Specialized Turbo Cotton 700 x 26C

The Specialized Turbo Cotton is the fastest tire in the world… at least according to the Californian manufacturer! However, our lab results tell us a different story. Together with the Pirelli, the Specialized Turbo Cotton is the tire that measured the highest rolling resistance. But leaving the test benches and hitting the road, the story changes again. In a nutshell: the Turbo Cotton is slow in the lab but fast as hell on the road. How is that possible? Well, simply because lab values are very specific and dependent on clearly defined parameters. This explains why we advocate real-life tests in real conditions. Lab tests are performed with a given tire pressure and do not take into account factors such as self-damping and riding behaviour. The Turbo Cotton is the best example of this: despite the lab results, all of our test riders agreed that the Specialized is extremely fast and just screams for speed.

With its soft cotton carcass and excellent grip, the Turbo Cotton sticks to the road. The tire is well-cushioned and efficiently filters out the irregularities of the tarmac, thus inspiring lots of confidence. In many situations, you actually feel encouraged to carry even more speed through corners at a point where most of its competitors would already be skidding out. However, the Turbo Cotton isn’t the most comfortable tire in the test field: like the Pirelli, it tends to pass on hard impacts and feels harsher than our comfort queen, Vittoria.

When carving through corners, the Specialized bares its racing teeth and encourages you to lean into turns aggressively. Whilst this character is not to everyone’s taste, experienced riders will take advantage of the precise handling to carve through turns at full blast. At the limit, all open tubular tires have one thing in common: they break out much later, but more abruptly than any clincher tire in our test. We don’t imagine this will be a particular problem though as experienced riders should have the skills to deal with this character.

The Specialized is also one of the easiest tires to mount: you’ll be as fast at changing your tires as you’re riding your bike. After the first, slightly trickier installation, the Turbo Cotton can be mounted even by hand.

Conclusions

At € 61.90 per tire, the Specialized Turbo Cotton isn’t exactly cheap, but is a superb option if you’re trying to crush your PR at the next race, Gran Fondo or time trial. Made in Thailand, the popular cotton-racer strikes a good balance of speed and grip. Yet, having your own support car could be a good idea, because the Turbo Cotton offers very little puncture protection – just lift your arm and wait for your spare wheel!

Tops

  • Very good grip
  • Good workmanship
  • Minimal branding

Flops

  • Pricey
  • Aggressive handling, only good for experienced riders
  • Poor puncture resistance

Grip | Rolling resistance | Puncture-protection | Mounting | Value for money


Price: € 61.90
Weight1: 239 g
Width2: 26.4 mm
Tubeless? No, not available as a tubeless-ready version.
Colours? Tan wall only.
Widths? Available in 24, 26 and 28 mm.
1 The weight was checked against the manufacturer’s specifications and averaged across all tires of the same model we tested.
2 The width was checked against the manufacturer’s specifications and averaged across all tires of the same model we tested.