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Home » Cycling » Bontrager AW1 vs. Specialized Turbo Elite Tires: They’re Both Decent Tires BUT…

Bontrager AW1 vs. Specialized Turbo Elite Tires: They’re Both Decent Tires BUT…


April 2016

I’ve ridden three brands of tires since I started road cycling four years ago.  Continental Gatorskins, Specialized Espoir Sport, Turbo Pro and Turbo Elite, and Bontrager AW1’s.

I’m a big anti-flat kind of guy so generally speaking I put more weight on flat protection than anything else.  My first pair of decent tires were purchased at cost because I know a lawyer who works for them…  The tires were very fast and they were wonderful for cornering but they left a lot to be desired when it came to getting flats.  After my second flat and a busted belt I decided to go in a different direction.  I went through a pair of Specialized Espoir Sport’s next and liked them well enough.  They didn’t corner like the Gatorskins but they didn’t go flat either.  I was quite okay with giving up a little performance to forgo changing tubes on the side of the road because a pebble managed to embed in the rubber and work through the Kevlar lining (seriously).  Then I bought my Venge and that came with a set of Turbo Pro’s.  Now I liked those.  They were rough slicks so they handled great and were decent on flat protection.  If memory serves I didn’t get a flat with those.  They were a bit pricey at the time though so I opted for a set of Turbo Elite’s when the time came.  I got one pinch flat with those but that was more my fault than anything else.

Then, on recommendation from one of the mechanics at the bike shop, I decided to try Bontrager AW1’s.  They were touted for their superior flat protection and extended wear and they lived up to their billing.  There was only one problem:  They’re slow.  It’s like you’re pedaling in mud.  I’ve heard reports of people dropping as much as a mile and a half an hour because of them.  Even so, that didn’t stop me from buying a second set when the time came.  I figured I’d muscle through with a little extra “want to”.  The flat protection on the AW1’s is nothing short of stellar.  I’ve got more than 1,000 miles on this tire since this happened:

That might be a little tough to see. Let me zoom in a bit…


They’re that good.  Still, as you can see by the wear it’s time for a new set of tires anyway and I decided to go back to Specialized.  Puddle of Mud was a great band but it’s hell to try to ride through.  I’m going back to the Turbo Pro’s – but this year they did away with the 23’s and are offering 24’s and 26’s


I put the new tires on last night. Hopefully I’ll be able to give them a go in the next few days but it’s doubtful. The forecast is atrocious.

So for the record, my experience is:

Continental Gatorskins – fast but terrible flat protection.

Specialized Turbo Pro – very fast, excellent handling, decent flat protection.

Bontrager AW1 – s-l-o-w, decent cornering, astounding flat protection.

Pick your poison.


  1. Dan says:

    This is interesting to me. I’ve run the Aw1s and the Gatorskins. I’ve never had an issue with flats that I could attribute to the tires. Under inflation has been my nemesis. I don’t always check the way I should. I got equal mileage.

  2. Interesting thoughts on the Bontragers, I’ve never really been much of a fan of them. For a couple of years now I’ve run Continental 4 Seasons for the winter bike and GP4000S on the summer and time trial bike. When those wear out I’m going to try out the Specialized S-Works Turbo tyres. They’re supposed to be the be all of road tyres. We shall see!

    • bgddyjim says:

      A buddy of mine just got a pair of the S-Works Cottons. I happened to be in the shop the other day and the owner showed them to me. Brother, they’re LIGHT. No flat protection though, they’re a pure race tire (or tyre if you will). I’ve got my eyes on the S-Works Turbo also, for DALMAC later this year. They have the blackbelt protection at least.

  3. bribikes says:

    Wow, I am surprised by the Gatorskins, I thought they were touted as a really good flat prevention tire. Guess gators aren’t as thick skinned as I thought 🙂

  4. never having anything but the espoir sport, i can’t contribute to comparisons. however! the first set it had lasted one and a half seasons, and gave me somewhere near 7,500-miles, on road and packed trails. halfway through the season, i swapped the front for the back, and vice versa. this season, i bought another set. good stuff.

  5. I’ve had good luck with the michelin pro 4 endurance 25mm, before that the wheels had continental grand prix which blew a side wall after hitting a rock. So far the pro 4’s have been great

  6. bonnev659 says:

    i love my gatorskins and i have liner as well… ya you can tell I m a big weight guy here… but it works for me so far in western, NY, MD, and soon to find out about it over in Vermont.

  7. MJ Ray says:

    I don’t think gatorskins work well against certain types of puncture hazard.

    Around here, Schwalbe are the dependable tyre and Vittoria are the glam ones. I generally won’t buy from sexist Roubaix-napping Spesh.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Sexist?! My wife would argue that one with you all day. The Roubaix issue was put to bed and very eloquently apologized for… And Specialized leases, does not own, the TM for Roubaix.

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