Best winter tires for road cycling 2023

The best winter tires for our road bikes are an essential purchase. Here are our picks that find a robust compromise between rolling resistance, weight, and puncture protection

Images shows a road bike with winter tires.
(Image credit: Future)

Finding the best winter tires that are reliable and tough is essential for enjoying the harder miles during the gloomy cold months.

Fixing a flat on the side of the road isn’t fun at the best of times, and when it’s 37°F / 3°C and raining sideways, it can be a day ruiner particularly if you're spending the day riding in the rain.

The roads are generally dirtier in the winter months too, and the shoulders especially are littered with grit, meaning the probability of getting an unwanted puncture is higher than in the summer months.

So to help reduce the number of times we tend to a deflated tire in cold conditions, we've rounded up our tried and tested best winter road tires.

Better puncture protection comes at the cost of the speed enjoyed on the best summer tires, but still, it shouldn’t feel like you’re riding through molasses. The best modern winter tyres are able to fend off the sharp objects and road debris without being an unacceptable drag on your ride.

A set of dedicated winter tires can also save you money. The harder wearing compound will last longer than a faster, but less robust, summer option. 

To find out what to look for in the best winter tires, head to our buyer's guide lower down the page.

Best winter tires for road cycling

Why you can trust Cycling Weekly Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Image shows the Schwalbe Durano Plus which is one of the best winter tires for road cycling

(Image credit: Rachel Sokal)
Best for all-round performance

Specifications

TPI: 67
Weight: 427g (as tested)
Widths: 25 or 28c

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent grip
+
Easy tubeless inflation
+
High performing puncture protection

Reasons to avoid

-
Weight

Schwalbe's Durano Plus isn't marketed as a winter road tire but it has all the attributes you'd expect. The Addix compounded balances grip and durability and the Smartguard offers excellent puncture protection. Our tester found it was both fast rolling and incredibly confidence inspiring. 

For it's price it's quite heavy, even in comparison to others we've tested with decent puncture protection. But it's not all about weight, the confident feel of the tire far outweighs the extra 100g you'll add to your bike. 

Read more: Schwalbe's Durano Plus road winter tire full review

Image shows the Pirelli Cinturato Velo TLR which is one of the best winter tires for road cycling

(Image credit: Future)
Best fast rolling option with excellent puncture resistance

Specifications

TPI: 66
Weight: 359g (32c)
Widths: 24-35c

Reasons to buy

+
Highly puncture resistant
+
Reasonably low rolling resistance
+
Good range of width options

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited hookless rim compatibility

Designed to offer high puncture protection without undue rolling resistance, the Pirelli Cinturato Velo TLR tire is a good winter/training option. There's an aramid breaker under the rubber with a second bead-to-bead protective area to help keep your sidewalls intact, while Pirelli says that its SmartNET Silica rubber compound “ensures grip safety in all weather conditions”.

There are five width options starting at 24c and heading up to 35c, so the Cinturato Velo tire caters for the whole range of clearances offered by modern road bikes and heads up into light gravel territory too. 

Tubeless set-up was trouble-free and the riding was without punctures. They felt significantly faster than rival winter tires for road cycling too and coped admirably with a few gravel excursions on the way.

Read more: Pirelli Cinturato Velo TLR winter road tires full review

Image shows the Challenge Elite XP which is one of the best winter tires for road cycling

(Image credit: Upgrade)
Best for corner grip

Specifications

TPI: 220
Weight: 291g (27c)
Widths: 25c, 27c

Reasons to buy

+
Great comfort that rivals a summer tire
+
Plenty of grip through corners
+
Competitively priced

Reasons to avoid

-
Not tubeless

Challenge specialises in handmade tires and the Challenge Elite XP is no exception. It comes with a double ply casing with 220TPI and a more tightly woven puncture protection layer. The bead too is protected. That's paired with a tread compound designed to up grip and durability.

The Challenge Elite XP is available in 25mm and 27mm sizes. We found that the 27c tire gave a really comfortable ride that didn't feel like a winter tire and there was plenty of grip into corners. It's not tubeless compatible, so you'll need to be happy running with tubes.

Read more: Challenge Elite XP winter tires full review

Image shows Michelin Pro4 Endurance which is one of the best winter tires for road cycling

Photo: Jack Elton-Walters

Specifications

TPI: 3x110
Weight: 285g (28c)
Widths: 23-28c

Reasons to buy

+
Very puncture resistant
+
Roll well
+
Grippy in corners
+
Comfortable with little speed penalty

Reasons to avoid

-
None so far

Coming in with top marks is Michelin’s winter offering. We were very impressed by how well these tires gripped in the corners and rolled on the straights.

Tested in the 28c option, they performed well in the Paris-Roubaix Challenge sportive, taking the edge off the impacts from the infamous pavé.

Only one puncture was suffered after about 1800mi / 3,000km of testing and, to be fair, it was an unusually large piece of road debris that proved to be the tire's enemy.

Read more: Michelin Pro4 Endurance winter tires full review

Image shows the Specialized Roubaix Pro which is one of the best winter tires for road cycling

Specifications

TPI: 120
Weight: 300g (25/28c)
Widths: 23-32c

Reasons to buy

+
Price is reasonable
+
Rolling resistance is low
+
Wide range of size options
+
Good puncture resistance
+
Grip is good on wet roads

Reasons to avoid

-
Weight is quite high

With a range of size options, this is a winter tire that should fit the majority of needs. The parabolic profile aids with grip in the corners, making for confident descending.

Puncture resistance comes from its bead-to-bead Endurant casing. This is a lighter version of the Kevlar and Nylon used in Specialized’s toughest Armadillo tires, and Specialized now offers the Roubaix Pro in a tubeless version too.

Rolling relatively quickly, the only downside we found of these tires comes from their weight, they are a little hefty compared to their immediate competitors. 

Read more: Specialized Roubaix Pro winter tire full review

Image shows the Panaracer Race A Evo 3 which is one of the best winter tires for road cycling

Panaracer Race A Evo 3 tire

Specifications

TPI: 120
Weight: 245g (25c)
Widths: 23-28

Reasons to buy

+
Rolls well for an all-weather tire
+
Great grip in the corners
+
Good puncture protection

Reasons to avoid

-
None noted

Over about 600mi / 1,000km of testing, there was not a single puncture, even when ridden on tire-savaging cobbled and gravel paths. Rolling resistance was impressively low for an all-weather tyre.

Thankfully, this upside isn’t at the expense of grip, for the rear wheel didn’t slip once, even when climbing 25 percent gradients. In the corners, there was never any cause for concern. The newest Race A Evo 4 tire aims to up grip and puncture protection even more over the version 3 tested.

Read more: Panaracer Race A Evo winter tire full review

Image shows the Hutchinson Fusion 3 Kevlar ProTech which is one of the best winter tires for road cycling

Hutchinson Fusion 3 Kevlar ProTech tire

Specifications

TPI: 127
Weight: 204g (25c)
Widths: 23-28c

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Fast rolling
+
Price is competetive

Reasons to avoid

-
Feel very thin

The all-weather Fusion is a light, grippy, puncture-resistant tire, with the only downside being the cost. There were no cuts of note while on test, and no punctures and the bead snapped into place with ease on a number of different wheels.

Three different compounds of rubber make up the carcass of this tire; in the centre is a harder durometer rubber, fending off cuts and lowering rolling resistance, while softer durometer rubber sits in the transition zone assisting general cornering. This is the softest compound and is found on the shoulders and improves the grip in tight corners.

Read more: Hutchinson Fusion 5 winter tire full review

Image shows the Continental Gatorskin which is one of the best winter tires for road cycling

Specifications

TPI: 3x60
Weight: 253g (25c)
Widths: 23-32c

Reasons to buy

+
Reasonably grippy
+
Range of sizes
+
Mid-range pricing

Reasons to avoid

-
A bit stiffer than premium summer tires
-
Not as robust as an all-out winter tire

In attempting to bridge the gap between an all-out winter tire and a pure summer tire, the Gatorskins are neither the most robust nor the most supple—but then, they are not trying to be.

If more protection is needed a Hardshell version is available, but for many this intermediary between summer and winter will be a useful compromise. There is a huge variety of different versions on offer, from folding to wired, 23 to 32mm in 700c, as well as 650b and 26-inch options.

Read more: Continental Gatorskin winter tire full review

Image shows the Michelin Lithion 2 which is one of the best winter tires for road cycling

Specifications

TPI: 60
Weight: 235g (25c)
Widths: 23-25c

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent value
+
Decent rolling resistance
+
Good puncture protection

Reasons to avoid

-
Grip could be better when climbing in wet

Although these tires offered confident grip through the corners, we were left a little wanting when it came to steep, wet hills. You really need to keep pressure over the rear wheel to stop it from spinning out.

There were no punctures over the hundreds of miles that they were tested, and the Lithion 2 emerged from the glass-strewn streets of South London largely unscathed and holding air. However, they did prove a bit of a challenge to pop onto the rims when first setting up.

Read more: Michelin Lithion winter tire full review

Buyer's guide to winter tires for road bikes

Here's our guide to what to look for in a winter tire for road cycling, what makes a good winter road tire, tubeless versus inner tubes and other considerations when looking for the best winter road tyres.

Width

Wider tires can be run at lower pressures, providing more grip and in turn a more comfortable ride. They also tend to be a little more resistant to punctures. Although these are all valuable qualities in a winter tire, it is worth checking your bike’s clearances before sizing up, particularly on an older bike frame, to avoid any rubbing on the frame or mudguards.

Tubes or tubeless

Running tubeless does bring many benefits: less weight, better rolling resistance, the ability to run lower pressures, and to self-seal punctures. In some cases, this can make tubeless tires a very compelling option, especially for amateur racers for whom a mid-race puncture spells the end of your day. The majority of newer tires are now designed to be run tubeless.

However, for winter riding, there are other considerations. With higher pressures of road tires, sealant (especially the thinner viscosity types) struggles to seal holes compared to a lower pressure system like in a cyclocross, gravel or mountain bike tire.

Even still, the chance of a puncture self-sealing is still quite high, making tubeless a great choice on a wheelset built for speed. But, when it comes to winter riding, prevention is better than cure and a traditional hard-wearing clincher setup delivers reliable performance.

There is also the cost to consider. Tubeless tires tend to be more expensive than their clincher cousins, so it can make economic sense to run winter tires with inner tubes.

Speed versus puncture protection

Lower weight and lower rolling resistance will make you go faster but at the expense of puncture protection — there is always a compromise to be made. In the summer, the balance is going to be tipped in favour of speed, but puncture resistance won’t be completely forgone, for obvious reasons.

In the winter, when chasing seconds becomes of lesser importance, and the risk of punctures is greater, the scale tips the other way. But not completely. Although some may go for the opt-out of solid tires, most of us will accept a small chance of punctures in return for the performance and benefits of pneumatic tires, such as comfort, grip, and speed.

Threads per inch

The rubber on a tire is just the outer coating, beneath that are the threads that make up the carcass. Some tires use a smaller number of thicker threads, while others use a higher number of thinner threads.

With a higher number of Threads Per Inch (TPI), tires tend to be more supple, but they are less robust and are damaged more easily; so a tire with a mid-range TPI count is best suited for winter riding.

Compound

Tires will generally enlist a variety of compounds for different performance enhancements. Along the centre of the tire, a harder compound tends to be used, being harder wearing and more resistant to punctures.

The compounds on the side tend to be softer, offering more grip when the bike is banked over in tight corners. This part of the tire doesn’t spend as much time in contact with the ground, so wear is less of an issue. 

Stefan Abram
Tech features editor

After winning the 2019 National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Biking Championships and claiming the plushie unicorn (true story), Stefan swapped the flat-bars for drop-bars and has never looked back. 


Since then, he’s earnt his 2ⁿᵈ cat racing licence in his first season racing as a third, completed the South Downs Double in under 20 hours and Everested in under 12.


But his favourite rides are multiday bikepacking trips, with all the huge amount of cycling tech and long days spent exploring new roads and trails - as well as histories and cultures. Most recently, he’s spent two weeks riding from Budapest into the mountains of Slovakia


Height: 177cm

Weight: 67–69kg