10 Best Road Bike Tires For 2017 Buying Guide And Reviews

Have you gone fed up with your road bike tires because they get flat too often? Is your tires’ tread wearing off? Are you deprived of that “wow” feeling which comes from having the best road bike tires? Yes, your answer is in the affirmative – that is why you have come here.

Don’t worry, we are not going to lead you to a word of technicalities before leaving you midway. Rather, we will go with you, nudge you in the direction of the best road bike tires and after making sure that you know its pros and cons, will help you in making the final decision.

Ready for the journey that will land you the best road bike tire? Let’s go.

our pick:

#1. Continental Grand Prix 4 Season Road Clincher

Continental Grand Prix 4 Season Road Clincher

An all-season road bike tire, a mere glance at this road bike tire reviews suggest that it is top of the line among similar priced options.

When you go for a tire like the Grand Prix 4 season, rolling resistance’s importance is secondary. What matters is the grip on wet and cold surfaces and puncture resistances. On both these counts, this tire performs superbly.

To integrate it with superior puncture resistance, a two layer protection mechanism has been employed. While you will get a Vectran breaker layer under the tread, a Dura Skin layer has also been provided from bead to bead. When combined, both these layers stop the tire from going flat.

As for the grip, Continental seems to have broken away with its tradition. Instead of going for the Black Chili compound which they normally use, a Max Grip silica compound has been utilized. A softer silica compound, Max Grip provides better grip in all seasons.

​​What We Like:

  • Superior Puncture resistance
  • Better grip in all-weather conditions
  • ​Low rolling resistance
  • Relatively fast

​​What We Didn’t Like:

  • Price is high

FINAL VERDICT

A good tire with low rolling resistance and high puncture resistance, Grand Prix 4 Season gets a thumbs-up from me.


Runner Up:

#2. Continental Grand Sport Race Fold Bike Tire

Continental Grand Sport Race Fold Bike Tire

If you want a tire which holds on when the road is dry – and is acceptable when it is wet, here is a tire which deserves your attention. Yes, the substance used for grip in this tire is low-performance than BlackChili, you won’t notice its low grip as long as you are not trying it on a very wet surface where all, including the best road bike tires, get slidey.

In terms of construction, the tire has a 180tpi (Threads per Inch), folding beads and uses a puncture protection strip on its centre. This, in theory at least, leaves the sidewalls more susceptible to going flat but as far as I was concerned, that wasn’t the case when I was riding this bike.

One thing you should note is that these tires aren’t the most easier to fit. In fact, better get a helping hand because they are very difficult to get on and off.

Finally, while these tires are a bit heavier, you can get a lighter version provided you go for the 23mm model. That, as you might guess, will not give you the same comfort as a 28mm model.

​​What We Like:

  • Good tire for all-purpose on-road usage
  • Good grip when the road is dry and acceptable grip in the wet
  • ​Provide good speed for the price

​​What We Didn’t Like:

  • The NY Tech Breaker puncture resistance layer is only on the center – leaving the sidewalls susceptible to going flat.

FINAL VERDICT

Although this tire might not be the one which I would take with myself on a race, it is also not the one which won’t get a favorable gaze from me.


Also great:

#3. Continental Ultra Sport II Bike Tire

Continental Ultra Sport II Bike Tire

If you want a tire in the lower price class, Ultra Soft II is the cheapest in the Continentals road bike tires’ range. This tire is popular but apart from its low price, it is the different sizes and colors which have made it popular.

Look at the tire and you’ll know that Continental have saved money because this tire doesn’t have a layer of puncture resistance. Although it decreases it rolling resistance, the lack of puncture resistance layer makes it more prone to punctures.

Also, the beads are incredibly tight so you would have to use a dedicated tire lever to mount them onto the rims. As for the grip, it is much better than other similar price options, but, having said that, they aren’t designed to schmooze you at high speeds. Do it and you’ll hear creak sounds coming from the tires as they lose grip.

Also, I won’t recommend using these tires on gravelly, dusty roads. It is because of the lack of pattern on the tread area which deprives these tires of the bite to deal with aggressive loose dust.

​​What We Like:

  • Inexpensive
  • Less rolling resistance
  • ​Good range of sizes and colors

​​What We Didn’t Like:

  • No puncture resistant layer
  • Not good on dusty roads

FINAL VERDICT

Had these tires had a puncture resistance layer, they would have earned my thumbs up. Until then, they are a NO-GO area for me.


#4. Continental GatorSkin DuraSkin Tire

Continental GatorSkin DuraSkin Tire

If there is ever a tire whose name suggests its toughness, the “Gator” Skin tires come into that category. Thanks to the carbon black mixture – which provides increase puncture resistance, this tire boasts low wear and good cold weather grip. Compare these features with the weight – this tire stands at only 240g, and the tire is very lightweight for such a strong firmness.

In fact, this tire has two layers that offer resistance to punctures. While the first one is a polyamide – which is integrated into the sidewall, the second one is the famed Poly X Breaker.

As you might expect from such a strong tire, its rolling resistance is huge. Even when the pressure is high, rolling resistance touches the upper levels of the gauge. However, you won’t get anything else from a tire which has Duraskin mounted on it.

Hence, if you don’t care about speed as long as you don’t have to mess with your tubes or tires, this is a zero-issue tire

​​What We Like:

  • Double layer protection against puncture
  • Low Wear
  • ​Good cold weather grip
  • Strong and sturdy

​​What We Didn’t Like:

  • Not speedy at all

FINAL VERDICT

As stated above, speed-lovers better stay away from this tire because it isn’t designed for them.


#5. Bell Road Bike Tire with KEVLAR

Bell Road Bike Tire with KEVLAR

Although Bell Road Bike tires haven’t got enough love lost with the customers, here is a road bike tire which might do well to shed some criticism off Bell’s name.

Let’s start with its puncture resistance and this is where this tire earns its money. Apart from imparting the tire extra strength, the Kevlar layers adds a notch or two in terms of puncture resistance. Make no mistake, this tire isn’t for off-road but as long as you keep it on the road, it won’t ditch you midway through the journey.

Another reason this tire deserves your attention is that it features inverted tread. Rather than featuring raised knobs, the depressed knobs used in its construction gives it a textured surface. Hence, as long as you want to ride over smooth surfaces like paced trails or pavements, your ride will be faster and more efficient.

While the inversion offers better traction than treadles or slick tires, it is still much less than that of the traditional raised treads. Hence, if your daily riding routine is slightly bumpy – but isn’t sandy or loose, the inverted tread will give you less rolling resistance and appropriate traction for efficient cycling.

​​What We Like:

  • Less rolling resistance
  • Faster and more efficient
  • ​Kevlar layer to protect it from going flat
  • Can be folded without damage – hence easy to store

​​What We Didn’t Like:

  • Not recommended to be used on older bikes

FINAL VERDICT

If your bike is new and you want a tire to complement its features, the low price and good features of this tire should turn your head.


#6. Michelin Pro4 Service Course Tires

Michelin Pro4 Service Course Tires

If you are looking for a tire which is grippy, fast rolling and durable – plus which is ideal for summer training and racing, Michelin have raised the bar with the Pro4 Service.

Compare it with the old Pro3 and you’d note that there is not one area where this tire hasn’t improved. It offers better grip, is speedier, and is also durable. Also, the puncture resistance is brilliant and despite clocking 1,000 miles, all I had to deal with was one puncture.

As for the rolling resistance, what impressed me the most was this tire feels fast. You don’t get the “slowing me down” feeling which was a part and parcel of the Pro3 Service tire.

To provide extra Grip, Michelin has gone for the softer silica compound – no mean feat because experts tells us that you can ONLY get extra grip at the expense of durability. Thankfully, there is no such thing in this tire.

For, when you’ll be riding straight, the contact patch will become smaller, only to increase in size when you lean over. Consequently, you’ll get more grip with less rolling resistance.

​​What We Like:

  • Fast rolling and durable
  • Offers good resistance to punctures
  • ​Ideal for summer training and racing
  • Provides good grip'
  • Surprisingly comfortable

​​What We Didn’t Like:

  • Little bit heavier

FINAL VERDICT

As stated above, this tire is a Must-have for anyone who wants to go with a speedy tire which also offers better grip and good resistance against punctures.


#7. Continental Touring Plus Reflex Bike Tire

Continental Touring Plus Reflex Bike Tire

In stark contrast to other Continental tires in this review, this one, particular in its narrow size, feels slow and uncomfortably wooden. This, despite the fact that it is an incredibly tough tire, seems to me as the its undoing.

Starting from its installation and I was amazed how difficult Continental has made this tire to install. In fact, it was not after I had five to seven cable-ties around each rim, a lot of swearing, a profuse use of chalk, and comfortable discomfort was I able to install it.

The discomfort to install it was matched on the road. Because these are narrow, you get a wooden feeling even when driving these ones on a smooth, paved road.

Turning our attention to the better features that it has to offer and Touring Plus is virtually impregnable. Hence, if you want to get on that saddle and ride a handful of rides – without getting one puncture along the way, you’ll want to ride this tire.

Other than that, they don’t get my vote.

​​What We Like:

  • Virtually impregnable
  • Strong
  • ​Puncture proof (almost)

​​What We Didn’t Like:

  • Not at all comfortable
  • Very difficult to install

FINAL VERDICT

For those riders who want to get a handful of miles under their belt – without having to change the tire even once, and can put up with the wooden feeling that it will pose, this tire is a no-brainer.


#8. Schwalbe Lugano HS 384 Clincher Road Bicycle Tire - Wire Bead - 700x23

Schwalbe Lugano HS 384 Clincher Road Bicycle Tire - Wire Bead - 700x23

Ask a number of riders, and it is likely you’ll found that a majority of them prefers mid-weight tires. These tires, in our definition, are hybrid, come with folding beads and a supple casing. If there is one tire that fits this profile, the Schwalbe Lugano HS 384 fits the bill.

Visit Schwalbe’s website and you’d know that it is the most inexpensive version that they have to offer. This cheapness is evident in the features. For, the rubber tread is as basic as it comes. Yes, it does affects the rolling resistance in a good way, but it is certainly not top of the line.

That said, a mere glance at its price tag should suggest that you only get what you pay for.

Moving forward and instead of providing a puncture resistant layer, they have gone for a puncture resistant belt in this one. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work. For, while the belt will cover the center of the tire for protection, there are diagonal stripes on each side which serve the same purpose.

On the bike and they roll good. They are not very quick – nor can you use them on extremely wet surfaces, but they have that inherent tendency to hold their own in testing times.

​​What We Like:

  • Very inexpensive
  • Provides basic level puncture resistance
  • ​Sufficient rolling resistance

​​What We Didn’t Like:

  • Everything – from the puncture resistant belt to the rubber tread, is very basic

FINAL VERDICT

If you want to go on a long, uneventful ride and want a tire which could complement your journey.


#9. Schwalbe Marathon Plus HS 348 Road Bike Tire

Schwalbe Marathon Plus HS 348 Road Bike Tire

If you can pay a bit over the odds for a high quality road bike tire, Schwalbe Marathon Plus HS 348 merits your attention.

There are two worth noting features of this tire. The first is the Smart Guard layer whereas the second is its rolling resistance. Both of them, when combined, seem to justify the otherwise astronomical price tag.

Look at the 5mm thick layer – which is named as ‘SmartGuard’ by Schwalbe, and you’d know why those in the road bike tires reviews call this tire as nearly flat-less. Surprisingly, while this much puncture resistance might result in a tire which has a higher rolling resistance, there is no such shortcoming in this tire.

Having said that, this isn’t the most lightweight tire you’ll get in the market. That, to me, seems as the only shortcoming of this tire.

​​What We Like:

  • Nearly flat-less
  • Comes with a 5mm thick puncture resistance layer
  • ​Lower rolling resistance

​​What We Didn’t Like:

  • Heavy

FINAL VERDICT

If you can put up with a tire which is heavy and expensive than others, this tire deserves your attention.


#10. Vittoria Zaffiro II Wire

Vittoria Zaffiro II Wire

For those of you who want stiffness, longevity for the road lying ahead and lightweight performance from their tire, the Zaffiro II Wire from Vittoria – which is also integrated with an Aramid 3D Compound, is worthy of your money.

When manufacturing this tire, Vittoria has placed equal attention on both the center of the tread as well as the sidewall. For example, look closely and you’d find a hard tread in the center which acts as a puncture resistance layer. This is due to the Intrepid PRB material with which this tire has been integrated with.

Move to the sides and you’d find out a softer compound which, apart from providing a resistance – albeit a bleak one, against puncture but also provides grip when cornering.

Also, thanks to the four twisted steel wires and the 26TPI casing, the tire provides both durable comfort and better flexibility.

​​What We Like:

  • Flexible
  • Good grip when cornering
  • ​Provides durable comfort

​​What We Didn’t Like:

  • Rolling resistance is big

FINAL VERDICT

If you can put up with the rolling resistance, there is no reason why this tire shouldn’t be on your bicycle.


Types of Road Bike Tires

Tubeless Tire: If you want to have a tire which is the perfect amalgam of a tubular and a clincher tire – and has the best features of both, tubeless road bike tires deserve your money. A relatively new option in the market, you can use tubeless road bike tires eyes closed on any clincher wheel.

Having said that, the tubeless road bike tires have both their pros and cons. Obviously, they are less vulnerable to going flat and offer less resistance when rolling because of no inner friction. On the other side, they are usually thicker and heavier than clinchers and are more difficult to fit.

Clincher Tires: If you don’t know what type of tire your bike already dons, chances are that it would be clincher. They are very common and are integrated with an inner tube and an outer tube casing. When compared with tubular tires, the major advantage of clinchers lies in fixing their flat, which you can do with relative ease.

When compared with tubeless road bike tires, although clinchers are more expensive, they are lighter and faster. Also, their grip is much better than any other tire of similar price.

Tubular Tires: Ask pro riders, and tubular tire is what they normally use. Compare it with tubeless road bike tires and not only they weigh less, but also show more resistance to pinch flats. For example, if you are riding a tubular, even after a sharp object slashes the tire open, it will allow you to continue riding for some time even in a worst case scenario.

Another area where tubulars are far better than tubeless road bike tires is their speed. Since they operate at higher pressure, a mere turn of the pedal and tubulars would leave behind a tubeless with aplomb.


Anatomy of a Tire

If there is one thing common between tubular, clincher, and tubeless road bike tires, it is the anatomy. Take a look.

Bead: A steel wire of Kevlar fiber, bead is what holds a clincher or tubular road bike tire onto the wheel rim. It operates when the pressure inside the tire pushes the bead into the bead hook located on the rim.

Casing: Also known as the main body of the tire, it is a cloth fabric that is woven around the beads. While some manufacturers use nylon, others – particularly the high end ones, use silk threads and cotton.

Nothing in a bike tire affects your ride quality and comfort as much as casing. For example, for tires which have a thick thread and low threads per inch (TPI) value, it offers more rolling resistance but will also be more resistant to punctures. On the contrary, tires with low (TPI) value will have a less rolling resistance but will also be more prone to punctures.

Sidewall: Between the bead and the tread, rubber is applied to form what experts call as sidewall. As you might guess, the thickness of this wall – as will be the nature of the rubber used in its construction, will vary. The opinion is still divided on whether sidewall actually makes a difference but it does look cool at the very least.

Tread: Although it is also rubber, tread differentiates from sidewall as it comes into direct contact with the road and is usually thicker than it. Sometimes, you might also see a tread which has a 3D pattern integrated into it.

Tread comes in two types: soft and hard rubber compounds. Be it a tubular, clincher, or tubeless road bike tire, softer rubber compounds offer more traction but provided your riding area isn’t smooth, it will wear quickly. Harder rubber compounds, on the contrary, might not have the same grip as the softer ones but will not wear quickly.


How to Choose the Best Road Bike Tires?

Tire width: Take a look at the road bike tires reviews, and you’ll come to know that the tires come in two sizes: 23mm and 25mm. While the range of choices isn’t huge, you still have to make a choice, which depends on these two factors:

- What tire will fit your wheels and your bike?

- Best amalgam of speed and comfort

Answering the first question, the best road bike tires will be wider than the width of your rim. Hence, before going out there and buying one, measure the width of your rim and get a tire whose size is bigger.

As for the second question, we recommend going for the 25mm tires because – as we have seen from the road bike tires reviews, they are a perfect compromise between speed, comfort, weight and performance.

Options within tubular tires: Assuming that you’d go with the majority choice, there are three types of tubes you might go for in a tubular tire: rubber bladder, latex and butyl tubes. Of the three, latex tubes provide better tube performance because they are lightweight. But, since they leak air quickly, you might have to re-inflate them after every ride.

As for butyl tubes, they are not as lighter as latex which means that they don’t lose air as quickly. Having said that, you can reduce their weight by decreasing your tire’s wall thickness – provided you are willing to put up with more punctures because it will do that as well.

Tread type: Tread comes in two patterns: off-road and on-road usage. As you might guess, it depends on where you ride your bike as to which tread type you are going to choose. While the off-road treads are knobby, the on-road tread is smooth.

Having said that, most people go for treads which are a mixture of the two, in a sense that they put the smooth ridge in the middle and cover it with knobs on the sides.

Tire Pressure: The tire pressure of your road bike is interwoven with its width. For, if you want low pressure, go for a wider tire and high pressures are provided by narrower tires.

Also, you should neither get your tire under-inflated – for it will provide more rolling resistance, nor should you make it over-inflated – because it will become more susceptible to sharp rocks and will offer bumpy rides.


Conclusion

As you might have seen already, searching for the best road bike tires isn’t an easy job. Not only you have to look at one bike’s features, but you also have to compare them with the others. We have done both and now the onus is on you to spend your money on the tire which you feel is the best for your road bike.

Good Luck!

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