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Tires are simple, right? Wrong. They must have minimal rolling resistance yet grip like glue. They must resist punctures and pinch flats yet be supple and light. So, making quality tires is tricky. A bad set can make even a super bike feel lousy. And top tires make even entry-level bikes feel like they can fly.
Specialized has set the standards for quality tires for years. Their unmatched commitment to developing the fastest, best handling, puncture-resistant tires has led to a wide array of the best rubber in the business. Read on to learn what goes into these great upgrades for any bike.
Keep The Rubber Side Down
It all starts with the rubber compound. Most Specialized tread compounds use a blend of natural and synthetic rubber. Natural rubber lasts longer yet synthetics offer better traction so the blend varies according to the intended use of the tire. A plasticizer (basically an oil) is mixed into both types of rubber to increase tire hardness. A tire that requires a very low rolling resistance will have a high plasticizer content while a tire with a more traction-critical use will have a much lower plasticizer content.
The tire's durometer is largely a measure of plasticizer content: the higher the plasticizer, the higher the durometer and the longer the tire will last. Lower durometers are typically reserved for tires that require maximum traction a limited number of times. Finally, Specialized uses several other proprietary additives (that are closely guarded company secrets) to increase tire function and durability.
The ability to manipulate various levels of rubber compounds lets Specialized create impressive dual-compound tires. These models often feature a high-durometer center compound for minimal straight-line contact and a softer, low-durometer cornering shoulder for maximum cornering confidence. Motorcycle-inspired research lends these tires traction even in wet conditions.
Round (Road): Specialized's round road tires glide over tarmac with virtually no rolling resistance. A completely bald design with raised center tread minimizes rolling resistance while a grooved slick sheds fine dirt and water from the contact patch.
Triangular center knobs: Offer easy rolling and aggressive grip in soft terrain. Found on the revered Team Control.
Center blocks with tie bars: Maximize in-line acceleration and braking traction.
Large, shallow knobs: Are ideal for hardpack. Their knob size maximizes the contact area while their shallow depth minimizes rollover.
Small, deep knobs: Are often found on tires designed for loose and loamy terrain as well as tires designed for mud. Tires for loose conditions usually have a larger, square profile while mud-specific rubber may have narrower knobs to dig through the muck.
When it comes to Specialized this is not just a metaphor. Many Specialized tires feature an Aramid bead for incredible puncture resistance. Aramids are a family of nylons that are used to make things, such as bulletproof vests and fireproof clothing. Depending on their use they have different marketing names. Specialized uses the same type of Aramid that is used to make bulletproof vests to provide strong casings that are light, soft and supple. With this technology Specialized Flak Jacket tires cut down on punctures by 40% (in laboratory tests) without reducing feedback from the road and trail. All with virtually no weight penalty!
For the ultimate in puncture protection try Specialized's Armadillo series. Tires with this level of puncture protection offer an incredible 3 layers of armor. The base is made from a DuPont Kevlar subtread for bead-to-bead protection. A second Kevlar barrier is impregnated with elastomer to seal even the most microscopic gaps in the weave. Finally a new synthetic cap ply material similar to that found on off-road motorcycle tires prevents sidewall cuts.
Leading The Way In Tire Construction
Check out these Specialized tires and then come on in to see our full selection!