If you've been shopping around for new bike tires, it can be tough to know which ones to buy. Getting the right tires for your bike makes riding more comfortable and safe, so it's important to make an informed purchase. There are all kinds of factors, like price point, usage, quality, size, and brands, that make picking bike tires a tough job.
So we have done the research for you. Here are the best road bike tires for for value, puncture resistance, speed, and commuting. Enjoy!
Best Value Road Bike Tires
1. Continental GP4000 S2
The Continental GP 4000 S2's are well loved for their combination of price and low rolling resistance. This tire comes with a built-in tread indicator that makes it easy for beginners to tell when it's time to swap tires out for new ones. The manufacturer also advertises a tread compound with "carbon nano-particles" for low rolling resistance.
I'm not sure exactly what those nano-particles do, but I am certain that this tire does, in fact, offer a very low rolling resistance, which can help boost your speeds. Although this tire trades in a bit of puncture resistance for the cost difference, it is an excellent product that competes with higher-cost tires.
2. Schwalbe Durano
Winter riders rejoice! The Schwalbe Durano is a really great, rugged tire that performs well in slippery winter weather conditions. This tire is a little heavier than some on the list since it isn't foldable, but the difference is small enough that most riders won't notice.
Despite the weight, you can maintain a good speed on this tire, which makes it feel competitive with some higher-priced tires. The Durano features extra treading and has good puncture resistance, which makes them ideal to gravelly or slick roads. If you're on the hunt for an affordable all-season tire, I would highly recommend this one.
3. Vittoria Rubino Pro G2
Like the Corsa G2 and a few of their other tires, Vittoria uses a material called Graphene for added traction and strength in this tire. The Vittoria Rubino Pro G2 offers an excellent combination of grip and handling on tight corners with a good speed while moving along a straight line.
This tire is very popular with folks who are training or heading out on club rides thanks to its ability to perform well in a variety of terrains. While this tire might not deliver international racing speed, it's an affordable option to wear down with daily use.
Fastest Road Bike Tires
1. Vittoria Corsa G2
Vittoria is known for producing fast tires, and the Corsa G2 delivers improvements on previous generations of this tire. If you've ridden with Corsas before, you'll likely notice higher durability and better performance in wet weather. The company uses a unique mixture of four rubbers to create their high-end tires, and this combination seems to do wonders for speed as well as stability.
The tire also features a tan sidewall, which I think looks pretty slick. Some enthusiasts, though, might disagree. It really comes down to personal preference.
2. Continental GP5000
Continental's Grand Prix line is well known for including some great tires and has been pumping out race-winning rubber for a while now. If you've used the GP4000's in the past, you'll likely be delighted with this new upgrade from Continental. This tire advertises "active comfort technology" that seems to do its job well.
This tire delivers a smooth ride with high speeds and extra smooth ride quality. The "Black Chili" compound on the tires provides a nice grip. These tires also handle aggressive braking and cornering as well, if not better, than competitors.
3. Pirelli P Zero Velo
An Italian company, known better for automobile tires, Pirelli only recently re-entered the bike tire market with cautious optimism from racers. The Pirelli P Zero Velo delivers on the hype. Riders will notice that this tire manages excellent puncture resistance and grip without sacrificing rolling resistance.
Overall, this newer entry to the market is very competitive with Continental's GPs and only loses the spot of second place to a minimal difference in rolling resistance.
Most Puncture-Resistant Road Bike Tires
1. Continental GP 4 Season
Popular with riders on the hellish Paris - Roubaix race, the Continental GP 4 Season is well known as one of the most reliably puncture and damage resistant road tires on the market. With many tires designed to hold up to more of a beating, you typically end up sacrificing some comfort and rolling resistance because the tire tends to be harder.
Surprisingly, the GP 4 Season is relatively supple, which helps significantly with speed and handling.
2. Continental Gator Hardshell Duraskin
Continental Gators are the name that comes to mind most often when talking about rugged, reliable road tires. Continental's Gator Hardshell Duraskin packs a one-two punch of excellent puncture resistance along the bottom with powerfully reinforced sidewalls.
Unless you manage to hit a nail in the road, it's likely that you'll be able to ride these for up to 1,000 miles before you get a flat. You do trade a little bit of speed, but you'll make up for the lost time by not having to stop and repair tires all the time.
3. Michelin Power All Season
Another company best known for automobile tires, Michelin released the Power All Season tire as a spiritual replacement for their Pro4 Grip tire. While this tire does lack some of the suppleness and speed of competitors, it delivers excellent reliability. The tire has super high puncture resistance and strong sidewalls.
This tire also has a sticky compound that really improves grip, which feels like a gift when you're riding in the adverse conditions that would send you out in search of a reliable tire.
Best Road Bike Tires For Commuting
1. Schwalbe Marathon Plus
When shopping around as a commuter, you want to look for a really balanced tire. The Schwalbe Marathon Plus certainly strikes a good balance of comfort, reliability, and rolling resistance. This tire has the unusual feature of a tread, and the middle of the tire is pretty thick. This extra weight costs the tire a tiny bit of speed and rolling resistance.
Overall though, you'll find that the Marathon Plus is truly best in class with great handling and puncture resistance that won't leave you changing an inner tube on some rainy Monday morning.
2. Schwalbe G-One Speed
Schwalbe's G-One Speed makes an excellent choice for commuters who have to cross mixed terrain like gravel and chop.
Featuring a low-profile tread and extra width, the G-One Speed is designed to be inflated with a much lower speed than your typical road bike, sitting at anywhere between 20 and 75 psi depending on conditions and rider weight. This lower pressure helps absorbs shock and makes for a very comfortable ride without much risk of punctures.
3. Continental Contact Speed
The last entry of the commuter tires is the Continental Contact Speed. Like its two competitors above, this tire has a bit of tread and features a thick rubber layer underneath. One key difference, though, is a built-in kevlar strip that really boosts puncture resistance. Available in wide widths for extra comfort and stability, this tire can still maintain good speed.
This guy is slightly less compliant than the two above but can handle just about anything you throw at it. This one is especially nice if you like to take your bike out onto rough trails on the weekend.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How long do road bike tires last?
As with most things in life, this answer will vary depending on what kind of riding you're doing and what kind of tires you buy. As a general rule of thumb, you can expect tires for a road bike to last between 1,000 and 3,000 miles. If you just thought to yourself, "Yeesh, that's a pretty wide margin," you aren't wrong. Racing tires, designed with more of a "live fast die young" mentality, will generally need to be replaced at 1,000 miles. In contrast, sturdy touring tires can sometimes be good for up to 4,000 miles. Any high-end tire should get you at least 2,500 miles.
How do I know when to replace my tires?
Aside from getting regular flats, there are signs when it's time to replace a tire. Since many road bikes don't have much of a tread, you'll want to look for an obvious flat spot along the center of the tire. Sometimes, you'll see that the tire begins to "square off" a bit, particularly along the sidewalls, and that shape is from the center of the tire is worn away. If you've been storing the tire for a few years, you might also notice that the rubber is cracked, which is also a sure sign that it's time for replacements. Some tires have a built-in wear guide, which can be really handing for spotting issues.
What is the best tire pressure for a road bike?
Unfortunately, there isn't really a straightforward answer to this one. The first step is to look up the manufacturer's rating. The rating is usually the highest PSI the tire can handle, and for road tires, that number will usually be somewhere in the 130-150 range. Higher pressure equals higher speed but also leaves you more prone to blowouts on bumpy roads. (e.g., cobblestone or gravel) Higher body weight also demands higher PSI. Generally, you'll want to keep tires somewhere between 80 PSI (bumpy road, small rider) to a max of 130 PSI (smooth road, bigger rider) for a balance of speed and shock resistance.
Do I need to swap my front and back tires?
Although we often rotate tires on cars, swapping front and back tires on a road bike won't do much for you. Both tires are getting more or less the same amount of wear. Car tires need to be rotated because they last 60,000 miles or more. Long before your smaller, lighter bike tires reach that mark, they'll need to be replaced. Typically, the only reason to swap front and back tires is if one gets replaced entirely. In this situation, it's better just to replace both so that you've got the same thing on both ends of the bike.
Are road bike tires directional?
The simple answer: almost never. You might notice that some of the tires on this list have a super-shallow, barely-there tread that's vaguely directional, which might have you wondering which wheel it goes on. Ultimately, that shallow tread doesn't indicate a direction and is just a fancy-pants design feature to help with traction and it doesn't make much of a difference in terms of direction. One exception, though, is that the tires in the "best commuter tires" section have a lot more tread than your typical road bike tires. Double-check the manufacturer's instructions just to be sure before installing.
What is the best tire width for a road bike?
Realistically, most rims could accommodate a big, wide tire, but it's more than likely that your frame will only fit a 28 mm wide tire on the maximum end. If you want a tire that can handle bumpy roads and rougher terrain, it's a good idea to go for a wider tire to absorb some of that extra shock. It's important to check your bike to see the sizes it can accommodate, then buy it based on your specific needs. A good range is usually 23 to 25 mm. The wider width of the 25 mm tire will be more comfortable for longer rides, but a 23 will shave a few ounces of weight that can help boost riding speeds.