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Looking to upgrade or replace your road bike tires?
Your choice of road bike tires is extremely important. They greatly influence how your bike performs, handles, and stops, while making a difference in ride quality.
But with all the different road bike tires on the market, how do you ensure that you get the right ones fitted?
In this article, we’ll be covering:
- Key Characteristics Of Road Bike Tires
- The Types Of Road Bike Tires
- Road Bike Tire Sizes
- BikeTips Recommends: The 5 Best Road Bike Tires
- Afterword: Road Bike Tire Pressures
Ready to get up to speed on road bike tires?
Let’s dive in!
Key Characteristics Of Road Bike Tires
As you’d expect, road bike tires are specifically designed for riding on smooth paved roads.
They differ significantly from chunky mountain bike tires in many ways, which are made in a way that allows mountain bikers to get the most grip possible riding the trails.
As road bike tires don’t have to cope with rough trails and loose dirt, their designers give them a low rolling resistance, smooth tread patterns, and narrow profiles.
However, these characteristics vary between tires. You can buy road bike tires made with different materials, widths, and tread patterns. The variety of road bike tires available allows cyclists to choose the correct ones for their riding style and bike.
Choosing the right tire will make you more comfortable, safer, or even faster.
Clincher Tires Vs. Tubular Tires
Clincher Road Bike Tires
Most road bikes have clincher tires fitted to their wheels.
Their horseshoe-shaped profile grips the wheel when they’re inflated. The tire’s bead hooks around the rim firmly and is held in place by the air pressure.
There are two different types of beads on a clincher tire. Rigid clincher tires have a wire bead, but folding clincher tires have beads made from strands of Kevlar. Folding clincher tires are more lightweight and outperform rigid ones. However, they’re more expensive to produce and buy.
You can now buy clincher tubeless road bike tires. These fit onto the wheel rim so tightly they are air-tight. The tight seal is helped with rim tape around the inside of the wheel and a tubeless valve.
Tubeless tires have a few excellent advantages. They’re great for cyclists looking to shed weight from their bikes but also increase traction and comfort when you run them at lower pressures. The main benefit of tubeless road bike tires is that you stand a better chance of completing your ride without a puncture.
Tubular Road Bike Tires
Cyclists looking for high-end performance often opt for tubular road bike tires.
Tubular tires look the same as clinchers from the outside, but work very differently. Tubular tires have a sealed cylindrical profile with no open side, unlike the horseshoe profile of clincher tires. There’s no separate inner tube, as the tire itself contains an integrated airtight component within its structure.
You need to fit your bike with special rims specific to tubular tires. These tires are then glued or taped to the rims to prevent slipping.
The main advantages of tubular road bike tires are that they’re lighter and can be more durable – but they’re also more expensive and a pain to repair or replace.
Road Bike Tire Sizes
Road bike tires and wheels are usually 700C.
This is a standard road bike wheel size with a 29″ diameter. You may come across some road bikes with 650b wheels, which have a 27.5″ diameter. It’s important to know what size wheels your bike has, as you need to buy the corresponding tires to fit them.
The other tire dimension you need to know about is width. The inflated width of a road bike tire is measured in millimeters. One of the most common road bike tire widths is 25 mm, but modern bikes sometimes have 28 mm-wide tires.
Wider tires give you more grip, and depending on your bike, you may be able to fit 28 mm wide tires. However, you need to check that there is enough clearance with your frame and fork.
BikeTips Recommends: The 5 Best Road Bike Tires
#5. Michelin Power Road TLR Folding Road Tire
- Excellent Year-Round Performance
Michelin has developed the Power Road TLR Folding Road Tire for optimum performance on the road. Thanks to its hard-wearing compound, you can enjoy many miles of rolling on this tire. In addition to this, this tire is tubeless-ready. Therefore, you can ride with less chance of getting flats and take advantage of exceptional grip.
If you want to upgrade your road bike tires, the Michelin Power Road TLR performs well all year round.
#4. Schwalbe Marathon Plus Road Tyre – Smart Guard
- Puncture Resistant
- Smooth Ride
If you’re looking for incredible protection from flats, the Schwalbe Marathon Plus has you covered. This tire features Schwalbe’s Smart Guard tech, giving it a 5 mm-thick puncture protection belt.
Smart Guard is resistant to sharp-edged debris you may encounter on the road. This tire also creates a comfortable and smooth ride quality.
Whether you’re a tourer, commuter, or racer, the Schwalbe Marathon Plus road tire will give you many miles of trouble-free riding. This is because it uses the new version of Schwalbe’s Endurance Compound, featuring reinforced sidewalls to help with their excellent durability.
#3. Gorix Road Bike Tire
- Great All-Rounder
- Color Options
- Great Reputation
The Gorix Road Bike Tire is very popular, thanks to its reputation for being a good all-rounder. It’s durable and provides plenty of traction for most cyclists.
The other thing that people like about this tire is that you can choose from various colors to complement your bike’s color scheme.
#2. Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Road Tire
- Great Value
- Puncture Resistant
If you want a cost-effective and reliable road bike tire, the Vittoria Zaffiro Pro is an excellent choice.
This tire is ideal for commuting and training rides, as it is resistant to punctures and provides lots of grip. Therefore, you can be confident that you’ll spend more time riding than changing inner tubes.
You’ll love the confidence the tread gives you, especially in corners and under braking. On top of all this, the low rolling resistance means that you don’t have to put too much effort into the pedals.
#1. Continental Grand Prix 5000
- Low Rolling Resistance
The Continental Grand Prix 5000 road bike tires are known for their low rolling resistance. They also provide exceptional grip, longevity, and performance.
Continental uses their tried and tested BlackChilli compound, which enhances grip and stability. If you’re looking for a high-end road bike tire, you’ll love how Continental has thrown all their latest tech into the Grand Prix 5000.
You get the benefits of the Active Comfort build, which absorbs vibrations and impacts. This tire also features the Lazer Grip micro profile for traction in corners and the Vectran Breaker puncture protection.
Afterword: Road Bike Tire Pressure
Inflating your road bike tires to the correct pressure can affect how your bike feels, handles, and performs. As a rule of thumb, lower tire pressures make the bike more comfortable, while higher pressures give you more speed. So, finding a balance will enhance your experience while riding.
Every road bike tire has a recommended tire pressure written on the side. This will usually be a range; for example, most road bike tires have a recommended range from 80 to 130 psi. However, some road bike racers pump their tires up to 160 psi for low rolling resistance.
If you want to be as accurate as possible, it’s best to use a tire pressure gauge to ensure you have the correct pressure for you. However, if you don’t have a pressure gauge and you need to guess, at 100 psi, you can just about compress a tire with your thumb.
There’re a couple of things that determine your ideal road bike tire pressure. The first variable you need to consider is your weight.
If you’re a heavy rider you should add more pressure to your tires. There is no exact pressure you should pump your tires up for your weight, so it’s a case of experimenting until you get something you’re happy with. Remember that the rear tire has to support a little more weight than the front, so you should adjust the pressures accordingly.
The next thing that will affect how hard to pump up your road bike tires is temperature. If you live in a hot climate, you should run higher tire pressures than someone who rides in colder temperatures.
Don’t be tempted to over or under-inflate your road bike tires. If you pump your tires up to high pressure, there’s a good chance you can blow a tube when you hit a bump.
If you under-inflate your tires, you leave yourself vulnerable to pinch flats. This happens when your tube gets squeezed between the rim and tire, puncturing it. This can damage your tire or rim, but you’ll notice that your pedaling is less efficient, requiring more effort.
Now You Know About The Best Road Bike Tires…
Although there are many road bike tires on the market, you now know about the different types and their characteristics.
Once you’ve chosen your ideal road bike tires, remember to experiment with their pressures. You’ll soon learn what road bike tire pressures suit your circumstances best.