Tuesday, May 11

Armadillo Tire Troubles

It was a LONG Walk Home with a Failed Armadillo
I love Specialized Armadillo tires. IMO, they are the MOST debris resistant tires around. HOWEVER, they are not perfect, by any means. Besides being heavy, with poor wet weather performance, one weakness is in keeping them on the rim. I experienced this myself, as recounted here. I put that down to using the tires on an old-fashioned rim, rather than the hook bead rim Specialized specifies. However, two of the four Armadillos I currently am using have been mounted on non hook bead rims with never a hint of any problem. The third has always been mounted on a hook bead rim and has had no problems. The fourth blew three times, before I broke down and mounted it on a hook bead rim I built up, described here. It seems to be stable on the hook bead rim.

Rim Differences

It isn’t just me. One of my fellow bike school students also had an Armadillo blow out – a tire used only ON a hook bead rim. What’s more, her experience is unlike any tire failure I’ve seen before. Namely, it appears the bead separated from the tire, with actual rusting of the bead, leading to an explosive tube failure.

Fairly New Armadillo with Catastrophic Failure

FWIW, coincidentally, I noticed a very interesting article on bike tire beads, here. Damon Rinard actually CUT the bead wires, and the tires did not blow. It was not a long-term test, but it suggests that the rubber part of the bead may be part of the culprit when it fails over enough of the circumference that the tire does not stay mounted.

What does this mean? Maybe nothing. However, I suggest that if you are getting a new Armadillo, you carefully inspect the bead of the tire to make sure there is no path for oxygen to get to the bead wire and replicate the bottom two photos. In over 40 years of cycling, I have never seen a tire fail in this manner – until I saw this one where the wire separated from the rubber.
Also, keep Armadillos out of the sun except when you are riding them. Those red sidewalls fade really fast and the sidewalls start to break down.


Ham said...

They also don't take kindly to being over pressure, or even at the top of their pressure range. I used to ride Armadillo 1.75s pumped up all the way, but cracks started appearing in the tread. Plus the roadholding in the wet... These days I go for continental Sport Contact (1.6) which IMO for 26" have the best roadholding, wet or dry, roll fast and happy at the top end of their pressure. Unfortunately they are also best friends with the p*ncture fairy. Still, you cant have everything.

cycler said...

I've got Armadillos on the road bike that I haven't ridden for 5 years, No real comments on the performance, but they were by far the most difficult to mount tires I have ever used! I broke three tire levers trying to get them on, and I prayed that they were as flat resistant as advertised because there is no way I could replace them on the side of the road.

cafiend said...

I've seen bead separation on Continentals and cheap gumwalls. I've also seen the beginning of it on weathered tires of many brands, e.g. Michelin and Panaracer.

Ham said...

I knew I should have said nothing. The fairy visited me on my way home last night, just to let me know I wasn't forgotten.

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