If you don’t have the time to dig into the extensive test data we publish about bicycle tires, this page sums up our most recommended road bike tires. When better tires become available, we’ll update this page right away.
If you know you’re looking for the fastest, most puncture-resistant, tube-type, tubeless, or best low-cost tire, scroll down this page or click the shortcut in the contents box. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, the best all-round tire is the right choice for 80% of all cyclists.
1. Best All-Round Road Bike Tire
The Continental Grand Prix 5000 (read our full review) is our most recommended all-round road bike tire. The Grand Prix 5000 offers an exceptional combination of low rolling resistance and low weight while still providing a decent puncture resistance and long tread life.
Based on our website statistics, the Continental Grand Prix 5000 is by far the most popular road bike tire among our visitors. It’s this popular because it comes very close to the fastest tires in both speed and weight without sacrificing the anti-puncture strip and the thickness of the tread.
We’ve tested all sizes of the Grand Prix 5000 and compared them back to back in our Grand Prix 5000 23, 25, 28, 32 mm Comparison. We’re also using a pair for a long term test with wear measurements and rolling resistance tests every 620 miles / 1000 km: Grand Prix 5000 Endurance Test.
2. Best All-Round Tubeless Road Bike Tire
Although tubeless road bike tires are still new and most cyclists are still using the proven tube-type tires with inner tubes, we feel the Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL (read our full review) is one of the first tubeless tires that makes it worthwhile to switch to a tubeless set up.
Just like the tube-type Grand Prix 5000, the tubeless version is a very well balanced tire that offers an even lower rolling resistance. Another advantage of the tubeless version is an increased puncture resistance when used with tubeless sealant. The sealant will seal most punctures and allow you to finish your ride without the need to patch your tire.
When compared to the fastest tubeless road bike tires that are extremely thin and light, the Grand Prix 5000 TL offers a much higher tread thickness and puncture resistance while rolling resistance is within 1-2 watts of the fastest tires. The biggest drawback is the 60 – 90 grams higher weight when compared to the lightest and fastest tubeless tires.
3. Fastest Road Bike Tire
The Michelin Power Time Trial (read our full review) is the fastest road bike tire if you’re still using inner tubes. Although the Power Time Trial is also extremely fast with regular inner tubes, we recommend using latex inner tubes to bring the rolling resistance down to the levels of the fastest tubeless road bike tires.
With the Power Time Trial and latex inner tubes there is no need to switch to tubeless road bike tires as they will be just as fast as the fastest tubeless tire. With a specified weight of 180 grams for the 23-622 size and 190 grams for the 25-622 size, these are also some of the lightest road bike tires available.
If you need to shave those last few seconds off the clock, the Michelin Power Time Trial is your tire.
4. Fastest Tubeless Road Bike Tire
The tubeless Vittoria Corsa Speed TLR G+ 2.0 (read our full review) is the fastest road bike tire in the world. The Corsa Speed offers an extremely low rolling resistance even at lower air pressures. This tire is created with only 1 thing in mind: create the fastest road bike tire.
The Corsa Speed rolls this fast because it uses a thin tread made of an extremely optimized rubber compound. The tread is then glued directly onto a 320 TPI cotton casing without any puncture protection strip under the tread. Small punctures will then be sealed by the tubeless sealant that is required to seal the tire.
On top of the lowest possible rolling resistance, you’ll also get pretty much the lowest rotational weight as weight is saved by not having to use an inner tube. If you’re competing against the best and fastest out there, the Vittoria Corsa Speed TLR G+ 2.0 will get you in the best possible position.
5. Most Puncture Resistant Road Bike Tire
The Continental Gator Hardshell (read our full review) is the most puncture resistant road bike tire. The Gator Hardshell is a beefed-up version of the popular Continental Gatorskin that has been regarded as one of the most puncture-resistant road bike tires for a long time.
Compared to the Gatorskin, the Gator Hardshell has an even higher puncture resistance score, higher tread thickness, and the sidewalls have been increased in thickness by nearly 50%.
As expected from a puncture-resistant tire, rolling resistance isn’t all that great but we think it’s still acceptable for such a strong tire. If you don’t like punctures or ride in an area where punctures are common, the Continental Gator Hardshell will be your best option.
6. Most Puncture Resistant Tubeless Road Bike Tire
The Pirelli Cinturato Velo TLR (read our full review) is the most puncture-resistant tubeless road bike tire. The Cinturato Velo TLR scores just as well on the puncture tests as the tube-type Continental Gator Hardshell but offers a lower rolling resistance and additional puncture resistance from the tubeless sealant that is used in tubeless tires.
The Cinturato Velo TLR is available in the 26-622, 28-622, 32-622, and 35-622 sizes. The bigger sizes also make this a very fast choice for touring bikes and E-bikes that are ready for tubeless tires. For increased puncture resistance we recommend the biggest size you can fit as tubeless sealant works best at lower air pressures.
If you’re looking for a tubeless tire that will be nearly impossible to flat yet still offers a relatively low rolling resistance and low weight, the Pirelli Cinturato Velo TLR is our recommendation.
7. Best Low-Cost Road Bike Tire
The Continental Ultra Sport III (read our full review) is our recommendation in this category as it’s the only low-cost tire that comes close to the performance of the more expensive tires. The Ultra Sport III can be classified as an all-round tire that is suitable for most road bike conditions.
When we compare the Ultra Sport III to Continental’s top of the line Grand Prix 5000, rolling resistance is 40% higher, weight is 20% higher, and puncture resistance is the same. Price is about half the price of the Grand Prix 5000 which means you get a lot of value for your money.
The Ultra Sport III comes in 2 different flavors: folding bead and wire bead. We recommend spending just a bit more on the folding bead version as it saves you a lot of rotational weight for only a little bit more money.