I just got my new Specialized Roubaix Road Tubeless tires delivered, so I set them up on my also brand new Dura Ace WH-9000 C24 tubeless wheels and took both the wheels and the tires on their first ride. I first tried to buy these at my local bike shop, but they only had Bontrager 23 mm tires and some Hutchinson Fusion 3 tires, and none of the new tubeless Specialized. So I ordered directly from Specialized online. They cost $90 per tire.
On the mountain biking side, I was pretty late to tubeless, just having converted last year. But my experience with tubeless was so great that when I started looking at my next set of wheels that I plan to use for road biking and also some cyclocross and gravel grinders, I decided to go tubeless there too.
You can run cyclocross tubeless on just about any wheels with tape, because the tire pressures are low. But with high pressure road tires, you need to stick with wheels and tires that are both “road tubeless” compatible for safety. Otherwise you risk a catastrophic failure. Keep that in mind if you are considering riding road tubeless.
Deciding to go the road tubeless route led me to the new 2013 Dura Ace C24 wheels, which have a road tubeless option.
But back to the tires….
The first thing I noticed about these tires is that they aren’t really 700 x 25 tires like I originally imagined them to be. It’s some weird 700 x 23 / 25c hybrid size, where supposedly the tire is 23 mm, but the body is 25 mm. I’d personally prefer a full on 25 mm tire, but oh well.
The next thing I noticed on the package was that they were made in Japan. That gave me a little bit of extra confidence that the quality control was going to be there, even though it is Specialized’s first road tubeless tire. I wonder if IRC (also in Japan) makes these tires for them, or what the story is there.
One of the reasons I didn’t go with Hutchinson Fusion 3 25 mm tires is because I’ve heard from two different people about a road tubeless tire and a cyclocross tubeless tire that was so hard to get off the rim and fit so tight that they either broke several plastic tire tools in one case, or ended up giving up and actually cutting the bead to get them off the tire in the other case. Both of these stories concern tires from a year or two ago, so maybe this isn’t an issue anymore. But it spooked me, because I don’t want to have a flat and be stuck somewhere, unable to get my tire off to put in an emergency tube.
Why am I telling you all that? Because I was able to get the Specialized Roubaix road tubeless tires on my rims with a single Pedro’s plastic tire lever and my hands. I feel like if I had normal strength hands and not baby hands that only type at the computer all day, I might have been able to get them on with no lever at all. That was a relief to me.
After I got the first tire on, I ran to the back of the house and got out my Topeak Joe Blow Pro floor pump and started pumping. What would happen next, I wondered?
With my 29er tubeless tires, I always require a compressor to get my tires seated and sealed up. And even then, sometimes I have trouble. But I figured with such a small volume tire, a floor pump might be enough.
And what do you know, they sealed up almost instantly and started inflating! I heard a little bit of air leaking and started to freak out, but it was just that my presta valve wasn’t screwed all the way tight and air was leaking at the base of it. I gave it a quick turn, and the tires pumped up all the way to 115, the listed max.
When I got to around 90 pounds, I heard the tires make that noise where you know they have snapped into place. I bounced them, and they made one more popping sound as the bead slid into the hook, and they were done.
“What about sealant?” you might be asking.
I put on the tires inside the house, and didn’t want to make a giant Caffelatex mess. So I didn’t use any sealant at all yet. But the tires held air all night without any sealant, regardless. (I plan to remove the valve core and add sealant in the next day or two.)
Putting on the other tire was similarly straightforward and without incident.
I took the tires on a quick 20 mile spin the next day, without sealant, and found them to be comfortable and grippy. I ran them at 95 pounds.
I run my Continental Grand Prix 4000S tires (in a 25 mm) at 95 pounds already. So I can’t say that I noticed that going tubeless provided a noticeably plusher or grippier ride than that set up.
But I would say that I feel confident on these tires, and I am happy with them.
One of the biggest questions I have about these tires is why Specialized decided to call them an “Endurance” tire instead of just a competition road tire? They are in the same weight range as other road tubeless tires, at 295 grams. The tread looks close enough to any other road tire. And they are only 700 x 23, which isn’t really the kind of tire that you would go gravel grinding with. They seem clearly intended for regular road riding to me.
I’ll follow up with a future post after I’ve ridden them for a few hundred miles and also added sealant.
If you have any questions, leave a comment and I’ll see if I know the answer for you.