Specialized returns to tubeless with its new S-Works Turbo tyre range

The S-Works Turbo RapidAir 2BR is back and promises significant gains

Specialized S-Works Turbo 2BR

Specialized has announced a refresh of its S-Works Turbo range of high-end road bike tyres, with two new tubeless tyres and one clincher.

Advertisement

The American brand claims the development of two new rubber compounds has enabled significant improvements to rolling resistance, durability, grip and puncture protection across the board.

The new Specialized S-Works Turbo RapidAir 2BR, for example, is claimed to lower rolling resistance by one watt per tyre, grip better and add around 1,000 kilometres to the lifespan of a set, compared to the previous S-Works Turbo RapidAir.

This tyre has already seen considerable success in the WorldTour this season, Specialized says.

Yves Lampaert used it to win the opening-stage time trial of the 2022 Tour de France, while Jai Hindley and Remco Evenepoel both used it on their way to respective overall victories at this year’s Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España.

S-Works Turbo tyres for every occasion

The headline tyre is the new race-focused S-Works Turbo RapidAir 2BR, but that’s only one model in a whole new range.
Specialized

Rather than making one tyre to act as a general purpose all-rounder, Specialized says developing multiple, more highly optimised tyres enables riders to choose the best option for their specific needs.

With this in mind, the new S-Works Turbo tyre range contains three tyres;

  • Specialized S-Works Turbo RapidAir 2BR
  • Specialized S-Works Turbo 2BR
  • Specialized S-Works Turbo (clincher)

All three new S-Works Turbo tyres use the same, newly developed dual-compound tread.

This tread is claimed to offer significant performance gains in key areas such as rolling resistance, durability, grip and puncture protection.

Specialized says it has developed two new rubber compounds, which bring significant performance gains when used in tandem.
Specialized

The slick centre strip uses Gripton T2, which Specialized refers to as its “speed compound”.

Specialized claims this rubber compound exhibits both exceptionally low rolling resistance and high durability characteristics.

The shoulders of the tread use Gripton T5, an “all-round compound” that, the US brand claims, prioritises grip, but nevertheless still offers low rolling resistance and good durability.

Each rubber compound has different characteristics, and has an optimal placement on the tyre as a result.
Specialized

Specialized has also updated the tread pattern, with a slightly more prominent diagonal dashed pattern. It’s said to help with grip on “uneven, imperfect roads”, compared to a completely slick tyre.

The differences between the three tyres, then, are down to the casings.

The 2023 S-Works Turbo tyre range also gets a subtle update to its tread pattern.
Stan Portus / Our Media

Alongside the S-Works products, Specialized has also announced a new mid-range tyre, the Turbo Pro T5.

It deviates from the premium tyres by using a heavier, more robust casing with a single compound (Gripton T5) tread. This enables it to come in at a lower price point.

Specialized S-Works Turbo RapidAir 2BR

The S-Works Turbo RapidAir 2BR has been used to great success in the WorldTour this season.
Specialized

The S-Works Turbo RapidAir 2BR uses the lightest, most supple casing Specialized makes.

It uses a two-ply, 120 TPI (Threads Per Inch) tubeless-ready construction, with the plys only overlapping at the sidewalls.

Specialized claims this makes for a faster tyre compared to those with “a traditional 3-ply casing”, which it says increases rolling resistance due to the presence of extra material beneath the tread.

A cutaway view of the new S-Works Turbo RapidAir 2BR tyre.
Specialized

An updated BlackBelt puncture protection strip sits beneath the tread and is claimed to offer 12 per cent better puncture resistance than its predecessor.

Available in a single 700 x 26c size, it costs £65 per tyre and is claimed to weigh 230g, 30g less than the previous version.

The tyre incorporates a BlackBelt puncture protection strip.
Specialized

Although many amateurs and professionals are moving to wider tyres, Specialized says a 700 x 26c tyre provides the optimal balance of rolling resistance, aerodynamic performance, weight and handling when matched to its flagship Roval Rapide CLX II and Alpinist CLX II wheelsets, or the cheaper CL II versions, which share the same rims.

Specialized says it expects an average lifetime for the S-Works Turbo RapidAir 2BR of 4,000km / 2,500 miles for a front tyre and 3,500km / 2,200 miles for a rear one. This is said to represent an improvement of around 1,000km compared to the previous version.

Specialized S-Works Turbo 2BR

Specialized says the S-Works Turbo 2BR is a race tyre fit for cobbled classics.
Specialized

The S-Works Turbo 2BR is a race tyre designed for all-season use.

Specialized says it’s the “fastest, most durable performance tyre” it has ever made, and is ideal for everything “from cobbled classics to your daily lunch ride”.

It uses a two-ply, 120 TPI tubeless-ready casing, but here the plys overlap underneath the tread and BlackBelt puncture protection strip.

The S-Works Turbo 2BR features a two-ply casing, but the plys overlap underneath the tread for improved puncture protection and durability.
Specialized

Specialized says this increases the durability of the tyre by 8 per cent compared to the previous version of this tyre, but ups rolling resistance and weight slightly compared to the new RapidAir 2BR tyre.

According to Specialized, the new S-Works Turbo 2BR is 3 watts faster per tyre than the previous version.

Specialized also says it is as fast as the old S-Works Turbo RapidAir 2BR. Connecting the dots, that would make it 1 watt slower per tyre than the new RapidAir 2BR tyre mentioned above.

The Specialized S-Works Turbo 2BR is available with black or tan sidewalls in certain sizes.
Specialized

The S-Works Turbo 2BR is available in sizes from 700 x 26c to 700 x 30c, with tan sidewall versions available in 700 x 28c and 700 x 30c. It costs £55 per tyre.

A size 700 x 26c tyre is claimed to weigh 260g.

Average lifetime for the S-Works Turbo 2BR is said to be in the region of 6,000km / 4,000 miles for a front tyre and 5,000km / 3,200 miles for a rear one.

Specialized S-Works Turbo

The Specialized S-Works Turbo brings the new T2/T5 tread and two-ply casing design to a clincher tyre.
Specialized

For those who haven’t yet switched to tubeless, the S-Works Turbo is Specialized’s new high-performance benchmark for a clincher tyre.

It uses a similar two-ply, 120 TPI casing to the S-Works Turbo 2BR tyre (with the plys overlapping underneath the puncture protection strip and tread), but uses a lighter clincher bead.

The Specialized S-Works Turbo clincher uses a similar casing to the tubeless equivalent but has a clincher bead.
Specialized

Specialized says it offers a reduction in rolling resistance of 2 watts per tyre compared to the previous S-Works Turbo clincher, along with 8 per cent better puncture protection, but stopped short of offering direct comparisons to its tubeless counterpart.

The S-Works Turbo is available in sizes from 700 x 24c to 700 x 30c, and costs £45 per tyre.

A size 700 x 26c tyre is claimed to weigh 220g.

Specialized Turbo Pro T5

Along with the S-Works Turbo range, Specialized has also announced a new mid-range clincher tyre, the Turbo Pro T5.

It uses a heavier and more robust 60 TPI casing with a single compound (Gripton T5) tread, and is said to offer greater grip and durability at a lower price point.

The Turbo Pro T5 is available in sizes from 700 x 24c to 700 x 30c, and costs £35 per tyre.

A size 700 x 26c tyre is claimed to weigh 240g.

Tyre system tennis

The original S-Works Turbo RapidAir tubeless tyre launched in 2019 and was slated to sound the death knell for tubulars in the pro peloton.
Specialized

When the previous S-Works Turbo RapidAir launched in July 2019, Specialized suggested it would herald a new era of tubeless dominance in road cycling, because it was said to combine the speed of clinchers, the ride feel of tubulars and the improved puncture protection of tubeless tyres.

Fast forward to June 2020, and Specialized performed an abrupt about-face with the release of the original, non-tubeless-compatible, Roval Rapide CLX and Alpinist CLX wheelsets.

Designing for clinchers only, it said, allowed for lighter wheels, and adding mass to reinforce the rims for tubeless compatibility would have outweighed the potential benefits.

It’s fair to say Specialized-sponsored riders had plenty of success using this setup too.

The original Roval Rapide CLX and Alpinist CLX wheels were designated for use with clincher tyres only, despite the rims having many of the hallmarks of tubeless compatibility.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

Perhaps unsurprisingly, though, this latest U-turn follows the recent launch of the Rapide CLX II and Alpinist CLX II wheelsets, which saw tubeless compatibility reinstated.

As some had suspected, the original wheelsets were designed to be tubeless-compatible all along, Specialized admitted. An ill-timed broken rim and tyre blow-off during testing by Peter Sagan had instigated a change in tack prior to launch.

Specialized is now declaring tubeless to be the best-performing option again, even going as far as to say “if your tyre is rolling, you’re faster on tubeless”.

It claims its own testing shows a tyre set up tubeless has an average rolling resistance advantage of around 8 per cent compared to one set up with a butyl inner tube, because there is less material to deform and less friction within the system.

As already mentioned, Specialized-sponsored riders have achieved lots of success this season with the new tubeless setups as well.

Jai Hindley of Bora-hansgrohe won the 2022 Giro d’Italia using the new tubeless-compatible Roval wheels and S-Works Turbo RapidAir 2BR tyres.
Specialized

Specialized also says tubeless tyre systems deform “more easily in response to road imperfections, giving you better grip and a more comfortable and controlled ride”.

Lastly, it claims adding its own RapidAir sealant “does not affect the rolling resistance”.

If true, this would be an impressive development, as independent tests have shown tubeless tyre sealant typically adds a small but measurable amount of rolling resistance to tubeless systems.

Is this the end of the tubeless versus clincher (versus tubular) debate, then? Specialized seems keen to nail its colours firmly to the tubeless mast this time, at least when it comes to its top-performing tyres, but who knows what the future holds.

2022 Specialized S-Works Turbo tyre range specifications and availability

The 2023 Specialized S-Works Turbo range.
Specialized

The new range of Specialized S-Works Turbo tyres is available now.

The two tubeless-ready tyres (the S-Works Turbo RapidAir 2BR and S-Works Turbo 2BR) are both approved for use on hookless rims, to a maximum tyre pressure of 72.5psi / 5 BAR.

Specialized says its internal safety testing shows the tyres exceed the ISO’s “burst pressure standard” of 110 per cent of 72.5psi / 5 BAR (the minimum inflation pressure a tubeless tyre must be able to withstand without blowing off an ETRTO-compliant hookless rim), instead offering a “margin of safety to 200 per cent” of the standard.

Nevertheless, Specialized says it recommends using hooked rims because these allow for inflation pressures up to 110psi / 7.58 BAR, in order to cater for a wider spread of terrains and for riders of differing weights.

Specialized S-Works Turbo RapidAir 2BR

  • Price: £65
  • Type: Tubeless-ready
  • Tread compound: Dual compound (Gripton T2 and T5)
  • Casing: Two-ply, 120 TPI
  • Available size: 700 x 26c
  • Claimed weight: 230g

Specialized S-Works Turbo 2BR

  • Price: £55
  • Type: Tubeless-ready
  • Tread compound: Dual compound (Gripton T2 and T5)
  • Casing: Two-ply, 120 TPI
  • Available sizes: 700 x 26c, 700 x 28c, 700 x 30c
  • Claimed weights: 260g, 280g, 300g

Specialized S-Works Turbo

  • Price: £45
  • Type: Clincher
  • Tread compound: Dual compound (Gripton T2 and T5)
  • Casing: Two-ply, 120 TPI
  • Available sizes: 700 x 24c, 700 x 26c, 700 x 28c, 200 x 30c
  • Claimed weights: 200g, 220g, 240g, 260g
Advertisement

Specialized Turbo Pro T5

  • Price: £35
  • Type: Clincher
  • Tread compound: Single compound (Gripton T5)
  • Casing: 60 TPI
  • Available sizes: 700 x 24c, 700 x 26c, 700 x 28c, 700 x 30c
  • Claimed weights: 220g, 240g, 260g, 280g