Specialized All Condition Armadillo Elite tyre - review - Road Cycling UK

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Specialized All Condition Armadillo Elite tyre – review

Tough tyres with an impressively low rolling resistance, but a notable weight penalty

Specialized’s All Condition Armadillo Elite tyres are a quality set of rubber, hitting the rare sweetspot between puncture protection, a reasonable turn of speed and good wet weather adhesion. The only compromise comes in terms of ride feel and weight.

Specialized have made some bold claims with the latest iteration of the All Condition Armadillo Elite, dubbing them ‘the most flat-resistant tyre available’ – that’s believable, but the claim of ‘performance characterics that far exceed many competitor’s race tyres’ is less so.

So let’s start with that puncture resistance: several hundred miles of riding through January and February left them without as much as a blemish, despite plenty of poor weather and short-cuts over unmade roads.

Specialized’s All Condition Armadillo Elite tyres continue the bullet-proof reputation of the Amardillo tyres, but boast a low rolling resistance too
  • Specification

  • Price: £40
  • Weight: 315g (25mm variant tested)
  • Sizes: 700×23, 700×25, 700×28, 700×32
  • Size tested: 25mm
  • Website: Specialized

It’s impressive but, having ridden thousands of miles on previous iterations of the Armadillo Elites over the years, I wouldn’t call it a surprise. Indeed, I can only remember ever puncturing once on any set of Armadillo Elites – when I got cocky riding over sharp debris from a recent car/wall incident.

What is surprising about the newest version of the tyre, however, is the wet weather grip. Previous iterations were never totally confidence-inspiring, and combined with a lack of feel, they were never a tyre you really wanted to lean over in a wet bend.

There is still a somewhat concrete-ride to the Armadillo Elites, but it has improved and with the increase in wet grip they feel much less compromised traversing greasy corners on your commute.

On the other claim, however, despite Specialized’s best intentions the Elites aren’t going to outperform a race tyre in any situation I can imagine, short of a 4km broken-glass pursuit.

That said, rolling resistance and the lack of it, is a real strength for the All Condition Armadillo Elite. Given how tough the casing has been designed, the mph numbers displayed on your computer can be hard to comprehend – they really hold onto speed. Nevertheless, getting up to that speed is not so impressive.

The 25mm version of the Armadillo Elite we tested comes in at 315 grams, which is 55 grams heavier than the still-fairly-robust Specialized Roubaix Pro tyre reviewed recently. The rim is pretty much the worst place to add weight on a bicycle – so you need to be fairly sure you require this level of puncture protection to warrant the weight increase.

The tyre is grippier than its predecessors, but the cost of that – and the puncture protection – is a notable weight penalty

I compared the All Condition Armadillo Elite’s back-to-back with the Roubaix Pro’s and immediately felt the added weight on a 14 per cent ramp near my home.

With every acceleration out of a junction, or burst over a short ramp, you are reminded why your rubber won’t puncture. This isn’t a tyre to flatter your racing prowess on a punchy training ride.

Conclusion

The Specialized All Condition Armadillo Elite tyres are ideal for steady solo rides in inclement conditions, commuting and for anyone who really hates getting their hands dirty at the side of the road changing a flat.

Hilly terrain and group rides would not be their forte, however, due to the added weight of the Armadillo Elite puncture protection blunting acceleration. For these uses, we would recommend considering a lighter option.

Pros

  • Very puncture resistant
  • Roll well
  • Wet weather grip

Cons

  • Ride decidedly average
  • Heavy

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