Specialized S-Works Cotton Hell of the North Tubular Tire
Tubular tires have proven capabilities and despite the advances in tubeless and clincher options, the roughest road events and cyclocross courses ensure tubulars are still not only relevant but ascendant when grip, feel, compliance and footprint matter.
Most cycling fans would fail to endorse the concept of subtlety when describing the the cobbled sections of Ronde Van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix Spring Classics. When grit, power, athleticism, and boldness are generally defining characteristics associated with race favorites, it is easy to see why. And yet some of the most crucial decisions teams and riders historically have had to make are related to wheels and tires. With frames and tires (even saddles and bar tape) becoming more technically advanced, many riders now ride mid section aero wheels. Gone are the days of the 32 hole 3x alloy wheel choices, which means tire selection plays a much larger role, and remember while the cobble sections are crucial to success, there is plenty of pavement and connecting track to be dominated as well before reaching the finish. Enter the Specialized S-Works Turbo Hell Of The North Cotton Road Tubular Tire, that offers measurable performance and real subtleties that make the design effective and competitive in the worst "road" conditions a cyclist can face.
The primary performance drivers of the tire are the 290 TPI cotton casing and the latex inner tube. This incredibly supple foundation and coordinated system not only delivers great feel from it's flexibility, but is also the product of master craftsmanship, leading to a truly round and consistent basis for the tread rubber and protection belt. The casing and inner tube suppleness allows the tire to more easily roll over and make smoother, faster transitions from one odd shaped surface to the next, crucial for cobbles. Clinchers and tubulars often struggle with these conditions, due to pinch flat risk, but a great tubular at proper pressure slithers over the coarse transitions more easily, contorting faster and taking the pressure off edges. Of course, a cotton based casing is an old technology in the bike world, but it is back in vogue now because protection belts, such as the Specialized BlackBelt version used here, have become more effective and more importantly, more flexible, so as to better match the casing's capabilities. When you add a more advanced rubber compound and proven tread design, the S-Works Turbo Hell Of The North Cotton Road Tubular Tire truly comes to life.
Specialized believes their GRIPTON rubber compound is the among the best, if not the best, available today. We prefer to stay out of that debate, but we agree it is pretty darn special. It has the qualities you need and desire: excellent native grip in wet or dry conditions, inherently low rolling resistance; and still allows for road feel and some base small puncture protection. It also has an excellent wear rate but still feels flexible and connected to the road surface. The tread pattern itself is not only the beneficiary of the casing/rubber combination, but it takes full advantage of the design as well. The tread itself is a decades-old, well-proven set-up with what amounts to a fine file tread in the center, and medium diamond file tread on the shoulders. You keep the speed you need, have grip for dusty corners, but also traction and control on those nasty cobble, dirt, cobble, cobble, cobble transitions that a cyclist must endure section after section through the rough Classics.
If the tire isn't flexible, it can't offer as much grip or control. If the rubber is too hard or won't grip, the suppleness of the casing won't matter much, but in the end if you have the right rubber and casing, the tread is the subtlety that can most affect performance. Watch Roubaix and see how the riders are both on-slope and off-camber on the crowned cobble sections, watch as the tires slide, slip and conform to the shapes- then take into account that these same tires have to be fast and in control on pavement at high speeds, wet or dry. The feathery, utmost capability of a single tire design effective for all such conditions ultimately comes down to where the rubber meets the road, and the tread is that contact point. With this tire it maximizes and completes the old tech cotton casing design and the new tech rubber compound into a functional tire ridden in a dysfunctional event. The tubular tire becomes a truly integrated entity, each aspect improving and relying on the others to achieve maximum performance.
This integrated design supports you with more traction and comfort, and in the end, will give you more speed compared to other tires. Remember what we know now about rolling resistance, tire pressure, and continual surface engagement. Specialized rates that the supple 290 TPI cotton casing supplies you with a 15% improvement in damping, and with the help of the GRIPTON® compound, offers 20% less rolling resistance over previous tires used on rough roads. That is real performance, which aids the rider in so many ways- from saving energy, delivering more confidence, and reducing the chance of flats or falls. While you may not ever race the Classics, or even local-regional versions, you may well ride a combination of rough pavement, hardpack dirt roads, chip seal or mild gravel on your regular quest to avoid cars and populated areas. If you feel you need a tire with more overall capability, but still want great ride quality and have some tubular wheels thirsting for glue, the Specialized S-Works Turbo Hell Of The North Cotton Road Tubular may well be your next purchase.
- Tubular road tire optimized for the roughest road conditions of the pro cycling calendar
- Suppleness, with premium rubber compound and ideal tread pattern combine to define performance
- More traction and comfort, and in the end, will give you more speed compared to other tires
- Optimal ride quality and performance with a latex inner tube
- Mild diamond file tread on shoulders and edge handles surface transitions and challenges with control
- Fine file tread on center for faster pavement and accelerations, effective wet or dry
- Features reliable grip in normal wet or dry conditions, with an informed road feel that induces confidence
- GRIPTON® rubber compound has extremely low rolling resistance and superior cornering traction
- BlackBelt Protection is supple under tread offers very good puncture protection
- Ultra-supple 290 TPI cotton casing requires meticulous craftsmanship to ensure round, consistent shape
- 15% improvement in damping, offers 20% less rolling resistance over previous tires used on the cobblestones
- Option: 700c(28")x28 / approx 325g / 80-150psi range
- Color: Black/Transparent Sidewall
Please note: Tubular tires cannot be returned for exchange/credit if mounted and glued