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Best road bike tyres 2022 - Fast-rolling, ultra-grippy tyres for training and racing

Enve SES Tire used as the header image for the best road bike tyres
(Image credit: Enve)

Choosing the best road bike tyres is the single most important decision you will make on your bike. There is no other part of the bike that will have a greater effect on your ride experience than what tyres you choose. That means it's a big choice. At the same time it's a part of the bike with a relatively low barrier to entry for experimentation. If you ride a lot your tyres will wear out anyway and you can try something else to see what works best. 

Not only can you experiment on a regular basis but your riding might cover different situations. In this list we've covered the best road bike tyres but that can mean a lot of things; there are options for race day performance and there are options that are tough enough that you can count on when you are far from home. If you are looking for the best tyres to take you to and from work without fail then take a look at our list of the best commuter bike tyres. Or, if you've been enjoying a beautiful summer of dry weather riding, you'll want to consult our list of the best winter road bike tyres as the weather changes. If you've fully made the jump to tubeless tyres there are options in this list but we also have a separate list of the best tubeless road tyres

Whatever your needs might be, we've got you covered. If you are ready to unlock the potential of your bike then keep reading to see our pics for the best options out there today.

The best road bike tyres you can buy today

A black tyre on a black rim against a brick wall

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
The best road bike tyres for all-weather race-ready performance

Specifications

Protection: Aramid fibre belt, breaker
Tubeless: No
Bead: Foldable
Format: Clincher
Width: 23, 25, 28mm
Weight: 220g (700x25)

Reasons to buy

+
All-weather grip
+
Fast rolling
+
Decent weight

Reasons to avoid

-
Not tubeless

The P Zero Velo 4S is an all-year-round training and racing tyre, boasting a SmartNET Silica compound and a 127tpi casing that strikes a decent balance between puncture protection and rolling efficiency.

It certainly looks good too, with blue accents denoting its position within the range. In terms of performance, it offers prodigious grip, speed and water displacement, which makes them them an ideal option for wet-weather riding. They come in three sizes for now - 23, 25 and 28mm - and are not yet configurable as a tubeless application.

Our Pirelli P Zero Race 28mm review goes into more detail, but it's worth noting that they have since been superseded by the P Zero Race 4S. Pirelli claim these are better in every regard, but we've not had them for long enough to form a conclusive opinion yet. 

(Image credit: Courtesy)
The best road bike tyre for lovers of the Specialized Cotton tyre who need better puncture protection

Specifications

Protection: BlackBelt
Tubeless: Yes
Bead: Foldable
Format: Clincher
Width: 26, 28mm
Weight: 260g (700x26)

Reasons to buy

+
Blisteringly fast
+
User-friendly
+
High volume
+
Low weight

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited sizing

Specialized S-Works Turbo RapidAir is the fastest feeling 28C road tyre we’ve used, but still all-weather confident and really easy to live with. Available in 700 x 26C and 28C, the RapidAir tyres are the result of a long process of testing in Specialized's own factory dedicated to creating the best tyres. 

Specialized has been developing its new RapidAir tyre for three years working closely with the QuickStep team on the evolution of their silica-enhanced Gripton rubber compound and totally new carcass construction.

Despite the generous sizing, the ride feel of the tyres isn’t as damped and ‘warm’ as the smoothest feeling 28s we’ve ridden. It's certainly not harsh, it's more purposeful than plush, but it is intended as a race tyre. It also happens to be - so far - an extremely impressive high-speed, high-volume all-rounder that is also refreshingly easy to live with. 

Read our Specialized S-Works Turbo RapidAir review if you want to find out a little more.

(Image credit: Continental )
The best road bike tyre for lovers of the GP4000 who have gone tubeless

Specifications

Protection: Vectran
Tubeless: Yes
Bead: Foldable
Format: Clincher, tubeless
Width: 23, 25, 28, 32mm
Weight: 220g (700x25)

Reasons to buy

+
Performance 
+
Weight
+
Grip

Reasons to avoid

-
Price
-
Incompatible with hookless rims

It's no suprise the GP5000 very quickly gained the same level of market dominance that its GP4000 predecessor enjoyed, thanks to its smooth and fast performance, tubeless compatibility and the addition of the tan sidewall. 

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 GP4000 - just 220g in 25mm trim. 

Curious? Then take a look at our Continental GP5000 review, or if you're after a little extra race day performance, check out the newer Continental GP5000 S TR

(Image credit: Schwalbe)
The best road bike tyres for competition use

Specifications

Protection: MicroSkin
Tubeless: Yes
Bead: Foldable
Format: Clincher
Width: 25, 28, 30, 32mm
Weight: 260g (700x25)

Reasons to buy

+
Fast rolling
+
Weight
+
Grip

Reasons to avoid

-
Price
-
Puncture protection

In our experience, 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 per cent lighter than its predecessor — it certainly feels this way, even with sealant mixed into the equation.

In terms of puncture protection, these tyres mightn't be the sturdiest out there, but when run tubeless any holes caused by thorns, glass, and flint are quickly sorted by latex sealant. So bar the premium sticker price, the Pro One is hard to trump.

Take a look at our Schwalbe Pro One review for more details.

The best road bike tyre when you want versatility

Specifications

Protection: Corespun casing, graphene
Tubeless: Yes
Bead: Foldable
Format: Clincher, tubular
Width: 23, 25, 28, 30mm
Weight: 255g (700x25)

Reasons to buy

+
Performance
+
Aesthetics
+
Grip

Reasons to avoid

-
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 Corsa Graphene is part of a three-tier range, which also includes the Corsa Speed and Corsa Control. The Speed has continually been a high performer in rolling resistance tests and is the go-to model for time triallists looking for maximum performance. The Control is a durable model designed for fast winter riding. The Corsa sits in the middle as a balance between the two. All of which are available in a choice of tubed or tubeless construction. 

In our opinion, the Corsa Graphene is a real contender for the best road bike tyre for all-around use, thanks to superb puncture protection, easy speed and a supple ride feel. 

Take a look at our Vittoria Corsa Graphene 2.0 review to learn more.

Best Road bike tyres: Specialized Turbo Cotton

(Image credit: Josh Croxton)

Specialized Turbo Cotton

The best road bike tyres when you want blend of straight-line speed and cornering grip

Specifications

Protection: BlackBelt
Tubeless: No
Bead: Foldable
Format: Clincher
Width: 24c, 26c, 28c
Weight: 260g (700x25)

Reasons to buy

+
Fast-rolling
+
Low weight
+
Unparalleled grip

Reasons to avoid

-
Rubber known to peel away from casing

The Turbo Cotton is an out-and-out race tyre designed for maximum grip and even more speed. It was launched as far back as 2016 and immediately gained plaudits among criterium racers on tight, technical criteriums due to their unrelenting grip which simply invites you to push the boundaries to the limit. In our experience, they are the best tyre for cornering traction, but we have seen the edges of the rubber peel away from the cotton casing, so keep an eye on yours if you ride on the ragged edge. 

That's not all though, the Turbo Cotton is still the tyre that Specialized will spec on any of its range-topping race bikes due to its outright speed. It might have been around for a number of years, but the only thing Specialized has done to keep it current is introduce a wider 28mm version, as well as a limited run of Hell Of The North edition, which adds a little more grip. 

(Image credit: Challenge)

Challenge Strada

The best road bike tyre for rough roads

Specifications

Protection: PP3
Tubeless: Yes
Bead: Foldable
Format: Clincher, tubular
Width: 25mm
Weight: 240g (700x25)

Reasons to buy

+
Compliance
+
Performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Price

Soft in feel but hardy in nature, the Challenge Strada Pro is available in both clincher and tubular format. They have an elegant yet retro look about them thanks to the use of tan sidewalls and bold graphics.

At 240g, they're on the lighter end of the weight scale but still manage to provide a compliant and controlled ride quality, something that’s noticeable on bumpier terrain.

Available in 25mm only, the Strada Pro can also be used as a tubeless setup which further bolsters its reputation as a do-it-all tyre.

Vittoria Rubino

The best road bike tyre for training

Specifications

Protection: Breaker, graphene
Tubeless: Yes
Bead: Foldable, wired
Format: Clincher, tubular
Width: 23, 25, 28, 30mm
Weight: 250g (700x25, Rubino Pro)

Reasons to buy

+
Weight
+
Performance
+
Variety

Reasons to avoid

-
Prone to puncturing despite protection measures

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.

(Image credit: Bontrrager)

Bontrager R3 Hard-Case Lite TLR

The best road bike tyres for road commuters

Specifications

Protection: Hard-Case Lite
Tubeless: Yes
Bead: Foldable
Format: Clincher
Width: 23, 25, 28, 32mm
Weight: 285g (700x25)

Reasons to buy

+
Easy tubeless
+
Puncture protection
+
Reflective option

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy

Bontrager's R3 Hard-Case Lite road tyres have been designed a combination of speed, grip, durability and protection. They might not trouble the likes of the Corsa or the Turbo Cotton when it comes to rolling resistance, but they'll last considerably longer and offer increased grip thanks to a tread-pattern design for all-weather security.

More importantly, the R3 range is resistant to punctures thanks largely to Bontrager's proprietary TR-Speed compound and updated Hard-Case Lite casing. They are available in both tubed and tubeless construction, of which our pick is the tubeless version. 

The range is pretty extensive and offers sizing options ranging from 23-28mm - there's also a 32mm tyre which is reserved for the tubeless TLR version. There's also a model that utilises reflective sidewall technology for added visibility in low-light conditions.

(Image credit: Enve)
The best road bike tyre when you want every aero advantage

Specifications

Protection: Vectran Protection Barrier
Tubeless: Yes
Bead: Foldable
Format: Clincher
Width: 25c, 27c, 29c, 31c
Weight: 255g (700x25)

Reasons to buy

+
Aero optimised 
+
Weight
+
Hookless compatible
+
Wide options available

Reasons to avoid

-
non-standard sizes

There are marginal gains then there is making sure even your tyres are aero optimised. Enve claims that the SES tyre will add roughly a one watt aero advantage over competing tyres. The concept is truly for those looking for every bit of optimization possible but that's not the only advantage. In the same way it makes sense to grab one of the best aero helmets because these are great helmets that happen to be aero, the Enve SES tyres are great tyres first. Enve understands that a fast tyre has to be an all-around tyre and it's that useability that the design team narrowed in on. The tyres are light for their size but not the lightest out there. Instead they've included a Vectran Protection Barrier because no tire is fast when it's flat. There are also wide sizes available that allow you to tailor the ride feel in a way that makes sense to you. These tyres are fast but not to the point that they become a race day only option. 

(Image credit: Veloflex)

Veloflex Master SPS

The best road bike tyre if you want something super light

Specifications

Protection: SPS sidewall protection, Kevlar
Tubeless: No
Bead: Foldable
Format: Clincher
Width: 23, 25, 28mm
Weight: 220g (700x25)

Reasons to buy

+
Weight
+
Aesthetics
+
Now carbon-rim compatible

Reasons to avoid

-
Not tubeless

Italian tyre maker Veloflex refers to its clincher tyres as open tubulars, citing the ride quality and feel is on par with the real thing. Weighing 220g, they're also very competitive in this regard and have become a staple choice for weight weenies the world over.

Owing to incompatibility concerns with non-ETRTO-approved wheels, the company has just released its new Master SPS Line rubber designed specifically for all forms of carbon hoops. In terms of performance, the tyres offer similar levels of rolling efficiency and pliancy as the tubulars on which they're based - thanks in part to the core-spun, high-density 320 TPI casing.

Featuring a trademark tan-wall design and prominent Veloflex moniker, the Masters are quite possibly one of the most aesthetically pleasing options on the market.

How to choose the best road bike tyres

What type of bike tyres are best for the road?

There are three major road tyre types to choose from. Clincher, tubeless, and tubular. Tubular is uncommon on today's crop of road bikes as they need to be glued to a tubular-specific rim, so we'll focus on clincher and tubeless here.

Clincher tyres are probably the tyres you're most familiar with as they've been fitted to all manner of bikes for years. They fit to a clincher-specific wheel, and inside the tyre itself, you'll need to fit an inner tube. This inner tube is sized specifically in both circumference and width to match the size of the tyre it's going into. On road bikes, look for inner tubes with presta valves, as these are designed to hold higher pressures more securely. 

The third, is the more recent invention of tubeless tyres, which have grown at a fast rate over the past half-decade or so. Tubeless tyres are designed to be used in conjunction with tubeless-ready rims and, as the name suggests, they forego the need for an inner tube. Instead, a small amount of tubeless sealant is squirted into the tyre. This sealant then clogs up any holes that would otherwise puncture the tyre, allowing you to continue riding. 

We have a separate roundup of the best tubeless road tyres, and many of them are now just as good - if not better - than their clincher counterparts. The potential benefits include reduced weight (since they don't have an inner tube), they're often fast-rolling, they can run lower pressures and the sealant radically reduces the threat of puncturing. 

If you are looking for the best type of bike tyre for the road you want to look at your wheels. If you have tubeless compatible wheels then that is going to be the best choice. If you don't have tubeless compatible wheels then you'll need to stick with a tube. 

How often do you change your tyres?

One way to decide when it's time to replace a tyre is to look for the wear indicator. Most road bike tyres will have a small circular depression in the tread. When the surface of a tyre becomes flush with the depression it's time to replace the tyre.

If you can't find the wear indicator there are other ways to tell. Often the best indicator is that you've started to get flats. As a tyre wears the outer surface gets thinner and flats happen more often. You'll also start to develop a squared off profile. If you haven't used a bike for a while then you'll want to look for cracking and rotting sidewalls. Even if there's not much wear, those are signs to replace the tyre.

What size tyres are best for a road bike?

 

There's no definitive answer that will cover all riders in all situations. Tyre size choice is actually part of a much bigger conversation that revolves around tyre pressure. Smaller tyres need higher pressures and our previous understanding was that a thin tyre, at high pressure, would cut through the air faster with less rolling resistance. The science on that has evolved. 

Two different understandings evolved at the same time and they have come together to change recommendations. One part of the equation is that road surfaces are not actually as flat as we thought. Even high-quality pavement is relatively rough and lower pressures allow a tyre to conform better. That means more contact and more speed. At the same time companies started looking at the tyre and wheel as a system. Modern wheels, like the kind we feature in our list of the best road bike wheels, use designs that optimise wider tyres for more speed and more comfort. 

As you can tell, this is a big topic. There are scientific studies and brand research. There are lots and lots of discussions out in the world and you can dive as deep as you want. In practical applications though it's likely you need to follow the design of your frame. For older road bike frames your max tyre size will be either 23 or 25mm. If that's the case, go with the larger option. 

If you've got a modern frame with larger clearances, that's when things are a little more difficult. Many modern road bike frames will take as large as a 30mm tyre. Even more if you are using one of the best gravel bikes on the road. 

If you just want the easy answer, the industry is currently coming together around a 28mm tyre standard for road bikes when speed is the goal. That doesn't mean that's right for you but if you have a modern bike and modern wheels, it's a good place to start.

Aaron was the Tech Editor Cyclingnews between July 2019 and June 2022. He was born and raised in South Africa, where he completed his BA honours at the University of Cape Town before embarking on a career in journalism. Throughout this career, Aaron has spent almost two decades writing about bikes, cars, and anything else with wheels. Prior to joining the Cyclingnews team, his experience spanned a stint as Gear & Digital editor of Bicycling magazine, as well as a time at TopCar as Associate Editor. 


Now based in the UK's Surrey Hills, Aaron's life revolves around bikes. He's a competitive racer, Stravaholic, and Zwift enthusiast. He’s twice ridden the Cape Epic, completed the Haute Route Alps, and represented South Africa in the 2022 Zwift eSports World Championships.

Height: 175cm

Weight: 61.5kg

Rides: Cannondale SuperSlice Disc Di2 TT, Cannondale Supersix Evo Dura-Ace Rim, Cannondale Supersix Evo Ultegra Di2 Disc, Trek Procaliber 9.9 MTB