12 Best Road Bike Tires in 2017

Bicycles can literally last forever if taken care of; there are plenty of bikes on the road that are older than we are, and with new exotic materials these days, those lifespans can be extended even further. The same cannot be said of bicycle tires.

Usually one of the first things to go or needs to be replaced are your bike tires. Depending on what type of riding you do, you may need to change them out quite frequently. That said, you shouldn’t have to if you find the right tire for your bike. Looking for the best road bike tires is something that seems like it would be fairly straightforward, but it most certainly is not.

Unless you are a tire expert, it can be extremely confusing picking out the best tire for your bike. Balloon tires, clinchers, studded and puncture resistant are just a few of the terms you are likely to encounter, but buzz words and quirky lingo isn’t going to make things any easier. We have taken care of the hard part for you, so below you will find our picks for the top road bike tires.

Top 12 Road Bike Tires Comparison Chart

DesignNameFoldableMultiple SizesRating (1-5)
  1. Schwinn Cruiser Bike Tire with Kevlar Yes No 4.7
  2. Serfas Drifter Tire with FPS No Yes 4.7
  3. Continental Gator Hardshell DuraSkin Folding Tire Yes Yes 4.6
  4. Kenda 163026 Big City Slick Wire Bead Bicycle Tire No No 4.6
  5. SCHWALBE Marathon Plus HS 440 Wire Tire No Yes 4.5
6. Continental GatorSkin DuraSkin Tire Yes Yes 4.5
7. Continental Grand Prix 4 Season Road Clincher Yes Yes 4.5
8. Vittoria Rubino Pro III Fold Tire Yes Yes 4.4
  9. Sunlite Street Tires No Yes 4.4
  10. Continental Tour Ride Urban Bicycle Tire No Yes 4.4
  11. Kenda Tires Kwest Commuter/Urban/Hybrid Bicycle Tires No Yes 4.2
  12. Vittoria Rubino Pro G+ Road Tire Yes Yes 4.2

Things to Consider Before You Buy

Before your brain bursts at the hundreds of tires available for the road, here are a few key pointers.

Tubeless vs. Tubular

As the name suggests, tubular tires have a tube filled with air inside; this provides the rider with a comfy ride and also gives you more of a “feel” for the road. Most people have ridden these types of bikes, and flats usually come into play eventually. Fixing those flats roadside depends on your skill level. A trip to the bike shop is not ideal for everyone, so you may need to have special tools to pull a quick repair while you are on the go.

On the other side of the coin are the good old tubeless tires. While not bulletproof, they are less likely to go flat due to their design but still have to have an airtight seal between the tire and rim. There is a liquid sealant in the tire that can assist if you get a small hole, but again they are not easy to fix on your own without the proper tools. Some tires can be used with or without a tube as well, so it may come down to your preference in some cases.

Tread

Regardless of your biking knowledge, everyone knows that the tread is one of the first things to consider. Like car tires, some road bike tires will have nubs to indicate wear over time while others are built to run while punctured. When considering the type of tread you want on your tire, you will first want to take into account where you plan to do most of your riding.

As we are focusing on the road, you will want a smoother tread for a pleasant ride across asphalt, pavement and other types of hard surfaces. An inverted tread can help cut back on road resistance which in turn can increase your mileage. If you live in a rainy climate, the channels in the tread will be just as important. These push water away from your tires in the rain which can help keep you on the road in terrible weather. Needless to say, if you live in Seattle, you will want good rain tires.

Sidewalls

A tire is made up of more layers than some may realize, but the sidewalls are just as important as the tread. It can also be the first area to go on cheaper tiers as the rubber can be thinner on the side. Quality road bike tires handle this with thicker sidewalls or specialized protection like Kevlar belts to best any thorns.

If you plan on riding late into the night, you will also want to consider a tire with a reflective sidewall. You may be the best rider in the world, but it does not matter if vehicles can’t see on the shoulder so any extra reflective parts could be a life saver.

Top 5 Best Road Bike Tires Reviews

1. Schwinn Cruiser Bike Tire with Kevlar

While bike tires are made to ensure you get around swiftly and safely, some are a bit more stylish than others are. That is the case with the Schwinn Cruiser tire as it looks like it would be right at home on an off-road machine, trike or even a wheelbarrow. It is a squared tire with plenty of tread, which means it will be a little tougher than some on our list.

While the rubber is thick on this one, it is not 110% puncture resistant, so if you are concerned about thorns and other nasties in the sidewalls, you will want a puncture-proof tube as well. It may not be pretty, but the Cruiser Bike tire is a beast and will give you a great ride on the road. It can also be used on more than just bikes if needed. Unfortunately, this one is only available in one size at 26” x 2.5”, which rules some folks out that are looking for larger or thinner tires.

2. Serfas Drifer Tire with FPS

The Serfas Drifter Tire is referred to as a “hybrid” tire meaning it is built to travel just as well on the road as off. You can thank the design for that as this popular tire is part of the company Survivor Series line. What’s that mean for consumers? About three layers of protection to keep you safe against flats while you are on the road…

In a nutshell, the outside of the tire sports a thick layer of tread while the first layer beneath consists of woven ballistic nylon. The second layer is dubbed an “Impervious Composite Matris” which basically mean thorns, goat heads, and other road hazards are going to have a tough time getting through the tire. That said, they are a bit heavier than most at 630 grams.

The Serfas Drifter Tire with FPS is available in five different sizes from a 26” tire that’s 1.5” wide to the large 29ers that are 2-inches.

3. Continental Gator Hardshell DuraSkin Folding Tire

Looking for a lightweight tire that’s guaranteed to give you plenty of mileage? Well, look no further than the Continental Gator Hardshell; this is a folding tire, which means it is simple to transport if you like to carry a spare or are prone to flats. It happens to the best of us. The construction means you will also get a great grip and it will be extremely durable thanks to DuraSkin protection. It also sports an extra wide Poly X Breaker across the shoulders to toughen things up.

In case you are curious as to if these live up to their Hardshell name, we are pleased to say they certainly do. They offer an extreme degree of protection against punctures with thicker sidewalls while still staying light at around 260grams depending on the size you choose. These sleek looking bike tires are on the high-end, but well worth it when you consider how much money you may save on flats in the long run.

4. Kenda Big City Slick Wire Bead Bicycle Tire

Sometimes a name says it all, and in this case, we know Kenda built this particular set of tires for those mean city streets. You can clearly see the tread is kept to a minimum as the wire bead tire means business on the roads. It also means you could be spinning your wheels if you decide to go off-road, so keep that in mind if you plan to ride places other than the sidewalk or street.

Another perk of the design of this tire is the fact it will perform well in water. The tread pattern will channel water away from the wheel, which allows you to maintain speed and control in bad weather. On the downside, these wide little tires are only available in one size at 26” x 1.95” although you can buy them in a set unlike many of the picks on our best road bike tires list.

5. Schwalbe Marathon HS Plus 440 Wire Tire

Schwalbe has consistently produced some of the best bike tires on the market, and the Marathon Plus HS 440’s are definitely one of the best from their arsenal. They are tubed so you will get a smooth ride on the pavement or street, and there’s no need to worry about casual punctures either.

The Marathon HS Plus 440 tires are not totally puncture-proof (nothing truly is), but they are pretty darned close. Dubbed a “flat-less” tire, the rubber is thick, and you’ll get additional protection with their SmartGuard layer. It also has special sidewalls that are built to withstand the rigors or the road as well as under inflation. We’ve all done that, and it can be the death of your tire over time.

These are some of the toughest on our best road bike tires list and will also work for almost anyone. That is because you can purchase these in 14 different sizes from 28” x 1.5” all the way down to 650mm tires.