Roubaix Pro 23/25c


As the name suggests, the Specialized Roubaix Pro's are intended for endurance rides on varied road surfaces providing added comfort, grip and puncture protection. We tested the 700 x 23mm/25mm variant, and yes, that naming is a little confusing. The 23mm/25mm sizing refers to the width and depth of the tyre meaning it has more of an oval shape. This is to allow better compatibility on frames with minimal clearance while still providing the feel of a wider tyre.

The Roubaix Pros live up to their name, providing an excellent feel on the road. The deeper profile does well to cut out road buzz and soften hard knocks. Despite the varied width and depth the tyres still feel and look well wider than a standard 23c.

The tyres have a smooth contact surface along the centerline of the tread which rolls well for an all rounder. Along the outer edges the scale-like tread pattern provides excellent grip on a variety of road surfaces. They performed well in the wet maintaining good traction through corners and under braking. Throughout testing on the glass strewn Cape roads, the Endurant Casing and BlackBelt protection appeared to do their job diligently, resulting in zero punctures.

The Roubaix Pro tyres provide excellent value and impressive performance as an all-rounder. Weight wise they may not quite meet the criteria for a more serious racer, but for those seeking an ultra reliable, comfortable and grippy tyre they're a great match.


The All Condition Armadillo Elite 25c

As the name suggests the All Condition Armadillo Elite has been designed with all riding conditions in mind. This is a tyre that can handle wet and dry, and smooth or rough roads with aplomb. The Armadillo Elite is available in up to a 32c tyre, and could even be used on a gravel grinding rig. I tested the 25c on a conventional road bike on training rides around the peninsula.


In normal road riding conditions the Armadillo Elites feel pretty standard. At 315g per tyre, they are the beefiest tyres I have had on my road bike to date, and this was noticeable where accelerations and surges were required to stay with the bunch: my bike felt just a little more sluggish than usual. Once up to speed and spinning there was no discernible difference to me.

Where the tyres came into their own, was on choppy rough tar, in wet conditions, and adverse surface conditions, such as where the road was covered in building dirt and sand. On choppy tar, the tyres seemed to offer extra cushioning- the ride felt smoother, a bit more like riding a mountain bike than a road bike. In the wet, and on dodgy surfaces the traction offered by the Armadillo again gave me the secure feel of mountain bike rubber, making it possible to descend and corner with a little more confidence.

For me, the greatest benefit of the Armadillos comes in the form of peace of mind when riding on the glass and debris-filled verges of Cape Town's roads. A necessary survival tactic on many busy stretches of tar, but one that puts you at risk of punctures with more fragile tyres. To be comfortable hanging as far left as possible at all times, without fretting about puncturing, is a weight off my shoulders, and I'll happily push a few more grams during training to be able to do so.




Turbo Cotton 24c

The Turbo Cottons are purebred race tyres from Specialized. They feature a cotton casing for unparalleled suppleness and grip, with ultra-low rolling resistance.


As one would expect, compared to more affordable all round tyres the lower rolling resistance can be felt on the road. With these fitted to a set of Darkhorse DH SLF 36c wheels my Scott Addict turned into a PB machine. What I really liked though, was the confidence and grip they provided when attacking corners or twisty sections. I could lean these right over at speed and never felt like they were going to slide out from under me. It is rare to find a tyre so fast that has this much grip on offer.

Acceleration, from a standstill, was very good, and this was immediately noticeable when compared to the Continental Grandsport Race they replaced.

Although the surface shows several small cuts, I only suffered one puncture during my time on these and that was down to an old faithful: a big-ass thorn. I managed close to 10km with the thorn stuck in the tyre before it was too flat to ride. Based on that I would say that the layer of Specialized BlackBelt puncture resistance material does a good job of elevating the tyres puncture resistance.

If you're looking to eek out every last watt on race day then the Turbo Cotton should be on your shopping list. If that doesn't matter too much to you, but you're all about letting it fly on the descents then they are worth a look as well.


Turbo Pro 28c

The Turbo Pros are budget friendly cousins of the Turbo Cotton race tyre. The focus is on lightweight, low rolling resistance, and good cornering traction. Our test set was a wide 28 millimetres, giving us a chance to experience and test the wide tyre trend first hand.


Jumping on the 28c Specialized Turbo Pro tyres was my first experience of going wide on a road bike. Thankfully, there were no clearance issues fitting them to my SwiftCarbon Attack.

The smooth tread pattern provides excellent grip in dry conditions. I was a bit concerned about what might happen in the wet, but after a couple of wet mornings up and down Chappies, my fears were dispelled. Yes, I was a bit cautious coming down but it was controlled throughout.

Admittedly, they are not the most responsive tyres I have ridden. Perhaps due to the lower pressures (recommended range is 6-6.5 bar), the tyres do not have an immediate response to hard acceleration. Whether that translates to any difference in my actual performance, as an amateur, I do not think so. Once up to speed the Turbo Pros come into their own, gliding over bumps with confidence and maintaining speed with ease.

Specialized say that a 26 millimetre width is the sweet spot for balancing comfort and speed, and for 2017 they will be producing more of their road tyre range in this size. However, for the added comfort, traction in the turns, and confidence over bumps, provided by these 28's, I'll sacrifice any perceived speed gains. They'll be staying right where they are.