Our choice of the best road bike tyres we've reviewed in the last few years - everything from sturdy commuting tyres to super-fast race rubber.
The perfect road bike tyre 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 road bike tyres do manage to excel in one or more categories. Here's a selection of the best.
This selection of the best-rated road bike 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 road bike tyre?
Your choice of road bike 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.
There are three types of performance road 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.
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.
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 at the time were various versions of the Specialized Turbo and Continental GP4000S II. If numbers are your thing, Jarno Bierman's site Bicycle Rolling Resistance is a very useful resource.
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.
On paper, the lighter a tyre is, the faster it will accelerate. But roa bike 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.
Lightweight road bike 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.
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.
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. Road 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.
Fatter tyres can be run at lower pressures and therefore give a smoother ride, and better grip on bad surfaces. Road bike 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.
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.
Road bike tyres are typically a bit cheaper in winter. When the good weather arrives prices go up a bit.
The Maxxis High Road SL is currently the fastest road tyre Maxxis offers, and is designed purely for speed and grip. It feels really sprightly thanks to a ridiculously low weight, while both wet and dry weather grip is excellent. Limited tread depth means they just don't last as long as other road tyres, though.
The SL takes over as the flagship racing tyre from the old High Road. Some serious weight has been shaved (37g), some TPI gained (up 50 threads per inch to 170) and rolling resistance reduced – Maxxis claims 12%. The High Road SL is available in 23, 25 and 28mm widths and I'm running the latter. They're all for tubed use only, although rumour has it a tubeless version is in the works.
The Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Tubeless Complete tyre – as opposed to the Tube Type – is surprisingly quick and supple for something that is also robust enough to deal with all the grit and flint being washed out of the verges this time of year. Its new design makes it a step above the rest too when it comes to tubeless capability.
The Dynamic:Silica4 compound has a tacky feel to it and grip levels are very impressive, giving loads of confidence in fast bends or when tackling roundabouts while keeping up with the flow of traffic.
It works just as well in the dry too. The Vectors have a very similar feel to some of the better summer race tyres in the corners and they aren't far off in the rolling resistance stakes either, they're just a bit weightier that's all. Not that you notice that extra 150ish grams in the real world.
The Goodyear Eagle Sport is an entry-level road tyre from one of the world's big brands, and it delivers well above its price point.
A low-cost tyre that offers 'durability' is often code for a plasticky compound that lasts forever but sends the rider into the ditch on the first wet corner, so it was with some trepidation that tester Neil took the bike out, freshly shod with the Eagle Sports. He writes: "Happily, it was a dry day and the tyres behaved impeccably. The second outing was on sodden roads with localised flooding. Surely, this would be the litmus test... No, after a few cautious turns I began to trust the Eagle Sports to stick to the line and for the whole of the rest of the test period I never had an anxious moment.
"'Aha,' I hear you say, 'but that tenacious grip means the tyres most be slow and draggy.' Again, no. They feel lively from the off and the stats don't lie: up one local Strava climb, the fearsome 'Past the Chinese', I notched up a PB out of 32 passes, without being aware of trying particularly hard. A fortnight later, just to show it wasn't a fluke, I did it again."
The Veloflex Corsa Evo is a supple, grippy and fast-rolling open tubular tyre aimed at training and racing. Its 320tpi casing smooths out rough roads and keeps grip levels constant, while the tread compound is tenacious and confidence-inspiring in all weathers. It's not tubeless ready, but the price and performance are great.
The suppleness of the Corsa Evo is instantly noticeable. It's a tyre that seems like it's literally taking the edge off bumps: what felt like a square-edged ridge before suddenly seems a smoothly ramped lump.
That's obviously a good thing for comfort – especially on local roads with their rain-eroded canyons, gravel dunes and aggressively flattened badgers – but more importantly, it's a good thing for grip.
The Continental Grand Prix 5000 is a hugely popular road tyre and, in honour of the 2020 Tour de France, it got a stylish new look. This limited-edition 'cream' sidewall is only available in 25mm clincher though, which is sure to upset fans of both tubeless and wide tyres. It has substance as well as style, rolls and grips extremely well, and did we mention it has style...?
This limited edition is extremely similar to the standard GP5000 clincher, and uses the BlackChilli compound, a Vectran Breaker puncture protection layer, and three layers of 110tpi casing. The creaminess – some would call it tan – adds a claimed 30g over the standard 25mm clincher (255g vs 225g), though the road.cc scales say 245g for a 20g increase.
It really is hard to find fault with a tyre that does everything quite so well. Take these out in the dry and traction is great, but more impressive is the wet weather grip. Tester Steve found them much more confidence inspiring in the wet than the Schwalbe Pro-One for instance, which, although excellent in the dry, has a tendency to slip on moist climbs.
As far as rolling speed is concerned, they feel proper fast and this is backed up by strong results in independent testing. Bicycle Rolling Resistance's results show the GP5000 non-tubeless is not only significantly faster than the old GP4000S II, but nearly as quick as the Grand Prix TT, which should be reserved for just racing.
The Fusion 5 Galactik road tyre is Hutchinson's all-out performance model, and tester Stu is impressed: "after riding them for the last four months I'm going to put them up there with some of the best race rubber I've ever used. They are grippy, roll really well and I haven't had an issue with punctures either. The best thing, though, is that they feel much more supple than the majority of tubeless tyres."
Stu puts the Fusion 5 Galactik's performance down to the grip levels of the ElevenSTORM (or 11STORM as it says on the sidewall) compound. "Tyre companies tend to keep their specific compounds close to their chests, so I can't give you a list of materials from a spec sheet, but what I can tell you is that the rubber feels very soft and almost tacky.
"These tyres really grip in the dry – you can absolutely bung the bike into a roundabout or bend at high speed and just know that it's got your back."
The Power Road is a new top-end race performance tyre from Michelin, available in tubeless and tubed versions. We've tested the tubed type in 28mm width and it's fast-rolling and lightweight with good durability. It's everything you want in a race tyre.
The Power Road is designed to be a very good all-round tyre, described by Michelin as ideal for 80 per cent of typical riding conditions, for training rides to a road race. That sounds like a fit-and-forget tyre for many people, and with 23, 25 and 28mm widths available, there's going to be one suitable for most riders and race bikes.
The Panaracer GravelKing Plus TLC is ideal if you want a wide, slick tyre for road use but one that is also capable of taking you off the beaten track thanks to its strong build and decent puncture protection. It's a decent price too.
Compared to the standard GravelKing the Plus model has some added puncture protection to increase durability, which has added about 40g per tyre in this 35mm size, but they've retained their very fast and grippy ride.
The Michelin Power Road Tubeless Tyre is the company's first foray into tubeless for its road line-up and the results are very impressive. Grip and rolling resistance feel to be right up there with the best of the competition, and while they are a tight fit, once set up they'll see you through whatever conditions you are likely to experience.
Much of what we said about the non-tubeless version of the Power Road, above, is echoed here on the tubeless version: it really is a very good all-rounder.
The Power Gravel is Michelin's answer to the ever-expanding gravel/adventure market, and it has a lot going for it. Durability is good, as is the grip, it offers plenty of puncture protection, and the price is very competitive too.
The Power Gravel follows a similar theme to many other gravel tyres on the market, as in it is covered in small knobbles for grip on loose surfaces without sacrificing overall speed. It's a format that works, especially when the tracks are dry and dusty.
Michelin's Protek Urban Aramid tyre offers a fantastic mix of grip, efficiency, comfort and enhanced puncture resistance. For keen commuters and city riders, it's a choice that fulfils all the most important practical criteria while still providing a rewarding ride experience, and all at a very reasonable price.
The Challenge Strada HTLR Tubeless road tyre is up there with the most supple road tubeless tyres on the market. The excellent construction translates into very good performance on the road.
What you expect from these tyres is a very supple ride feel, and that's exactly what you get. Once installed on rims with an 18mm internal width, these sat out at 27mm wide and worked well at just under 70psi (62kg rider weight) for the majority of testing. This gave a nice floaty feeling over broken tarmac, plenty of grip on dry roads, and enough speed for group rides, although they don't feel as fast as some.
The Schwalbe Pro One Tubeless Easy (TLE) folding tyre is up there with the best race tyres on the market. Grippy, fast rolling and simple to fit, with or without a tube, they're a great choice for your race bike. If durability is your main goal, though, you might want to look elsewhere in the range.
As part of its top end Evo Line, the Pro Ones use Schwalbe's Triple compound which is soft and much grippier than the Onestar compound found on the standard non-tubeless One.
Chucking the bike into tight corners or roundabouts at speed shows the level of grip on offer in both the wet and dry, plus the tyres give a really direct feel of the road thanks to the suppleness of the rubber.
The Panaracer GravelKing will take some beating on rough roads in this whopping 38mm size. We've already reviewed both the 26mm and the 32mm versions of these tyres and this pothole-conquering, gravel-busting 38mm version in Nile Blue is just as impressive. It's light for a 38mm at 337g, is very easy to set up tubeless and comes in restrained black as well as blue, green and ivory. What more could you want?
These tyres need a lot of space. They are listed as 38mm but when fitted to some new wider rimed Halo Evaura wheels, they came up to closer to 40 (39.52mm) so make sure your frame can take them before taking the plunge.
Continental's Grand Prix 5000 tubeless tyres take everything that is improved with these latest generation tyres and add tubeless compatibility for improved puncture resistance. They're relatively painless to set up and provide excellent performance in all conditions with low rolling resistance, good grip and durability.
German tyre giant Continental revamped its long-running and hugely popular GP4000 tyre last year with the GP5000, and in the process developed its first road tubeless offering. It shares all the same features as the non-tubeless version with updated Black Chilli rubber compound, Vectran breaker, Active Comfort Technology and Lazer Grip.
It's a case of lots of small changes adding up to make an improved tyre, and the good news is that on the road the new tyre has all the hallmarks of the old GP4000, but is better in every way. It's fast, grippy and puncture resistant, simply a very high-quality tyre that has no compromises.
Specialized's Turbo Cotton clinchers are some of the best road bike tyres that we've ever had the pleasure of riding. The supple casing and Gripton rubber compound combine to give a fast and smooth ride that is perfect for racing.
Vittoria's Corsa Speed Tubeless tyre is a great choice for summer and race use. The casing and tread are much softer than some previous tubeless tyres, giving these a much better feeling on the road.
Tyres can completely change the ride quality of a bike, influencing the way that you can ride in different conditions. These Vittorias – the fastest road bike tyre tested by bicyclerollingresistance.com – offer easy tubeless setup and a much superior ride.
The 32mm Panaracer GravelKing tyres are excellent all-winter rubber for your road bike and tester Dave Atkinson's new favourite all-purpose winter tyre. They're pretty light for a 32mm tyre, they're easy to set up tubeless and they roll really well. Also, they come in a range of natty colours. Well, two. Plus black. Are they gravel tyres? Not really for the UK, in this size. But for winter road riding they're ace.
You might think these tyres look a bit like a plus-sized version of Vittoria's Open Pave with their file tread and green bits. And that's a fair comparison a lot of the time. Okay, they don't have the Open Pave's supple 320TPI casing, but the AX-Alpha Cord construction is still supple and you can run them tubeless which makes them even more so. The extra air in the carcass over a standard road width means there's comfort on tap for filthy back lanes and unsurfaced sections.
The Rene Herse (formerly Compass) Bon Jon Pass TC Extralight is the lightest and narrowest of its tyres that can be set up tubeless. It's good. Very good. Rene Herse calls it its 'Goldilocks' tyre, and for going fast or far on rubbish British roads or gravel, in all weathers, it is indeed Just Right.
Rene Herse has its handmade tyres manufactured in Japan by Panaracer, but the process and materials are unique to Rene Herse. These tyres indeed cost a pretty penny, but if you want the pinnacle of real-world performance over varied surfaces, they're worth the cash.
Bontrager’s R4 Classics tyres are beautiful handmade clinchers that offer a smooth and very quick ride. You get great cornering grip and such a supple casing really helps on rougher roads.
The R4 Classics have, as the name suggests, been designed to tackle the road conditions commonly found in the spring races. They boast many of the features found in the tubular version that is used by Trek Segafredo for those very races. In fact, this is exactly the same tyre, with the only difference being that it isn't sewn around an inner tube
Challenge's Strada Pro Open Tubular is a super-supple tyre designed for racing on rough roads. It's not the quickest tyre we've ridden, but for the battered B roads of Britain these are ideal for racing, fast riding and even as a summer training tyre.
How wide is too wide? The 48mm Switchback Hill is the widest 650B tyre that Rene Herse (formerly Compass) makes, and too wide it ain't. It's super-comfortable, fast-rolling, tubeless-compatible, off-road-capable and light. There's really not a lot wrong here. At a time when people are doing roll-down tests to see if it's worth switching to 28mm tyres from 25s, my advice would be to skip a few sizes and fit a pair of these, if you can. They're great.
The latest tyre from tubeless pioneer Hutchinson might just have knocked the Schwalbe Pro One out of the role of benchmark performance tubeless tyre. The traction of the Fusion 5s out of the box in a range of conditions, especially in the wet, surpasses the Pro One's. Factors like speed and rolling resistance are trickier to compare, but they certainly don't feel any slower at all, and puncture resistance is superb.In a nutshell, they're fast, grippy, supple, durable and easy to fit, and a rival for any other tubeless tyre currently available.
That's down to The new ElevenStorm rubber compound that provides the tread for the very latest version of this tyre. Warning to the wise: there are versions of the Hutchinson Fusion 5 available with Hutchinson's old HDF>5.2 tread compound. They're good tyres, but if you want the latest and greatest, look for the 11Storm.
Going tubeless for the first time? Hutchinson offers a pair of these tyres with sealant, valves and rim tape for £89.
The UST version of Mavic's Yksion Pro tyre is a massive improvement on the previous, frankly indifferent, tyres that Mavic used to ship with their wheels. It's made in France for Mavic by Hutchinson, who know a thing or two about tubeless tyres, and scores well in Jarno Bierman's rolling resistance and puncture prevention tests. You get a pair of Yksion Pros with all of the Tarmac-orientated wheels in Mavic's new Road UST range, from the £269 Aksium Elite UST and up.
The tread is made from the same rubber — Hutchinson calls it ElevenStorm — as the super-grippy Fusion 5 tyres, so looks an awful lot like Mavic is throwing in a pair of Fusion 5s with its Road UST wheels.
The old Yksions seriously lacked grip, especially in the wet, and puncture proofing was pretty poor. These UST versions are way, way better, offering loads of grip even in the wet and and if they do break traction, a little shift in power or body position easily brings them back under control.
Back in 2015 we first reviewed the Schwalbe S-One as it was then called, and it was a revelation: fast, grippy, comfortable. As a 30mm tyre it wouldn't fit in every frame, but our advice was: If you can fit 'em, buy 'em. Fast forward to 2018 and we're riding the new 40mm, 650B G-One Speed, which is every bit as good, and highlights the benefits of Road Plus, as we're now contractually obliged to call 650B, as well as any tyre we've tried.
The Corsa Control G+ is the beefed-up version of Vittoria's well-respected Corsa G+. They're a great alternative to many winter-specific tyres, offering levels of rolling resistance and grip seen on your summer lightweights without compromising durability.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
The Donnelly (formerly 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.
The LCV is the latest high performance tyre from Donnelly (formerly known as Clement) and with an RRP of 60 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.
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.
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.
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.
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. The 28mm version could be the perfect UK summer tyre, and they're a bargain at this sale price.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, especially in the 27mm version.
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.
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Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.