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Specialized All Condition Armadillo Elite 700x23c tyre



Super fast, dependable all conditions tyre for training/commuting or just riding a lot

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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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 test report

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

•Bead: Aramid

•Center Compound: 70a

•Shoulder Compound: 60a

•Dual Radius Tread (DRT) design for low rolling resistance and great cornering

•PSI: 115-

Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:
Rate the product for durability:

Should last a few seasons.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:

262g each

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:

Generally good but can feel slightly harsh.

Rate the product for value:

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

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

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)

Add new comment


matthewn5 | 10 years ago

I've used these tyres for commuting daily on Shoreditch's broken glass strewn streets for 3 years and have yet to be bothered by the p*ncture fairies.

I hook out the debris and fill holes with superglue gel as recommended elsewhere, but I've seen other cyclists pull up next to me with so much stuff embedded in their tyres you'd laugh but that's how tough the kevlar belt is. For winter rides in the country along gritty wet thorn-strewn lanes these have held up too.

Hope this isn't tempting fate!

wornsaddle | 13 years ago

I have a love-hate relationship with this tyre. I used them for years commuting and training in and around London. Several times I rode a tyre through to the canvas without a puncture. I swore by them for this alone. But chris_road_cc and ribena are right to flag the build quality - roughly 1 in 5 tyres start delaminating round the bead. In some cases soon after purchase. I put these tyres on by hand so I'm not rough with them (though maybe it would be preferable to use levers). In the worst case the side casing blew out doing 90kmph downhill, staying intact, but with a large balloon out the side of the wall. Now living in Sydney I don't have to use such puncture resistant tyre (gloat/use GP4000s), but if I moved back to UK, I'd probably use Specialized again, but with caution! Another thing - don't even think about racing on them on a tight crit circuit, you'll be leaving the tarmac every corner!

ribena | 13 years ago

i had some 26" versions of these and they didn't last too long. One delaminated, and the other fell apart at the bead in around 9 months. Thats with a daily commute of 4 miles each way, through the winter.

Great while they lasted though.

Tony Farrelly | 13 years ago

hold on a minute tread doesn't help on the road because it reduces the size of the contact patch, the Armadillo doesn't have tread it's a slick with a groove in it and that groove doesn't cover enough of the tyre and nor is it deep enough either to reduce the size of the contact patch - I would think that the groove flattend out when it's part of the contact patch - which is why it can pick up grit. It may also shift a small amounts of water, but as Simonmb says very few of us are ever likely to go fast enough to aquaplane.

Simon_MacMichael | 13 years ago

Even from beyond the grave, AASHTA (As Always, Sheldon Has The Answer).

I guess that would make a good benchmark of how the bicycle evolves - when Sheldon Has The Answer less often than not, we'll have moved on.

I don't imagine it'll be any time soon, if ever.

Mat Brett | 13 years ago

I agree with simonmb and, more importantly, so does Sheldon Brown (RIP), and he's the boss. Grooved tread doesn't help a bit on road.

I've used Armadillos tons and had no punctures at all with a couple of sets. They're not light but if you don't want to be fixing a flat in December drizzle, they're the ones.

simonmb | 13 years ago

Nerd Alert!  26 Science tells us that grooves in road bike tyres don't significantly enhance water-dispersal or improve grip in the wet. Instead they merely give a psychological boost since we know (from our cars) that a slick tyre doesn't clear water as efficiently as a treaded tyre. Our tyres are too narrow and we go too slow to aquaplane - and adhesion is reduced by the same degree for all rubber - treaded or not. I'd rather stick with a slick that won't pack detritus into its grooves. Or am I wrong in believing all this?  26

chris_road_cc | 13 years ago

My old road bike will only take a 23mm tyre. My 30m commute used to be one puncture after another, that is, until I discovered these tyres. I have had one through tyre puncture in about 4 years. As to road holding, I can't comment - I'm too fat to go fast.

One negative to be aware of, is that the casing is very hard and the rubber can delaminate. For me this was the result of frost damage - the rubber picks up lots of cuts down to the puncture protection layer and water gets in-between. If you're a commuter though, there's nothing to compare.

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