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Compared to many other gravel tyres I've tested lately, Specialized's Rhombus Pro 2Bliss Ready tyre has quite an aggressive tread pattern for taking to more typical UK track and trail conditions. There are lighter options out there, but for the money they have a lot to offer.
The Rhombus Pro comes in just a single 42mm size, but that means you get a wide enough tyre for grip and traction on even the smallest aggregate, while still fitting inside the majority of today's gravel and adventure framesets.
While there is a constant evolution of going for bigger tyres on gravel bikes, I've always found 40/42mm pretty much the sweet spot. This Rhombus Pro delivers a great balance, offering a stable ride in plenty of conditions without taking away the feedback and the fun.
The centre tread works well on gravel, gripping if it's loose while whizzing along on top when it's hardpacked.
As you move out towards the shoulder of the tyre the tread gets more spread out, and the knobs get larger. This aids grip in the bends and when descending. I have a couple of routes that are a mixture of gravel tracks, byways, wooded singletrack and road, and the Rhombus performs well across the range.
The Rhombus (it's not really a rhombus, don't worry, it's a circle...) performs really well in mud too. The majority of the test period was actually very dry, but on the odd occasion we did get rain they worked impressively in soft mud.
It does get overwhelmed when the mud is really wet and sticky, but to be fair this is a gravel tyre – and it deals with average UK conditions much better than something like the Continental Terra Speed or Michelin's Power Gravel with their more subtle tread patterns.
Those tyres work well on the road when linking the gravel sections together, though; the more aggressive Specialized does a decent job away from the trails, but it is a bit more drag-inducing. The Rhombus Pro has quite a tacky Gripton compound which usefully boosts grip levels on the fun stuff, so if you're just doing short sections of road it's not a massive problem.
With a 60 TPI (threads per inch) casing it isn't the most supple tyre I've ridden, but it certainly looks to be pretty robust. The bead-to-bead Endurant puncture protection did a decent job through the test period, as while there are a couple of little cuts and nicks, nothing has got through.
This is aided by the fact the Rhombus Pro is tubeless ready.
Fitting on a wide set of Sector GCi gravel wheels was easy, and Beto's Surge Tubeless floor pump popped both tyres onto the rims without hassle. Going wide rim-wise really makes the most of the 42mm width, but fitting on narrower road rims presented no issues either.
The Rhombus Pro isn't as porous as some. Pumping the pair to 50psi with no sealant saw them hold pressure for a good few hours and, once I'd added sealant, they required just a bit of a top up every few days.
This tyre is pretty good value at £42. Many gravel tyres of this size sit between £50 and £60. For instance, the comparable Teravail Rutland 700x42 is £60 exactly – although the Michelin I mentioned earlier is closer at £44.99. However, while that's over 100g lighter than the Rhombus, it's more of a dry/race tyre and less effective as an all-rounder.
The Rhombus Pro 2Bliss Ready is a better fit for year-round UK conditions than many on the market, and while there are a few sacrifices to make – weight and tarmac speed, principally – you can't knock the overall performance for the money.
A gravel tyre that works year-round in UK conditions for a decent price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized Rhombus Pro 2Bliss Ready tyre
Size tested: 700X x 42mm
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Specialized says, "The all new Rhombus Pro's aggressive tread is designed for aggressive riding on aggressive trails. With more tire clearance and more capability, today's gravel bikes can take on tougher trails than ever before. Tires are one of the most integral components for a gravel bike's ride quality and the Rhombus Pro delivers. It provides unmatched traction, confident cornering and improved comfort when the gravel road turns to single track. When you're ready to get rowdy on your gravel bike, the Rhombus Pro is the tire for you."
It is a well designed tyre that is ideally suited to the UK market and the type of gravel tracks we have.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Casing: 60 TPI
Flat Protection: Endurant
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They work really well on a mixture of surfaces.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
A tyre that works as well on soft mud as it does on gravel.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
There are others on the market that are lighter.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's quite a bit cheaper than a lot of quality gravel tyres that we've tested recently like those mentioned in the review. It is heavier than a few of them, but on the flipside it works well in plenty of conditions.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Not as fast on the road / dry trails as some of the more race-orientated gravel tyres, but ideally suited to the UK weather year-round. They are a good price too, so a very good option.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!