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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.
When I took on a particularly long, 10-day cycling tour a few years back, I remember telling somebody I was going to fit specific puncture-resistant tyres because I really didn't want to be at the side of busy foreign roads fixing flats. 'Oh no,' they said, 'those will ruin the ride quality. What you really want is blah, blah, blah.'
As I hadn't actually asked for their opinion, I carried on with my intended plan and we had no punctures over 1,000km, which I judged to be a success. In any case, the ride experience was rather more affected by a new Brooks saddle I had foolishly fitted rather than any choice of tyre.
But I digress. What I'm trying to explain is that there is a notion prevalent among some people that you can have puncture resistance or fine riding, but never the twain shall meet. For commuting, leisure and city cycling, though, Michelin's Protek Urban Aramid tyre should put the lie to all that.
Available in either 35mm or 40mm, there's more than enough cushioning to deal with rough city streets and broken surfaces. I tested the slightly thinner 35mm option and it seems like the perfect middle option for quick urban riding, with enough insulation from road imperfections to protect without feeling like you're wallowing around.
The tyre's protective qualities don't just extend to your soft bits – underneath the surface is a layer of what Michelin calls 'a new generation of Aramid puncture protection' designed to keep you rolling longer between flats. It's a little hard to gauge exactly how effective this is without trying to wantonly destroy the tyre, but in day-to-day use, they haven't come a cropper yet. Meanwhile, a reflective stripe on the sidewall helps to keep you seen.
In terms of ride experience, it's the tyre surface where things really come alive. The tread is made from the same Michelin Pro4 Grip Surface Course as the brand's Pro4 road tyre, which means it helps to provide really fantastic road handling. On dry roads, cornering is superbly surefooted but in the wet the relative performance is even better – this is a really excellent all-year tyre.
Add in impressively efficient rolling resistance and you've got a tyre that could completely transform the on-road performance of a typical flat-bar bike. It's not lightning fast, for a reason I'll come to in a moment, but it's certainly lively and efficient enough for getting about town with a smile.
Of course, very few things are perfect and there are some minor disappointments. At 600g a pop, it isn't light but I have to say it didn't feel like a burden to get up to speed. Also, unlike some rivals, the Protek Urban isn't tubeless compatible. So, despite its extra aramid armour, it doesn't offer entirely enhanced puncture resistance.
Finally, and this is no biggie but it's worth knowing anyway, it only comes with a wire bead – hence that weight – so there's no folding option if you want that kind of thing.
We haven't tested that many urban-specific tyres but Panaracer's GravelKing Plus TLC is, despite its name, actually a very effective wide road slick with a bit of mixed-surface performance and enhanced puncture protection. It's a lot lighter than the Michelin but, at £49.99, it commands a fair premium, too.
Much closer in price and market placing is Goodyear's Transit Speed S3, which comes in at £29 but offers a slightly harsh ride. For more comfortable and fast all-year riding with aramid protection, Stu thought the Pirelli Cinturato Velo was a great option at £46.99.
Michelin markets the 35mm version of the Protek Urban Aramid as an excellent choice for e-bikes and I would have to agree that it is particularly adept at coping with almost any road condition – short of frozen surfaces – at decent speed. Meanwhile, its impressive comfort and longevity could be particularly well received by electric bike riders who, I'm sure, aren't itching to fix punctures too often, either.
But while the Michelin Protek Urban Aramid is a winner for e-bikers and flat-bar road riders, I don't think that's where its attraction ends. If you're a commuter riding a drop-bar gravel bike or another frame with enough clearance, fitting a pair of Protek Urban Aramids would be a budget-friendly way to enhance long-term practicality without losing too much ride quality or hindering fast commuting aspirations.
It doesn't offer quite the same absolute performance of a dedicated road bike tyre but, at this price, you might be surprised at how close it comes.
Excellent budget commuting tyre with puncture protection and surprisingly impressive on-road performance
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Michelin Protek Urban tyre
Size tested: 700x35
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The Protek Urban Aramid is aimed at urban riders and commuters.
Michelin says: "The Protek Urban is the city tyre for optimum safety, providing excellent grip on wet surfaces and unsurpassed riding comfort with a tread with very low rolling resistance. The Protek Urban features the new generation of Aramid fibre puncture protection and shares the same rubber compound used on the Pro4 Grip road tyre."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
35mm or 40mm
Pro4 Grip Service Course rubber
Aramid Protek+ puncture protection
Sidewall reflective stripe
At this kind of budget, these are very well made tyres.
Very good performance with fine combination of grip, comfort and surprisingly decent rolling resistance.
Lasted well so far and the enhanced aramid protection bodes well.
Really rather heavy.
Comfort was very good. I think the 35mm option provides the perfect balance of performance and road insulation.
I really think these are fantastic options for the money and other tyres we've tested would seem to prove it. Panaracer's GravelKing Plus TLC is a lot lighter than the Michelin but, at £49.99, it commands a fair premium, too. Much closer in price and market placing is Goodyear's Transit Speed S3, which comes in at £29 but offers a slightly harsh ride. For more comfortable and fast all-year riding with aramid protection, Pirelli's Cinturato Velo is a great option, but also more expensive at £46.99.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I was really rather impressed. While comfort and rolling efficiency are all very good, the grip on offer is excellent. Which makes using these tyre to weave through the urban jungle quite a fun experience.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The superb grip, available in both dry and wet conditions.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Panaracer's GravelKing Plus TLC is £49.99, Pirelli's Cinturato Velo is a great option but also more expensive than the Michelin at £46.99. Goodyear's Transit Speed S3 comes in at £29 but offers a slightly harsh ride.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
With puncture protection, good comfort and decent value, the Michelin Protek Urban Aramid would be a worthy option alone. But throw in fantastic dry and wet grip, and surprisingly efficient rolling resistance, and you've got a budget tyre that won't leave you missing any performance.
About the tester
I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29 My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb, Leisure