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The Specialized Roadsport is an entry-level tyre that gets the basics mostly bang on and handles better than the budget price tag might imply. They're a decent upgrade from original equipment rubber but not the best road bike tyres you can get, and there are similarly priced options with more effective puncture protection.
The Roadsport features a 60tpi casing and a wire bead, which is what I'd expect from the price point, but I was pleased to discover the three-layer Endurant casing employs a puncture resistant belt that runs bead to bead, rather than just along the centre strip.
I tested the 28mm width, but there are 25, 32, and 35mm versions too. One interesting feature is the narrow pressure range, which is between 85 and 95psi. Not overly difficult to achieve by the roadside, but still. There are no retro-reflective stripes and there's no dynamo track either.
I was pleasantly surprised by how easily they slipped aboard a medium-section gravel rim with no call for tyre levers, although deep section hoops – such as these Halo Aerotracks – required a stocky lever to scoop the final 15 per cent home.
Our first outing was bone dry, but I'm pleased to report conditions quickly became more varied and autumnal. Ride quality and handling are impressive, given the asking price. They accelerate quickly and aren't difficult to keep on the boil. Rolling resistance feels greater than with the CST Czar I tested recently, or the Vittoria Rubino Pros I'd swapped out for the Roadsports, but lower than Schwalbe's venerable Lugano.
This engaging quality keeps the ride fun, and even with the tyres pumped up to 95psi, I'd never describe the ride as harsh. Rumble strips, washboard tarmac and tar overbanding only sent a gentle ripple through the frameset and bar. Dropping to 90psi improved matters further and (having also run them at 85psi for 100 miles) proved my sweet spot.
On a dry road I've had them up to 28mph on descents and couldn't cajole them into misbehaviour – no shimmies or weaves. Wet weather manners are similarly good and feedback is ample, although 25mph was pretty much my limit along the same stretch.
Compared with more expensive 60tpi models such as the Vittoria Rubino Pros I mentioned earlier, I've exercised a little more caution on wet inspection covers and the like; traction isn't quite on a par but not far behind, either.
Puncture resistance is middling. In 400 miles I punctured three times, though admittedly on very wet rides along dark, farm-infested lanes. The first was a small but deep cut caused by a thorn; the others were a shard of glass and a flint, both of which had burrowed into the casing at a thankfully sloth-like pace, hence very slow punctures. This may be less of an issue if you're riding on generally less filthy roads, of course.
I'd still look elsewhere for weekend touring. Something like Schwalbe's Lugano might be a little portlier, so lacks the same sparkle, but it inspires far more confidence when I've loaded up the panniers and rack bag – despite only having a puncture-resistant centre strip.
Twenty quid doesn't go far these days, and there's no doubt in my mind that the Roadsport represents good value. Those Schwalbe Lugano IIs are available in similar sizes and are £16.99 with wire beads, while the WTB Thick Slick Comp is £23.99 and, in my experience, extremely reliable. The Comp relies on thicker rubber rather than Kevlar-type belts, but I've had no issues and mine have never missed a beat in the wet.
There's also the LifeLine Prime Armor Road Tyre which now comes in at £21.99 and is available in 23, 25 and 28mm guises.
The Specialized Roadsport impresses with its blend of agility, speed and compliance, though I'm a little disappointed by their puncture resistance. There are better choices if you fancied a bit of weekend touring and, if you're aiming to do regular long-distance stuff, the Roadsport Elite looks better equipped for only £7 more.
Lively and compliant budget tyre, but puncture resistance is not the best
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized Roadsport tyres
Size tested: 700x28
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Specialized says, "The updated Roadsport tire features one of our classic, most versatile tread patterns paired with the bead to bead protection of our premium Endurant casing. This upgrade gives the tire increased speed, grip and durability, all in a lighter weight package. We also updated the rubber with a new, extra-grippy compound that provides safe and predictable handling in a variety of conditions. So, it's no surprise that it has already become a Specialized employee favorite."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Casing: 60 TPI
Flat Protection: Endurant
26x1 3/8", psi 70-90, approximate weight 515g
27x1 1/4", psi 85-95, approximate weight 545g
700x24mm, psi 100-125, approximate weight 335g
700x26mm, psi 100-125, approximate weight 360g
700x28mm, psi 85-95, approximate weight 420g
700x32mm, psi 85-95, approximate weight 460g
By no means poor, but I've been disappointed by the casing's puncture resistance.
Handle well, wet or dry, and give a surprisingly compliant ride.
Ours succumbed to some small yet deep cuts to the casings.
Generally compliant over most surfaces.
Ride quality and handling are better than I've come to expect from this end of the market, but puncture resistance doesn't compare with the likes of Schwalbe's Lugano II, for example.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, though they're not the most puncture-resistant option.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good range of sizes, roll well, good wet or dry.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Puncture-repelling belt isn't as effective as you'd hope.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Schwalbe's Lugano IIs are available in similar sizes and are £16.99 with wire beads, while the WTB Thick Slick Comp is £23.99 and, in my experience, extremely reliable.
The LifeLine Prime Armor Road Tyre comes in at £21.99 and is available in 23, 25 and 28mm guises.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if they were on a budget and not overly puncture prone.
Use this box to explain your overall score
This is a lively and engaging budget tyre, but it's less puncture resistant than some similarly priced models.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)