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Best road bike tyres 2023 — ride faster and further with fewer punctures

Our top picks and personal recommendations of the best road bike tyres, whether you're after speed, comfort, durability or value

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Over the years we've clocked up hundreds of thousands of miles in all weathers, reviewing almost 300 of the best road bike tyres. With an eclectic selection of everything from sturdy commuting tyres to super-fast race rubber, these are our picks of the best road bike tyres you can buy. 

As Specialized famously said: "Whether you're riding a 2000-mile route of Le Tour de France or 40 miles on a Saturday, only one inch really matters—your contact patch".

Here at we reckon tyres are one of the most cost-effective upgrades you can make to a bike, whether you're searching for "free" speed, more grip, increased durability or just fewer of those dreaded punctures.

Even the very best bike wheels can be let down when clad in poor rubber, but before purchasing there is a couple of things to check:

Firstly, will you be fitting your tyres to tubeless wheels? Most will require special rim tape to stop the sealant and air from escaping. Secondly, how much clearance does your frame have? Many bikes designed for racing, especially models with rim brakes, will be limited to 28mm; but as the trend for wider rubber really accelerated in the 2020s, we've found that more and more of the best road bikes have space for 30mm or more nowadays. 

If you've already decided on your next tyres and want to take your upgrading even further, then read on to check out our recommendations of the best road bike wheels, plus some handy tips underneath them...

The best road bike tyres: our top picks

Continental Grand Prix 5000 Clincher

Continental Grand Prix 5000 Clincher

Best road bike tyre overall
Buy now for £30 from Sigma Sports
Impressive grip
Durability is good for a race tyre
Tan wall doesn't get as dirty as some
Some will miss the lack of tubeless capability

The Continental Grand Prix 5000 is a hugely popular road tyre, and rightly so. It uses the BlackChilli compound, a Vectran Breaker puncture protection layer and three layers of 110tpi casing for a tyre that pretty much does everything well.

Take these out in the dry and traction is great, but more impressive is the wet weather grip. As far as rolling speed is concerned, they feel proper fast and this is backed up by strong results in independent testing. Bicycle Rolling Resistance's results show the GP5000 non-tubeless is not only significantly faster than the old GP4000S II, but nearly as quick as the Grand Prix TT all-out race tyre.

The cool thing about the GP5000 is that you get close to proper race tyre performance with training tyre longevity. If you aren't bothered about tubeless compatibility, this is one of the fastest, grippiest tyres you can fit. 

Read our review:
Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR Best tubeless road bike tyre

Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR

Best tubeless road bike tyre
Buy now for £66.99 from Ebay
Speedy (same as older TLs)
Dry and wet weather grip
More robust sidewalls than TL
Compatible with hookless rims
Can still be a pig to fit on some rims

It's another vote for Continental when it comes to the overall best tubeless tyre from our selections. The GP5000 S TR is a tyre with raceday speed and everyday durability. It brings some welcome upgrades to the already excellent GP 5000 TL, such as being a claimed 20% faster and 50 grams lighter per tyre, plus improved sidewall protection and and compatibility with hookless rims.

Although still stubborn to fit on some rims, out on the road Continental's Black Chilli rubber compound has found a wonderful balance between grip and speed while not wearing out as quickly as many similar tyres. The TRs impressed us both in the wet and the dry with predictable cornering. They really are an all-round tubeless ready package.

Read our review:
Hutchinson Challenger

Hutchinson Challenger

Best value road bike tyre
Buy now for £29.94 from Tweeks Cycles
Good value for money
Rolls well
Not tubeless compatible if that's your thing

As an endurance tyre designed for big miles, you can expect the Hutchinson Challenger to be the gift that just keeps on giving; however it is surprisingly supple, offering great handling in wet and dry conditions, and it rolls along pretty well too. 

The Challenger is a firm favourite in the world of ultra-endurance riding, and with a claimed lifespan of 5,000 miles (8,000km), it's easy to see why. Often brands will use harder rubber compounds to make a tyre last longer at the sacrifice of grip and ride quality, but the Challenger uses a bi-compound rubber. This is harder for the narrow central section yet softer on either side of that, so you are kind of getting the best of both worlds. This is all particularly impressive given the price.

The Challengers are standard clinchers available in 25mm, 28mm and 30mm widths, but rumour has it there is a tubeless version on the way in 2023. Overall, for the money at the recommended retail price, we don't think you can beat them. They offer a great ride feel and durability, so if you want a quick tyre that'll also last the distance they make a sound choice.

Read our review: 
Vittoria Corsa Speed Tubeless Ready Best road bike tyre for fast riding and racing

Vittoria Corsa Speed Tubeless Ready

Best road bike tyre for fast riding and racing
Buy now for £48.73 from Amazon
Excellent ride feel

The Corsa Speeds have time and time again proven to be some of the very quickest on the market. Not only that, but we found them easy to set up tubeless and they offer a much superior ride compared with some tubeless rubber we've tested. 

The tyres are made in a very similar fashion to Vittoria's excellent regular Corsa G+ clinchers. That means you get the same 320tpi (threads per inch) core-spun cotton casing and a graphene compound. Weight is also very good for a tubeless tyre at 471g for the pair (235.5g each), but while we found puncture resistance ok, these will wear quite quickly.

It is worth noting that there is now a G2.0 version that we will be testing shortly; but in the meantime, these are a fabulously fast and supple tyre, though their delicate nature and price probably limits them to racing and fast rides.

Read our review: 
Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tyre

Schwalbe Marathon Plus

Best road bike tyre for commuting
Buy now for £29.44 from
Puncture protection
Decent rolling resistance
Stubborn to fit

Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres are essentially heavy-duty, ultra-reliable commuter/touring tyres that inspire unprecedented confidence without feeling sluggish or barge-like, as the 970g weight for a pair would imply. If swerving punctures is your main criterion in a commuting tyre (and let's face it, who wants to fix a flat on the roadside on a wet January morning?) the Marathon Plus is the tyre to go for.

Much of this is attributable to the Smart Guard system. This is essentially a clever sub-section of supple rubber designed to force sharps out, rather than drawing them in as deep-treaded tyres can. These roll along nicely and are still the first choice for many of our staff.

Read our review: 
Rene Herse Switchback Hill Extralight TC 650B tubeless Best 650B road bike tyre

Rene Herse Switchback Hill Extralight TC 650B tubeless

Best 650B road bike tyre
Buy now for £80 from The Woods Cyclery
Set up
Limited width options

We reviewed these tyres back when Rene Herse was still called Compass, but other than the name on the sidewall nothing has changed. If you're rocking some smaller wheels then chances are you also have some increased clearance to play with, and these 48mm Switchback Hills are one of our favourite ways to fill it. 

In our full review you can read just how capable these tyres are... but spoiler, we said they're "super-comfortable, fast-rolling, tubeless-compatible, off-road-capable and light." There's really not a lot wrong here! Dave added that while others are considering switching to 28mm tyres from 25s, his advice would be to skip a few sizes and fit a pair of these if you can. They're great.

At just 412g per tyre; the extra light casing is super supple and soaks up tarmac miles with no obvious penalty over something much, much narrower. Just be prepared for a few funny looks from your thin tyre counterparts as you keep up just fine. 

Read our review: 
Panaracer GravelKing Slick TLC

Panaracer GravelKing Slick TLC

Best road bike tyre for bad roads
Buy now for £30 from Sigma Sports
Lots of grip
Great on poor roads or light gravel
Fast rolling
Can be tough to mount

Unlike the name suggests, the GravelKing isn't actually a 'gravel' tyre as such, but it does excel in any kind of on-road/bad-road scenario. It's light, rolls along very well regardless of the terrain and is available in a large range of widths.  

Puncture protection is pretty solid, despite lacking the ProTite protection of the slightly more expensive 'Plus' version. The ZSG (Zero Slip Grip) natural compound offers low rolling resistance and low wear characteristics. A 35mm version weighs in at 309g per tyre, which isn't half bad. Our reviewer said that these tyres "will handle practically anything you can throw at them on road."

Our final verdict sums up these tyres well: "The ideal tyre for rough roads – very fast, very light and yet robust."

It's no wonder that they made it into Recommends!

Read our review: 
Pirelli P Zero Race 4S

Pirelli P Zero Race 4S

Best tube-type clincher tyre for winter
Buy now for £58.99 from Ebay
Excellent grip
Easy to fit
Enjoyable ride quality
No tubeless option

If you belong firmly in the non-tubeless corner and want a summer tyre-like feel all year round, then the Pirelli P Zero Race 4S tyres impress with their grip in mixed conditions, while feeling quick to ride.

This latest version feature a new nylon puncture protection belt under the 120tpi (threads per inch) casing, which adds some extra resilience without adding much weight. It's also more flexible than most, which provides the Pirellis with an impressive ride-feel. The SmartEVO compound is a real highlight, offering grip levels rarely experienced in clincher tyres for year-round cornering confidence.

Pirelli's P Zero Race 4S is about as good as it gets for a fit-and-forget, year-round clincher road tyre, especially if you're after one with a light, grippy summer tyre-like ride quality.

Read our review: 
Vittoria Corsa Control TLR G2.0 tyre

Vittoria Corsa Control TLR G2.0

Best tubeless road bike tyre for winter
Buy now for £52 from Tweeks Cycles
Good grip on wet roads
Speedy on rough roads
Easy tubeless setup
Can't match the speed of the regular Corsas

The Corsa Control is Vittoria's tyre for wet weather, and we found it was very good at it! The easy tubeless setup, sizes up to 30mm, supple 320tpi casing and seemingly robust rubber compound mean that these are also ideal tyres for rubbish UK roads.

The Control uses Vittoria's 4C Graphine compound which, as always, provided very good comfort levels on the roughly surfaced local roads while not suffering from the usual sluggishness of all-weather tyres. Cornering grip is in abundance and the tyres feel surefooted when the rain comes.

The thicker tread and addition of the 'K-reinforced' casing means that we found the Corsa Control tyres pretty resistant to cuts and punctures. If you're looking for a plush ride, confidence in the rain and a robust compound without switching to something much wider, then we think the Vittoria Corsa Control TLR G2.0 is easy to recommend. 

How to choose from the best road bike tyres

What should you look for in a road bike tyre?

Which road bike tyre is best for you will depend a lot on the type of riding and terrain you cover. Very few of us will want to choose the fastest tyres on the market, as they are often more fragile and will wear out quickly; however, heavier, more puncture-resistant tyres often sacrifice ride feel, so a balance needs to be made.

If you plan on using the tyres year-round then you will want something towards the more durable end of the spectrum. If you're lucky enough to have a set of summer/best road bike wheels then you can get away with a lighter option.

If commuting then we suggest prioritising puncture resistance over everything else, because from experience we know that there's nothing worse than turning up to work late and with filthy, frozen hands!

The last thing to consider is whether to go tubeless or not. You can read about all the pros and cons here.

Do different bike tyres make a difference?

The simple answer is yes! Changing your tyres is one of the most cost-effective upgrades no matter your ability. Stock tyres are an area that many brands like to cut costs and/or put little thought in to, so it's often one of the first things we change.

Independent testing shows that the difference between even tyres of the same size and pressure can make a huge difference in watt saving, with as many as 17 watts saved per tyre between the fastest and slowest 25mm tyres at 28.8kph. Just try and boost your FTP by a similar figure!

Watt saving is of course only a small part of it. A quality set of tyres will not only make you faster but also help to prevent punctures, increase cornering grip and confidence as well as even make your rides more comfortable.

What makes a good road bike tyre?

The perfect road bike tyre would weigh nothing, have zero rolling resistance, last forever and make your bike feel like you were floating suspended above the ground. Unfortunately, it doesn't exist, but the best road bike tyres do manage to excel in one or more of those categories. The right road bike tyre for you is all about balancing those priorities. A softer compound will be more comfortable and grippy, while a harder compound tyre will last longer. Some road bike tyres use multiple rubber compounds in an effort to get the best of both worlds.

Tube type clincher, tubeless ready, tubeless, tubular or hookless??

These are the main types of tyres that you'll find on the market today, and which ones you run will depend a lot on the wheels you plan on fitting them to.

The most common is still the tube-type clincher tyre, in which you run an inner tube commonly made of butyl or latex to hold the air. Meanwhile, a fully tubeless tyre ditches this tube and is designed to be airtight; however, these have mainly been superseded by tubeless-ready tyres (tubeless tyres that require sealant) as they are lighter thanks to ditching the airtight liner and can seal small punctures.

Hookless tyres are simply tubeless tyres that are rated for use with hookless rims. They are usually found in 28mm+ sizes and have lower pressure limits (~70psi).

Tubular tyres were once very popular, especially amongst professional racers, but their popularity has waned in recent years. Tubular tyres are glued to the rims to seal them, so aren't the most practical choice for the majority of riders.

What width road bike tyre?

Bicycle tyres come in a huge array of widths, from skinny 19mm tyres designed for the velodrome to four-inch mountain bike tyres for battling through deep snow. In recent years there's been a trend for going wider as we understand more about rolling resistance and the benefits of increased comfort. 

The width of the tyres on your bike depends on a large number of factors, like the riding you do and whether you have mudguards, but the biggest is simply what you can physically fit in the frame and fork. This usually reflects the purpose of the bicycle:

Racing bikes: 23 - 28mm. We recommend going towards the upper end of this for anything other than the smoothest of roads. 

Endurance bikes: 28-35mm. Sacrificing a tiny bit of speed can greatly increase your comfort, as long as there's room to fit them in the frame! 

Touring bikes: 25-50mm. Touring bikes come in all shapes and sizes, we recommend going for 30mm upwards for this discipline. 

Commuting bikes: 25-45mm. Add extra comfort to your commute with wider tyres, but remember to leave room for mudguards!

This is only a rough guide, and it's always important to look up the tyre clearance for your specific bike frame. You'll want at least 3mm of clearance on either side of the tyre, and remember that tyres can measure up bigger or smaller than their stated size depending on what rims you fit them to. If all of the tyres we've featured here look a bit skinny to you, then check out our best gravel bike tyres buyer's guide.

What road bike tyre pressure is best?

The correct tyre pressure depends on a whole host of factors, from your weight, to the road conditions, to how fast you want to go and of course, the width and type of tyre you use.

We recommend checking out this handy tyre pressure calculator tool from Sram. While this won't find everyone's perfect solution, it is a good starting point and one that we regularly refer back to.

Jamie has been riding bikes since a tender age but really caught the bug for racing and reviewing whilst studying towards a master's in Mechanical engineering at Swansea University. Having graduated, he decided he really quite liked working with bikes and is now a full-time addition to the team. When not writing about tech news or working on the Youtube channel, you can still find him racing local crits trying to cling on to his cat 2 licence...and missing every break going...