If I was only allowed one tyre for year round use Specialized’s all condition Armadillo Elite would be top of my list for year-round training/spirited road duties thanks to its enviable blend of minimal rolling resistance, durability and puncture protection. However, the ride’s a little harsh and there’s a definite knack to getting them on board-especially if blistered thumbs and broken tyre levers are to be avoided.
Construction is very much tried and tested as opposed to exotic- we’ve 120tpi casings coupled with 70a tread rubber for speed and agility and 60a sidewalls for dependable cornering. Feedback suggests members of the ninety-kilo club turning massive mileages have no problems with sidewall woes although running a bottle dynamo in this context might tip the balance and the absence of reflectives is a small but missed opportunity on training tyres.
From the outset they feel markedly narrower than their 23mm profiles suggest-especially run at their 125psi limit, riding and tweaking suggests that 115 is optimum - (quite often not the same thing as maximum when it comes to tyres), delivering a smoother ride without impairing performance. Sudden cloudbursts following an intensive dry spell leave behind a treacherous, oily film on the road surface but the Armadillo Elites took this all in their stride, whether swooping full-pelt along rural roads with additional helpings of dung and diesel or cantering through town.
Greasy man-hole covers, opening car doors, traffic cone slaloms and even the expectant mother and her brood stepping off the kerb straight into our path couldn’t ruin their pin sharp handling. Efficient water channelling grooves are undoubtedly central to this but while repeated riding through shards of broken glass wasn’t responsible for the one and only puncture in two weeks and two hundred and eighty miles, the tread will harbours silt and other road debris conducive to the dreaded hiss.
Super fast, dependable all conditions tyre for training/commuting or just riding a lot
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Make and model: Specialized All Condition Armadillo Elite 700x23c tyre
Size tested: 23mm
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"Our All Condition Armadillo Elite road tire does absolutely everything well, making it one of the best, lightweight, multi-condition, puncture resistant tires available anywhere."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
•120 TPI casing
•Center Compound: 70a
•Shoulder Compound: 60a
•Dual Radius Tread (DRT) design for low rolling resistance and great cornering
Should last a few seasons.
Generally good but can feel slightly harsh.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
There's no doubt Specialized know their stuff when it comes to tyres and the All Condition Armadillio Elite are no exception. They roll surprisingly fast, if a little harsh but even winding descents and greasy lanes inspired confidence and speeds close to thirty mph. They feel equally dependable in the urban jungle characterised by man-hole covers, shards of glass, unpredictable traffic and errant pedestrians. However, relective sidewalls would've been nice touches for the depths of winter.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Dependable all-weather road tyre with low rolling resistance.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Stubbon fitting- killed my beloved speed lever!
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Age: 36 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)