on the side of the box, was an early foray into the techy side of tires.  Umma Gumma was a very soft, tactile compound, much like downhill rubber used today.  Umma Gumma came from Specialized.  It was sticky in a time before sticky and folding before folding, pretty ahead of its time.  So here's a salute to the tire that started lightweight, technical mountain bike tires.  A Specialized tire designed by WTB.  Next time you're assessing tire weights and compounds, head-scratching over what to spend your hard-earned dollars on, thank the Ground Control for starting the process of where things are today.

One tire, one name, two brands.

The Ground Control and where it came from - WTB and Mt. Tam in the background.
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