Best winter tyres for road cycling

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

best winter tyres

Finding the best winter tyres 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 tyre in cold conditions, we've rounded up our tried and tested best winter road tyres.

Better puncture protection comes at the cost of the speed enjoyed on the best summer tyres, 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 tyres 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 tyres, head to our buyer's guide lower down the page.

Best winter tyres for road cycling

best winter road tyres

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 tyres 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 tyre's enemy.

Read our full review of the Michelin Pro4 Endurance winter tyre.

best winter road tyres

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 tyre 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 tyres, and Specialized now offers the Roubaix Pro in a tubeless version too.

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

Read our full review of the Specialized Roubaix Pro winter tyre.

best winter road tyres

Panaracer Race A Evo 3 tyre

Specifications
TPI: 120
Weight: 245g (25c)
Widths: 23-28
Reasons to buy
+Rolls well for an all-weather tyre+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 tyre-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 tyre aims to up grip and puncture protection even more over the version 3 tested.

Read our full review of the Panaracer Race A Evo winter tyre.

best winter road tyres

Hutchinson Fusion 3 Kevlar ProTech tyre

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 tyre, 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 tyre; 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 our full review of the Hutchinson Fusion 5 tyre.

best winter road tyres

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 tyres-Not as robust as an all-out winter tyre

In attempting to bridge the gap between an all-out winter tyre and a pure summer tyre, 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 our full review of the Continental Gatorskin winter tyre.

best winter road tyres

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 tyres 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 our full review of the Michelin Lithion winter tyre.

best winter road tyres

Specifications
TPI: 67
Weight: 410-530g
Widths: 23-28c
Reasons to buy
+Good, practical rubber with high levels of grip+Faster rolling than many winter tyres
Reasons to avoid
-Not Schwalbe's most up-to-date tyre option-Not tubeless-ready

Relatively quick-rolling for a winter tyre, the Schwalbe Duranos aren't so tight you'll be snapping tyre levers and cursing invisible deities to get them on your rim.

Although the ride is slightly harsher than some of the other tyres on test, grip was not compromised, and they were resilient to punctures.

Read our full review of the Schwalbe Durano winter tyre.

Buyer's guide to winter tyres for road bikes

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

Width

Wider tyres 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 tyre, 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 tyres a very compelling option, especially for amateur racers for whom a mid-race puncture spells the end of your day. The majority of newer tyres are now designed to be run tubeless.

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

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 tyres tend to be more expensive than their clincher cousins, so it can make economic sense to run winter tyres 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 tyres, most of us will accept a small chance of punctures in return for the performance and benefits of pneumatic tyres, such as comfort, grip, and speed.

Threads per inch

The rubber on a tyre is just the outer coating, beneath that are the threads that make up the carcass. Some tyres 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), tyres tend to be more supple, but they are less robust and are damaged more easily; so a tyre with a mid-range TPI count is best suited for winter riding.

Compound

Tyres will generally enlist a variety of compounds for different performance enhancements. Along the centre of the tyre, 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 tyre doesn’t spend as much time in contact with the ground, so wear is less of an issue.

Stefan Abram
Stefan Abram

Starting off riding mountain bikes on the South Downs way, he soon made the switch the road cycling. Now, he’s come full circle and is back out on the trails, although the flat bars have been swapped for the curly ones of a gravel bike.


Always looking for the next challenge, he’s Everested in under 12 hours and ridden the South Downs Double in sub 20. Although dabbling in racing off-road, on-road and virtually, to date his only significant achievement has been winning the National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Bike Championships in 2019.


Height: 177cm

Weight: 67–69kg