With winter officially upon us this weekend, the time for running soft, lightweight tyres is rapidly drawing to a close.
Having spent the past few months on “summer” tyres from Schwalbe (the Ultremo ZX and One) and Panaracer (the Race Type A), the time has come to fit some proper winter boots to the RCUK test bike.
We called in a set of Roubaix Armadillo Elite tyres from Specialized. Unusually, they’re marked up as 700 x 23/25c, but having mounted them to the Shimano RS81 wheels we have on test, the wider measurement looks the more appropriate.
The Armadillo Elite is a dual compound tread intended to provide a good mix of grip, wear, and low rolling resistance. The centre of the rolling surface is smooth, but move off centre and you’ll find a significant tread block pattern to help siphon away water. It has a rotation direction moulded into the sidewall; presumably to extract the maximum performance in wet weather from the tread blocks, and is worth paying attention to.
A weight of 323 grams per tyre doesn’t seem unreasonable for a tyre with winter duties beneath a heavier rider with an, ahem, robust riding style in prospect
When unfolded from the packaging, the Roubaix offers a robust, almost stiff feeling in the casing, perhaps a consequence of the extra bead-to-bead layer of puncture protection offered (the “Armadillo” part of the equation). Specialized claim protection against cuts, as well as puncture protection. The heavier construction does make them a little more difficult to fit than lightweight summer tyres, but this is to be expected from a more robust casing.
With any winter tyre there is a trade off: what you gain in puncture protection, you tend to lose in suppleness and road feel. A further trade off is weight: in order to give the Roubaix Armadillo Elite the puncture protection it needs, Specialized have constructed a heavier tyre than some of their lightweight racing rubber, but this is hardly a scenario unique to the Morgan Hill concern.
We would always advise matching your equipment to conditions, size, and riding style, and with winter duties beneath a heavier rider with an, ahem, robust riding style in prospect, the 323 grams per tyre at which we weighed the Roubaix Armadillo Elite doesn’t seem unreasonable, given the protection on offer and the extra width in the casing.
Having spent many years on what I have come to regard as a bit of an “old faithful” in the winter tyre department (Continental’s Gatorskins, since you ask) I’m looking forward to getting some miles on these winter treads from Specialized.
Check back soon for a full review.
Size: 700 x 23/25c
Website: Specialized UK