The Essential Guide to Finding the Best Road Bike Tire + Reviews
If you’re looking for the best road bike tire, but you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, here you can find all the information you need to make an educated decision. After a careful analysis of the features, quality, and value offered by some of the top models in this line, we have concluded that the one you should consider is the Continental Gatorskin DuraSkin Road Bike Tire. This option is constructed from a durable carbon black mixture that is comfortable on the road and looks great on your bike. It includes the brand’s proprietary DuraSkin technology that will protect the tire from cuts and scuffs even under the worst road conditions. Moreover, the tread is optimized to handle intensive wear, which means that the product delivers a long service life. If our first option is unavailable, we recommend you take a look at the Continental Grand Prix 4 Season Road Bike Tire.
This model uses the time-tested Continental PolyX Breaker technology that makes the tire resistant to punctures from foreign objects, such as glass and thorns. The DuraSkin sidewall protection allows the road tire to withstand skids along curbs without wearing out. It can handle commuting, touring, and heavy training.
The bead is very tight, and this makes replacing the tire very difficult without tools, even if you have very strong hands.
It utilizes innovative technologies that deliver better puncture protection for the ultimate training and racing experience. The durability and reliability of this model turn it into a tire that is made for the long haul.
The tire is reinforced, and it includes matrix fibers that are made of Vectran, a material that is five times stronger than steel yet very light and abrasion-resistant. This way, the tire will be protected from punctures more efficiently. It is also designed to handle all weather conditions so that you can use it all year round.
While it is more durable than the average tire, it is not indestructible, so you should still be mindful of the road.
The anti-tear fabric allows this model to hold up under extreme conditions. What’s more, the product also offers very good adhesion on wet roads and at low temperatures, which makes it a versatile, all-season tire.
Also To Consider
This model features 5mm thick puncture protection belts constructed from a combination of natural rubber and recycled material. The puncture guards will protect the tire against shards of glass and flints. Even with all the extra safeguards that come included, this model is as light and rolls as easily as tires without protection.
After around the 1,500-2,000 mile mark, the tire tends to develop small bubbles in the sidewall that can’t be removed.
If you’re looking for a product that can offer extra puncture resistance without a noticeable increase in weight or rolling resistance, then this option is worth considering, especially for true long-distance cyclists.
8 Best Road Bike Tires (Updated Reviews) in 2021
Finding the best road bike tires takes time and effort since the market is saturated with countless options to choose from. To make things easier, we have selected some of the critically acclaimed products and showcased them below. Make sure to give our list a look since it includes road bicycle tires for all budgets and needs.
- 1. Continental Gatorskin DuraSkin Road Bike Tire
- 2. Continental Grand Prix 4 Season Road Bike Tire
- 3. SCHWALBE Marathon Plus HS 348 Road Bike Tire
- 4. Continental Grand Prix 5000 Performance Road Bike Tire
- 5. Continental Gator Hardshell Folding Road Bike Tire
- 6. Continental Ultra Sport III Road Cycling Bike Tire
- 7. Goodyear Folding Bead Black Road Bike Tire
- 8. Vittoria Corsa G2.0 Foldable Road Bicycle Tire
- Our Comprehensive Buying Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Continental Gatorskin DuraSkin Road Bike Tire
This model is backed by industry-leading technologies that give it tried and true puncture protection that makes the Gatorskin an excellent road bike tire for the long-distance rider. It takes the proven PolyX Breaker technology that’s used on Continental car tires and brings it to the bike tire.
The PolyX Breaker uses a sturdy polyester fiber that is woven crosswire tightly, and this allows the fabric to reach a higher density compared to the standard bike tire compound. This way, the Gatorskin is not just more resistant to foreign objects, but it is also sturdy enough to handle sharp and pointy objects without getting punctured.
Another innovation that Continental brings to this model is the DuraSkin sidewall protection, which is very useful for road and touring bikes. It allows the tire to be used under the harshest conditions and skid along curbs without wearing out. This feature also makes the tire stand out with its signature brown sidewall.
This option is designed for touring, commuting, or heavy training, and since it is available in multiple wire beads and folding versions, it is easy to find the one that will work best with your bike.
It is made with the DuraSkin fabric that delivers exceptional sidewall protection without affecting the weight of the unit or the ride quality.
The tire is grippy on the sides and smooth in the center, which makes it a great purchase for road bicycles since this design will provide good cornering in any condition.
It features a wear optimized tread compound that adds a long service life so that you can get the most out of the tire.
Compared to other standard tires, the bead is quite tight, which means you’ll need tools to replace it, even if you have strong hands.
The measurements are inconsistent from year to year, and the brand seems to use a +/- 1mm tolerance on the tires.Buy from Amazon.com for ($34.95)
2. Continental Grand Prix 4 Season Road Bike Tire
This model seeks to please cyclists who prefer a balanced experience since it is neither too soft nor too hard. It also has the advantage of versatility since it features an all-season design that allows it to handle any weather conditions that you may encounter on the road so that you can use it all-year-round.
The matrix fibers are reinforced, and they’re made of Vectran, which is a material that is up to five times stronger than steel yet lighter. This way, with this model, you can enjoy increased durability and puncture protection without having to deal with thick and uncomfortable tires.
Furthermore, this option performs particularly well in the winter since the deeper tread and the softer rubber will grip the cold roads better. The DuraSkin sidewall protection also makes this option more suitable to use in the city, and it also makes it more durable when compared to some of the other race-focused alternatives.
It uses a Vectran breaker that is more flexible and lighter compared to other materials, and it will protect the tire more effectively against cuts than a standard nylon breaker.
It boasts a versatile design that will keep you rolling the entire year since the product can handle any weather conditions, and rain or snow is no match for it.
Since this model has a larger casing and a very grippy rubber compound, riding your bike with these tires on will feel more comfortable.
It is available in multiple sizes so that you can select the model that is best suited for your various road surfaces and comfort requirements.
The tires are designed only for use on pavement, and if you ride through rough loose gravel roads occasionally, the gravel can cut into the treads.
The softer rubber may make the tire more comfortable, but it also means that it will wear out faster.Buy from Amazon.com for ($44.76)
3. SCHWALBE Marathon Plus HS 348 Road Bike Tire
With its unique design that focuses on extended durability and superior performance, the Marathon Plus is a road bike tire that is built for long-distance journeys. It is the most puncture-resistant road bike tire that the brand offers, and it is also its best-selling product, which is a sign that customers appreciate the features and value that this model offers.
It comes with a SmartGuard belt that is made from a flexible rubber that offers protection against puncture. The belt has a particular resistance to flints and shards of glass. The unit also features durable sidewalls that are designed to last for longer and handle the cracking that’s caused by insufficient air pressure or bad weather conditions.
Moreover, the SmartGuard feature doesn’t affect the rolling resistance of the tire in any way, and it also doesn’t add any negligible extra weight. This model is designed to roll just as easily as alternatives that lack these extra layers of protection.
It is the most puncture-resistant road bike tire that Schwalbe has to offer, and this has garnered its excellent feedback that helped turn it into one of the brand’s most successful products.
The Marathon Plus model has a thicker puncture layer that the brand calls SmartGuard, and it is designed to protect the unit from punctures.
All the extra protection comes without a noticeable increase in weight or rolling resistance, and this makes the product ideal for long-distance cyclists.
Even though it has a moderately deep tread, the tire performs well on a wide variety of surfaces, and it can be used for commuting, cruising, and touring.
Riders who commute over long distances will find that the tire can develop small bubbles on the sidewalls after the 1,500-2,000 miles mark.
They’re very heavy on climbs, which means that you’ll need a lot of muscle power to maintain normal speed when climbing.Buy from Amazon.com for ($48.62)
4. Continental Grand Prix 5000 Performance Road Bike Tire
The Grand Prix 5000 delivers an all-round performance so that cyclists can ride faster, more comfortably, and enjoy better puncture protection. It uses a unique tread compound called Black Chili that’s produced only in Germany. This material delivers a better balance of grip and rolling resistance.
Continental has listened to its customers, and with this model, it seeks to deliver one of the most comfortable riding experiences available in this price range. This is achieved thanks to the Active Comfort Technology that’s embedded in the tire construction, and that’s designed to absorb vibrations and keep your ride smoother than ever before.
When looking at aerodynamics and rolling resistance, the clincher design of the tire has the advantage since it allows the rider to reach higher speeds with less effort. What’s more, the laser Micro profile structure expands over the shoulder of the tire to provide the rider with better cornering stability.
The total thickness of the tread comes at about 2.8mm, which situates this product right in the middle of the all-round class.
This model also includes the new and improved Vectran breaker layer that forms a durable multi-strand tread that functions as a guard against foreign objects, such as glass, flint, or thorns.
The product is handmade and tested in Germany by skilled craftsmen, and this serves as a testament to the quality and reliability of this road bike tire.
Compared with other all-round models, the Grand Prix 5000 is very resilient, and it provides an excellent mix of speed and peace of mind.
It is not the type of tire that you’ll be able to fit by the roadside without proper tools since the process is quite difficult and it will leave your thumbs hurting.
When compared to the previous model in this line, the puncture resistance of the Grand Prix 5000 has gone down.Buy from Amazon.com for ($44.95)
5. Continental Gator Hardshell Folding Road Bike Tire
The Gator Hardshell is a popular road bike tire that delivers a good blend of quality and long-term durability at a very reasonable price point. As is the case with most models that Continental offers, this option is available in both wire bead and folding versions, and each one includes a wide variety of sizes that can fit the needs of all riders.
It uses the proprietary PolyX Breaker technology that protects the entire tread strip against punctures from on-road objects, such as glass and thorns. Moreover, the casing is also protected by a strong bead layer of DuraSkin fabric that can handle cuts and scuffs.
To add to that, this model offers superior cornering ability in most conditions and improved low rolling resistance. Once you take all of this into account, there’s no wonder why for years, the Gator Hardshell has continued to remain a top-ranking choice for road cyclists.
With this option, you can enjoy a high-quality product that offers long-term durability without having to break the bank since it is available at a reasonable price point.
The high performance that these tires offer makes them ideal for fast commuting, touring, and training since they deliver a good grip on the road.
It performs well in adverse weather since, even on wet and muddy roads, the tire has no issue taking turns and slowing fast.
From a distance, the tire may look a bit plain, but upon closer inspection, you’ll be surprised to see just how detailed it is, as it features a discrete tread pattern on both edges.
The quality control isn’t the best since even though it is rare, there have been cases where the tire arrived with obvious factory defects.
It provides a softer ride, which may be an issue for anyone who’s used with tires that feel a little firmer.Buy from Amazon.com for ($41.98)
6. Continental Ultra Sport III Road Cycling Bike Tire
These versatile bike tires boast a dynamic tread pattern design that will match both race bikes as well as the classic city road bike. The same thing is true when looking at the performance of this model since it is built to offer outstanding grip and cross-country properties, which means that it can handle a wide variety of surfaces.
This is the 3rd generation of the Continental’s entry-level road tire that is designed primarily for training and commuting. However, it is versatile enough to handle other applications as well. It offers one of the most impressive values for the money compared to other tires in this price range.
The tire uses the PureGrip compound, which is based on activated silica, and it is rated just behind the Black Chili compound that is used on far more expensive Continental models. This mix produces excellent grip in both the road and mountain bike sectors.
The grip of this model is very good, especially considering its lower price, and it is grippy enough to allow riders to lean into turns confidently and safely.
This model is in a league of its own since it offers great bang for the buck, and it is an excellent purchase for budget-conscious riders who still want to get a good product.
The bike tire is also designed to work on e-bikes, and it is rated to a standard speed of at least 15 mph.
It is available in multiple colors so that you can get the one that will go well with the look of your bike.
It has a reputation for attracting punctures since, as a basic tire, this model doesn’t feature any type of puncture protection technology, as is the case with more expensive alternatives.
Another drawback of this model is that the 3/180 casing offers higher rolling resistance and weight.Buy from Amazon.com for ($19.79)
7. Goodyear Folding Bead Black Road Bike Tire
If you’re looking to replace your old road bike tires, and you’re in search of a budget-friendly option, Goodyear offers a good alternative that’s built to last. It features a folding bead that adds flexibility and reliability to the product. It is also versatile since the rugged construction allows it to be used on all road surfaces.
It is only available in one size, 27″ x 1.25″, but thankfully, this size will prove suitable for most applications. The tread pattern is basic, but it does offer a good grip, and for this price point, the performance is very good. It also works as a great spare tire to take with you when riding since its folding bead design allows it to be bent and stored easily.
Lastly, thanks to the simplicity of these tires, they are also very lightweight, which can have a positive impact on the velocity of the bike since it will keep your wheel lighter and easier to spin and slow down.
It has a black finish that looks very good, and there’s not a lot of branding going on since the Goodyear logo is present only on one sidewall, and it is relatively small.
The folding bead design allows this model to be used as a spare since it doesn’t require a lot of storage space, seeing as it can be bent and still keep its shape afterward.
It is a great pick for beginner bikers since it is available for a very low price point, and it still offers the quality that one expects from a Goodyear product.
The grip pattern is not advanced, but it offers good performance on most dry and wet road surfaces.
It requires you to keep both hands on the handlebar to maintain proper control, which means that hands-free riding is not comfortable or safe.
It lacks puncture protection, so make sure not to use it on roads that may pose difficulties.Buy from Amazon.com for ($29.75)
8. Vittoria Corsa G2.0 Foldable Road Bicycle Tire
If you’re looking for a road bicycle tire that’s capable of giving you an edge on the road, the Corsa G2.0 boasts an impressive record since it is the tire choice of professional riders all over the world. It has a premium cotton casing that is designed to conform closer to the road surface and provide a better grip, easier rolling, and a smoother ride.
You will also be able to reach higher speed since the tire utilizes the functionalized Graphene 2.0 compound rubber mix that offers better performance in a wider range of conditions. As far as size is concerned, you get a wide variety of sizes to choose from, which means that finding the right one for your bike won’t pose any problem.
With this model, you can also enjoy longer service life since it features four compounds in the tread that will increase wear resistance, improve grip on the sides, and lower the rolling resistance.
The Corsa G2.0 delivers exceptional performance, and this is one of the reasons why it is the preferred choice for professional riders in the peloton.
The wear rate is very good, especially for a race tire, and that’s primarily thanks to the four compounds in the tread that increase the wear life of the product considerably.
The supple tire construction makes the mounting process simple and easy since it can be done without the aid of levers.
It is very fast, and it delivers improved wet weather grip and durability so that you can use it in a wider range of conditions.
Even though it is priced lower than its rivals, this model is still very expensive, but that’s to be expected, considering that it caters to users who want professional-level performance.
The sidewalls can get dirty easily, which can ruin the look of the tire, but thankfully, they clean easily.Buy from Amazon.com for ($55.19)
Our Comprehensive Buying Guide
Finding the best road bicycle tires can be daunting since the market is flooded with options that, at first glance, may look similar. For first-time buyers, it is difficult to identify the key features that differentiate products without doing proper research or reading a road bicycle tires review for each product.
However, not everyone has the time to look at all the available models and read road bicycle tires reviews, which is precisely why our buyer’s guide is here. Below you can find more information about the key points of consideration when looking to purchase affordable road bike tires.
Types of tires
When purchasing a road bike tire, the most important factor to consider is compatibility since your rim can’t fit all types of tires. There are three main tire types available on the market, clincher, tubular, and tubeless.
The vast majority of 26 inch road bike tires utilize a clincher design. A clincher tire is made with a bead that hooks to the wheel using a clincher type rim. Each tire has an inner tube that you fill with air. If you get a flat tire, you’ll need to remove the inner tube and either replace it with a new one or repair it.
If you’re looking for the fastest road bike tires, then you might want to consider a tubular type tire. This tire is lighter, has a higher inflation limit, and provides better rolling resistance.
A tubular tire is a one-piece product that includes both the tire and tube. It can only be mounted on special tubular rims. They’re also expensive, so not a good choice if you want to get a cheap road bike tire.
Lastly, tubeless tires are still new and are not yet as widespread, but the major brands are slowly starting to offer tubeless versions for all their top-rated models. A tubeless tire includes only the tire without any tube. The main advantage of this type is that they are more durable and can run on lower pressures, which provide better traction.
The tread on the tire can be either smooth or treaded. Smooth tires offer better grip on smooth surfaces, such as concrete and asphalt, since they offer a much larger area of contact to the ground. They’ll also roll faster on these surfaces.
Treaded tires, on the other hand, are thicker and heavier and are designed for long-distance riding on rough or gravel roads. The larger the knobs, the more traction that you will get on unpaved surfaces. However, treaded tires are not recommended when riding mostly on pavement.
The compound refers to the material that the tire is made of. Most brands have their proprietary compounds, but in general, they are made of a mixture of organic and inorganic polymers.
It is important to choose the right compound since it can influence how the bike will perform on the road. For racing, you will need an elastic compound that’s efficient on the road. For touring, the material should be durable and comfortable.
When in doubt about how a tire performs, you can talk to your bike shop, look at an in-depth road bike tire review, or check the customer review section of the product you have in mind.
Another important consideration is the width of the tire since, unlike wheel sizes that are unique to each bike frame, there is more flexibility with the tire width. Wider tires will give you more traction and will cushion the ride.
Most road bike tires have an outer diameter of 700mm with the width starting at 23mm. Tires intended for use on smooth roads have a width of less than 30mm, while those intended for gravel roads can be as wide as 45mm.
Lastly, but certainly not the least, durability is a very important factor to consider when making a purchase. You might be tempted to go with an affordable road bike tire, but if you use your bike often, it is better to invest in a model that comes with puncture-resistance.
If the product doesn’t come with this feature, you can still gauge the durability of the product by looking at the thickness of the tires and the type of compound it uses. Tougher compounds, such as Kevlar, are better. When purchasing online, you can also check road bike tire reviews to see what other customers have to say about the product.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: How many miles can you get on road bike tires?
The standard road bike tire will last anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 miles. The reason why there’s not a clear range is that the life service of a tire depends entirely on how it is being used but also on its quality. More expensive models will inherently last for longer than cheap road bike tires.
Moreover, durability also varies depending on the type of road bike tire that you purchase since racing tires, which are designed for speed, will need to be replaced sooner to maintain their performance. Most racing tires will need to be replaced after just 1,000 miles.
On the other hand, touring tires that are made from tough compounds can last over 3,000 miles before a replacement is necessary. Tires can also wear out with age, so if you store your bike for long periods without using it, the tire can harden, which makes it more susceptible to cracking.
Q: How do you inflate road bike tires?
The first step is to identify the type of tube valve that your tire uses so that you can purchase the right bike pump. There are two main types of tube valves, the Schrader valve, which is flat on the end and wider, and the Presta valve, which features a locking nut at the top and that is narrower.
The next step is to remove the plastic cap that covers the end of the valve, and for Presta valves, you’ll need to remember to unscrew the locking nut as well. Before you begin to pump, make sure to check the sidewall of the tire since there you’ll find the pressure range that your tire can handle safely.
When fitting the pump, make sure to use the pump switch to keep the head in place so that the valve doesn’t leak out while you pump. When pumping, make sure to use the gauge on the pump to see when you’ve reached the optimal pressure. Once you’ve reached the desired pressure, flip the switch on the pump head, retighten the locking nut, and cover the valve again.
Q: What are the differences between road bike tires?
The main difference between road bike tires lies in their design, and there are three types of tires that you can choose from: clincher, tubular, and tubeless. Clincher tires are the most popular type, and they consist of a U-shaped cross-section in which a separate inner tube can fit. They’re very easy to fix when a flat tire occurs, but pinch flats are more likely to happen.
Tubular tires are designed for riders who are interested in racing since they are lighter, more comfortable, and have better puncture protection. Unlike a clincher tire, the inner tube is glued directly onto the rim. However, it is only compatible with tubular wheelsets.
Lastly, tubeless tires are relatively new, and they don’t have an inner tube. They offer the best of both worlds since they are as light and comfortable as a tubular and just as easy to change on the roadside as a clincher.