Best Road Bike Tires in 2020: No More Going Flat

Last updated: April 06, 2020
BEST OVERALL
All-Purpose Performance, Durable and Reliable
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BEST BUDGET
Puncture-Resistant, Folding and Highly Rated
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BEST 700x25
Puncture-Resistant and Flat-less
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BEST 700x23
All-Rounder, All-Weather, Durable and Folding
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BEST 700x32
High-Performance, High-Quality and Grippy
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Your guide

Clincher, tubular or tubeless, standard 23mm or wider 25-28mm, anti-puncture or lightweight and racy – choosing the best road bike tire means taking a whole lot of factors into consideration to determine the right pick based on your riding preferences and priorities.

Extensive research, coupled with practical know-how and years of riding experience, has gone into the compilation of this guide – meant to assist you in the tire selection process by equipping you with essential insights for informed buying choices.

Top 5 Road Bike Tires

When it comes to your bike’s riding performance, tires can go a long way in influencing the ride quality and your ability to ride in different conditions. They are your bicycle’s only point of contact with the ground and a good set can make a world of difference to your road rides with enhanced puncture protection, improved rolling resistance, superior traction and heightened grip in cold and wet conditions.

the back wheel of a bike on the street

Tires also have a pronounced effect on your ride’s “comfort” factor because of their tell-tale impact on your bike’s weight. And, amidst the array of components that make up your road bike, they are arguably one of the cheapest and quickest means to upgrade for an instant lift in the ride feel.

Regardless of whether you are replacing or upgrading your bike’s tires, you must consider attributes such as puncture resistance, rolling efficiency, size and width when making your selection of the best road bike tire from all the options available out there.

It must also be stated that your choice of the best tire for road bikes will depend on your budget, plus what you expect the most out of your bike’s tires, e.g. comfort, speed, grip or durability. And if you’re looking for more upgrades for your road bike, check out our guides on  some bike lights options and bike computers.

1. Best Overall - Continental Gatorskin

Specifications:

  • Available Tire Widths: 23c, 25c, 28c and 32c
  • TPI: 3/180
  • Max PSI: 120 (subject to the tire size)
  • Color: Black

 Key Features:

  • Gatorskin with carbon black mixture for comfortable and confident rides
  • DuraSkin sidewall protection for increased endurance in harsh riding conditions
  • Wear-optimized tread for longevity
  • Proven PolyX Breaker technology inspired by Continental’s car tires

Continental Gatorskin Road Bike Tire Review

According to us, an all-round road bike tire should be versatile enough to complement a range of riding styles and durable enough to offer a long service life. Continental’s Gatorskin provides the right blend of functionality and longevity, which makes it a solid pick in the category of “Best Overall Road Bike Tire”.

Regardless of the purpose behind you taking to the roads – commuting, touring or training – you can look forward to comfortable, enjoyable rides and superior cornering in any condition with the Gatorskin, which feels smooth in the center and grippy on the shoulders.

Apart from the all-purpose performance, the tire makes for a stylish accompaniment to a great-looking bike, thanks to signature brown sidewalls that take its appeal up a notch.

This highly rated and ever-popular replacement bike tire is currently available online at a price ranging between $24.99 and $80.50 – making it accessible to a broad range of road cyclists with different budget specifications.

The true long-distance runner is designed to stand the test of time and comes equipped with anti-cut, high-quality polyamide DuraSkin fabric that offers excellent sidewall protection and safeguards the core casing of the tire against scuffs and cuts.

A reasonably grippy and cushy ride is ensured with the tire’s tread compound that has been optimized for enhanced wear resistance and dependable wet-weather riding.

As a brand, Continental’s car tires are renowned globally for their superior performance, long wear, and reliable safety aspect. With Gatorskin, the German tire giant brings its car expertise to the bike tire segment.

Thus, you have a proven PolyX Breaker technology in use to produce hard-wearing and robust bike tires with very high fabric density that sees exceptionally resistant polyester fiber woven tightly crosswise.

The result is a well-built bike tire that does a good job of holding up against foreign objects and punctures. The German manufacturer’s claim of the Gatorskin’s rolling resistance not being adversely affected with the proprietary technology is reassuring, especially when you are seeking beefy, puncture-resistant road bike tires that also roll well.

The mid-priced Continental Gatorskin is available in both wire bead and folding versions and comes in a range of sizes, including 23c, 25c, 28c, and 32c. Both the folded and wire bead variants feature a 180 TPI 3-ply construction.

Two “fang-like” small indentations are also visible in the center of the tread. They are the tire wear indicators that call for a tire change when they disappear.

Any deal-breakers? No. However, we must point out that the Gatorskin is not the best contender for low rolling resistance. However, it does make for a top-class choice when it comes to unsurpassed durability.

And if you are willing to trade a little rolling resistance for legendary puncture defense, you can prepare yourself for assured on-road performances both in the urban field and on tour.

Pros
  • Superior puncture defence with the latest proprietary technology against flats
  • High-quality polyamide fabric to protect the tire casing
  • High-performance reptilian design
  • Long service life
  • Suitable for diverse riding needs, including commuting, training and sportive
Cons
  • Relatively pricey
  • May come across as a bit stiff if speed is the main consideration

2. Best Budget - Schwinn

Specifications:

  • Tire Size: 27 x 1 1/4 inch
  • Max PSI: 80 – 130
  • Bead: Kevlar
  • Color: Gumwall

Key Features:

  • Folding wire bead made of Kevlar
  • Traditional gumwall design
  • Reinforced puncture-defence layer for protection
  • Versatile and straight tread

Schwinn Road Bicycle Tire Review

Looking to hit the pavement regularly with a good-quality, cost-effective road bike tire that won’t deplete you of your savings massively but will still hold up when you put on the miles? Find a solid pick in the Schwinn bicycle tire that offers an excellent combination of affordability and durability for road riding on a budget.

For a price as low as $19.99, you would probably expect no more than thin, flimsy tires that are likely to bite the dust in no time. But that’s not the case when you opt for a quality offering sold under a reputed name such as Schwinn.

This road bike tire is not your typical cheap, weak tire that compromises on quality for the sake of price. The tire exhibits quality construction and employs a bead made of Kevlar – a popular choice of manufacturers looking to create lightweight yet durable tires.

And unlike regular tires, this tire is equipped with a flexible wire bead that can be folded up for easy storage and transport. Plus, you also have the option of a cheaper, traditional variant if you fancy ultra-durable, steel-beaded construction over a synthetic fiber making.

Coming to the design, the Schwinn bike tire exhibits a traditional gumwall design. As for the ride quality, although sharp turns may not be its forte, the tire rides well and feels stable in corners. Its straight tread also rolls easily on pavements, implying supple rides when you are out on the paved roads.

A layer of Kevlar under the tread helps resist punctures and offers you peace of mind with sound protection against flat tires.

Akin to any other Kevlar beaded tire, mounting the Schwinn bicycle tire may not make for a very smooth tire-fitting experience. You may even have to do a little reforming as the tires come rolled up. However, this is not a deal-breaker, especially when you have handy online videos and tips at your fingertips to guide you through the fitting process.

All in all, if you are aiming for general riding and seeking a set of reliable road cycling tires that don’t cost a fortune and yet manage to offer smooth and comfortable rides with good grips, you may find yourself hitting a home run with the Schwinn road bicycle tire.

Pros
  • Durable construction
  • Low rolling resistance
  • Superior puncture protection
  • Budget-friendly
Cons
  • May require a little reforming before mounting

3. Best 700x25 - SCHWALBE Marathon Plus HS 348

Specifications:

  • Tire Size: 700 x 25mm
  • Max PSI: 85 – 115
  • Bead: Wire
  • Color: Reflex

 Key Features:

  •  Wire-beaded shape for remarkable performance
  • SmartGuard layer for superior resistance against shards of glass, flints etc.
  • Anti-aging and reflective sidewall
  • Modest rolling resistance for confidence-inspiring rides that don’t feel sluggish

SCHWALBE Marathon Plus HS 348 Road Bike Tire Review

A brand name of German manufacturer Ralf Bohle GmbH, SCHWALBE is reputed worldwide for its broad range of tires for diverse cycling applications. In particular, SCHWALBE is popular for its Marathon line-up of tires and the Marathon Plus is its best-selling model and what the brand considers as “The most puncture resistant pneumatic tire there is”.

The wired tire is available in two colors – black and reflex – and in a range of sizes, including 700x25mm. Wider tires, with 25mm width, are fast gaining popularity with casual road riders and racers alike, owing to their ability to deliver smooth, stable and compliant rides that are neither short on speed nor comfort.

The high-performance, heavy-duty SCHWALBE Marathon Plus is our top pick in the category of “Best 700 x 25c Road Tires” because of a host of top-of-the-line features, notable being the tire’s unplattbar puncture protection and a highly effective, patented 5mm thick SmartGuard belt.

The ‘Unplattbar’ feature is exclusive to SCHWALBE and offers superb resistance to various flat-inducing materials, including thumbtacks. This feature makes the ultra-reliable Marathon Plus HS 348 one of the safest tire options for bicycles and e-bikes.

Made from highly elastic, special rubber, the SmartGuard anti-puncture liner provides a robust defense against everyday tire wreckers such as shards of glass, flints or metal.

So, you can forget having to swerve out of the way to avoid obstacles that could pose a threat to the tire life. And thanks to a good grip, you can expect confidence-inspiring rides even on wet roads.

With excellent attributes to its credit, such as reliable defense against punctures and cuts, anti-aging sidewall to ensure resilience when subjected to use with too low air pressure and no significant increase in rolling resistance, despite the addition of the SmartGuard belt, the HS 348 remains a worthy pick as a rugged, all-season commu-touring tire that won’t leave you stranded with a flat in the middle of nowhere or take the fun element out of your rides with high rolling resistance.

And with its ability to roll as easily as a tire without protection, the Marathon Plus HS 348 is also poised to become your go-to tire when seeking the best road bike tires for commuting.

The HS 348 is non-folding and may not be as smooth and easy to mount as you would like. It may also come across as slightly heavy when compared to regular tires because of the extra puncture protection.

But we think that these limitations are a small price to pay for something as reliable and durable that could potentially remain puncture-proof for the entirety of its lifespan. This quality pick from SCHWALBE is currently available online at a discounted price of $38.39.

Pros
  • Well-engineered and well-built
  • Extremely durable
  • Near flat-less tire with a significant advantage in rolling resistance
  • Suitable even for use with fast e-bikes with up to 50km/h
Cons
  • Relatively hard to put on
  • Not as lightweight as some of the other tires out there

4. Best 700x23 - Vittoria Rubino Pro III

Specifications:

  • Tire Size: 700 x 23mm
  • Weight: 225g
  • TPI: 150
  • Bead: Folding Clincher

Key Features:

  • 150 TPI robust nylon casing for high mileage
  • Durable tread compound to minimize wear and reduce rolling resistance
  • Folding Kevlar bead and technical tread pattern
  • Superior puncture protection

Vittoria Rubino Pro III Fold Tire Review

When it comes to road bike tires, 700 x 23mm is essentially the standard size. Although less in vogue these days with wider 25-28mm tires fast becoming the norm for many high-performance road bikes, these tires, with a 700mm diameter and 23mm width, remain a bankable option for many cyclists aspiring for stable rides on road surfaces.

In particular, this tire size can be the right choice for cyclists planning to train or compete as it can help boost speed with its aerodynamic and lightweight properties.

After reviewing several tires, we found the Vittoria Rubino Pro III Fold Tire to be an assured pick in the category of “Best 700 x 23c Tires”. Vittoria’s medium-priced Rubino line-up is positioned between its top-of-the-line and extremely popular Corsa family and the significantly cheaper Zaffiro line-up of low-budget road tires.

This all-round road bike tire is priced at $28.78 and it offers a good mix of performance, versatility and durability while doubling up as a tire for intensive training and racing events.

Expect impressive levels of dry and wet road grip and increased wear life with the Rubino Pro 700 x 23mm tire that relies on a long-life rubber compound for superior grip and durability. The all-weather road bike tire is designed for confidence-inspiring rides in any condition and it corners like a dream, thanks to its sharp handling traits.

Weighing just 225g, the training-cum-racing option makes use of a 150 TPI nylon casing to combine high performance with high mileage, plus a folding clincher Kevlar tire bead to keep its weight in check.

An upgrade on the standard Rubino offering, the Rubino Pro boasts better rolling ability with an updated, technical tread pattern. The protection underneath the tread ensures enhanced resistance to punctures, without adversely impacting the tire’s low rolling resistance.

The tire’s sidewalls feature a cut-resistant polymer weave that makes for added strength while sustaining your ride’s comfort factor and the tire’s bump absorption capability.

As common to other fold tires, you may find the folding Rubino Pro III a bit difficult to mount. Also, even though the tire is backed up with reasonable flat protection, the latter could do with some additional bolstering.

Keeping these aspects aside, if you are looking for dependable training, racing or general-purpose tires that are meant for all seasons and that allow you to put on the miles and with good bang for your buck at that, the ever-popular Vittoria Rubino Pro III could well be your go-to tire amidst the other big-name options out there.

Pros
  • High performance and high mileage
  • Durable and resistant to punctures
  • Long-life tread compound
  • Low rolling resistance
Cons
  • Resistance to cuts could be better
  • May be hard to mount

5. Best 700x32 - Continental Grand Prix 5000

Specifications:

  • Tire Size: 700 x 32mm
  • TPI: 3/330 (clincher) and 3/180 (tubeless)
  • PSI: 85 – 100 (clincher) and 65 – 87 (tubeless)
  • Color: Black

 Key Features:

  • BlackChili tread compound for a good blend of grip and rolling resistance
  • Revolutionary “Active Comfort” technology for superior road vibration absorption and smoother rides
  • Lazer Grip for outstanding cornering
  • Vectran Breaker technology for enormous tear resistance without adversely affecting the rolling resistance

Continental Grand Prix 5000 Road Bike Tire Review

We round up our list of the best road bike tires with the Continental Grand Prix 5000 Performance Road Bike Tire – our top choice in the category of “Best 700x32c Tires”.

A worthy successor to the immensely popular Grand Prix 4000 S II Road Clincher, the Germany-made Continental GP 5000 takes the best of what the GP 4000 S2 has to offer and improvises it further to benefit road riders with increased puncture/tear protection and lower rolling resistance.

The performance road bike tire is available in two styles: Clincher and Tubeless. Notable upgrades, such as a blacker tread compound and an updated carcass, distinguish this long-awaited successor from its legendary predecessor.

The Grand Prix 5000’s construction boasts an embedded “Active Comfort” technology, which translates into improved road buzz/vibration dampening ability and enhanced comfort for the rider.

Confidence-inspiring, high-speed cornering, even in wet and greasy riding conditions, is also made possible with a lasered micro profile structure that expends over the tire’s shoulder and makes you feel one with the road.

A supple road ride is further ensured with a high TPI of 330 for the clincher version and 180 for the tubeless style. Both the variants feature a 3-ply casing. The PSI ranges between 85 – 100 for the Continental GP 5000 road clincher and 65 – 87 for the GP 5000 700 x 32 tubeless road bike tire.

Similar to the previous generation GP 4000 S2, the GP 5000 makes use of Continental’s signature BlackChili rubber compound to get the balance right between grip and rolling resistance.

According to the manufacturer, the GP 5000’s BlackChili compound is a darker shade of black because of the use of the latest polymers and specially developed carbon black particles and filler materials – all meant to help cyclists take their on-road performance to a whole new level.

So, you have a tire that rolls well and delivers rides that are faster and more compliant than ever before.

Akin to the Continental GP4000 S2, this premium all-rounder forgoes a nylon breaker for a more flexible and lighter liquid-crystalline polymer called Vectran. As a rider, what this implies for you is reliable puncture protection and tear resistance but without any considerable weight increase.

With regards to downsides, even at a discounted price of $42.48, this high-end bike tire is not particularly cheap. Neither will it blow your socks off with attributes such as easy mounting and fitting.

That said, if you are willing to loosen the purse strings a bit to bring home an all-rounder that stands out for its innovative technologies and top-notch craftsmanship, you can’t go wrong with Continental’s impressive replacement that even betters the best.

Pros
  • Top-of-the-line performance level
  • Resilient and grippy
  • Improved cornering
  • Superior road buzz and vibration absorption
  • Increased puncture protection
  • Faster and more comfortable rides
Cons
  • Relatively expensive
  • May not be the easiest to fit  

Best Road Bike Tires: Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Should Road Bike Tires Last?

Typically, road bike tires should last long enough to offer you a mileage ranging between 1000 - 3000. Furthermore, your riding style will also determine your tire’s longevity. For example, if you are into road racing, your bike’s performance tires may need changing after 1000 miles. However, if your riding aspiration is synonymous with comfortable rides all year round, touring tires are suitable for you and they may last you up to 4000 miles.

Several other factors, such as the condition of the road on which you are riding, the type of tire compounds in use and your weight, can affect your tire’s durability. Additionally, the use of a slick tread could mean a prolonged road-life for your bike’s tire while the use of small knobbies may shorten your tire’s street-life because such knobbies are known to wear down quickly.

If you can stretch your budget, we suggest opting for high-end tires with an expected mileage of at least 2500 miles. Investing in a pair of puncture-proof road bike tires is also a wise move to improve tire life. So is the act of swapping the front and rear tires for your tire’s extended lifespan.

How Often Should You Replace Your Road Bike’s Tires?

How often you need to replace your road bike’s tires will depend on your riding style, frequency, condition and the amount of wear and tear that your bike’s tires are subjected to.

Typically, an increase in the number of instances of flats could indicate that it is about time to retire your road bike’s existing tires. You could even undertake a visual inspection to determine whether there is a need to change the tires or not.

Brands, such as Continental, manufacture tires with “tire wear” indicators. You know that a tire change is needed when these holes disappear. Moreover, sidewall deterioration, flatter contact patches and signs such as slits, tears and crack lines on the road contact patch are cues that a replacement is due anytime soon.

What Are the Best Puncture-Proof Tires?

Some of the best puncture-proof tires include the Continental GP 4 Season, Continental Gator Hardshell, Schwalbe One V-Guard, Schwalbe Marathon Plus, Michelin Power All-Season, and Vittoria Corsa Control G+.

Best Road Bike Tires in 2020: No More Going Flat — Bike Hacks