Taking its name from the Queen of Classics, the Specialized Roubaix Pro tyre is designed to take the rough with the smooth
For racing tyres it’s straightforward – you want something fast with reasonable puncture protection – but training or endurance tyres are slightly more complicated. You want something robust, durable, puncture proof, but that doesn’t make you feel like you’re riding through treacle. With claims of meeting all the above, the Specialized Roubaix Pro tyre could be just the ticket.
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Specialized Roubaix Pro tyre construction
The 120TPI folding clincher Specialized Roubaix Pro tyre is badged as endurance rubber. What this means in practice is that it should deliver good puncture protection while still being enjoyable to ride in terms of rolling resistance.
The central tread of the Specialized Roubaix Pro tyre uses the house-brand Gripton compound. Its exact materials depend on tyre and application, but it’s safe to assume that the tyre shoulders use a high-hysteresis compound which is good at absorbing energy, ideal for grip and surface adaption, while the central channel will be a low-hysteresis rubber, which is pretty resilient and therefore will have a faster rolling resistance.
The puncture protection comes in the form of bead-to-bead Endurant Casing, a lighter version of the Kevlar and Nylon used in Armadillo tyres, and BlackBelt technology – a strip of tightly woven material directly under the tread (found on all Specialized tyres).
There are three sizes available in the Specialized Roubaix Pro tyre range: 23/25mm, 25/28mm and 30/32mm, with us choosing to test the sensibly sized middle option.
I’m a self-confessed tyre geek. I spent years searching for my tyre Utopia and found it in the Michelin Pro4 range – and now am reluctant to ride anything else, but do recognise that even that can get overwhelmed on some terrain.
The Specialized Roubaix Pro tyre, however, loves on the rough stuff. As with all tyre tests, I’m always apprehensive about the first roll-out, never knowing where the exact bite point is (or isn’t), but I’ve got to say I was really impressed with them. I stuck them on the crazy-high-end Zipp 454 NSW carbon clincher wheels and although theoretically at opposite end of the spectrum, they actually collaborated exceptionally well in winter riding.
If you’re a rider of a certain age, you’re probably still mentally, and possibly physically, scarred from any form of ‘puncture proof’ tyres. Specialized Armadillo were the main culprit, although I’m sure they are now much improved, with many wheels written off either by crashing with them on due to their angular profile offering zero grip, or being flung in to a bush where the mental grind of dragging yourself round on a club run with them on broke you long before the tyre ever punctured.
However, I have to say after several outings, both dry and wet, on the Specialized Roubaix Pro tyre, they are still totally intact. The rolling resistance was really impressive, so OK I was on the crazy fast Zipps, but I clocked 19 PRs and one third-place QOM with them on a really hilly cold and wet January, which frankly is just obscene for tough endurance tyres.
That’s slightly misleading, as weighing 300g each you’re not going to fly if you stick these on any old wheelset, but it goes to show that there wasn’t a hint of a sensation that the roads were covered in sticky pudding.
Profile wise, Specialized has done well with the Roubaix Pro and delivered that nice parabolic shape that I crave on tyres. It allows for a lot of rubber to road contact, which gives me a lot of cornering confidence. I confess I didn’t push these to their limits, it was far too cold for that, but I was in positions where holding wheels required quick corners and descents and they gave a great me more than enough feedback that they were firmly planted. In fact it was on those rides where I was just able to totally forget I was riding them, which is always the sign of a great tyre.
Pricing for tyres is a minefield, but as your only point of contact with the road, it’s not something that should be a race to the cheapest. That said, with a RRP of £29 a pop, the Specialized Roubaix Pro tyre, with the qualities I’ve seen over a couple of hundred miles of using them, seem to offer great value for money. They’re a long way from a race tyre, but I’d happily ride them from October to April.
Robust yet fast rolling, the Specialized Roubaix Pro tyre also delivers a great ride quality that provides good grip in corners. All in all, an ideal all-round tyre for autumn through to spring that offers great value for money.