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The Look, the Feel: Specialized Turbo Cotton

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Nov 12, 2014 – Cycling’s reverence for heritage is strong – from vintage kits and bikes to the idolization of early champions. Typically, a love of vintage product means a love of riding slowly, but very rarely looking back to the way things used to be done actually results in speed.

Ben Edwards

Turbocotton_1The natural color of Specialized’s newest tire’s sidewall is one of these rare examples. The Turbo Cotton mates Specialized’s Gripton compound with a 320TPI cotton casing instead of today’s usual nylon casings. The result, according to Specialized, is the fastest tire they have ever made. Specialized claims using cotton reduces rolling resistance at 18mph by 5watts, versus the S-Works Turbo, already consistently at the top of independent tests. Cotton deforms to the road surface with less energy and when it comes to suppleness, high thread count cotton is the gold standard. Not only does this lower rolling resistance, it improves handling and Specialized’s move to wider tires, 24mm and 26mm, compounds these benefits.

Gripton itself, while prized for traction and road feel, is not a long lasting compound or very cut resistant. The Turbo Cotton, and new S-Works Turbo, feature next generation dual compound Gripton created with feedback from Omega Pharma – Quick Step riders. The compound seems to be more cut resistant and slightly longer lived, although don’t expect it to hold up like a training tire, this is still a high performance racer. A fact Tony Martin has proved – the Turbo Cotton is his new go-to time trial tire.

What matters to most riders is not rolling resistance tests in the lab, but elusive road feel. Our benchmark tire for road feel has always been the Vittoria Open Corsa SC 25mm, it’s safe to say the new Specialized Turbo Cotton matches the Vittoria corner for corner, which is to say it is undeniably faster than almost anything else on the club ride. The Turbo Cotton will help you find out how good at descending you and your bike truly are. Your frame will deform and your hands will clutch for brake before these tires ever give up. While no tread has ever proven more effective than a slick in the lab, on the road Omega Pharma – Quick Step prefers a file tread on the shoulders, so Specialized delivers and who are we to argue with Martin and Boonen?

For all its benefits, cotton is a natural fiber and as such is slightly heavier than nylon, our 24mm cotton tires weighed 220grams (actual) with an actual width of 24.5mm at 100psi, 15grams heavier than an S-Works Turbo with nylon casing. We’ll take that penalty any day. When handling your bike on the limit is required, the Turbo Cotton delivers.

Price: $80 Weight: 220grams (24mm) Widths: 24/26mm More: specialized.com