As manufacturers expand their ranges of bikes with disc brakes, consumers are presented with far more choices than ever before – not just in terms of braking systems, but also the tires we run. Traditionally road riders would use either 20mm, 21mm or 23mm-wide-tires, pump them up to a rock-hard 120psi then hit the road. Conventional wisdom was that the thinner and harder your tires, the faster your bike went.
In recent years, though, as disc brakes have become more common and wider tires have been able to be fitted to road bikes, it has been discovered that in fact wider tires at lower pressures don’t mean that you’ll ride slower. In fact, tires as wide as 26mm have been found to have the best rolling resistance of anything on the market, and the lower pressures that can be run in wider tires add considerable comfort and traction.
So, what makes a good wide tire for your road bike? Firstly, it needs to fit. Both disc brakes and traditional calipers have their limits as to how much rubber can fit, so do some research on your particular bike first. Next, there are options such as regular clincher tires, tubeless and tubular. We’ve put together a list of some of our top picks:
Vittoria Corsa G+ Clincher Graphene Road Tire
$52 - 23mm, 25mm, and 28mm widths available
The Kevlar-reinforced Corsa G+ offers a great combination of speed, traction, rolling resistance and puncture-proofing. The G+ name is derived from a microscopically-thin layer of carbon called G+ Graphene, which coats the inside of these tires, further strengthening the sidewalls and discouraging punctures.
Available in gumwall or black, and in other versions and sizes, such as tubular and tubeless ready.
Continental Gatorskin Folding Clincher Road Tire
$43 - 23mm, 25mm, 28mm, and 32mm widths available
The Gatorskin is an ultra-reliable training tire featuring DuraSkin™ anti-cut fabric and PolyX Breaker® anti-puncture capabilities. It is robust and verges on the indestructible, making it perfect for commuting, gravel riding, or long sportives.
Also available in a tubular version.
Michelin Power All Season Folding Clincher Road Tire
$45 - 23mm, 25mm, and 28mm widths available
The Michelin Power All Season road tire is designed for cycling in difficult riding conditions. Made from the special rubber mix 'Grip Compound', it’s capable of performing well at extreme temperatures.
The 'Hi-Grip' design offers greater safety on slippery and wet surfaces, and the new shoulder tread area has an increased number of dimples to offer improved grip when the bike leans over during cornering. The disc brake ready design increases the grip of the tire to ensure optimal braking performance, and the tread wear indicators let you know when it’s time to replace them. The Power All Season also features Michelin's Aramid 'Protek+' anti-puncture fiber reinforcement.
Zipp Tangente Course R28 / R30 Clincher Road Tires
$53 - 28mm and 30mm widths available
The Zipp Tangente Course R28 and R30 tires give riders a high performance clincher at widths suitable for rough, wet or inhospitable roads, as well as being ideal for zipping along at high speed on perfect tarmac. The Tangente Course R28 and R30 are tires that take the opportunity that disc brakes offer for increased tire width and multiply that with faster rolling, better grip and improved aerodynamics.
Vittoria Pave Tubular Road Tire
$50 - 27mm width available
DID YOU KNOW?
Tubular tires are a tire-and-tube in one, and are favoured by professional riders and serious athletes. They are lighter and stronger than traditional tires (also known as clincher tires) but need to be attached to the rim using a special glue, which often proves to be a messy and time-consuming process. However, if you have a support car nearby with spare wheels and tires should you puncture, nothing beats a tubular.
The Vittoria Pave Tubular tire has been proven year after year on the notorious roads of classic races like Paris–Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders, and with Paris-Roubaix taking place this weekend we’ll probably see them on the podium again. It is known as the world’s strongest racing tubular, and is instantly recognizable by its traditional green tread. The Pave’s cotton casing features 320 TPI (threads per inch), offering outstanding flexibility and lightness without compromising on traction or toughness.
The Pave was discontinued and is becoming increasingly hard to find. If your local bike shop doesn't have them and can't get them anymore, the Corsa Speed G+ is Vittoria's comparable and current model.
Specialized All Condition Armadillo Elite Clincher Road Tire
$55 - 23mm, 25mm, 28mm, 30mm, and 32mm widths available
Available in a huge range of widths, the All Condition Armadillo Elite is one of the most flat-resistant tires available. However, it also offers impressive ride quality, providing low rolling resistance and excellent traction, and with its wide range of widths is going to be suitable for almost any bike.
Schwalbe G-ONE Speed MicroSkin TL-Easy Folding Road Tire
$89 - 30mm width available
These are not the cheapest tires in this category, but in our opinion they’re the best, especially if you're likely to head off road. If you can fit them in your frame they probably should be your next set of boots: genuine all-rounders, they're fast-rolling on the tarmac and well capable on gravel.
The G-ONE Speed uses Schwalbe's Tubeless Easy construction, which supposedly makes them – you guessed it – easy to set up. And they are. The tires are incredibly supple and cooperate beautifully as they cling to the rims. The close-packed, knobby, sticky tread provides awesome grip through corners and on the gravel, but also offers a surprisingly high-quality roll on paved roads.