best road bike tyres

Best road bike tyres

Tyre choice has a huge influence on your ride - most road riders prioritise puncture resistance and grip in the wet over winter and low rolling resistance come summer. We round up the best

Arguably, road tyres are the most important component on your bike and so it’s worth investing in the best: they’re the only part in contact with the ground, they keep you upright in the corners and have a significant influence on rolling speed.

For this reason, tyres come in many different variations. Some are hard wearing and prioritise puncture resistance, others are weaker but roll faster, adding speed to you ride. Generally, UK riders will want the former in winter, and the latter in summer.

Wider tyres have become more popular across the seasons. Where once 23mm rubber was the uniform issue ‘choice’, now 25mm is the norm but many riders go for 28mm to better maximise the added cornering grip and comfort on offer from this once scandalous choice.

>>> Tubeless sealant buyer’s guide

Paired with the right rim, wider tyres can be more aerodynamic, too. However, it is important to check the capacity of your frame before investing.

We’ve rounded up a selection of the tyres that we’d recommend.

With each product is a ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Best Deal’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.

Puncture resistant road bike tyres

>>> Best bike inner tubes

Specialized Roubaix Pro road bike tyre

Best road bike tyres

Specialized Roubaix Pro road bike tyre

Read more: Specialized Roubaix Pro tyre review

  • Score: 9/10
  • TPI: 120, Weight: 300g in 25-28c Widths:  23-25, 25-28, 30-32c

Balancing ride quality with puncture protection and weather proofing is an art, and we feel Specialized has cracked it with the Roubaix Pro.

The 120 TPI count sets it out as an endurance option, and the compound used is the brand’s own in-house ‘Gripton’.

Bead-to-bead Endurant Casing provides puncture protection which is lighter than the Kevlar and Nylon used elsewhere, and this is paired with BlackBelt technology (a strip of woven material running under the tread).

Buy now in the UK: Specialized Roubaix Pro tyre at Tredz for £24.99

Buy now in the US:  Specialized Roubaix Pro tyre from JensonUSA for $40

Pirelli Cinturato road bike tyre

Best road bike tyres

Pirelli Cinturato road bike tyre

  • Score: TBC
  • TPI: 66, Weight: 290-390g Widths:  26-35c

Pirelli impressed us no end with the PZero Velo tyres, and the Cinturato tyre is its first tubeless-ready option from the brand.

Designed to be hardy – suiting everything from gravel rides to commutes – these come in four widths from 26mm to 35mm. We found they felt swift enough on the road and coped well with rocky off-road sections.

Pirelli’s Smartnet Silica tech offers grip in the wet whilst Armour Tech fends off punctures with extra sidewall protection.

We’ve yet to get a pair on long term test – but you can check out our first impressions here.

Buy now in the UK: Pirelli Cinturato at ProBikeKit for £35.99 

Buy now in the US: Pirelli Cinturato at ProBikeKit for $50.49

Schwalbe Durano road bike tyre

best road bike tyres

Schwalbe Durano road bike tyre

Read more: Schwalbe Durano review here

  • Score: 8/10
  • TPI: 67, Weight: 410-530g Widths:  23-28c

The Durano is a longstanding offer from Schwalbe and they’ll be a longlasting set of tyres for your road bike.

The Durano’s roll well for a winter tyre, and we found a slight give in the bead made life easier for our thumbs getting them on the wheel.

While the RaceGuard protection belt made for a harsher ride than the other tyres on test, we were confident that these wouldn’t easily puncture and didn’t compromise grip in any way.

Buy now in the UK: Schwalbe Durano DD SnakeSkin Folding Tyre at Wiggle for £39.99  

Buy now in the US: Schwalbe Durano DD SnakeSkin Folding Tyre at Wiggle for $47.99

Vittoria Zaffiro Pro road tyre

best road bike tyre

Vittoria Zaffiro Pro 700C Folding Road Tyre

  • Score: TBC
  • TPI: 60, Weight: 240g Widths:  23-28c

The Zaffiro tyre from Vittoria is not a ‘high end’ option – but it is exceptionally durable and a tough casing means that we’ve enjoyed many a puncture-free long ride aboard these.

They’re also significantly cheaper than the more supple options out there – the trade off is that they don’t roll quite so quickly and feel a little bit more clunky in the corners – but if you’re not targeting speed on your winter rides, that shouldn’t be too great an issue.

They come in three sizes: 23mm, 25mm and 28mm.

Buy now in the UK: Vittoria Zaffiro road bike tyre at Tredz for £9.99

Buy now in the US: Vittoria Zaffiro road bike tyre at Probikekit for $22.49

The fastest road bike tyres

Maxxis High Road tyres

best road bike tyre

Maxxis High Road tyres

  • Score: 9/10
  • TPI: 120, Weight: 210g, Widths: 25c

A tyre tested by what was then British UCI Continental outfit Canyon-Eisberg over the course of the 2018 season, this is a fast road racing tyre which is supple and lightweight. Not the cheapest, but a capable tyre which we found to be confidence inspiring.

Buy now in the UK: Maxxis High Road tyres at Winstanleys Bikes for £49.99

Buy now in the US: Maxxis High Road tyres at Jenson USA for $59.00

Specialized Turbo Cotton

best road bike tyres

Specialized S-Works Turbo Cotton tyres

  • Score: 9/10
  • TPI: 320, Weight: 220g-260g, Widths: 24-28c

Read more: Specialized S-Works Turbo Cotton review

One of the grippiest and fastest feeling tyres that we’ve tested, the Turbo Cotton tyres really put meaning into ‘confidence inspiring’.

The Turbo Cottons are now available in 24, 26 and 28mm widths and each tyre uses 320 TPI polycotton which makes them very supple and they also use a Gripton compound. In testing we found that the tyres rolled extremely well and that they felt super fast.

We like them so much that we awarded them a spot on our Editor’s Choice list. They come in three different sizes (24, 26 and 28mm) so there’s something for everyone.

Buy now in the UK: Specialized Turbo Cotton tyre at Rutland Cycles for £61 

Buy now in the US: Specialized Turbo Cotton tyre at Jenson USA for $80

Continental Grand Prix 5000 (clincher)

Best road bike tyres

Continental Grand Prix 5000 (clincher)

  • Score: 9/10
  • TPI: 330, Weight: 200g-290g, Widths: 23-32c

Read more: Continental GP 5000 tyre review here

We could actually include these tyres in the winter or summer section. The Grand Prix 5000 replaces the popular GP 4000 (or GP 4000 S II) and it’s an all-weather, all-condition Jack of all trades tyre.

It may not be as fast as the Turbo Cottons or the Vittora Corsas, but a very effective Vectran Breaker layer keeps punctures at bay whilst the famous BlackChili Compound and new ‘LazerGrip’ keep you planted. The latest iteration includes an extra layer for comfort, and claims to be 12 per cent faster and 20 per cent tougher than the outgoing model.

These are now available tubeless, but we felt that the clinchers were more supple.

Buy now in the UK: Continental GP5000 at Wiggle from £36.99

Buy now in the US: Continental GP5000 at ProBikeKit for $36.90

Michelin Power Competition road bike tyres

Best road bike tyres

Michelin Power Competition road bike tyres

Read more: Michelin Power Competition tyres

  • Score: 9/10
  • TPI: 180, Weight: 195-215g, Widths: 23-25c

Michelin claims that the Power Competition saves 10 watts of power over the company’s previous top-end model and bases this claim on tests done by third-party tyre specialists, Finnish Energy.

A replacement for the Michelin Pro4 Service Course are quick tyres that are also light, coming in at 200g. We’ve found that they offer excellent durability and despite their featherweight nature that they offer impressive durability.

Despite being some of the few road tyres that are no longer tubeless ready we rated them very highly, awarding them a spot on our Editor’s Choice list.

Buy now in the UK: Michelin Power Competition tyre at Merlin for £34.29

Buy now in the US: Michelin Power Competition tyre from Competitive Cyclist for $44.00

Panaracer Race A Evo 3 road bike tyres

Best road bike tyres

Panaracer Race A Evo 3 road bike tyres

Read more: Panaracer Race A Evo 3 tyres review 

  • Score: 9/10
  • TPI: unlisted, Weight: 240-250g Widths: 25-28c

Panaracer has over 50 years of experience making high performance tyres. The Panaracer Race A Evo 3 is a tyre intended for all-weather use, with a good degree of puncture protection while still offering good rolling resistance, good grip and a supple feel.

A good value option that we found provided a fast ride thanks to low rolling resistance. They also stood up well to over a 1000kms on the winter lanes of the Cotswolds.

Buy now in the UK: Panaracer Race A Evo 3 tyre at Sigma Sport for £40

Buy now in the US: Panaracer Race A Evo 3 from Amazon for $38.95

Michelin Pro4 ENDURANCE V2 road bike tyres

Best road bike tyres

Michelin Pro4 ENDURANCE road bike tyres

Read more: Michelin Pro4 ENDURANCE review

  • Score: 9/10
  • TPI: 330 (3×110), Weight: 225-285g Widths: 23-25c

Looking for a comfortable tyre that will suit long days in the saddle over questionable surfaces? These tyres from Michelin could be the answer. We loved the cushioning of the 28mm version (23mm and 25mm also available), but also felt that there wasn’t too greater speed penalty.

Hitting the gruelling cobbles of the Hell of the North, these dual-compound tyres noticeably dampened the impact of the infamous pavé and never lost their grip — instilling confidence for the rest of the tough sportive. Puncture resistance and grip were good, too.

Buy now in the UK: Michelin Pro4 ENDURANCE V2 at Wiggle for £24.99

Buy now in the US: Michelin Pro4 ENDURANCE V2 from Wiggle for $36.06

Tubeless road bike tyres

Vittoria Corsa G2.0 TLR

Best road bike tyres

Vittoria Corsa G2.0 TLR

  • Score: 9/10
  • TPI: 320/160, Weight: 290g, Widths: 25c, 28c

Read more: Vittoria Corsa G2.0 TLR review

Vittoria’s Corsa has always been the company’s go-to race tyre and has been the choice of more pro teams than it’s possible to list. And now Vittoria has introduced a brand new version featuring a new improved graphene compound.

The Corsa has always been one of the faster-rolling tyres on the circuit and this new version is no different.

Although some tubeless tyres have a reputation for being a struggle to pop onto a rim, these only needed the slightest teasing with a tyre lever. They weigh 70g more per tyre than the non-tubeless version, however total system weight will be comparable, as inner tubes are dispensed with.

Buy now in the UK: Vittoria Corsa G2.0 at Wiggle for £39.99 

Buy now in the US: Vittoria Corsa G2.0 at Competitive Cyclist for $63.19

Schwalbe Pro One tyres

Best road bike tyres

Schwalbe Pro One tyres

  • Score: 9/10
  • TPI: 127, Weight: 240-290g, Widths: 23-25c

Read more: Schwalbe Pro One Tyres review

The Pro One’s replaced the very popular ZX tyre from Schwalbe – they’re fast but a little tougher and more reliable than the ZX option, which was responsible for many a pre/mid race flat.

This is a lightweight, fast-rolling tyre that’s easy to set up tubeless. The carcass is quite wide and on wider modern rims – so expect the Schwalbe Pro One to size up quite a bit wider than 25mm.

Some tyre and rim combinations make for an infuriating time. But on both Hunt and Mavic rims, these tyres proved no problem. Mounting on the rim without fuss and inflating first time with just a track pump.

Buy now in the UK: Schwalbe Pro One tyre at Wiggle from £26.99

Buy now in the US: Schwalbe Pro One tyre at Competitive Cyclist for $34.34

Hutchinson Fusion 5 tyre

Best road bike tyres

Hutchinson Fusion 5 tyre

Score: 8/10

TPI: 127, Weight: 238g, Widths: 23c-30c

Read more: Hutchinson Fusion 5 tyre review

A very lightweight set of tyres, with the fast-rolling speed you would expect. What is more, its price comes in well below any of its main competitors.

A downside, though: they do feel very thin, hardly instilling confidence. Although, to be fair, they did not puncture once while on test. Belying their compliant construction, these tyres were a little difficult to fit to a set of Campagnolo Bora One wheels.

Buy now in the UK: Hutchinson Fusion 5 tyre at Wiggle for £34

Buy now in the US: Hutchinson Fusion 5 tyre at Jenson USA for $69.99

Types of road bike tyres

There are three types of bike tyres on the market – clinchers, tubulars and tubeless – and they each have their pros and cons.

Clincher road bike tyres

First up is the clincher, the choice of the majority of road riders. This features a bead around the outside of the tyre which hooks under a lip on the rim, with a separate inner tube running inside. The main advantage of this system is convenience, with the inner tube being easy to change in the event of a puncture.

Tubular road bike tyres

Next is the tubular tyre. With this design, the inner tube is sewn into the tyre, with the whole thing then attached to the wheel using glue or adhesive rim tape. This is the choice of a lot of racers due to the generally lower rolling resistance and weight, but can be impractical when you puncture.

Tubeless road bike tyres

Finally, you’ve got tubeless tyres. These are similar to clinchers, but with the tyre sitting firmly enough against the rim to hold the tyre’s pressure, eliminating the need for an inner tube altogether. The tyre is then filled with sealant, which plugs cuts or gashes in the rubber.

This system has very low rolling resistance and greatly reduces the chance of punctures, although the snug fit that is required between the tyre and the rim can make tubeless tyres fiddly to fit.

The puncture protection offered by tubeless tyres is very impressive. To see how impressive watch the video below where we hammer nails into a tyre!

Video can a tubeless tyre survive a nail?

Rolling resistance vs puncture protection in road bike tyres

The three main categories to look out for are: puncture proofing, the tyres’ rolling ability and grip levels. Whilst in an ideal world we’d have all three, in reality, we have to limit one to increase another.

In order to boost puncture protection, manufacturers will usually add an extra layer – a Kevlar or Vectran breaker in most cases – to catch foreign objects before they reach the tube. The tougher these layers are, the heavier and more sturdy they’ll make the overall rubber – hence the trade-off.

Ultimately, you need to decide what’s more important to you. Riders commuting on less than perfect road surfaces – especially during the winter – will mean you favour puncture protection, whilst a rider racing on a closed circuit may be more concerned with rolling resistance and grip.

Best road bike tyres

Tougher road bike tyres will mean less time mending punctures but they’re not as fast to ride

Road bike tyre width

We have a couple of things to consider before we go in-depth. A standard road wheel size is 700c with the more common options of 23, 25 or 28mm widths.

Traditionally, 23mm widths are put on race bikes, 25mm for training and 28mm widths for a mixture of hard and rough roads.

Indeed with modern technology allowing for better tyre construction, we’ve seen a definite shift in how different width tyres are used. For example, most road riders now like to use 25mm tyres as they handle better in the corners and can lower rolling resistance by dampening out uneven surfaces.

Generally speaking, the narrower the tyres the less comfort is on offer, with decreased rolling resistance providing a faster experience for dry, summer cycling.

Wider tyres can deliver better comfort; puncture protection and grip, mainly at the cost of weight, and are better for the wintry roads.

Best road bike tyres

Whilst 23c road bike tyres have long been the traditional favourite, 25c tyres are now popular

Adjusting road bike tyres for the season

Summer brings good weather, clean roads and nicer bikes so it seems ludicrous that we would stick a slow-rolling and heavy-duty tyre on our bikes.

If a fast racing tyre is your thing, you’ll be expected to have lowered protection from punctures with a thinner puncture protection belt to help reduce weight and rolling resistance, which will help that fast feeling we all desire.

However, come the colder months many riders will opt for winter road bike tyres to counter the associated bad weather and gritty harsh roads, to save them from being victims of the dreaded flint or glass puncture.

>>> How to fix a puncture and mend an inner tube

Larger tyres allow for lower pressures that help absorb the bumps, increasing grip and comfort too. Watch out for mudguard clearance though as larger tyres could be limited if you have minimal clearance.

Best road bike tyres

Check mudguard clearance when choosing wider road bike tyres

Choosing road bike tyres for your terrain

If you commute in town, you’re likely to need a more heavy-duty option. Broken glass and general debris mean the probability of slitting your tyres are way higher. Speed isn’t everything for commuting, so you’ll want to look out for a hard-wearing tyre that will give you some longevity for the money.

best road bike tyres

You’ll need hardwearing road bike tyres for your commute

Road bike tyres and price

What are we really paying for? In basic terms we pay for technology in the rubber, quality of the construction and weight.

Cheaper options tend to lack in grip, puncture protection and are usually supplied with a heavier, steel bead. Rigid steel beaded tyres, other than being harder to transfer around off the bike, are heavier than folding alternatives.

Though cheaper, they can also be a pain to put on and pull off the wheel, mostly at the expense of your thumbs.

Although you may feel that a cheaper option is ok for you, some tyre manufacturers ensure their compounds work well in a good range of temperatures, meaning either grip, protection or longevity works better all year round. It may be a big outlay but might pay to save money in the long run.

Tyre wear and tear

Keeping an eye on your tread is important too. Not only for the life of the tyre, but watching out for stuck glass or flints that haven’t penetrated just yet.

Ideally, cleaning your bike regularly and giving your tyres a quick once over before each outing could save you a puncture during your ride, unless you pick something up en route of course.

>>> Seven essentials you need to take on every ride

Some tyres come with wear markers. These can be small dotted grooves in the middle of the tyre itself that will slowly disappear overtime. If you have no wear markers, you may need to think about replacing the tyres.

Best road bike tyres

Wider tyres are great for winter riding, but keep an eye on wear and tear

The fastest road bike tyres tested

In addition to field testing out on the road, engineer and elite rider Dan Bigham has helped Cycling Weekly calculate the rolling resistance of the different sets of road bike tyres. The lower the rolling resistance, the faster the tyre and the difference can be huge.

To do this, each set of tyres were ridden on rollers, allowing us to record the speed achieved for a given power output. For consistency, the tyres were all inflated to 100psi using a digital gauge and ridden on flat rollers.

For the test we exclusively used new tyres and a PowerTap hub was calibrated and used for power measurement.

Each tyre was ridden at 280W for 5 minutes to allow it it warm up, whereupon they were ridden at a constant power of 300W for 5 minutes.

To ensure even weight distribution, the rider maintained a constant position on the hoods and the weight of the bike and rider was recorded before each test.

Any slight differences in weight or power output were factored into the final calculations. The Fit. Files were put into Matlab and the inertia was corrected for each tyre.

The results of different tyres are tabulated below.

Tyre Max PSI Weight (g) Width (mm) (measured) TPI Watts at 40kph* Rolling ranking
Bontrager R4 180 232 24 320 34.1 1
Michelin Power Race 116 217 26 180 35.2 3
Vittoria Corsa G+ 145 239 27 320 35.1 2
Schwalbe One Tubeless 130 231 26 127 35.6 4
Conti GP4000 120 234 26 3×110 37.6 6
Hutchinson Fusion** 125 213 25 3 37.5(23mm) 5
Maxxis Columbiere 130 210 26 120 37.7 7
Challenge Criterium 145 241 26 230 38.7 8
Mitas Syrinx Racing Pro 120 245 25 127 43.6 9
Vredestein Fortezza Senso 130 237 25.5 120 45.1 10

*Travelling at 40kph with system weight of 85kg

** For the rolling resistance test all tyres were 25mm apart from Hutchinson which were 23mm

Emergency items

Best road bike tyres

Puncture repair essentials

As you’ll know, it doesn’t matter how well you prepare, you’ll inevitably get a puncture… there, we’ve said the P word!

In your pocket or seatpack you should carry at least a set of tyre levers, puncture repair kit, two tubes, a mini-pump and a business card just in case you have a complete blow out, it does happen.