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The Specialized Renegade Control 2Bliss 29×1.8 tire has a relatively narrow width and light weight for a 29er tire. These aspects drew me to it when shopping for a tire for gravel events and races that would be faster rolling and easier to spin-up than the heavier 2.0s I was running. However, after a few months of use, I have concluded that the negative aspects of this tire outweigh the benefits in a gravel environment.
Tires for gravel riding pose a unique challenge for manufacturers. Gravel composition varies greatly and can range from smooth small pieces challenging lateral grip to large chunks which do their best to puncture the rubber rolling over them. In addition, gravel riding, especially the longer events and weekend adventures, often has significant pavement mileage. While wanting softer rubber for off-pavement grip, the asphalt and concrete usage means that a somewhat harder compound is needed for the center lugs.
The Specialized Renegade Control 2Bliss utilizes smaller lugs for grip that is most appropriate to dry, hard-packed conditions. During what little riding I have done on these surfaces, the tire did perform well. It spins up quickly, and rolls fast. The lugs, though not the best pattern for mud traction, do shed mud when the roads get sloppy.
This tire is definitely a fast roller on pavement, but the rubber seems too soft for extended jaunts on-road. The center lugs of the rear have worn quickly from my road usage.
My biggest complaint with the Specialized Renegade Control 2Bliss is the front grip, specifically the lack of. On loose surfaces, the tire gives up too quickly. Not only does the tire exhibit an overall lack of grip while cornering, it has a worrisome unpredictability. If the front would wash out in a predictable manner, the rider could adapt his or her riding style to compensate and choose a line with this in mind. However, it is my experience that the tire was prone to snapping in turns. Often the understeer or washing out would increase mid-corner, sometimes drastically. To compensate, I would input a little more steer to make the corner, which would occasionally result in a sudden and unexpected gripping of the front making the tire steer much more than anticipated. I have been able to catch all of these so far, but there have been some close calls.
The Renegade Control 2Bliss does have its strong-points. The tire is light for a 29er. It was a noticeable difference between the heavier 2.0 I was running, as each tire saved about 100 grams. I have seen several sources put this tire at a weight of between 525 grams and 559 grams. The one I weighed was 540 grams. The sidewalls of the tire are soft and nicely absorb the bigger bumps and hits even at pressures of 40-50 psi. In the tubeless configuration, I found that 40 psi front and 42 rear was perfect for me. The soft sidewalls and tread, however, did not mean I was having punctures or cuts. There has been no sealant leakage, and I don‘t see any evidence of sealant plugging holes in these tires. I have not had one flat or even any loss of pressure during a ride. These tires also hold pressure between rides better than any other tubeless I have used.
The supple ride and flat resistance of the Specialized Renegade Control 2Bliss combined with its fast rolling characteristics make it a good starting point for a gravel tire, but I would want to see a little better wear resistance and better front grip before going with this tire again. I think putting a harder durometer rubber on the center tread and raising the side lugs just a bit would show a vast improvement. However, I will say if I knew I wouldn‘t be riding much pavement, I‘d seriously consider this tire again for a rear application.
– Alex (Steak Sauce)