Review by Dave Snowberg, November, 2007

Specialized Armadillo Hemisphere 26 x 1.95 bicycle tire Specialized Armadillo Hemisphere 26 x 1.95 bicycle tire

(On the left is the new tire, on the right is the delaminated one. Click images for larger version.)

Pros:

  • Great flat protection
  • Good tread design for all-around bike touring and commuting

Cons:

  • Rubber delaminates prematurely

Recommendation:
Don’t buy this tire

Review:
I bought this tire for three reasons. The Armadillo flat protection is desirable on bike tours, the 1.95-inch tire width is the only tire in this size class to fit in between my narrow chainstays, and the tread design is good for all-around bike touring.

The tire rides well and the traction is a good design for bike touring on all conditions. For bike touring on rough roads it is especially suited for the rear wheel (the Specialized Armadillo Crossroads EX is a better tire for the front wheel on rough roads). I cannot recall ever getting a flat while using this tire.

The outer rubber of this tire delaminated from the inside casing. This delamination occurred well before the rubber had actually worn out. This delamination eventually caused the tread to detach in chunks from the tire body. I made desperate attempts to glue these chunks back onto the tire, but that didn’t work. I have had two tires fail prematurely this way. The first happened after three months of bike touring in Tibet, and the other during our Great Divide bike tour. The picture above right is of the failed tire from the Great Divide trip.

I think the Hemisphere could be a fine tire if Specialized would improve the bonding between the rubber and the nylon casing. Until then, I do not recommend this tire to anyone.

We’re testing the Continental Travel Contact tire, as Continental is known for quality, long-lasting tires and the tread looks to be useful for the variety of touring we’ll be doing. Michelle has used Continental tires with good results for commuting as well, so return to the Reviews section in the future to read our results.

 

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