Casual cyclists and criterium racers need two completely different tires. Every road cycling discipline has a tire that will provide the performance or comfort you desire. Even if all you care about is flat prevention, there is a perfect road bike tire for that too. Determining the best road bike tires for your bike will depend entirely on how you plan to use them.
Best Road Bike Tires For Training
One of my favorite tires to train outdoors with is the Continental Gatorskin Black Edition (Check Current Price on Amazon). These tires give you the perfect balance between performance and durability, at a much lower cost than race tires. They are fast, and really grab the pavement on corners. Gatorskin tires are not the lightest tire, but that extra weight gets you excellent flat protection and strong sidewalls.
Continental has been making tires for over 150 years. Their expertise in car tires has transferred over to the bike industry. PolyX Breaker is a feature of Gatorskin tires. It is a polyester fiber that is weaved together tightly that is excellent at blocking punctures.
There are Gatorskin tire models that have DuraSkin. This polyamide fabric acts as a reinforcement for the tire casing. They are identifiable by the brown sidewall. One major item to know about is that Gatorskin tires are not tubeless ready.
Best Road Bike Tires For Puncture Resistance
The easiest way to improve puncture resistance is by converting to tubeless. Tubeless tires are extremely popular for mountain bikers, but road cyclists haven’t been as fast to convert. I’ve switched all of my bikes, both road and mountain, to tubeless and have drastically decreased the number of flats I get while riding.
One item to pay specific attention to is your wheel and tire’s tubeless compatibility. One of my favorite tubeless road bike tires for puncture resistance is the Schwalbe One Tubeless Road Tire. (Check Current Price on Amazon). It’s one of the best priced tubeless road tires available, and provides excellent puncture protection.
Once you have tubeless ready wheels and tires you will need a few more items. First, you need a valve stem. Valve stem length is determined by the depth of your rims. You also need rim tape and sealant to finish your tubeless conversion. Once you have these items wrap the wheel in rim tape, install the tire, add sealant and inflate.
Fastest Road Bike Tires
The fastest road bike tires are always lightweight. There is a sacrifice to giving up those grams, and it comes at the expense of your flat protection. In addition to being lightweight, the tread pattern is smooth and fast. Giving up a nice grippy tread pattern doesn’t mean you sacrifice traction. There are tires that feel extremely hard to the touch, and others that feel soft. Those softer tires provide great traction without the high friction and low efficiency of a tire with a tread pattern built in.
One tire that checks all of those boxes, and is tubeless ready for excellent puncture protection is the Pirelli P Zero Velo Race TLR (Check Current Price on Amazon). This tire is lightweight, and because it is tubeless ready you don’t have to sacrifice flat protection. The tread pattern is smooth and fast, like the racing slicks used in NASCAR. Pirelli P Zero tires are TT (Time Trial) tires, but because of their durability they make excellent climbing tires, too.
Road cyclists with a need for speed must read 10 Ways To Make Your Road Bike Lighter. I share the best ways to save weight for free, as well as some mid-range and high-end upgrades.