Best Road Bike Tires [Review] in 2021
written by Cycle expert Alex Bristol
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Have you been struggling to find a set of road bike tires that not only perform well but make a noticeable difference on your rides?
Well, the great news is that you’ll find the perfect tires on this list.
Being the main point of contact between the road and yourself, road bike tires are one of the most important parts of a bike.
You’re most likely finding yourself lost in the tonnes of different options available to buy. I get it, you’re probably thinking that they all look exactly the same.
And that’s fine.
We’re here to decipher the confusing features that you need to look for in the best road bike tires.
Getting an upgraded road bike tire can help you in so many areas when cycling. From lower rolling resistance to improvements when cornering. The road bike tires we have found today can provide you with the most enjoyable riding experience.
But more on this later.
I’ve looked at 31 different sets of tires, I’ve found some critical points that are always unnoticed when it comes down to picking the best cycling tires, so get your pen and paper at the ready as these are pretty incredible.
You’ll want to check out my top 3 choices as these tires can usually be found on a special offer costing you less than $70 a ‘pop’.
We’ve spent the time so you don’t have to:
The List of Best Road Bike Tires That Money Can Buy
Freedom ThickSlick Tire
If you are searching for a quality road bike tire that can withstand harsh conditions, Freedom Thickslick is at the top of our list. Unlike other road bike tires, it features double protection in comparison to the standard rubber tire casing that we see in most standard tires on the market.
This means that it is the thickest tire you can find on our list which contributes towards protecting yourself from the frustrating task of changing a flat inner tube when you’re on a ride.
Whilst providing puncture resistance with a comfortable, safe, and easy ride, the graphic adds extra style to your bike, offering a more aggressive look when on the road.
- Built to withstand harsh conditions
- Supper sturdy rubber casing
- Double puncture protection
- Long lasting
- A bit flimsy
- requires an inner tube
Latest deal: Freedom ThickSlick Tire
Continental Gator Hardshell Folding Road Bike Tire
This one is among the most popular tires that you can find for your road bike. The durability as compared to other road bike tires is unmatched.
The bead-to-bead Duraskin protection is a rare feature that you can’t find in many tires on this list. This type of protection offers a perfect balance of ride quality, lower rolling resistance, and long term use.
It also comes with a very wide poly X breaker which extends across the shoulder to provide maximum puncture protection.
For comfortable and smooth rides, a supple 180TPI casing sheathes the tire from sidewall cuts and grazes. It pairs nicely with a great set of road bike rim pads to enhance your stopping power for a full package of braking.
Check to see if these bad boys are available now as I seriously think these tires are a must-have on your bicycle set up.
- Excellent puncture protection
- Provides balanced rides
- Hardshell casing wraps
- Not suitable for racing
Latest deal: Continental Gator Hardshell
Continental Grand Prix 5000
I am a huge advocate of Continental tires. Are you catching the trend here?
Continental Grand Prix 5000 is the fastest tire we’ve found which is made to not only provide the best performance on road but provides an extreme amount of comfort from the active comfort technology.
Its construction features a Black Chill compound which boosts durability for even the roughest rides.
Whilst being the full package in my eyes, it also features a precise tread pattern that provides an ultra-high grip when cornering to make your bike handle like it’s on rails.
Featuring a TPI of 330 and a Vectran Breaker means that the resistance to punctures is incredible. I vouch that these are of the best value road bike tires on this list. (plus the customer reviews basically sell the tire on their own – go check them out).
- Very fast
- Provides the best grip
- Could be priced cheaper
Latest deal: Continental Grand Prix
Continental Grand Prix 4000
Continental Grand Prix 4000S comes with similar features to its predecessor.
Unlike the latest model, this one features reflective sidewalls which enhance your safety, especially at night.
But, looking at the performance, It has an advanced black chill rubber compound which provides a sensational grip and low rolling resistance giving you that extra edge when power pedaling.
This material also boosts the durability of the road bike tire. In order to protect the tire from punctures, it has a Vectran breaker belt which is located below the tread giving you peace of mind that you can put this tire through its paces.
- Incomparable puncture protection
- Reflective sidewalls
- Excellent grip
- Sidewalls are not invincible
Latest deal: Continental Grand Prix
Vittoria Rubino Pro III Fold Tire
If you are searching for a secure, comfortable and durable road bike tire, Vittoria Rubino Pro III Fold Tire is one of the top contenders in this space.
It features a 150 TPI nylon casing and a technical tread pattern that provides a reliable grip.
Apart from that, it has effective puncture protection with its long life tread compound. Being foldable, the tire is very easy to use and install.
It actually makes its way into my saddle bag spares equipment as it’s just too convenient to not take with me on my rides.
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced road bike rider, this tire will be the most ideal for any type of riding style. Whether you’re using this tire in winter or summer, it’s fit for purpose for all types of weather conditions.
- Superior casing
- Reliable puncture protection
- Technical tread system
- Ideal for all riders
- Soft for tough terrains
Latest deal: Vittoria Rubino Pro
MICHELIN Lithion 2 Road Tire
Michelin Lithion 2 Road Tire is another top quality road bike tire that provides a unique performance as compared to others we studied.
Where do I start? Well, it has a powerful and high-density casing which enhances efficiency and durability.
With lightweight skin walls that are surrounded by a thin layer of rubber, this tire is almost indestructible. Even the protective strip helps to protect the bead area against wear and tear from the rim of your road bike.
Since it has a cord density of 66 TPI it provides a comfortable ride without compromising on performance.
It certainly looks and performs like a high-end tire, but at a fraction of the price hence why it’s coming in at number 6 on our best road bike tires list.
- Puncture protector
- High-density casing
- Foldable tires
- Lightweight skin walls
- Wears faster than other tires
Latest deal: MICHELIN Lithion 2
Vittoria Corsa G2.0 Foldable Road Bicycle Tire
I’m offering these tires their own award — the best tubeless road bike tires.
Being the winner of Tour de France, Giro d ‘Italia, Vuelta a Espana, Classics, World Championships, European Championships, and Olympic Games, The Vittoria Corsa offers a premium cotton casing to conform to the roads surface like nothing you’ve felt before.
With easier rolling and huge grip, the most outstanding thing about these tires is that it features 4 compounds on the tread which provides a respectable amount of durability when you’re riding.
It has a low rolling resistance and an enhanced grip on the sides. You should also note that it has tubeless-ready beads that enable it to be used with or without an innertube.
Additionally, it is made to withstand 18-bar pressure when installed on a standard alloy tubeless rim.
You really can’t beat these tires if you’re putting in a lot of training miles.
- 4 compound treads
- Aggressive treads
- Comes with different casings
- Excellent shock absorption
- Only performs well on flat surfaces
Latest deal: Vittoria Corsa G2.0
SCHWALBE - Lugano Folding Clincher Bike Tire
Are you searching for bike tires you can use for racing, commuting, touring, fitness or training?
Well, we’re onto a winner here.
Schwalbe Lugano 600 X 25c Road Bike Tire is made to provide the best performance for those activities. I’ve used a set of these on my Trek Domane and I must say that I was exceptionally impressed.
It is highly resistant to punctures which means that you can use it in all terrains.
It has a low rolling resistance to provide enhanced speeds, which was noticeable when cruising downhill.
Again, it has wide lateral bands that provide optimal grip when cornering.
- Enhanced speed
- Puncture resistant
- Improved safety
- Low rolling resistant
- Tread can wear fast
Latest deal: Schwalbe Lugano
Pirelli Pzero Velo 4s Road Bike Tire
The most notable thing about this awesome Pirelli is its unique tread design which enables it to shed water from the path when riding on wet surfaces.
As I cut through puddles like a knife through butter, it’s crystal clear that the tread pattern is nothing short of miraculous.
These tires provide the best grip whether you are riding on a dry or a wet surface without compromising on rolling resistance.
Like our prime pick of the Continental Gaters, it has puncture protection which means that you can give the set a little more abuse on your bike rides.
Another impressive feature is the aramid fiber which is located below the tread to protect the casing from sharp objects. There’s nothing holding these tires back from being on our list.
These really are the full package when it comes to pretty grippy road bike tires.
- Unique tread design
- Suitable for dry and wet surfaces
- Aramid fiber protects the casing
- Bolt glove design
- One of the thinner tires on this list
Latest deal: Pirelli Pzero Velo
First time buying road bike tires? Let me tell you what to look for.
One of the most frustrating things we experience is riding on a flat tire – we’ve all been there.
Catching an awesome ride with no traffic on a perfect day makes a flat tire 10x worse, Pedalling a bike with a flat can be difficult and at the same time, it can damage your road bikes rims.
The good news? This is something you can prevent as long as you’re carrying out the following measures as part of your bike maintenance.
Ensure that your tires are inflated – Even before you start cycling, you should always inflate your tires.
A visual inspection can usually suffice, but personally, I prefer to whip on the tire gauge to triple check that I am riding at my preferred PSI.
On 23mm tires, I like to run 100PSI, but I’ll drop it to 85PSI on 25mm tires.
Most tires deflate at a rate of 10-30psi after a few days depending on the temperatures and your inner tube.
This means that if you do not inflate them frequently, your road bike tires are likely to increase in rolling resistance and pick up sharps more frequently.
It’s inevitable to run into issues, so I recommend to always carry your bike pump when riding or ensure you’ve got high-quality tires to prevent these types of issues on a ride.
Check your tires before you set off – When riding your road bike, the tires are likely to collect a lot of debris.
Some of this debris may cause cracks on the tires over time and increase the rolling resistance making it more tiring to ride over long periods of time.
You should always check the condition of the tires before you set off. I replace my tires when the tread pattern has noticeable signs of wear and tear.
Only you can gauge when the right time to get a new site is. It’s hard to track the kilometers you’ve traveled, so visual checks are an important part of your ride when you take out your road bike.
Mark the dates – This nifty little trick has saved my skin so many times. Mark the date you installed the tires.
You can even stamp them or use a pen to write on them in the same position as your inflation valve. If it’s easier, and you want to track the time you’ve used them, writing a date on the inner tube also works well.
Doing this will allow you to know when you should replace them. However, there are various factors that determine the durability of the tires such as mileage, materials, terrain, riding style, your weight, among other factors.
Factors to consider when buying road bike tires
Purpose – When choosing road bike tires, you need to think of the distance, speed, and comfort you want to get out of them. You need to ensure that the tires are suitable for the intended purpose otherwise you’re not going to get the most out of your rides.
If you will be riding on smooth roads, you need to select tires with lower rolling resistance. Something like the Grand Prix 5000 would fit perfectly for this.
However, if you will be riding on rough trails you need to look for tires that are durable and sturdy.
Tread – This is the part that gets into contact with the ground which means that it must be efficient in reducing rolling resistance, durable, and resistant to punctures.
When buying tires, you need to compare various tread patterns to ensure that you have picked something that suits your riding style.
Tire pressure – The width of your tires will determine the amount of tire pressure you should put.
As mentioned, the wider the tire, the less PSI I put into my tires, so if you love riding on low tire pressure, then you need to consider wider tires as you’ll get a far better ride and much more response from the road.
When you increase the tire pressure, you’ll notice a huge decrease in rolling resistance, which can save you energy on your rides.
Tire patterns – Now, there are two types of tire patterns.
Tread for off-road use and tread for on-road use.
Tread for off-road use provides better grip and traction when riding on damp and soft surfaces.
On the other hand, tread for on-road does not have prominent pattern features. They are built to provide a smoother feel on the road and reduced rolling resistance.
Tire casing – This is a very important part of the tire.
The casing restrains the movement of the tire and protects from damage and cuts.
Tire casings are made of various materials and I always end up going for the heaviest I can find.
Well, I tend to abuse my road bike tires so, if you’re a heavy rider like me and put rubber through its paces, it’s safer to find something that can handle the roughness.
The heavier casings are usually tougher and more resistant to punctures but… you will find it adds weight, duh!
Some are made of cotton, polyamide, nylon, and others are made of aramid. There is more often a single-ply casing with a woven material on the tire sidewalls for protection against cuts abrasion.
You should ensure that the casing provides the right balance of weight and durability.
The different types of road bike tires
The main types of road bike tires that are the most popular amongst cyclists are the clincher, tubeless and tubular. The most commonly used tire for road bikes is the ‘clincher’ tire. These tires have an open casing that needs an inner tube to inflate the tire. These are secured to a standard hooked rim.
Clincher – being the most common type of road bike tire, these are pretty much sold with every new bike. They require an inner tube that sits inside the tire that clips onto the wheel rim. You can then inflate the tire to your required bar or PSI.
When these tires get a puncture, you can replace the inner tube or patch it to continue cycling.
These tires feature a sidewall that is made of steel wire or kevlar fiber bead.
We have a guide to explain clincher tires in more depth here: What Are Clincher Road Bike Tires
Tubeless – These are a much newer tire to the cycling market they do not require a tube to inflate. They have reduced tire pressure for a more comfortable, gripped ride. With liquid sealants create a zero risk of pinch flats, they are much easier to maintain.
Tubular- More often used in racing because the road bike tire is glued directly to the rim and must be used with tubular wheels. They are very light and comfortable. However, they are expensive and a pain to maintain.
Puncture protection vs rolling resistance in tires
Extremely high puncture resistant road tires are often heavier and have higher rolling resistance, but if you are looking for a bike tire with fewer punctures, it is a small price to pay for great peace of mind.
While being on especially rougher roads it is something to definitely consider before buying your tires for that added reliability.
Fixing a puncture is a pain at the best of times, but having to fix it mid-journey can be both annoying and time-consuming. If you buy a puncture resistant road bike tire you don’t need to worry.
But what exactly is rolling resistance and why do I need to look at this when looking at a puncture resistant road bike tire?
Well, rolling resistance refers to the amount of force that resists the motion of the tire turning on the road. Each road bike tire should, of course, roll as easily as possible to decrease the amount of energy it takes you to propel the bike forward.
Factors such as tire pressure, width, tread, construction, and diameter all contribute towards a road bikes rolling resistance.
Generally speaking, slicks roll much better than patterned tires due to the fact that high lugs and gaps between the tread cause a higher resistance when making contact with the road.
A chunkier road bike tire that is usually seen with puncture resistance also has more tread and thicker walls leading to heavier construction.
I have covered a full guide on puncture resistant road bike tires right here – so if you’re looking for more durable tires for your road bike, I suggest reading over this guide whilst keeping rolling resistance in mind.
Road bike tire widths explained
Road bicycle tire widths often come in three different widths: 23c, 25c, and 28c but in past years there have been tires as thing as 18c. This number refers to the width of the tire at the widest point in millimeters e.g 23mm.
You’ll need to consider your wheel rim width and frame size when picking your road bike tire, the tire must be wider than the width of the rim, you’ll also need to consider what will fit in your bike frame and whether you have enough clearance to fit your tire.
What is better for comfort and performance?
If it can fit within your frame then it is best to buy 25mm tires for the majority of road bikes as they compromise weight and performance with comfort. If you’re looking to be riding on rougher roads then the 28mm may be better for you.
Choosing the right road bike tires for different terrains
If you’re looking to spend the majority of your riding time on rough gravel backgrounds or pot-hole-filled cities on your commute you’ll be best off with a puncture-resistant tire over ones that enhance speed. This is because they are much more durable and able to tackle the roughest of roads in the roughest of conditions.
Road bike tires and price
It depends really on preference, some people pay between $50 to $200 on a great new road bike tire, but others can spend up to $1000 for a high-end tire.
Personally, I wouldn’t spend a fortune as you don’t really need to in order to get a quality road bike tire, look at the model and speed factor that’s best for you. That is why my list gives you options under $150 so you don’t have the break your bank trying to find a quality road bike tire.
But be careful not to go for cheaply made tires that’ll not be worth the price you’re paying for them.
The anatomy of a bike tire
The tire is the firm rubber casing mounted on the rim of the bike. It has an opening in the center with two rigid but relatively sharp edges allowing it to be mounted on the rim. The edges are called beads which on most wheels are made out of coils of wire within the protective rubber.
While riding you’ll come across debris, glass, nails, or maybe other sharp objects which puncture the wall of the tire. The majority of these punctures do little damage to the tire but if it develops a gash or tears it’ll need replacing.
Min and max air pressure
Correct tire pressure lets your bike roll quickly, ride smoothly, and avoid punctures. Typically narrow tires require more air than wider ones.
Road bike tire – require between 80 to 130 psi
Mountain bike tire- require between 25 to 35 psi
Hybrid bike tire- require between 40 to 70 psi
Finding the ideal pressure allows you to find a balance between reducing rolling resistance and increasing comfort.
Those are the top road bike tires that will give you the best performance with high durability and lower rolling resistance.
Searching for the best road bike tires can be a tedious and boring exercise and at the same time, it can be very challenging. I’ve been there.
And whilst late night shopping for the most up to date road bike equipment is my forte, I assume it’s not everyone’s life ambition.
I’ve done the hard work for you. This list has got your back, and hopefully, my words of wisdom have helped you purchase one of my top picks.
If you’re sitting there thinking that there are so many tires that almost look the same and if you are not sure of what you are looking for, send us a message as you are likely to end up with a tire that will not last.
The good thing is that I have already done the research for you which means that you can just pick any from the above products.
We understand that one of the most frustrating things road bike cyclists experience is tire punctures and frequent flats.
To prevent you from this, I only considered puncture resistant road tires.
You will also find that every type of road bike tire I have looked at is durable, affordable, and have the most important features you would expect from a quality road bike tire.
Pick any of them now to boost your road bike cycling experience.
Content Manager at Pedallers
Alex is a cycling expert at and focuses on reviewing bikes, accessories, and general cycling. He searches for the most up to date products that match the needs of cyclists across the world. Whether it's recent news or the best bike set-ups, Alex is a trusted source for anything around cycling.