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We’ve known Specialized has been cooking up some fresh road tires for a while, given that their pro teams had been riding and winning some very high profile road races on some S-Works–badged rubber.
Well now we know what it is — and there’s not just one, but three new road tires, all sharing the brand’s high-end S-Works moniker.
It all starts with a new rubber compound
The essence of any tire — how it rides, reacts to inputs from the road and rider, and wears over time — comes down to its rubber compound. The heart of the new S-Works tire line is a brand new compound called Gripton T2.
Specialized tested hundreds of compounds for characteristics including rebound, abrasion, hardness, and tear strength. Two factors of the Gripton T2 compound stood out, both of which translate into more speed: rebound and hysteresis. The compound absorbs very little energy from the road (rebound), and under compression loses very little energy to heat build up (hysteresis). The result is a compound that makes for some big improvements to the brand’s tires.
Two different compounds
Specialized utilizes this new Gripton T2 compound in the center of the tire, taking advantage of its low rolling resistance and durability where riders spend the majority of the time. But on the sides of the tires, grip is priority number one for better cornering, so Specialized chose its T5 compound.
The Specialized marketing team told me that at the 2022 Tour de France opening time trial, the QuickStep directeur sportif was yelling into the radio to Yves Lampaert to trust his tires, and he took the corners extra hard, helping make up time and take the stage win over the usual TT powerhouses. Whether the story went down completely like that is hard to say, but it’s believable enough that the tires played a role in the win, especially given the rainy conditions that day.
Three tire options
Three S-Works tires take advantage of this Gripton T2/T5 compound: The race-oriented Turbo RapidAir 2BR, the speed and durability balancing Turbo 2BR, and the same S-Works Turbo tire in a tube type.
The S-Works Turbo Cotton will continue in the lineup as well.
S-WorksTurbo RapidAir 2BR
Made with a two-ply construction instead of three, the S-WorksTurbo RapidAir 2BR was already a top performing tire. The new version saves 2 watts from rolling resistance over the previous version and drops the weight to 230 grams per tire. A new hybrid-Kevlar Blackbelt protection under the tread, which helps lower the weight, offers 12% more puncture protection too. But perhaps the most intriguing update is adding a whopping 1,000km of life to the tires, something that’s very welcome for tires that cost $90 each.
The S-WorksTurbo RapidAir 2BR only comes in a tubeless option and is 700x26mm only.
The S-WorksTurbo 2BR is as an all-around performance tire that balances speed and durability. With this latest update, it gets even better at both of those, and gets better grip too.
The 26mm version of the new model is a claimed 6 watts faster than before, while the puncture protection is now 8% better.
Specialized thinks this tire will best suit most riders’ needs and is giving it a bunch of options. There’s a 26mm, 28mm, and 30mm, weighing 260g, 280g, and 300g respectively. The 28mm and 30mm sizes also have a tan wall version.
Each tire costs $80.
S-WorksTurbo tube type
The S-WorksTurbo is still available as a tube type tire. Going with the older tech will save you quite a few grams — the 24mm version weighs 200 grams, and some money too: $70 versus $80 for the tubeless version.
It is available in 24mm, 26mm, and 28mm.