Specialized Introduces “Hell of the North” Tyre

The variant on the Turbo Cotton has special features for rough roads.

Joe Lindsey |

The variant on the Turbo Cotton has special features for rough roads. – By Joe Lindsey


One of our favourite tyres is the Turbo Cotton clincher from Specialized. It’s light (about 220 grams in a 24mm), with a grippy, fast-rolling tread and a smooth-riding 320TPI polyester/cotton casing that delivers almost as sweet a feel as high-quality tubulars.But it’s also a touch fragile for rough roads. Enter the new Hell of the North edition, which upgrades the Turbo Cotton with some rugged features that make it perfect for patchy pavement and dirt.

The Turbo Hell of the North starts wider. Where the Turbo Cotton is available in 24 and 26mm widths, the variant comes in 26, 28, and 30mm versions (there will also be an S-Works tubular version). The poly-cotton casing gets a slightly different construction to better guard against sidewall tears and pinch flats. And the tread wraps another 4mm down each side of the sidewall, for further protection.

We rode the new tyres at the Paris-Roubaix Challenge event, a 145-kilometer amateur version of the famed pro race. The event covers 19 sectors of the race’s legendary cobblestone roads, totaling more than 32km of “pavé,” and all of the hardest and most rugged.
Short version: The tyre is impressive. They offered excellent grip on the cobblestones but still felt fast and efficient on the pavement between the sectors. Ride quality was superb, blunting the stiffness of the 64mm-deep wheels on the Specialized Roubaix I was riding.

I did get a flat once (rider error, mostly) and noticed that the sidewall on the rear tyre had a scuff mark. But with a fresh tube swapped in, the setup held great the rest of the day. The Hell of the North seems like an ideal tyre for a rider who wants rough-road capability without sacrificing grip and a superlative ride quality. Pricing should be similar to existing Turbo Cotton model – around R940.

What You Need to Know

* More rugged version of Specialized’s Turbo Cotton tyre
* 26, 28, and 30mm widths
* Tread wraps 4mm down sidewall for protection

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