Best road cycling tyres 2019

Cyclingnews’ roundup of the best road tyres available to buy this year

Often taken for granted, the tyre is by far the most important weapon in your bicycle’s arsenal. It is, after all, the only point of contact your bike has with the ground and failing to recognise this fact can make or break the way your bike performs.

You’ll be surprised by how much a tyre can affect the overall efficiency, traction, compliance, rolling resistance and weight of your bike. Technology has also contributed to the evolution of the tyre where wider rim tracks have given rise to a whole new breed of options.

The introduction of wider rubber has all but put paid to the 23mm tyre with the industry now very much in favour of 25-28mm, the benefits of which claim to yield greater comfort, lower rolling resistance, added cornering grip and better aerodynamics.

And then, of course, there is the tubeless tyre which is slowly making inroads into the professional rungs. The potential benefits would suggest tubeless is the way forward: they’re light, fast, can run lower pressures and the sealant radically reduces the threat of puncturing, however, the additional set-up time and early teething problems have meant there is still some reluctance across the pro peloton. UAE Team Emirates’ Alexander Kristoff proved the technology's potential when he won Gent-Wevelgem and finished third at the Tour of Flanders on Vittoria Corsa Graphene 2.0 25mm tubeless tyres, but he went on to regret using the technology after three punctures at Paris Roubaix.

As for which tyre format is best - clincher, tubular or tubeless - personal preference is still very much the deciding factor, but like the mountain bike tyre, most manufacturers are convinced tubeless is the future of road cycling.

Scroll down to see Cyclingnews’ roundup of the best road tyres available to buy for 2019.

11 best road tyres you can buy today

1. Continental GP 4000 S II

Best Road Tyres - Contintental GP4000 ii

Verdict: Still regarded by many as the best all-round clincher on the market

  • Price: (Starting from) US$42/ £34 / AU$60
  • Protection: Vectran
  • Tubeless: No
  • Bead: Foldable
  • Format: Clincher, tubular
  • Width: 20, 23, 25, 28mm
  • Weight: 225g (700x25)

+ Weight. Performance. Variety
- Not tubeless

 

The Continental GP 4000 has been around since 2005 already but is still a popular choice for riders of all calibres, owing to the performance, grip and protection benefits it offers in spades.

The recipe was recently updated with the brand’s BlackChili compound, which Continental claims has improved such attributes as rolling resistance, grip and tyre life over regular silica-based compounds. In terms of puncture protection, the GP 4000 tyre makes use of Vectran Breaker — a puncture-prevention layer that is more cut-resistant than other materials.

Catering for all preferences the Continental Grand Prix 4000 S II comes in a variety of tyres widths ranging from 20 to 28mm.

Continental GP4000 ii full review

2. Continental GP 5000

Best Road Tyres - Contintental GP5000 Tubeless

Verdict: Adding tubeless to its repertoire, the best just got better

  • Price: (Starting from) US$75 / £60 / AU$90
  • Protection: Vectran
  • Tubeless: Yes
  • Bead: Foldable
  • Format: Clincher
  • Width: 23, 25, 28, 32mm
  • Weight: 220g (700x25)

+ Performance. Weight. Grip
- Price

 

The GP 4000’s 14-year reign at the top of the Continental pile was recently usurped by the GP 5000, a clincher/tubeless tyre aimed at the performance enthusiast.

Like its predecessor it also employs a BlackChili compound, albeit an updated formula, which claims to be faster and more compliant than before. While puncture protection on both tyre formats - clincher and tubeless - is handled by a Vectran Breaker layer, the latter adds another line of defence comprised of latex sealant.

Despite these innovations Continental has managed to keep weight to a minimum and, in some cases, lighter than the GP 4000 - just 220g in 25mm trim, resulting in the fastest and most resilient clincher tyre the company has ever produced.

Read more about the Continental GP 5000

3. Continental Gatorskin

Best Road Tyres - Continental Gatorskin

Verdict: Reliable tyre with unrivalled puncture protection

  • Price: (Starting from) US$37 / £32 / AU$64
  • Protection: Duraskin mesh, breaker
  • Tubeless: No
  • Bead: Foldable, wired
  • Format: Clincher
  • Width: 23, 25, 28, 32mm
  • Weight: 250g (700x25)

+ Protection. Variety
- Weight. Sometimes hard to mount

 

Based on the venerable GP 4000, the Continental Gatorskin has earned a reputation as a hardy and resilient tyre that can be used both for training and racing. Many cyclists choose it purely based on the protective qualities of the Duraskin mesh and PolyXBreaker layers.

Despite the enhanced levels of durability, the Gatorskins still offer impressive grip and rolling speed and aren’t nearly as heavy as you’d expect, at only 250g in its 25mm guise.

However, for added assurance from cuts and slices, the Gator Hardshell adds a third layer of protection, the trade-off being added weight and less pliancy.

Read more about the Continental Gatorskin

4. Vittoria Corsa

Best Road Tyres - Vittoria Corsa Graphene 2 tyre

Verdict: Vittoria’s most beautiful and versatile tyre is now tubeless

  • Price: (Starting from) US$68 / £54 / AU$96
  • Protection: Corespun casing, graphene
  • Tubeless: Yes
  • Bead: Foldable
  • Format: Clincher, tubular
  • Width: 23, 25, 28, 30mm
  • Weight: 255g (700x25)

+ Performance. Aesthetics. Grip
- Price

 

The Vittoria Corsa falls under the company’s ‘Performance Race’ range of tyres and is available in clincher and tubular guises. Using an updated four-layer Graphene 2.0 compound, Vittoria claims to have improved rolling resistance, grip, durability, braking performance and puncture protection considerably over previous models.

The qualities of Graphene 2.0 compound are also said to change depending on the load and situation: cornering, straight line or braking — it’s all very clever. They sure look fast, a notion highlighted by the contrasting tan walls.

Vittoria has also added a tubeless (TLR) version to the line-up, as is already being ridden by a few teams within the pro peloton.

Read our Vittoria Corsa G+ review

5. Vittoria Zaffiro

Best Road Tyres - Vittoria Zaffiro

Verdict: Low-cost tyre with exceptional durability

  • Price: (Starting from) US$17 / £14/ AU$25
  • Protection: Breaker, graphene
  • Tubeless: No
  • Bead: Foldable, wired
  • Format: Clincher
  • Width: 23, 25, 28, 30, 32mm
  • Weight: 280g (700x25, Zaffiro Pro)

+ Tyre life. Protection. Price
- Weight. Grip

 

As Vittoria’s most affordable tyre, the Zaffiro is naturally geared more towards training than racing, using a durable and tough nylon casing for protection against punctures.

All this, however, does come with a sizeable weight penalty: a standard Zaffrio 25mm wire-bead tyre tips the scales at 380g. There are slimmer options in the line-up such as the 280g Zaffiro Pro Graphene 2.0, which also gain from the performance advantages of graphene.

The Zaffiros may not possess the pliancy and performance attributes as some of its rivals but as far as reliable training tyres go, they’re hard to beat.

6. Vittoria Rubino

Best Road Tyres - Vittoria Rubino

Verdict: An all-round training tyre with exceptional performance

  • Price: (Starting from) US$45 / £35 / AU$64
  • Protection: Breaker, graphene
  • Tubeless: Yes
  • Bead: Foldable, wired
  • Format: Clincher, tubular
  • Width: 23, 25, 28, 30mm
  • Weight: 250g (700x25, Rubino Pro)

+ Weight. Performance. Variety

 

The Rubino represents the middle ground of Vittoria’s tyre collection, doubling up as training and all-weather racing option. The five-prong line-up offers tyres of varying functionality and weight class - a standard Rubino weighs in at a portly 335g while the race-focussed Rubino Pro Speed just 200g (25mm).

Graphene 2.0 features throughout the model line-up, a compound known for adding life and improved levels of performance to mix. The Rubino offers impressive levels of grip and puncture protection, the trade-off of which is straight-line speed.

7. Specialized Turbo Cotton

Best Road Tyres - Specialized Turbo Cotton

Verdict: Out-and-out performance tyre with the visual oomph to match

  • Price: (Starting from) US$80 / £61 / AU$120
  • Protection: BlackBelt
  • Tubeless: No
  • Bead: Foldable
  • Format: Clincher
  • Width: 24, 26, 28mm
  • Weight: 220g (700x24)

+ Grip. Performance. Aesthetics
- Price. Durability

 

Ideal for the racing snake or Strava KOM hunter, the Specialized Turbo Cotton tyre offers unbelievable levels of traction, rolling speed and grip.

Available in sizes ranging from 24-28mm, it’s the latter that are naturally the most versatile of the three choices supplying exceptional comfort when paired with the right pressure.

While the supple 320 TPI Polycotton casing and Gripton rubber compound combine to give a fast and forgiving ride, the tyre should be used exclusively for racing as it does have a propensity for wear.

8. Specialized S-Works Turbo Cotton Hell of the North

Best Road Tyres - Specialized Turbo Hell Of The North

Verdict: Fast and grippy, it makes corrugated tarmac feel billiard-smooth

  • Price: (Starting from) US$80 / £63 / AU$130
  • Protection: BlackBelt
  • Tubeless: No
  • Bead: Foldable
  • Format: Clincher, tubular
  • Width: 28mm
  • Weight: 260g

+ Durability. Performance. Grip
- Limited use

 

The S-Works Turbo Cotton Hell of the North tyre was developed specifically for use at the cobbles of Ronde Van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix. As such it’s available in 28mm guise only and features a tread pattern that’s been widened by 4mm on each side for extra grip.

The Gripton compound delivers a combination of suppleness and compliance that you’d associate with a far bigger-volume tyre, as well as added surety in terms of puncture protection.

Despite the chunky volume, the Hell of the North tyre is as responsive on the flats as it is during high-speed cornering manoeuvres — in fact, if it weren’t for the high sticker price, it would be a very good tyre for all-round use on the UK’s poorly surfaced roads.

Read our Specialized Turbo Hell Of The North first ride review

9. Challenge Strada Bianca

Best Road Tyres - Challenge Strada Bianca

Verdict: The indisputable king of all surfaces

  • Price: (Starting from) US$80 / £65 / AU$116
  • Protection: Double PPS
  • Tubeless: Yes
  • Bead: Foldable
  • Format: Clincher, tubular
  • Width: 30, 33, 36mm
  • Weight: 355g

+ Compliance. Performance.
- Price

 

Soft in feel but hardy in nature, the Challenge Strada Bianca is as a multi-terrain tyre named after the white gravel roads of Tuscany. They are beautiful tyres and have an elegant yet retro look about them thanks to the use of tan sidewalls and subtle graphics.

At 355g they may not be the lightest option around but the large volume and supple casing produce a compliant and controlled ride quality, something that’s noticeable on bumpier terrain.

Available in options upwards of 30mm, these tyres are better suited for use on cyclocross or gravel bikes, where its full breadth of talent can be fully exploited.

10. Michelin Power Competition

Best Road Tyres - Michelin Power Competition

Verdict: A fast, performance-bent tyre priced to sell

  • Price: (Starting from) US$60 / £47 / AU$84
  • Protection: Aramid Protek
  • Tubeless: No
  • Bead: Foldable
  • Format: Clincher, tubular
  • Width: 23, 25mm
  • Weight: 215g (700x25)

+ Price. Weight. Performance.
- Compliance. Not tubeless

 

The Michelin Power Competition tyre benefits from trickle-down technology from the company’s motoring division. As such, they incorporate the same silica-based tread compounds found in the top-of-the-line car stock, resulting in its fastest rolling road tyre yet, or so the company claims.

At 215g they’re exceptionally light but still provide ample grip in concerning situations, if anything, they’re lacking a little in compliance — something that might be solved with a bigger volume tyre. For now, they’re only available in widths of 23mm and 25mm and tubeless is not an option.

However, if its extra pliancy that you’re after, the tubular version adds a 28mm option to the existing 23 and 25mm widths.

Read our Michelin Power Competition review

11. Schwalbe Pro One

Best Road Tyres - Schwalbe Pro One tyre

Verdict: A grippy, super-fast tubeless tyre geared for competition use

  • Price: (Starting from) US$85 / £66 / AU$118
  • Protection: MicroSkin
  • Tubeless: Yes
  • Bead: Foldable
  • Format: Clincher
  • Width: 23, 25, 28, 30mm
  • Weight: 260g (700x25)

+ Fast rolling. Weight. Grip
- Price. Application

 

Tyre manufacturers love coming up with colourful marketing prose designed to entice you in every imaginable way, but with Schwalbe, we’re inclined to believe the claim that its Pro One tyre is the fastest of its kind.

Even at the minimum tyre pressure of 70psi the Pro One delivers great rolling speed, feedback, and pliancy levels. Schwalbe claims the Pro One tyre is 25 percent lighter than its predecessor — it certainly feels this way, even with sealant mixed into the equation.

In terms of puncture protection, there’s not much to worry about, as any holes caused by thorns, glass and flint are quickly sorted by latex sealant.

Bar the premium sticker price the Pro One is hard to trump as far as outright speed and grip are concerned.

Read our Schwalbe Pro One review


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