Tubeless road tyres are getting better each year. More brands are having a go at making them and their quality has improved immeasurably since the first tubeless road tyres rolled onto the market several years ago. Here are six of the best.
Before we get to the tyres, we should just point out that we will only include products that we have actually reviewed in our six of the best series. Why? It's the only way. We can’t form a valid opinion of a tyre by looking at a picture! The tyres that we feature here have been ridden and reviewed by our independent team, so you know it’s advice that you can trust.
We’ll start off with one of the most anticipated tubeless tyres of the last few years: Continental’s GP5000 TL. The GP5000 was launched as the successor to the massively popular GP4000S II. With the new line came a tubeless option, Continental’s first for road race bikes.
It shares all the same features as the non-tubeless version with updated Black Chilli rubber compound, Vectran Breaker, Active Comfort Technology and Lazer Grip. One key difference is the casing layup. There are three layers of 60 TPI – that is threads per inch – that make Conti’s 180 TPI claim. That’s compared to three layers of 110 TPI for a 330 TPI claim with the regular clincher GP5000.
Personally, I’ve always found Continental’s TPI measurements a little misleading. Their tyres are certainly not as supple as some of the tyres in this list that have a single casing layer of 320 TPI. Just don’t be surprised if these tyres are a little less comfortable than expected.
Fitting was mostly painless but a few combinations required a tyre lever because of the tight fit. And while a regular track pump worked with some setups, a special tubeless inflator was needed with others. Once fitted, we found excellent air retention with only occasional pressure checking required.
On the road, it's possible to detect a small improvement in traction, especially noticeable in tricky conditions with a bit of dampness or grime on the road surface. They feel surefooted through the corners, where you really can lean them onto the new laser-etched shoulder patterns and get the bike properly banked over.
Continental makes some impressive claims for its new tyre, including a 17% rolling resistance improvement over the outgoing GP4000. Clearly, some lab testing would be needed to verify those improvements. Although we're unable to do that ourselves (road.cc sadly does not have a tyre testing lab), the excellent Bicycle Rolling Resistance website has tested the tyre and found the tubeless GP5000 to offer lower rolling resistance than the regular clincher GP5000.
Overall, it's an excellent all-round riding, training and race tyre. The wait for Continental to do a tubeless tyre was worth it.
From one of the newest tubeless-ready road tyres to one that really paved the way for road tubeless... The Schwalbe Pro One TLE is up there with the best race tyres on the market. Grippy, fast-rolling and simple to fit with or without a tube, they're a great choice for a race bike.
As part of its top-end Evo Line, the Pro Ones use Schwalbe's Triple compound which is soft and much grippier than the Onestar compound found on the standard non-tubeless One.
Chucking the bike into tight corners or roundabouts at speed shows the level of grip on offer in both the wet and dry, plus the tyres give a really direct feel of the road thanks to the suppleness of the rubber.
Schwalbe's Microskin is a high tensile micro fabric that is vulcanised together with the rubber and carcass to envelop the entire tyre, sealing it for tubeless use by reducing the porousness of the sidewall to keep the sealant in and increasing puncture protection.
When fitted and full of sealant they do a decent job of retaining their pressure, especially after the first ride has spun the sealant constantly around the inside of the tyre to find all the little nooks and crannies. Running them at 100psi they'd lose about 20psi a week.
Overall, the current Schwalbe Pro Ones are still right at the top of the heap – simple to fit, grippy and fast-rolling – but they are increasingly surrounded by some very good competition.
The Michelin Power Road Tubeless tyre offers a fantastic blend of low weight, good grip, impressive ride feel and tubeless readiness. In this 28mm-wide spec, it's impressively comfortable too and slightly easier to fit than the rather tight 25s.
We reviewed the non-tubeless version of the Power Road and found it to be everything you want in a race tyre. It's light but puncture-resistant, grippy but smooth rolling, and available in all of the sizes a racer might want. The good news is this 28mm tubeless version is much the same – confidence-inspiring, supple, and grippy.
The casing comprises four 120tpi layers, which is three more than the tubed version gets. This boosts both the protection levels and airtightness of the carcass itself. It also has an Amarid Protek+ puncture protection layer and a stronger sidewall than the old Power Competition tyre.
These changes inevitably result in a weight gain. At 297g the tubeless version is 39g heavier than the tubed one, though the overall weight is partially offset by the lack of tube... and partially un-offset again by sealant.
Despite the slightly higher weight, the Power Road Tubeless feels lightfooted and fast, and the feedback is truly excellent.
The Power Road Tubeless is a highly impressive alternative to Schwalbe and Continental at a really attractive price.
Now, we could have picked any of the three Corsa G2.0 tubeless tyres. The standard Corsa TLR is a cracking road race tyre. The Corsa Speed is stupidly fast for time trial duties, but we thought that the Corsa Control would be the best one to feature here as it is arguably the best for general road riding.
This is designed as a fast wet weather option. Grip is very good in the wet, and the supple casing gives a really nice ride feel. Tubeless setup was easy, and the tyres performed well on faster rides. For a standard British year of weather, that’s a great balance.
This is a tyre that I tested and I can tell you that as the tyres come boxed flat, so you're going to want to pop an inner tube in for the initial fitting before you attempt setting them up tubeless. After a few days with tubes in to give the tyre's shape, I installed them tubeless with Stans sealant. Setting them up was easy, the tyres seating with just a track pump.
Vittoria has stuck with its 4C Graphine compound, apparently making some minor tweaks. This Control version seems to be a more robust tyre than the standard Corsa G2.0. It may be pure luck, but the tyres have remained cut-free which is impressive given the state of some of the roads.
Our set also suffered no punctures, though again, how much of this is down to the thicker tread and addition of the 'K-reinforced' casing, and how much is down to luck we can't really say. They certainly got ridden over a fair share of gravel and hit enough glass to give them a good test.
If you're after a set of fast and grippy tyres for wet weather, or you want a posh tubeless tyre for winter, this is a very good option. The plush ride, confidence in the rain, and robust compound make the Vittoria Corsa Control TLR G2.0 easy to recommend.
The S-Works Turbo RapidAir, developed for the pros, offers easy fitting and very good performance. The tyre was designed to provide lower rolling resistance and better cornering than the Turbo tubular tyre that the pros used to use. Specialized claims it's the fastest, lightest and most puncture-resistant tyre it has ever made.
That’s a little academic now as the Specialized-sponsored pros of Deceuninck Quick-Step and Bora Hasgrophe are using tube-type clinchers for their races. Still, if you like tubeless tyres and want something from Specialized, these are fast, grippy and relatively painless to fit.
We couldn’t have a six of the best video without throwing you a slight curveball at the end. While we’ve mostly been looking at road and race tyres, this 38mm all-raod tyre from Vittoria is perfect for the growing number of riders that like to mix their road rides with some off-road sections.
The Terreno Zero is the slickest tyre in Vittoria's gravel range, with the Terreno Dry, Terreno Mix and Terreno Wet models offering increased tread patterns for more off-road and muddy conditions. All of them use a graphene compound in their rubber, something only Vittoria uses in its tyres, claiming that this revolutionary material allows for natural material barriers of rubber to be removed so there is no compromise between speed, grip, durability and puncture resistance.
The Terreno Zero also features a 120TPI construction with a reinforced casing; Vittoria admits that might add weight to the tyre but claims it improves strength, resistance and puncture protection. Real-world experience would suggest all of this to be true.
The tread pattern, such as it is, is inspired by Vittoria's top-of-the-range Corsa road tyre, with a wide grooved slick central tread and slightly angled hexagonal knobs on the sides.
On a road environment they're not the fastest tread-free gravel tyres around; not that they're necessarily slow, but they rumble along rather than skip lively compared with other slick gravel tyres, the thickness of the rubber of the centre tread the possible culprit here.
The plus side to this is that they're incredibly robust, so happily take crappy tarmac and potholes in their stride, romp over packed gravel paths and perform far better than you might expect on other rougher surfaces.
If your road rides veer more towards the adventure side of things, then these could be the tubeless tyres for you.
Well, that’s our list of six of the best tubeless road tyres. Have we missed your favourite off the list? Tell us why it simply needs to be considered.
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. After joining the road.cc staff in 2016 as a reviewer, Liam quickly started writing feature articles and news pieces. After a little time living in Canada, where he spent most of his time eating poutine, Liam returned with the launch of DealClincher, taking over the Editor role at the start of 2018. At the weekend, Liam can be found racing on the road both in the UK and abroad, though he prefers the muddy fields of cyclocross. To date, his biggest race win is to the front of the cafe queue.