Monday, July 2, 2012

New Specialized TT Tire and Carbon Clincher Zipp Disc

Specialized’s new hyper-thin clincher TT tires certainly didn’t have the debut the company was hoping for, with Tony Martin puncturing and requiring a bike change during the prologue, but they’ve already sent the big German to his national time trial title and he will undoubtedly continue to use them.

The world TT champ has been on clinchers for some time, collecting last year’s rainbow jersey on a pair of Hed clincher wheels and Continental tires. The swap was purely analytical, as the numbers show a clear advantage for clinchers, according to Specialized’s Chris D’Alusio. Clinchers offer lower rolling resistance, particularly when paired with a latex tube, than any tubular.

Tubulars offer additional security in the case of a flat, since they stay attached to the rim even without air, as well as increased pinch-flat protection. Both features keep them popular for regular road racing. But in a time trial, neither is as important, pushing absolute performance to the top priority.

The new Specialized tires use a 24mm wide casing and the same tread mold as the company’s new 24.5mm tubulars. The primary design goal from the start was low rolling resistance, achieved using a 220tpi casing and .28mm-thick nylon casing. A Blackbelt anti-flat strip adds a bit of security, but nonetheless the tires are incredible thin and supple in hand.

Martin has been using prototypes throughout the design process and continues to give feedback, according to D’Alusio.

The shape isn’t designed to improve aerodynamics, at least not yet, said Yu.

“We’re concentrating first and foremost on rolling resistance, and may work on aerodynamics later,” he said.

Weight is just 150 grams, and availability is set for later this summer.

Martin is the only rider who will certainly use the new tires, and the prototype carbon clincher Zipp disc that goes with them, during this year’s Tour. But, given his success, we wouldn’t be surprised to see other riders begin to trickle away from tubulars for time trials.

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