The Specialized Roubaix Armadillo Elite tyre is one whose performance lives up to its name: armour-plated and yielding little. It offers excellent puncture protection, good grip, but little suppleness.
We called in the Armadillo Elite in our search for a robust winter tyre that would laugh in the face of our now gravel-strewn rural loops, and care little for the myriad of small stones which attach themselves to bicycle tyres with seemingly unnatural adhesion at this time of year. In this regard, it did not disappoint.
Specialized label the tyre 23/25c, with the larger dimension describing the casing and the smaller, the rolling surface. Once inflated, the tyre took on the greater proportions of a standard 25c tyre. Further evidence, were it needed, could be found in the slight rubbing beneath our rather fine Portland Design Works Full Metal Fenders, which, as ever with this excellent guard, required the simplest adjustment to rectify.
Roads turned into river crossings mattered little: we rolled on through and out the other side (slowly, admittedly) with no real dread of what might be lurking within. Our ability to slow for subsequent corners, and to turn through them with confidence, was barely affected. Grip levels remained high, despite the early bath. The two tracks of stippled tread pattern, formed from a myriad of small diamond shapes and deployed either side of a slick, central ridge, perhaps held greater responsibly for adhesion than the very hard rubber compound, but the extent to which tread patterns on cycle tyres can shift water is a moot point.
Specialized have used a dual compound rubber for the Armadillo Elite’s cover and it’s one whose performance on the road suggested a categorisation of ‘hard’ and ‘very hard’. It would be inaccurate to describe rolling on such unyielding compounds as enjoyable, but there is a warm glow to be had from standing in, well, the warm glow of home and not at the roadside with tyre levers in hand and an expression to inspire Munch.
Supple is not a word that immediately springs to mind when describing the Armadillo Elite tyre. It yielded little, even at the reduced pressures we commonly deploy in winter. The result was a sometimes jarring ride, where the full impact of rough road surfaces and sometimes unavoidable potholes transferred directly to the rider (me). How so? We’d hedge that the suppleness of the perfectly respectable 120TPI casing was largely nullified by the bead-to-bead puncture protection belt. The trade off between resilience and performance is one faced by all manufacturers.
If your goal this winter is to avoid punctures, you’ll find much to like about the Specialized Roubaix Armadillo Elite tyre. Its armour plating, a puncture protection belt buried beneath a similarly hard and yielding layer of rubber, remained unbreached in our use, despite the brutal seasonal conditions. Riders seeking some reminder of summer from a tyre with even the faintest suppleness, however, are likely to look elsewhere.
Size: 700 x 23/25c
Website: Specialized UK