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How to choose the right balance of speed and durability

[This article was last updated on November 6, 2017]

  • Your choice of tyres depends on the compromise of speed, longevity and puncture-resistance that works best for you.

  • Light, fast tyres — especially in larger sizes like 25mm and 28mm widths — can be a huge improvement to the ride feel of your bike.

  • Standard tyres with separate inner tubes — known as clinchers — are the most common type, but tubeless tyres are gaining popularity.

  • One-piece tubular tyres are now used almost entirely for racing.

  • Anti-puncture belts under the tread reduce flats and in some cases eliminate them almost entirely; they're the way to go for practical bikes.

The perfect tyre for road cycling would weigh nothing, have zero rolling resistance, last forever and make your bike feel like you were floating suspended above the ground. Unfortunately, it doesn't exist, but the best modern tyres manage to excel in one or more categories. Here's a selection of the best.

This selection of the best-rated tyres we've reviewed in the last few years, plus a couple of popular classics, covers the range from sturdy commuting tyres to super-fast race rubber. What features should you look for in choosing a tyre?

Tyre types

There are three types of performance bike tyres: clinchers, tubulars and tubeless. Clinchers are the regular tyre type you're almost certainly familiar with. They have a wire bead that holds their shape and fits in a hook on the rim to hold them in place.

Tubular tyres have the tyre carcass sewn around the inner tube; the whole lot is then glued to a special rim with a concave surface for the tyre. This is still the lightest way to make a tyre and rim combination, but to repair a puncture you have to unstitch and re-sew the tyre, which puts most people off.

Tubeless tyres, as the name suggests, don't have inner tubes. Air is kept in place by a sealing strip in the rim, and either a liquid sealant inside the tyre or a rubber coating.

Rolling resistance

Two main forces work against a cyclist trying to make progress along the road. Air resistance is the most famous, but the other is the rolling resistance of your tyres, and it's much less obvious.

Rolling resistance arises from the tyre flexing where it touches the road. The rubber and casing flex and unflex, and some of the energy needed to flex them is absorbed in the process and turned into heat in the process known as hysteresis. It's much more obvious where bigger forces and energies are involved; it's why your car tyres get warm as you drive.

A number of factors affect rolling resistance, including the tyre's width (see below), tread thickness and material, casing thickness and material, and tread pattern. Tyre makers spend a lot of time and money experimenting with these factors to reduce rolling resistance. Schwalbe claims to have made 50 prototypes before settling on the design of its One tyre, which is noticeably faster than many of its rivals.

Tyre colours (CC BY 2.0 FaceMePLS:Flickr)

Tyre colours (CC BY 2.0 FaceMePLS:Flickr)

Tyre colours (CC BY 2.0 FaceMePLS:Flickr)

The current best performers for rolling resistance are very light tyres with thin treads and casings. According to testing commissioned by VeloNews by the tyre experts at Wheel Energy in Finland, the best performers are various versions of the Specialized Turbo and Continental GP4000S II.  

Grip

Grip depends on the rubber compound used in the tread. The rule of thumb used to be that you wanted a compound that contained carbon black — and would therefore be black — for the best grip, especially in the wet. Modern compounds that contain silica are now virtually as good, so if you must have red tyres, look for that in the compound.

Weight

On paper, the lighter a tyre is, the faster it will accelerate. But the tyres are such a tiny part of the total weight of bike and rider that it's very unlikely anyone can actually feel the difference between, say, a 250g tyre and a 200g tyre. However, in their quest for light weight, tyre manufacturers use light casing and thin tread rubber layers, which reduce rolling resistance and that can make a tyre feel faster.

That can mean very light tyres are not very durable, or are so thin they puncture easily. You might be prepared to put up with that for the extra turn of speed when racing, or for that special ride in the sunshine on perfect roads, but most of the time you'll want something beefier.

Folding vs rigid

Giant P SLR1 tyre.

Giant P SLR1 tyre.

Lightweight tyres almost all have beads made from Kevlar, which allows them to be folded for easy storage and transport. Kevlar is lighter than the traditional steel wire bead, but its resistance to stretch can make folding tyres harder to fit.

Puncture resistance

To stop foreign objects getting through the tyre to the inner tube, tyre manufacturers use various barriers in addition to the tread and tyre carcass. Layers of Kevlar or a related fabric called Vectran are used in lightweight tyres, and when weight is less of a consideration, manufacturers put an extra layer of resistant rubber under the tread. This works well; if you're not in a hurry, tyres like the Schwalbe Marathon are great for round-town peace of mind.

Tread pattern

moto tyre tread (CC BY-SA 2.0 dvanzuijlekom:Flickr)

moto tyre tread (CC BY-SA 2.0 dvanzuijlekom:Flickr)

Unlike this motorcycle tyre, bicycle tyres don't need water-dispersing patterns. (CC BY-SA 2.0 dvanzuijlekom/Flickr)

On tarmac, it really doesn't make any difference to grip what shapes the designer has carved into the tread. Bike tyres are too narrow to aquaplane at speeds below about 200mph. But the lumps of tread in between sipes and shapes can squirm, and that increases rolling resistance. The best tread pattern is therefore a smooth, slick surface, but with rare exceptions tyre company marketing departments can't seem to get their heads around this.

Width

Fatter tyres can be run at lower pressures and therefore give a smoother ride, and better grip on bad surfaces. Road tyres have long been 23mm wide, but that standard has given way to 25mm and even wider in recent years. Those extra millimetres make a noticeable difference in ride feel, and aside from a small weight penalty there's no downside.

Many people think fat tyres must be slower, but all other things being equal, the wider a tyre is, the lower its rolling resistance. This may be counter-intuitive, but it's been demonstrated time and again in rolling resistance tests.

For any given tyre pressure, the size of the tyre's contact patch will be the same. But the wide contact patch of a fat tyre has a lower circumference than the long, thin contact patch of a skinny tyre. Because less of a fat tyre flexes, rolling resistance is reduced.

Tube choice

Tubes can make a significant difference to tyre performance. The thinner, lighter and more flexible the tube, the less effect it will have on rolling resistance.  That's why high-end tubular tyres have latex tubes instead of the familiar black butyl rubber. Latex tubes also provide a bit of puncture resistance as they are flexible enough to stretch round a sharp object rather than being punctured by it. However, latex is porous and needs pumping up before every ride.

Other inner tube materials occasionally crop up. Polyurethane is the most common and is currently available in tubes from Panaracer and — for mountain bikes  — Schwalbe. It has the advantage of being very light and retaining air well, but it's not as stretchy as butyl or latex so needs more precise matching to tyre size. Schwalbe's polyurethane tubes use a BASF plastic called Elastollan which appears from BASF's claims to be stretchier that traditional polyurethane. Schwalbe calls it Aerothan and says 35g road bike tubes are in development, but only for disc-braked bikes. 

Shopping

Tyres are typically a bit cheaper in winter. When the good weather arrives prices go up a bit.

24 of the best tyres

Hutchinson Fusion 5 Tubeless Performance — £89.99/pr

Hutchinson Fusion 5 Tubeless Performance Road Tyre.jpg

Hutchinson Fusion 5 Tubeless Performance Road Tyre.jpg

Hutchinson invented the first road tubeless tyres back in 2006 in a partnership with Shimano. It has continued to evolve its tyre range in the intervening years, and the latest Fusion 5 Performance tyres are the best yet. They're fast, grippy, supple, durable and easy to fit, and a rival for any other tubeless tyre currently available.

The Fusion 5 is a successor to the Fusion 3, but what happened to the Fusion 4? Well, Hutchinson reckons it has made five key improvements in developing the new tyre, so the leap to five was made. Those five key improvements are listed as being 10% better traction, 18% better rolling resistance, 22% more durable, and improved puncture resistance and comfort.

Read our review of the Hutchinson Fusion 5 Tubeless Performance
Find a Hutchinson dealer

Pirelli P Zero Velo — £39.90

Pirelli P Zero Velo tyres 3.jpg

Pirelli P Zero Velo tyres 3.jpg

The Pirelli P Zero Velo tyre marks a very impressive return to cycling for Pirelli after a half-century hiatus. This tyre is fast, comfortable and long lasting, making for a great all-round ride experience on the road.

Out on the road, they are thoroughly impressive at all times, feeling fast and slippery (through the air, not on the road surface!), yet able to take on the often poorly maintained roads that I'm accustomed to in the south west. Cornering in the wet never feels sketchy, and they zip along very nicely on flat roads without giving any unwanted feedback.

I know that they have bad weather in Italy, but I'm still very impressed with how much Pirelli has obviously thought about adverse conditions when developing these tyres. I saw Pirelli testing the wet grip of the tyres on the test track outside of Milan at the launch, and it certainly appears to have paid off.

Read our review of the Pirelli P Zero Velo
Find a Pirelli dealer

Panaracer GravelKing SK — £29.99

Panaracer GravelKing SK tyre - 3.jpg

Panaracer GravelKing SK tyre - 3.jpg

Japanese tyre company Panaracer has been quick to offer a range of gravel-specific tyres, becoming a significant player in the burgeoning market. Measuring 43mm wide, these GravelKing SK tyres are tubeless compatible and feature a tread pattern that excels both on and off road, with a tough carcass that can withstand some abuse.

The GravelKing comes in a variety of widths and tread patterns, but this SK (Small Knob) is probably the pick of the range for the latest generation of adventure bikes like the Kinesis Tripster AT, Mason Bokeh or Open UP. As well as the 43mm tested here (which was called 40 but actually measures 43mm, and is now labelled as such), the same tread pattern is offered on 26, 32 and 35mm width options if your frame doesn't offer enough clearance.

Read our review of the Panaracer GravelKing SK
Find a Panaracer dealer

Bontrager R3 Hard-Case Lite 700C 32mm — £22.49

Bontrager R3 Hard-Case Lite 700x32c - Mounted.jpg

Bontrager R3 Hard-Case Lite 700x32c - Mounted.jpg

Wider road bike tyres are gaining an almost unstoppable momentum as people discover they can be both fast and comfortable, and with the emergence of the endurance road bike genre, Rubenesque road rubber is only going to become more common as bikes are designed to fit fat slicks. The Bontrager R3 Hard-Case Lite 700x32c pushes the plump limit to the point where once upon a time it might have been considered a humourously slick cyclo-cross tyre.

The R3 Hard-Case Lite comes in 23, 25, 28 and 32mm widths, and the full fat version here is something to behold, turning your road bike (if the rubber will fit) into something like a SuperMoto bike, although sideways drifts are not required on every corner, however tempting.

Read our review of the Bontrager R3 Hard-Case Lite 700C 32mm
Find a Bontrager dealer

WTB Horizon TCS 650B — £35.99

WTB Horizon tyres - 1.jpg

WTB Horizon tyres - 1.jpg

WTB's Horizon TCS is a fast-rolling, super-grippy and super-comfortable tyre that excels on the road and is capable of tackling dry off-road trails to inject some adventure into your routes.

Tyres have been getting wider over the years, and this trend for chunkier tyres and a growing interest in gravel and dirt riding on road bikes has given rise to the return of 650B, an old standard once favoured by French touring cyclists because it allowed bigger volume tyres for more cushioning on rough and badly surfaced roads. (By shrinking the rim size you can use the bigger volume tyre.)

Read our review of the WTB Horizon TCS
​Find a WTB dealer

Clement X'Plor MSO — £49.98

Clement X'Plor MSO tyre 1.jpg

Clement X'Plor MSO tyre 1.jpg

The Clemént X'Plor MSO Tubeless Folding Adventure Tyre is an excellent tubeless-ready choice for venturing off the beaten track, at speed. At £60 RRP in its tubeless-ready guise it's not cheap, but you definitely get what you pay for.

The 36mm MSO measures 35mm wide on a 19mm internal-width rim. Whilst this may seem short change, unless you are 100% certain your frame is capacious enough, being a smidge under is definitely better than over, which may see your frame clogged or rubbed.

Able to be set up tubeless or tubed, there are two sizes of the tubeless MSO variant available: the tested 36mm, and a soon-to-be-launched and frankly whopping 50mm (that's 2in to you mountain bike folks). Also in the MSO range (but not tubeless) are the following variants: 32, 40 & 50mm sizes, available as both single-compound 60TPI (threads per inch) and dual-compound 120TPI casings. There's a 120TPI dual-compound 36mm MSO coming later this year. With so many variants, be sure you're ordering the right tyre.

Read our review of the Clement X'Plor MSO

Clement LCV — £49.99

Clement LVC Folding Road Tyre.jpg

Clement LVC Folding Road Tyre.jpg

The LCV is the latest high performance tyre from Clement and with an RRP of nearly 50 quid it's gunning for the big boys like Schwalbe and Continental. Those are pretty huge reputations to challenge, but do you know what? The LCV has them well in its sights.

The LCV is designed for all-out performance, and the moment you pull it out of the box you can feel the stickiness of the rubber so you're pretty much expecting a very grippy ride, and it doesn't disappoint.

Read our review of the Clement LCV
Find a Clement dealer

Michelin Power All Season — £32.99

Michelin Power All Season Road tyre.jpg

Michelin Power All Season Road tyre.jpg

Since 'four seasons in one day' is a description often applied to the British weather, these Michelin Power All Season Road tyres should be right at home among UK riders. After a typical English June, we're pleased to confirm that the performance is every bit as reliable as Michelin claims.

The All Season is one of three tyres in the Michelin Power range, each promising better performance with less drag than its predecessors, the Pro4 series. In the case of the All Season, it's grip that's the focus of performance claims, and Michelin promises 15% more grip 'on slippery surfaces' but 5% less resistance than the Pro4 Grip. Of course, this is neither here nor there if the Pro4 Grip was a pile of dingoes' kidneys, but back in 2014 our own David Arthur gave them a solid four star rating (read that review here).

At nearly 260g for the 25mm version (slightly less than officially claimed), these are hardly lightweight, but a lot of this is in the thick tread with its Aramid 'Protek +' protection layer. Over the test period I had no punctures and the tyres shrugged off some bad treatment, such as miles of freshly dressed country lanes that had gravel rattling off the down tube.

The only time you should be noticing your tyres when you are out riding is when they are failing you in some way – a puncture, a loss of grip, a noisy tread or a leaden, draggy feel. So perhaps the best thing we can say about these is that I never really noticed them.

Read our review of the Michelin Power All Season
Find a Michelin dealer

Schwalbe G-One — £37.99

Schwalbe G-One.jpg

Schwalbe G-One.jpg

If you can fit the Schwalbe G-One tyres in your frame, you should get some. As genuine all-rounders they're impossible to beat right now: fast rolling on tarmac and properly capable off-road. They're really, really good.

The G-One is a gravel tyre, according to Schwalbe. It's available in 35mm and 40mm widths and uses Schwalbe's Tubeless Easy construction, which the company claims makes them – you've guessed, right? – easy to set up. And they are. They went on first time every time with a Bontrager Flash Charger pump. And I even fitted them with a track pump, just so I could say I did. And that was fine too.

The close-packed knobbly tread, round profile and sticky tread compound give them prodigious levels of grip on all sorts of surfaces. You can lean them right over into the the bends on the road, and they'll grab all sorts when climbing off-road.

We know plenty of people who've tried these tyres now, and we don't know anyone who doesn't love them. Try them. You'll love them.

Read our review of the Schwalbe G-One
Find a Schwalbe dealer

IRC Formula RBCC —£50

IRC Formula RBCC Tubeless tyres.jpg

IRC Formula RBCC Tubeless tyres.jpg

IRC’s Formula RBCC Tubeless tyres provide outstanding grip in dry and wet conditions.

Fitting and inflation are straightforward, and once the sealant is in and distributed around the inside of the tyre, all is secure and airtight.

The round-profile tyres sit pleasantly plumply on the rim; and measured with the callipers across their widest point came up at 25.5mm. The large-volume casing certainly holds a lot of air, which is very noticeable in the ride quality. We thought for a while the council had been round fixing the roads, but that was just a dream.

The other great quality in these tyres is the grip. We took them to northwest Scotland for a few days' testing on the steepest, twistiest, wettest, gravelliest, farm-manuriest roads we could find and, honestly, it was all we could do to get them to step out of line. Only when we deliberately braked late and hard into a sharp left-hander at the bottom of a steep hill did we finally coax the back tyre into some sort of skid, and even then it was more of a correction of direction than any cause for alarm. It feels like your brakes have had an overhaul. Most impressive.

Read our review of the  IRC Formula RBCC

Schwalbe Pro One tubeless — £39.99 - £42.50

ProOne_Close_up

ProOne_Close_up

Schwalbe bills this — the improved, lighter and faster-rolling version of the One — as 'tubeless easy', and some people even claim they have managed to get these to go up with a track pump. We found them easy to fit as tubeless tyres go, but they still needed a high-pressure blast to seat them.

As far as tubeless tyres go, though, these were very easy to fit – as long as you've got some compressed air to hand, in the form of some magic pump, a CO2 inflator or a compressor.

At 291g each (claimed weight 275g each), the Pro One takes tubeless tyres a step closer to rivalling the weight of the lighter clincher and inner tube setups. They feel light and accelerate well.

They needed 60 miles or so to wear in, but then the grip increases to very reassuring levels indeed. Blatting around our local race circuit these tyres go around the very tight corners confidently at any speed.

Read our review of the Schwalbe Pro One tubeless
Find a Schwalbe dealer

Specialized S-Works Turbo — £32.99

sworks-tyre.jpg

sworks-tyre.jpg

Very fast and very light, the S-Works Turbos are tyres you'll want to save for race day or an attempt on a sportive personal best. The Blackbelt puncture protection does a reasonable job of stopping small objects from getting through the tread, but the featherweight sidewalls are easily cut. Jo Burt found that a problem when he reviewed them and I've recently had to bin a pair after forgetfully using them on less-than-perfect roads.

On a sunny day, on good Tarmac, though, they're lovely and the 28mm version could be the perfect UK summer tyre.

Find a Specialized dealer
Read our review of the Specialized S-Works Turbo

Vee Tire Co Road Runner — £34.99

Vee Tire Co Road Runner Tyre

Vee Tire Co Road Runner Tyre

Fast-rolling, supple tyres that offer confidence-inspiring cornering grip, and sensibly priced. Rubbing your thumb over the Road Runner from Vee Tire Co when it's in its box, you just know it's going to be grippy – the compound feels practically tacky against your skin. And it doesn't disappoint once you put tyre to tarmac.

In the dry they really grip well and give you loads of confidence to keep banking the bike over. Mini roundabouts and the like can be taken flat out and we've yet to find their limits of adhesion.

Read our review of the Vee Tire Co Road Runner
Find a Vee Tire dealer

Continental Grand Prix 4000s II 28mm — £29.99

Continental Grandprix 4000s II 28mm

Continental Grandprix 4000s II 28mm

Tyres are getting bigger, and the Continental Grand Prix 4000S II 28mm is a great example of why this is A Good Thing. Assuming you can fit these tyres into your frame, there are plenty of reasons why you should. They're excellent.

Big doesn't necessarily mean slow. It certainly doesn't here. You don't notice the extra bulk of the tyre when accelerating, and once up to speed they have a very supple feel and excellent all-round grip.

Read our review of the Continental Grand Prix 4000s II 28mm
Find a Continental dealer

Vredestein Fortezza Senso All Weather — £19.99

Vredestein Fortezza Senso All Weather Tyre

Vredestein Fortezza Senso All Weather Tyre

Vredestein Fortezza Senso All Weather tyres are intended for use in all weathers and are one of five models in the Dutch rubber-maker's competition line-up. Over weeks of testing in conditions varying from dry to wet to icy, we've been impressed by their sure-footedness. They've also withstood the grit and the best - or worst - of the pot holes around the south-east.

Cornering is assured. The all-weather compound has been designed to provide low rolling resistance with super grip in all conditions and they do just that.

Read our review of the Vredestein Fortezza Senso All Weather
Find a Vredestein dealer

Zipp Tangente Speed — £49.30

Zipp Tangente Speed tyre

Zipp Tangente Speed tyre

Zipp Tangentes are pitched as race-day tyres with an impressively low 196g weight in a 25mm size. They are very responsive and fast-rolling tyres, ideal for racing and Sunday best bikes.

They have a 220 tpi rubber/nylon casing, and weight is saved with the absence of the puncture belt that features on Zipp's two other tyres, the Course and SLSpeed tubular. We had no flats during testing. That doesn't tell you much - luck has a huge part to play in punctures as much as anything - but the clean tread with a noticeable lack of cuts and marks suggest good durability from the rubber compound.

Find a Zipp dealer

Read our review of the Zipp Tangente Speed

Vredestein Fortezza Senso Superlite — £58.99/pr

Vredestein Fortezza Senso Superlite tyre

Vredestein Fortezza Senso Superlite tyre

The Fortezza Senso Superlite tyre is aimed at riders who want a fast, grippy tyre for all weather conditions.

The Superlite model uses a fairly fine 220 tpi carcass and is comfortably the lightest of the Fortezza Senso range. At 200g, it's not quite in Continental Grand Prix Supersonic territory, but unlike that featherweight, this tyre still has decent polyamide puncture protection. It's a similar weight to top-end offerings from Michelin and Schwalbe.

With them fitted on a race bike we were impressed by the combination of fast rolling and sure-footedness in the corners; fast hairpins held no fears with these fitted.

Read our review of the Vredestein Fortezza Senso Superlite
Find a Vredestein dealer

Vredestein Fortezza Senso Xtreme — £27.28

Vredestein Fortezza Senso Xtreme tyre

Vredestein Fortezza Senso Xtreme tyre

The Vredestein Fortezza Senso Xtreme tyres bill themselves as Xtreme (sorry) weather tyres - so perfect, then, for three seasons of UK riding.

They have managed several thousand kilometres without any punctures or slide-outs in the wet, despite our tester donning his old college volleyball knee-pads and seeing if he could lose the front wheel on fast roundabouts. Come rain or shine, they have provided comfortable riding, with smooth rolling and decent acceleration, and while they are not the lightest tyres on the market, they don't seem to suffer because of the extra weight.

Read our review of the Vredestein Fortezza Senso Xtreme
Find a Vredestein dealer

Challenge Strada Bianca 700C 30mm — £52.19

Challenge Strada Bianca tyre

Challenge Strada Bianca tyre

The Strade Bianche race uses the white gravel roads of Tuscany and this 30mm racing tyre is just what you need for that kind of thing. It's a brilliant all-rounder that's fast enough for nearly any road use, but with hugely improved comfort.

Out on the road they're fantastic. You can run them at hitherto-untried low pressures with little or no danger of flatting them on potholes. They roll extremely well and at 358g they're not heavyweights. It's not like sticking a set of Marathons on. These feel like race tyres, they really do, except loads more comfortable. If you want comfort on long rides but still want to go fairly fast, there aren't many better tyres we can name.

Read our review of the Challenge Strada Bianca 700C 30mm
Find a Challenge Tyres dealer

Schwalbe One V-Guard — £24.89-£29.49

Schwalbe One V-Guard tyres

Schwalbe One V-Guard tyres

Schwalbe makes the bold claim that its One tyres are the fastest the company has ever manufactured. Our roll-down testing confirms that they're fast and they feel extremely rapid with good traction in a range of conditions, with impressive puncture protection and durability.

They're now available in a wide range of sizes, up to 28mm and in clincher, tubular and tubeless. In normal use, riding the tyres daily in training, the 167km Liege-Bastogne-Liege sportive and a road race, the tyres really impress. It's the sensation of speed and lack of resistance that is most noticeable. In a range of conditions too, they show incredible performance, from sun-baked to rain-sodden roads.

The link and price above is for the 23mm version. The 25mm width can be found for £30.99, while the 28mm version is £35.96.

Read our review of the Schwalbe One V-Guard
Find a Schwalbe dealer

Bontrager AW3 Hard-Case Lite — £27.49

Bontrager AW3 Hard-Case Lite tyre

Bontrager AW3 Hard-Case Lite tyre

Despite a puncture-resisting layer, the Bontrager AW3 Hard-Case Lite tyres roll quickly and grip securely in all conditions.

They're secure in wet corners and the Hard Case puncture protection has proved more than capable of dealing with the variety of grit washed onto the roads.

Read our review of the Bontrager AW3 Hard-Case Lite
Find a Bontrager dealer

Schwalbe Marathon Plus — £24

Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres

Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres

Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres are essentially heavy duty, ultra reliable commu-touring tyres that inspire unprecedented confidence without feeling sluggish or barge-like, as the 970g weight for a pair would imply.

Much of this is attributable to the Smart Guard system. This is essentially a clever subsection of supple rubber designed to force sharps out, rather than drawing them in as deep-treaded Kevlar types can, especially with age.

Read our review of the Schwalbe Marathon Plus
Find a Schwalbe dealer

Vittoria Pave CG Open Clincher — £21.49

vittoria-open-pave-green

vittoria-open-pave-green

Designed for comfort, wet grip and resistance to punctures and impacts, this is a lightweight fat tyre for riders who want speed on poor roads and don't care about a little extra mass.

It uses Vittoria's extremely supple 320tpi casing, Isogrip tread compound and is constructed like a tubular, hence the 'open' designation, short for 'open tubular'. Vittoria tags it as a tyre for extreme conditions, but as far as we're concerned that means British roads all year round.

Find a Vittoria dealer

Continental Grand Prix 4 Season — £31.99

conti-gp-4-season-cut

conti-gp-4-season-cut

These popular puncture-resistant tyres from Conti have a Duraskin® cut-resistant layer from bead to bead, and two extra Vectran breakers help increase puncture protection.

They're billed as suitable for wet weather. Call us pessimistic, but to us, European wet weather tyres means year-round UK use, and the GP 4 Seasons are excellent do-everything tyres.

Find a Continental dealer

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

39 comments

Avatar
Nick T [1099 posts] 7 months ago
1 like

Vittorias stopped making the Pavé last year

Avatar
OldMixte [76 posts] 7 months ago
2 likes

I have fitted many tyres but fitting new Marathon plus defeated me and I had to get a dealer to put them on, it was interesting to see him struggle as well. They are less difficult after they have been on the bike for a while. No punctures over 2000 miles whereas the tyres that came with the bikes, well known, suffered punctures after 300 miles.

Avatar
rkemb [53 posts] 7 months ago
1 like
Quote:

some people even claim they have managed to get these to go up with a track pump

I got two Pro Ones set up tubeless on my Pro-Lite rims with just a track pump with no problems at all. G-ones on non-tubeless rims gave me a bit more trouble but that was due to leaking around the valve, not an issue with the bead seating, and was fixed by tightening up the valve bolt at which point the tyres seated with a track pump.

Avatar
othello [396 posts] 7 months ago
2 likes

Continental 4000s tyres are my go to for all year round. Even on gritty road in the Chilterns in the Winter they are superb. They do cut up but p**ctures seem to be minimal.

Avatar
StraelGuy [1095 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

I run Conti Grandprix GT as my go to summer tyre. Even took them to Lanzarote to put on a hire bike. On a side note, I've got an Airshot going spare if anyone in the Liverpool/Manchester area fancies giving tubeless a shot?

Avatar
steviemarco [236 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Copy and paste article

Avatar
steviemarco [236 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Should replace the Vittoria Pave with the Corsa G+??

Avatar
Chris Hayes [174 posts] 7 months ago
1 like
steviemarco wrote:

Should replace the Vittoria Pave with the Corsa G+??

There's a separate thread on Corsa G+'s that you should read before you do so.  I love Vittoria tyres as they give a beautifully smooth and fast ride:  That said,  I run G+s on one of my bikes and have been disappointed with their lack of resistance to cuts - and therefore puctures.  Frustating as I 'upgraded' from paves as they had the same issue.  

My take is that graphene may have a higher resistance to wear - but crucially not cuts.  I've taken to super-glueing the holes to get some value out of them,  but they'll be replaced with Conti 4000IIs which I use on my other bike and have had fewer problems despite year-round riding.... 

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Duncann [1158 posts] 7 months ago
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OldMixte wrote:

I have fitted many tyres but fitting new Marathon plus defeated me and I had to get a dealer to put them on, it was interesting to see him struggle as well. They are less difficult after they have been on the bike for a while. No punctures over 2000 miles whereas the tyres that came with the bikes, well known, suffered punctures after 300 miles.

New M+ can be pigs to fit, although I've found that carefully kneading the bead down into the well of the rim (i.e. giving it a smaller circumference to stretch around) helps considerably. Works for other tyres too, of course.

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peted76 [795 posts] 7 months ago
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Pro-Ones over here, fitted on Giant SLR0 wheels no problem fitting with hands or seating with a normal track pump (the secret to seating/pumping them up is a bit of soapy water).

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TypeVertigo [421 posts] 7 months ago
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Duncann wrote:
OldMixte wrote:

I have fitted many tyres but fitting new Marathon plus defeated me and I had to get a dealer to put them on, it was interesting to see him struggle as well. They are less difficult after they have been on the bike for a while. No punctures over 2000 miles whereas the tyres that came with the bikes, well known, suffered punctures after 300 miles.

New M+ can be pigs to fit, although I've found that carefully kneading the bead down into the well of the rim (i.e. giving it a smaller circumference to stretch around) helps considerably. Works for other tyres too, of course.

I had the same ordeal with my 20" x 1.5" Marathon Racers on my folding bike. The problem is while you try to lever in a section of the wire bead into the rim's bead hook (either by hand, tire levers, or a tire bead jack), it simply walks out of it elsewhere around the circumference of the rim. The above method of kneading bead into central valley of rim works, but by Jove it took more a lot effort with these and that method compared with initial fitting of other tires.

The Marathon Racers also come in 700C x 35 mm and 700C x 40 mm. They're billed as the lightest of the Marathon lineup, although considering their focus as durable hard-wearing tires I don't think that's much to brag about vs. other brands or variants.

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steviemarco [236 posts] 7 months ago
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Chris Hayes wrote:
steviemarco wrote:

Should replace the Vittoria Pave with the Corsa G+??

There's a separate thread on Corsa G+'s that you should read before you do so.  I love Vittoria tyres as they give a beautifully smooth and fast ride:  That said,  I run G+s on one of my bikes and have been disappointed with their lack of resistance to cuts - and therefore puctures.  Frustating as I 'upgraded' from paves as they had the same issue.  

My take is that graphene may have a higher resistance to wear - but crucially not cuts.  I've taken to super-glueing the holes to get some value out of them,  but they'll be replaced with Conti 4000IIs which I use on my other bike and have had fewer problems despite year-round riding.... 

Touch wood, I've had no issues with my Corsa's to date and been using them over a year now. One set have gone a bit bald so will be replaced asap, but the traction you get is top of the class for me. A colleague swears by GP 400II's yet he's had at least 4 punctures whilst out riding the same roads as me, I might just be lucky?

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Duncann [1158 posts] 7 months ago
1 like
TypeVertigo wrote:
Duncann wrote:
OldMixte wrote:

I have fitted many tyres but fitting new Marathon plus defeated me and I had to get a dealer to put them on, it was interesting to see him struggle as well. They are less difficult after they have been on the bike for a while. No punctures over 2000 miles whereas the tyres that came with the bikes, well known, suffered punctures after 300 miles.

New M+ can be pigs to fit, although I've found that carefully kneading the bead down into the well of the rim (i.e. giving it a smaller circumference to stretch around) helps considerably. Works for other tyres too, of course.

I had the same ordeal with my 20" x 1.5" Marathon Racers on my folding bike. The problem is while you try to lever in a section of the wire bead into the rim's bead hook (either by hand, tire levers, or a tire bead jack), it simply walks out of it elsewhere around the circumference of the rim. The above method of kneading bead into central valley of rim works, but by Jove it took more a lot effort with these and that method compared with initial fitting of other tires.

The Marathon Racers also come in 700C x 35 mm and 700C x 40 mm. They're billed as the lightest of the Marathon lineup, although considering their focus as durable hard-wearing tires I don't think that's much to brag about vs. other brands or variants.

I've seen people use the straps from toeclips to stop the popping out thing. Don't suppose many people have those nowadays though! A ziptie might work though?

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Ad Hynkel [162 posts] 7 months ago
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For tight b4$t4rd tyre installation, search for "How to fit a Marathon Plus Tyre.mp4", youtube video by SpaCycles. All you need... and strong thumbs.

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peakingintwomonths [30 posts] 7 months ago
1 like
Duncann wrote:
OldMixte wrote:

I have fitted many tyres but fitting new Marathon plus defeated me and I had to get a dealer to put them on, it was interesting to see him struggle as well. They are less difficult after they have been on the bike for a while. No punctures over 2000 miles whereas the tyres that came with the bikes, well known, suffered punctures after 300 miles.

New M+ can be pigs to fit, although I've found that carefully kneading the bead down into the well of the rim (i.e. giving it a smaller circumference to stretch around) helps considerably. Works for other tyres too, of course.

 

All you need is two thumbs, two straps and 5 mins 32 secs.  A mightily impressive beard might help, but probably not essential 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XUFVrl0UT4

 

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NOC40 [37 posts] 7 months ago
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"it's very unlikely anyone can actually feel the difference between, say, a 250g tyre and a 200g tyre" Really? I reckon I could notice 20g difference on the front tyre on a light wheelset. 50g is huge. But then again a really light tyre might not go faster but it does feel a whole load nicer, especially on the front.

On tread patterns, there is evidence that there coud well be aero benefits to e.g. GP4000S style tread around the sides.

FWIW I've ridden Schwalbe Ultremo ZX/Ones for a few years now and love them for both their immense grip and p**cture resistance, even if they have crept up from 180g to nearly 220g these days (measured).

Also latex. You need latex inners. Faster, smoother, lighter, make a great noise, and stones ping out from under your wheels like little bullets  1

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HowardR [141 posts] 7 months ago
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And a +1 from me on the latex tubes. 

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BehindTheBikesheds [959 posts] 7 months ago
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The continental 4seasons should be discounted from this list, price wise it's expensive, rarely come up to its quoted size on a normal rim, for an all year round folding tyre at £30+ a pop they they are lifeless, roll horribly and offer no more puncture protection than the 4000s or other tyres at a cheaper price. I purchased a pair of 28mm and they barely came up to 26mm on my 13mm Mavic ksyrium's.

I swapped them for a pair of folding Giant PSL2s, a full 28mm when inflated on the same rim, have much better rolling resistance, no flats so far and the join is done off centre and has a wear indicator in the compund itself. they're 280g at seem to have more meat in the centre part of the tread, made a noticeable difference on my audax cum tourer.

Interesting that Vee Tire (Vee Rubber as was) entered the market with quality cycle tyres a couple of years ago when they were synonymous with very cheap tires, certainly in the UK. The tyres BITD were actually fine and more than a match for the Michelin World.

Their 'Apache Cheif' road tyres come in a 30mm which could be useful for some.

Wonder why they haven't really done anything in the UK, I can't say i've seen any bike shops tocking them that's for sure.

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drosco [415 posts] 7 months ago
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Agree on the 4 seasons. I had no luck with flats and they barely lasted a year before disintegrating. Considering the premium price, I don't think they offer enough. Much preferred Michelin Pro4 endurance for a fast, puncture proof road tyre.

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StraelGuy [1095 posts] 7 months ago
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I also agree. The 4 Seasons gripped well but I still got loads of punctures. I replaced them with the new Michelin Power Endurance which are way faster and have suffered far fewer punctures.

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wellsprop [505 posts] 7 months ago
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Really strange to see so many negative comments about the 4 seasons! Had mine since the beginning of the year, ridden them on roads, cycle paths and gravel, haven't had a single issue.

I found them incredibly grippy and smooth rolling, the 28mm came up at 30 mm on my 24mm (outer width) disc wheels.

They are damn expensive though, so I'm expecting them to live for many 1000's of miles! I've got a very good first impression, let's hope that doesn't change over the year  10

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multimodal [56 posts] 7 months ago
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I'm rolling good old conti gatorskins. Maybe I should try something fancier but I've never found them uncomfortable or slow. Cheap too, only £19 each online. 

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WolfieSmith [1386 posts] 7 months ago
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I use Conti GP 23's. Have done for 5 years now. Have a puncture once  a year if that. Used to use Michelin Pro Race  for 10 years before that but found they wore down very quickly. The contis last me about between 4-6000 miles.  

I use Gatorskins on the winter bike and again - maybe a puncture a winter with those.

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OldMixte [76 posts] 7 months ago
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Thanks for the comments folks, I should explain that I had no problems fitting 4 Marathon Plus to my road bikes, they had 700x32 tyres but the problems came when I tried fitting the 700x25. I used straps, getting the tyre deep into the rim but to no avail. Recently I had to remove one of the 700x25 and had no problem replacing it. I guess it has stretched a little. There are some video showing the strap method on YouTube.

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userfriendly [617 posts] 7 months ago
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Good thing you only called this "18 of the best" instead of "the 18 best" - because the latter would clearly need to include Veloflex.

Used the top-end Continentals for years (GP4000s, 4 Season), and they don't even come close to a Veloflex Criterium (or Master if you prefer clinchers) in terms of ride feel and durability.

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KnightBiker [81 posts] 7 months ago
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I used the challenge strade bianchi 3x on Paris-Roubaix with pretty low pressure and the held up very well, impressed with them and no flats, even though my rims took a beating. If there's a combo of road and gravel/cobbles these tires are the way to go.

the Vitoria open pave are good, a bit stiff, but they last long.

I'm very curious for the swalbe G-one, the knobby stuff should be very good for the none muddy cyclocross courses.

 

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macrophotofly [295 posts] 7 months ago
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BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

The continental 4seasons should be discounted from this list, price wise it's expensive, rarely come up to its quoted size on a normal rim, for an all year round folding tyre at £30+ a pop they they are lifeless, roll horribly and offer no more puncture protection than the 4000s or other tyres at a cheaper price. I purchased a pair of 28mm and they barely came up to 26mm on my 13mm Mavic ksyrium's.

I like the Four Season tyres I have on one bike - I have Swalbe Zeros and GP4000's on other bikes, but when I am riding the bike with the 4seasons I can feel the rubber has more grip, especially in the wet. I would agree no more protection than 4000s and that they come away from its size on certain rims (although I can get that to happen on many tyres), but the grip and suppleness of the tyre are outstanding. You are paying for a softer rubber

 

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StraelGuy [1095 posts] 7 months ago
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Don't get me wrong, I got a few punctures on the 4 Seasons but their grip in wet conditions was very good indeed.

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700c [1171 posts] 7 months ago
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steviemarco wrote:

Should replace the Vittoria Pave with the Corsa G+??

 

steviemarco wrote:

Touch wood, I've had no issues with my Corsa's to date and been using them over a year now. One set have gone a bit bald so will be replaced asap, but the traction you get is top of the class for me. A colleague swears by GP 400II's yet he's had at least 4 punctures whilst out riding the same roads as me, I might just be lucky?

+1 for the newer Vittoria corsa G+ mine have been fine so far and nicely smooth rolling esp in the larger widths. Having said that they're not quite the replacement for the paves, which were always marketed as a harder- wearing version of the corsa evo cx. I found the older corsa cx's were prone to picking up cuts/ flints, but strangely not puncturing.  Used them for years. love them.

The fastest tyres in terms of rolling resistance are allegedly the vittoria corsa speed G+, but thin, £££ and 23mm only, so for those reasons I'm out..

Edit: I also tried veloflex and they were great for the 200 miles I managed before puncturing!

Oh and none of the above can really be recommended for winter riding/ commuting, even the paves. 

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ChetManley [49 posts] 5 months ago
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drosco wrote:

Agree on the 4 seasons. I had no luck with flats and they barely lasted a year before disintegrating. Considering the premium price, I don't think they offer enough. Much preferred Michelin Pro4 endurance for a fast, puncture proof road tyre.

This, I had 4 seasons fail after a few hundred miles (side wall tear). Totally unpredictable sizing, poor feel and not all that quick. Michelin Pro 4's I switched to were much better lasted 2 years of commuting and leisure riding.

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