Whereas in previous years Specialized-sponsored teams would race on rebadged FMB tubular tires, the two companies have now formally paired up for this year's spring classics campaigns. The new tires use FMB's ultra-supple handmade cotton casings – widely regarded as among the finest in the world – with Specialized's own Gripton rubber compounds and tread patterns.
"This year at the spring classics we have tires that blend the famed FMB cotton casings and our Gripton compound," said Specialized tire product manager Wolf VormWalde. "Omega Pharma-QuickStep raced them already in some run-up races to the classics campaign. Saxo and Astana have them, too."
VormWalde told BikeRadar that the two companies actually started cooperating last spring but the final tires are only just recently making their debut. Our own experience with Specialized's latest clincher tires and FMB's tubulars suggests that the pairing could indeed yield a phenomenal hybrid with an ultra-fast roll, outstanding traction, and unmatched suppleness – exactly what's needed for attacking and surviving the cobbles of Belgium and northern France.
Specialized and FMB have made the tires available to team riders in 26, 28 and 30mm widths. VormWalde said a "limited quantity" will be sold to the public, too. Pricing hasn't been announced yet but interested buyers should certainly be prepared to pay a pretty penny.