The S-Works Turbo RapidAir 2Bliss Ready tyres offer up the best ride quality when compared with all the tubeless tyres I've tried so far.
Easy to set up tubeless
Recommended psi is higher than some might usually run a tubeless setup
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The Specialized S-Works Turbo RapidAir 2Bliss Ready tyres was selected for an Editor's Choice award in 2020. This year's list contains 78 items which scored a 9 or 10/10 with our tech team - this gear is the best of the best, and has received the Cycling Weekly stamp of approval. In our original review, we gave these an 8/10 - flagging concerns over longevity. However, our tester is still riding these a year later and they're going strong - so we're happy to stand corrected, and have increased the score to 9/10.
When Specialized set out developing the S-Works Turbo RapidAir 2Bliss Ready tyre the end goal was a tubeless creation that would offer the ride quality, puncture resistance and grip of a tubular tyre for its Deceuninck-Quick-Step professionals.
Such a statement of intent clearly marks the tyre out as a top-end piece of rubber, and a price tag of £61 certainly confirms this. Cast an eye over the American brand's tyre range, however, and you might become a little confused. It plays host to a range of Turbo branded tyres, all with price tags that sit north of £50. In particular there are two tubeless ready tyres that sit within £9 of each other – a set of Turbo Road Tubeless and the RapidAir models on test here.
The main difference is variation in the threads per inch (TPI) count. Our RapidAir 2Bliss test models come with a 120 TPI count compared to 180 on the top-end models. The higher the thread per inch count, the more supple and comfortable a tyre can feel, the lower the more 'clattery' or stiff. Typically tubeless tyres have to have a lower count than clincher tyres so the side walls are stiffer to form a better seal.
Now clearly a tyre's TPI count doesn't tell the full story. In testing the Continental GP 500os felt distinctly more clattery than the S-Works RapidAir tyres despite their higher TPI count, indicating that Specialized's Gripton compound offers a pleasant amount of cushioning.
Setting up the tyres tubeless on a pair of ENVE test rims couldn't have been easier, only requiring minor thumb agitation – something that cannot be said of all tubeless ready tyres – and a compressor. A daily pressure loss of just a few PSI meant I didn't need to grab the track pump before every ride.
Specialized recommend running between 85-100psi which is more than many would choose to run a tubeless tyre. I've stuck to my standard 80psi (even this makes me a bit of a luddite) and have had no problems, either with the seal or squirminess when diving into corners.
As previously mentioned the tyres offer a comfortable ride quality despite a lower TPI than direct competitors although they've proven to be less resilient than the likes of the GP 5000. I'm yet to have an instance where I've relied on the sealant to plug a hole but the tyre has become nicked and cut despite Specialized's Blackbelt cut-resistant breaker. Slight signs of wear, such as sidewall cracking, are beginning to show after just over 1000kms.
Tested in 26mm width, the RapidAir tyre rolled with ease and when paired with my Enve test wheels had a great profile that was reassuringly wide beneath the handlebars. They roll with the addictive ease of high-end tyres and compliment a speedy bike.
£61 is a lot of money for a tyre, but it's in line with the latest offerings from Continental and Schwalbe. Specialized do offer an alternative Turbo 2Bliss tyre for £35, although it can only be used on hooked rims and not hookless designs.
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