Specialized Roubaix Armadillo Elite

Specialized Roubaix Armadillo Elite tire

To get up into the hills, I ride my bike through glass strewn, broken city streets. Including the weight of my bike, I’m pushing almost 100 kg. I was getting a lot of punctures from very small pieces of glass, frequently enough that I started to consider tire savers. If I hear a crunching sound or ride over small pieces of glass I don’t see in time, I reflexively put my thumb down on the rotating tire to hopefully flick off debris.

Though I need a rear tire that is more resistant to punctures, I also didn’t want to compromise too much on weight because I am riding a racing bike, even though it is from the early 80’s. Years ago, when I lived in Manhattan, I went from tubular tires to a Specialized Armadillo. It was like putting on a truck tire.

After I read Bruce Weber’s account of his flatless cross country bicycle ride with Schwalbe Durano tires, I bought a Schwalbe Durano Plus. With a folding bead, the 700 x 25C tire weighs 380 gm. Compared to the Continental Grand Prix 4-Season (that I was riding in a less demanding environment) the Schwalbe Durano Plus tire had a certain sluggish response.

One of my local bike shops suggested a Continental GatorSkin. They didn’t have the foldable version so I bought the 300 gm, wire bead, 700 x 25C. The GatorSkin felt more responsive than the Durano Plus and through it’s life, I only had one puncture. Unfortunately, the cord started showing in one spot after about 3500 miles.

I would have bought a folding Gatorskin, but LBS #2 wasn’t a Continental dealer. They suggested a Specialized Roubaix Armadillo Elite. I mounted it on my Mavic Open Pro wheel without shredding my thumbs or using tire irons to get the final part of the bead over the rim. Even though it weighs 305 gm, the Elite feels more responsive than the other two tires. For $60, I hope it wears well.

Specialized says, “The Roubaix is an Endurance Road tire for epic rides from smooth country roads to rough field roads.” Since my riding is none of the above, hopefully it will just work.

Campagnolo Record Hub

I have been using Campagnolo Record hubs since the I started buying Campagnolo components in the early 80’s. When cassette hubs were introduced, I stayed with freewheel hubs because of the 126mm drop out spacing on my De Rosa.

I’ve also been using a Shimano Dura Ace (Hyperglide) freewheel because of its good availability. The center to center spacing (5.0mm) and the thickness of the cogs are very similar to the early Campagnolo 8 speed according to Sheldon Brown’s Bicycle Frame and Cassette Spacing Crib Sheet. The Shimano freewheel also works very well with the Campagnolo Record Syncro downtube shift levers that I use with a 7 speed insert.

This was all fine until the rear hub developed a hairline crack at one of the spoke holes. Instead of buying a used Campagnolo freewheel hub, I decided to find a used Campagnolo 8 speed hub. This seemed the most economical route as opposed to buying new Campagnolo Ergopower controls, a new rear wheel with a Campagnolo Record hub, new 10 or 11 speed sprockets and a new derailleur.

The 8 speed hub I bought on eBay had clean bearings and races when I disassembled it so I just cleaned everything up and added new grease. I bought a Mavic Open Pro (CD) rim and laced it up this afternoon. I managed to buy a new Campagnolo Record 8 Speed Ultra Drive cassette on eBay so my 30 year old De Rosa is back in business with a 20 year-old shifting system.

Campagnolo Chorus Brakes

I upgraded my De Rosa’s brake calipers from a 43-year-old design (Campagnolo Super Record) to a 17-year-old design (Campagnolo Chorus). The “new” calipers (the eBay seller called them “vintage”) are dual-pivots with Campagnolo and Chorus imprinted on the brake arms. I used lined housings and stainless steel cables so in all, the stopping power feels like a significant upgrade over the Super Record calipers I was using. The new calipers seem to work OK with the mid-80’s C-Record levers although the quick releases on the levers to open up the calipers for wheel changes are a little inadequate because I’m using a 25mm wide rear tire.