If you look online for bike tires you’ll find there are hundreds to choose from. Knowing which manufacturers to trust and which tyre type is best for you can be very confusing.
To this end, I’ve spent a lot of time researching top manufacturers and the most popular and well regarded tyres they produce.
Below I’ve made a brief introduction to bike tires with key information and technical terms you may come across so you can make a more informed decision. Followed by reviews on what I believe to be the best bike tires on the market today.
Do you know your Tire bike size?
Knowing what tire size you need for your bike is straightforward. Looking at the side of your tire will tell you the size you need, but do you know what it means?
Your tire has either three or four numbers printed or moulded onto the sidewall. These numbers refer to the diameter and width of the tire in either inches or millimetres (mm) but never both and also the pressure required.
You’ll see the size shown, for example, as 700 x 23c, in this case 700mm is the diameter and 23mm the width. The ‘c’ is used in France as a standard and doesn’t actually represent a measurement.
Along with these numbers, you’ll also see two other sets of numbers. One will be the tire inflation range shown in either PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) or Bar. Sometimes, an upper and lower inflation range will be shown, others specify the exact pressure.
The last number you’ll find will refer to the international ISO standard. The ISO number will look like 25-622, the first number is the width of your tire while the second refers to the diameter of your tire.
So how does the ISO standard work? The ISO standard has taken a unified approach as your wheels are designed to work with a specific bead type. These are either tubeless (TL), tubular (TT), or the most common clincher tire.
The ISO number refers to the bead-seat diameter that’s measured in millimetres from bead to bead.
I run wheels that are 700 so the ISO standard number for this is 622. The number’s shown as 25-622 on my tire meaning the width is 25mm.
Types of Bike Tire
There are three types of tires on the market: tubular, tubeless and clinchers.
Tubular: these tires are normally for racing as they’ve the lowest rolling resistance and thus faster.
The downside to this tire is that they need to be glued onto the rims. So, while that is ok if you’re a pro rider and can just swap your wheel with the support car. But fixing a puncture or changing the tire on one of these while out riding will be a challenge
Tubeless: as the name indicates you don’t have an inner tube. These create a seal directly on the rim of the wheel with the use of a sealant.
The sealant helps with sealing the wheel onto the rim, and also plug small holes in the casing preventing punctures. There are limitations to the size of hole it will plug, the sealant comes in two main types: latex-based or latex-free.
These are becoming more popular as the wheel manufacturers develop more wheels that are compatible with tubeless tires.
Clinchers: the most common tire that works in conjunction with an inner tube. This type of setup is susceptible to pinch flats where you trap the inner tube between the rim and the tire.
However, they’re the easiest to fix on the side of the road or change
Know when to change your tires
There are a number of signs that indicate you should change tires:
- The wear indicators have disappeared. These are typically one or two dimples on the tread (not every tire will have these).
- Your tires are old, if you’ve stored your bike for some time check the tires. The tread will be fine but the rubber hardens and cracks.
- Your handling is noticeably worse, I.E. you’re not banking over as far in a corner.
- The edge of your tread has worn out.
- You’re getting a lot of flats.
- You have a bulge in your tire caused by damage to the casing underneath.
- You have a cut in your tire where you can see the threads of the carcass.
While this’ll vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, they all follow the same principle of carcass, protection belt, and tread. Then depending on the type of tire you buy they could come with a folding bead or a fixed bead.
Image courtesy of Schwalbe
The carcass of a tyre is made up of layers of textile thread coated in a rubber of the manufacturers design, making the framework for the tyre.
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Vittoria have built on their experience and knowledge with using graphene and is now able to target specific qualities to achieve a performance boost. For the Corsa speed, Vittoria has targeted speed and achieved it!
Thanks to the graphene 2.0 compound this tire has the lowest rolling resistance when compared to any other tire on the market. Combine the enhancement in graphene with their ultra-fine cotton T casing that has 320TPI (Threads Per Inch), you have a very flexible tire that grips the roads and bends well.
The high grip and flexible tire gives you confidence to take bends at high speed knowing it won’t slip out from under you.
All this grip comes at the expense of mileage and you’ll be lucky to get about 500 miles (800 Kilometres) out of them. This is due to in part the way they’re constructed.
Within this tire the puncture protection belt has been removed and the tread is thin, this gives you a tire that only weighs 225g at the expense of mileage.
You would be mistaken in thinking that this tubeless tire is prone to a lot of punctures. But it’s really not half the time you wouldn’t know you had a puncture unless it’s one the sealant can’t plug.
However, it’s clear that these tires have been designed for racing or time trials. It would be wise to keep them for this purpose only to get the best results.
Sizes available are 23-622 (700x23c) and 25-622 (700x25c).
The latest Schwalbe Pro One TT (Time Trial) tire has been constructed using Schwalbe’s latest souplesse carcass. Because of this latest carcass this tire is Schwalbe’s fastest tire to date.
Like the corsa speed, they’ve removed the puncture protection belt from around the tire and have used even less tread on the top. This is due to them going from the Addix multi-compound in the tire’s predecessor to a single race compound in the new tire.
All this adds up to give you a blistering quick tire. And as always there has to be a trade-off for that speed, in this case it’s more prone to punctures.
The tread is just 1.6mm thick and this I think is just too thin to prevent punctures. The grip is really good and gives you confidence in the high-speed corners. This is down to the 254TPI giving you a flexible tire.
Just like the Corsa speed this tire won’t last long and you’ll be lucky to see 400 miles (650 kilometres) out of these. So, saving them for your races or time trials is a must.
Sizes available are 25-622 (700x25c) and 28-622 (700x28c).
The tubeless version is the fastest tire Continental have produced so far. Continental stated the clincher version is an improvement on the GP40000 S2 with 12% lower rolling resistance, more grip and a 20% increase in puncture protection.
The tubeless version increases the puncture and rolling resistance again by 5%. All of this is achieved by using Continental’s Black Chili compound and Vectran Breaker technologies.
The tubeless version utilises a shaped bead to create an airtight seal. The bead feels like it’s made out of a softer rubber, this may be to help with fitting the tire to the wheel.
The GP5000 is made up of three layers of 110TPI material which weigh in at 200g. The tread is 2.8mm thick meaning you’ll get about 2000 miles (3200 Kilometres) out of the tire before it’ll have to be changed.
sizes available are 25-622 (700x25c), 28-622 (700x28c) and 32-622 (700x32c).
The only tubed tire to make it into the best race tires list. As the name suggests this tire has been designed to save you those few precious seconds in a race or time trail event.
The construction has been designed around three layers of 180 TPI Aramid Beads. This combines lightness and strength while remaining flexible for high speed cornering.
The tread thickness is 2mm and Michelin used a new Race 2 compound. The Race 2 compound has been specifically designed to reduce rolling resistance giving you a faster tire.
Michelin also removed their puncture protection belt in order to save weight. So, although they’ll last when doing the miles in a race, you’ll be more prone to punctures.
Sizes available are 23-622 (700x23c) and 25-622 (700x25c).
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According to Schwalbe this is their bestselling tire. The tire incorporates Schwalbe’s Smartguard protection technology. This consists a 5mm layer of specially designed elastic that sits under the tire thread and above the core tire structure. This is where the ‘plus’ comes from as the original marathon only had 3mm protection.
The tire is also made from a 67tpi casing encased in Schwalbe’s Endurance compound. The result should give you confidence you’re not going to get a puncture.
Furthermore, the sidewalls have been treated to an Anti-aging formula that ensures the walls last longer before cracks start to appear. They’ve also added on a dynamo track and a directional arrow so you can’t mount them the wrong way round.
The tire performs really well at 85PSI making cycling easier with the tire taking on most uneven surfaces in its way with ease.
The exceptions are potholes but even here the swerve around them can be done with confidence as the grip is good.
Sizes available are 25-622 (700x25c), 32-622 (700x32c), 35-622 (700x35c), 38-622 (700x38c) and 45-622 (700x45c).
This is the second generation of this tire and they’ve improved an already good product. This tire has been specifically designed with the everyday rider in mind.
The unique feature of this tire is the round knob tread profile. This profile gives the tire good grip on poor cycle paths and gravel paths. The depth of the tread means you don’t slip under power, while allowing a good turn of speed.
The tire incorporates Schwalbe’s triple star compound combined with a Microskin fabric layer around the carcass produces a flexible tire. The last component is the Double V guard puncture protection belt.
Due to the tire’s compound they’re also fast. A commute on these shouldn’t take long and be comfortable as the operating range is between 50-70 PSI.
The downside is they’re large tires as you can see from the sizes below. However, don’t let this put you off. If they fit your bike you should at least give them a try and see how good they are for yourself.
Sizes available are 30-622 (700x30c), 35-622 (700x35c), and 40-622 (700x40c).
Designed specifically for commuting in the city. The tire incorporates a double puncture protection belt, and uses a hard-wearing tread compound.
Combine this with a three layer 180TPI nylon carcass that gives you a nice flexible tire light enough to give you a little extra speed over your rivals on the commute to work.
The tire also has an option for a reflective strip on the sidewall, while also incorporating a tread for use with a dynamo.
It also has a 2.5mm deep regular tread with a further 0.5mm micro diamond patterned tread cast into the larger treads for enhance the grip levels across multiple surfaces like tarmac, grit or gravel.
Although, the micro diamond patterned tread probably won’t last too long. You shouldn’t change the tire until the deeper tread has worn through too.
sizes available are 28-622 (700x28c), 32-622 (700x32c), 35-622 (700x3c), 37-622 (700x3c), 42-622 (700x42c)
These tires utilize Continental’s Puregrip compound which is based on activated silica compounds and originally intended for racing. As the name suggests you’ll get a lot of grip on both the road and gravel surfaces
While the grip levels are very good, Continental have also gone a step further with the compound used to ensure durability for the tire.
Continental developed a Nytech Puncture Protection belt for this tire, based on the Safetysystem breaker technology. This technology offers the strength of kevlar fibers whilst reducing the rolling resistance and reducing the weight.
On top of this the tire has 180TPI carcass and a 3ply sidewall offering both a supple yet puncture resistant tire.
Sizes available are 23-622 (700x23c) and 25-622 (700x25c), and 32-622 (700x32c).
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Constructed using Duraskin anti-tear fabric, double Vectron puncture protection belt and a silica compound optimised for wet and cold weather. Combined with Three layers of 110TPI you end up with a very good all year-round tire.
The silica compound is a softer compound than the black chilli compound used in Continentals top end tires. This compound has been modified to give max grip in all weathers.
According to Continental this is the United Kingdom’s best selling Continental tire. And it’s not hard to see why, considering the climate and the damp weather.
I’d a hard time trying to decide if they belonged in the best for puncture resistance or the outdoor training section, such is the versatility of this tire.
With the double protection of the Vectron puncture belt they’re truly one of the toughest tires to puncture on the market. However, just because I didn’t get a puncture doesn’t mean you wouldn’t.
The grip levels are good and because they’re one of the top tires in Continentals range the durability will be good.
Constructed with three ply 60TPI carcass wrapped in Aramid Protek+ aramid fibres then covered in Michelins Higrip Compound. This gives you a hard tire that has a lot of puncture protection and a lot of grip on wet or slippery surfaces.
The tire isn’t very flexible due to its three ply 60TPI carcass construction; it’s incredibly hard and enhances the puncture protection for the tire.
A newly designed pattern on the tire further enhances the Higrip compound. This is traded against how much harder you need to work to get up to speed on your bike.
I also found that the high level of grip had another side effect and that was the noise coming from the front tire. It was almost like you were peeling the tire from the road as you went along.
The actual ride wasn’t harsh but when you hit a rough road then you noticed the difference compared to other more flexible tires.
These tires were designed for touring and incorporate Continental’s PolyX Breaker technology that has been used in their vehicle tire for years.
The PolyX fabric is woven into a closely crossed weave, giving it a high density that is highly resistant to foreign objects and also gives exceptional puncture resistance.
The sidewalls are protected using Continentals Duraskin technology. This high-quality polyamide fabric protects the tire casing against the worst conditions.
These tires are older than the Grand Prix 4 Season tires in design but they’re tried and tested and very good. The trade off for all this protection is speed, the grip is very good even in the wet but they’re not a fast tire.
If you’re not worried about speed and just want to use them for commuting or you’re a bike courier, these would be a good choice as they’ll last a long time.
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Although this is primarily advertised as a race tire, I don’t believe it can compete with Vittoria Corsa speed. But where the Corsa speed won’t last you very long in terms of miles (kilometres) this will.
Building on the Graphene 2.0 technology and optimised for performance and durability. The graphene is hardest when going in a straight line yet as soon as you lean to change direction the tire becomes supple to ensure grip.
The Corsa G2 is built on the already successful Corsa G1 boasting performance improvements by 40% improved durability, 30% improved grip and 40% reduced rolling resistance.
While I cannot prove these figures there’s enough evidence on the internet to say that the reduced rolling resistance isn’t true. These tests stated that it was the same as the previous version.
But they all agreed that the grip and durability had been improved. This is why I’ve placed them here as the tire is close to a race tire but you have to work harder to keep the pace up.
The DD stands for Double Defence, incorporating two layers of protection, Schwalbe’s Raceguard protection as well as an extra layer of woven fabric from bead to bead.
The tire construction incorporates a version of the Addix compound. Durability is very good thanks to the dual compound, a harder wearing strip in the middle and a softer on the radius for more grip in the corners.
The carcass is made up of a 67TPI material with the additional woven fabric covering the carcass. Then comes the Raceguard layer and finally this all gets covered in the Addix rubber compound creating a lightweight but durable tire.
After about 200 miles (320 kilometres) the tires haven’t disappointed, there are a few cuts in them but nothing that’s of concern. The grip feels good but I’ve not tested them in torrential rain. All in all, these seem like a good training tire that will eat the miles up.
Built upon the impressive Vittoria Rubino platform the Pro tire increases performance by utilising Graphene 2.
Vittoria claim the 3C compound used gives you a tire that has excellent performance and durability. The carcass is 150TPI and combined with the 3C compound it provides a decent amount of feedback.
Grip is very good in the wet, and rolling resistance isn’t bad. It’s not as quick as a race tire and you’ll have to use a bit more power to keep these rolling at a decent speed.
However, these are a good training tire that can be used on a sportive or club rides.
I think of this tire as a fit and forget training tire. It can easily withstand a beating on a multitude of different surfaces and still come out on top.
Constructed using a compound developed in 1995, the endurance Michelin uses both grip and X-miles compounds.
Add in their HD protection from bead to bead and the 330 TPI carcass and you have a tire that is flexible, resistant to punctures and will eat up the training miles all year round.
You do have to work harder with this tire than others but isn’t that the whole point of training?