Which road bike tires should I get?  It seems like a pretty easy question.  Many of us in the market for new gear put a lot of time and energy in figuring out the right bike, wheelset, components or power meter to get next.  But tires?  That should be a tap-in, a lay-up, a no-brainer, right?

Actually, it’s not.  In addition to what tire to get, what width, what tube and what pressure are all questions I’m hearing.  And, they are good questions.  Questions that can lead to measurable, manageable and meaningful time, watt, handling and comfort differences depending on how you answer them.

In fact, road bike tires have been the #1 vote getter ahead of 20 other categories of products when I’ve polled In The Know Cycling readers about what you’d like to see reviewed next.

Until the last couple of years, I’ll admit to never giving tires too much thought.  I used the same model and width of tires I’d always used, pumped them up hard and off I went.  But, there’s a fair amount about road bike tires that has changed following the changes made in the design of the wheels those tires go on.

Fortunately, there’s also been a good deal of independent testing and experience being exchanged about tires recently as well.  For this review, I’ve analyzed that knowledge and added my own analysis to try to guide you to the right answers and recommendations to the key questions about road bike tires.

If you don’t want to get into the details, here’s my bottom line.  For the best combination of minimum rolling resistance, maximum aerodynamic performance, maximum puncture resistance and confident handling, order a pair of Continental Grand Prix 4000S II clincher tires online at Competitive Cyclist, eBay Cycling, Amazon, Wiggle, Tweeks CyclesChain Reaction Cycles in the 23C/23mm size and pump them up to between 85 psi/5.8 bar to 95 psi/6.5 bar (lighter riders, softer ride) and 105 psi/7.2 bar to 115 psi/8 bar (heavier riders, firmer ride) and use a light butyl inner tube.  Don’t use a 25C/25mm size Conti tire unless you have wheels that are 27mm or wider at the brake track and don’t buy them in a physical store where they will cost you at least 1/3rd more.

The Michelin Power Competition is a worthy alternative to the Continental Grand Prix 4000S II.  It has marginally less rolling resistance than the Conti for riders running their tire pressures at 90 psi and higher but also marginally less puncture resistance than the Conti.  Mounted and inflated on a 17C wheel, it sizes to essentially the same width as the Conti.  While usually more expensive than the Conti, the Michelin tires are available at the best prices from Competitive Cyclist, eBay CyclingAmazon, Wiggle, Tweeks Cycles and Chain Reaction Cycles.

If you prefer tubeless tires, check out my review of the The Best Tubeless Bike Tires.

If you want to know how I reached that conclusion and all the details behind it, please read on.

And if you want to know what combination of tire and wheel sizes working together will improve your comfort, speed and handling, read this post.


In The Know Cycling is for road cycling enthusiasts like you and me who want to know what gear we should get next and where we can get it at the best prices from good stores.  I do hours of research, testing and analysis on an entire category of cycling gear for each review.  To remove any potential bias, I buy or demo and return all the gear I test and don’t run ads or go on company-paid product review trips.

You can save yourself time and money on gear while also supporting the creation of more independent and comprehensive reviews like this one by simply clicking on and buying from the store links next to each product I’ve reviewed.  These will take you to the lowest price listings from the 35 online stores with the highest customer satisfaction ratings from nearly 100 I track, some which pay this site a small commission when you buy from them.  You can also support the site with a contribution here or by buying anything through these links to Amazon or eBay.  There’s more on this at the about and support pages.  Thank you.

For this review, I’ve evaluated racing and training or everyday road clincher tires from the 3 major road tire companies and another 5 significant suppliers.  I’ll tell you what matters (and what doesn’t) when considering tires and which tires I recommend for the road cycling enthusiast.  Click here to see how I define that term and if you generally fit that description.


Contents – The Best Road Bike Tires

Clinchers Only

Selection Criteria



Quality and Cost

Rolling Resistance Test Compilation

Where to Buy Road Tires


Keep reading or click on any of these links to go directly to another section of this review.


I have not reviewed tubular or tubeless tires in this post.  My recommendation is that you buy clincher tires (and wheelsets of course) if you are a road cycling enthusiast.  Quite simply, clinchers are the easiest to deal with both before and during a ride and they perform as well or better than the best tubular or tubeless tires on the road when considering the criteria that matter to most cycling enthusiasts.

Tubular wheelsets require you to glue up your tires and can leave you stranded on the road if you have a flat and aren’t carrying an extra tubular or aren’t handy with tape, glue or patches.  Yes, if you are a top-level amateur racing criteriums or a pro racer with sponsors and want the ultimate lowest weight wheels available, or you grew up in the age before carbon clinchers became a viable alternative and have built up a comfort level with them, you might go with tubular wheels and tires and spend the days required to glue them on your rims (see a pro mechanic do it here) and carry the supplies to service them on the road.  You can also pay your shop to do it.  Most road cycling enthusiasts aren’t serious or nostalgic enough to put up with the extra work of tubulars and don’t want the extra hassle if they puncture out on the road.

Here’s a video that address the clincher vs. tubular question directly and another here that shows that clinchers outperform tubulars in time trials, hills and sprints mountains on aerodynamic mid-depth wheels like those reviewed here.

Tubeless wheelsets and tires provide a kind of insurance against pinch flats, the kind of flats you get when an under-inflated clincher tire bottoms out, pinching the tube against itself near the rim.  Pinch flats can be largely eliminated in clincher tires by a) properly inflating your tires and b) riding on the road and staying clear of potholes, things most road cycling enthusiasts do pretty religiously.

When you run over something with tubeless tires that create more of a gash than a pinch flat or pin-prick puncture, tubeless tires lose air just like any clincher tire would.  To repair a tubeless tire for the road, you need to insert a tube to get your tire back in business.  Because getting them to seal without a tube is a key to keeping them inflated, prying off the tire to make way for a new tube and putting it back on, even with a tube in it, is more work with a tubeless tire than a clincher.

If you do ride your road bike on gravel or dirt paths as well as on the road or don’t periodically check and set your tire pressure to the right level then learning the often messy technique of mounting a tubeless tire and filling it with sealant (or having a shop do it for you) on tubeless ready wheels is the situation where these tires perform best.

For most road cycling enthusiasts who ride on paved roads with tires at the right pressure, tubeless is unnecessary extra work with little to no benefit.

As Ben Delaney of BikeRadar recently reported, industry representatives that promote road tubeless admit that only 5 to 10% of cyclists using 700c road sized wheelsets (vs. mountain bike sized ones) use tubeless tires today, over a decade after they were first introduced by a collaboration of Hutchinson and Shimano, then two powerhouses in the wheel business.

Here’s another video that looks at the trade-offs between clinchers and tubeless tires.


Let’s get real for a minute.  A good pair of clincher tires are generally under $100, £70, €100, AU$120 give or take.  Inner tubes will run another $20, £15, €20, AU$25.  They are a small fraction of the cost of your bike.  How different can they really be?  And how much does any difference make?

I’ll lay the answers out in the context of the four categories of selection criteria I use to come up with my recommendations between one product and another in all my In The Know Cycling reviews.  For tires, the key criteria within each category would be as follows:

Performance: rolling resistance, aerodynamics, puncture resistance, handling

Design: tire width, inflation level, thread count, compound, puncture belt, weight, tread pattern, graphics, color

Quality: tire wear rate

Cost: purchase price

These criteria are listed roughly in order, both between and with categories, of the importance they play to what I think should be your purchase decision and where my recommendations come out.


Let’s start with rolling resistance, probably the most important criteria for a road cycling enthusiast in picking a tire.  There are three independent sources of rolling resistance tests that I’ve studied

  • Tom Anhalt, mechanical engineer and occasional Blather ‘bout Bikes blogger has tested about 50 tires including clinchers, tubulars and tubeless tires over the last several years. You can see his results here.
  • Bicycle Rolling Resistance, an aptly named site dedicated to the topic has tested 15 leading road tires to date and also tests mountain bike tires
  • The German magazine Tour Int. published a test of 9 road tires in April 2014

I should also mention the work of Al Morrison, a forum member of Bike Tech Review who did a lot of the initial independently conducted and published rolling resistance testing starting in 2006.  Unfortunately, his last published tests are now five years old so I’ve not included them.

I’ll share the detailed and comparative results I’ve compiled from these tests later in this post.  But in brief, they clearly show there can be 5-10 watts of difference in the energy you need to put out to roll tires from different competitors intended for the same purpose (racing or training), of the same size standard (e.g. 23C or 25C), and inflated to the same pressure.

Further, there is another 5-8 watts of difference that is available from using high performing/more fragile latex vs.  standard/more durable butyl tubes.

Finally, these tests show as much as 20 watts difference between what is considered the best training tire and the most durable all-season road tire.

To put it simply, 10 watts of difference translates to a little more than 30 seconds over a 25 miles or 40 kilometers.  This is almost half the time savings you get going from a low profile alloy wheel to a deeper section carbon one.  So by picking the right tires, most of which cost the same, with the best rolling resistance and at the right size for your wheels you can save (or lose) a massive amount of time at very little expense, especially when compared to what you spend on other ways to help you ride faster.

You can see the relative benefit of better rolling resistance in this chart I prepared for my post How To Ride Faster On Your Bike: 10 Better Ways – Gear and Kit.

Faster Featured Photo and Stats

The aerodynamics of the tire-wheel combination is just as important as rolling resistance in making your tire decision.  While there’s less independently published data on tire aerodynamics than there is on rolling resistance, it’s pretty clear that the width and shape of the wheel-tire combination drives aero performance.  A wider tire will be less aerodynamic – more surface into the wind – though have less rolling resistance if inflated to the same level as a narrower tire.  A tire that is much wider (or narrower) than the rim will also be less aerodynamic because it breaks up the intended air flow across the rim and the tire.

The chart below shows just how much difference in drag (or aerodynamic resistance) there can be using different tires, all top training ones, on a FLO 30 wheel.  The rim on this wheel is a 30mm deep, 24mm wide (at the brake track) alloy hoop with one of the most aerodynamically shaped profiles (a toroid) available on wheel rims today.

FLO 30 with different tires

When the wheel is at an angle of more than about 7.5 degrees to the wind, the drag differences become significant, translating to about 10 watts between the most and least aerodynamic of the wheel-tire combinations at 10 degrees.  (Note: 50 grams of drag translates to 6.5 watts.)  At that same angle there’s just a couple watts difference between two of the more popular tires (the Continental and Michelin ones) but that increases to about 5 watts of difference at 15 degrees.  Roadies ride within that 15 degree range most of the time according to people who track and design around these things.  (Indeed there are such people!)

Interestingly, the tires in this wind tunnel test that performed best had inflated widths closest to the width of the wheel at the brake track.  I haven’t seen enough other data to know whether this is a coincidence or consistent with other testing but it certainly supports the theory and criteria that some wheel builders use in designing their wheels and in recommending tires to go with them.

I’ll get into the other criteria in a moment.  But, as rolling resistance and aerodynamics are, from my research, the most important criteria and make the most difference when choosing between road bike tires, I’ve reached a straightforward conclusion about how to select a tire if you are a roadie who puts a premium on going fast.  It goes like this:

Pick the clincher tire with the lowest rolling resistance in a size whose inflated width is as close to the brake track width of the rims you are riding.

As far as the other two performance criteria go – puncture resistance and handling – it’s hard to discern or quantify a difference.   I’m sure there is and I’ve seen data but it’s not really something that I think is strong enough to swing me toward or against one tire or another.

For the most part, training tires have puncture belts and race tires have either light ones or none at all.  Those with a puncture belt generally resist puncture about the same or within a few percent of each other.  Those race tires with a light belt or none at all are worse and not something I would recommend unless you have a neutral service vehicle following you.  Frankly, whether or not you puncture is usually going to be more about what you roll over and what type of inner tube you have than whether one tire has 5% more puncture resistance than another.

Handling is another highly subjective measurement. Tour magazine, which does a lot of their testing on custom designed lab fixtures and is one of the most scientifically focused and analytically driven gear testers I know, resorted to hiring a stunt rider to test out different road bike tires and give them grip grades.  The grades were based on how fast the rider could hit a turn on watered pavement before losing contact with the road and how well the tire provided feedback to the rider that he was about to lay it down if he didn’t slow up.

Really.  That was the test.  Remind me not to sign up for that job.

Even with this, most of the road bike tires tested got the best rating of 1 (on a 5 point scale) and the worst got a 3 because it lost contact only a couple of kph slower than some of the better performing ones.  Perhaps counting and sizing the bruises acquired after each crash would have been a more differentiated measure.

Grip and handling are also clearly a function of road surface, moisture, tire inflation and speed.  You can make decisions about all of these in real or near real-time that will have a lot more to say about your handling on a given day than the relative design differences between tires.


As with most gear, suppliers design tires in an attempt to deliver the performance they want.  Of course, what matters is the performance that results and not the design, unless the performance is not comparably favorable, at which point some suppliers resort to promoting their design.

Of the design criteria – tire width, inflation level, thread count, compound, puncture belt, weight, tread pattern, graphics, color – I would argue the first four lead to noticeable differences in tire performance and the last three don’t.

Tires, like wheels, are given an ISO (International Organization for Standardization) size designation like 700 x 23C. The first number represents the rim diameter the tire is intended to fit and the second number is the tire width, both in millimeters.  The C stands for clincher, T for tubular and TL for tubeless.

Many suppliers and consumers translate these ISO sizes directly when defining tire width.  So a 23C tire is assumed to be 23mm wide.  You’ll see many boxes marked as 23mm rather than 23C.  Unfortunately, a 23C or 23mm marked tire is almost never 23mm when mounted and inflated on a rim.  It can measure 0.5mm less to as much as 1.5mm more depending on what width rim you put on and, to a lesser degree, what pressure you inflate it to.

The same goes for other size tires with the variation being even bigger for wider tires.

HED puts the following proviso on the web site page describing their Belgium rims, one of the wheels that started the wide revolution: Our wide rims increase clincher tire volume, causing actual inflated sizes to be larger-than-advertised on the tire.  Inflated sizes will be 1-2mm wider on our 23mm C2 rims, and 2-4mm wider on 25mm Plus rims.

Further, among the competitive brands, one tire supplier’s 23C or 23mm marked tire is usually quite different in size than another marked the same way.   And within brands, the variances aren’t consistent – a 23C that measures 23.5mm doesn’t mean that its 25C will be 25.5mm wide.  One major tire makers sells a popular model of its 23C that measures considerably less than 23mm and a 25C far more than 25mm.

It’s enough to create quite a headache and make the decision on what size tire to buy hard.

Many of us roadies have gone to wider tires in the last couple of years because we’ve heard or read it will improve our rolling resistance and make the ride more comfortable and the handling better.  Smaller tire patch, larger volume of air in the tire, etc.  Sounds good right?

The reality is that going from a 23C to 25C tire from the same brand will improve your rolling resistance by a couple watts only if inflated to the same tire pressure.  But, most people will run the wider tire at a lower pressure to further improve comfort, essentially negating the rolling resistance benefit of the wider tire and making them less aerodynamic.

By discouraging you to ride 25C tires and tubeless ones in most situations, I may sound to some of you like a reactionary.  The hype isn’t supported by the results in these cases.

Some riders have asked me if they can put the popular 25mm width tires on their conventionally sized 15mm inside width, 19mm outside width stock or alloy upgrade wheels.  Not if you want to go faster or improve handling I say.  A wider tire on any wheel is less aerodynamic than a narrower one and one that is much wider than the rim width will do more of its turning on its sidewall than base rubber, making it squishier in and out of turns.  Bad idea!

I took some photos of combinations of tires and rims of different sizes so you can see how much of a width gap you can get between the two if you just pick a tire size based on the current trend or the size on the box and without trying to align it to your known brake track width.  In all of these, the tires are inflated to 100 psi or a tad under 7 bar.

First, here’s an off-season set-up of my stock Mavic Ksyrium stock wheels with a 23C Continental all-season tire.  Rolling resistance and aerodynamics isn’t important during training period and I’m not going fast or cornering hard so the excess tire width compared to the rim width or “overhang” isn’t an issue.

Overhang 1

Next consider set-up #2, the currently popular 25C or 25mm size Continental Grand Prix 4000S II on that same stock Mavic Ksyrium wheel whose size is common with most stock and many low profile alloy upgrade wheels from Shimano, Mavic, Campagnolo, Fulcrum, Giant, and DT Swiss.  Unfortunately, this is where a lot of people with entry-level or first step-up wheels end up when they hear wider is faster and more comfortable.  If you want to go fast, the overhang on this combination is an aerodynamic nightmare and handling will also be sloppy, especially if you’ve also lowered the pressure to 80 or 90 psi to make your ride more comfortable.

Overhang 2

I rode this set-up #3 below for many years.  The 23C Mavic Pro4 Service Course on this rim was actually the closest to 23mm (a touch under) and provided the least overhang for this wheel.  I didn’t have any knowledge of this ahead of time, nor that this tire’s rolling resistance is one of the worst among competitive training tires.  The rim’s aerodynamics is also amongst the worst, even for stock wheels.  I did like that the tire came with a red side wall to match my bike.  Such was the state of my tire decision-making at the time.

Overhang 3

I’ve been demoing the HED Belgium wheelset with a PowerTap G3 hub below #4.  This wheel’s width represents the first generation of wider wheels common in many all-around and climbing wheels I’ve reviewed (click here for the links to those and other wheelset reviews).  Note that the same 23C Conti 4 Seasons tire that measured 24mm on the narrower Ksyrium wheel in #1 runs 2mm wider on this wider HED rim.  So, even with the 23C on this wide rim, it still has a couple of millimeters of overhang, negatively affecting my aerodynamics.

Overhang 4

But what about the really wide rims, the ones that are 25mm to 27mm wide and represent the latest carbon wheel technology?  Certainly those should take 25C tires, right?  Well let’s have a look.

In #5, you see a 23C Conti Grand Prix 4000S II measuring nearly 26mm on the front wheel of the new ENVE SES 4.5.  The tire is actually 1.3mm narrower than the rim’s 27mm brake track.  I’ve ridden this set-up at 90, 95 and 100psi and it is fast, comfortable and handles well at all those pressures, perhaps most comfortable at 90 and faster and firmer handling at 100psi underneath my 68kg/150lb excuse for a cyclist.

Overhang 5

Lastly, in #6 below you see the 25C version of the Conti Grand Prix 4000S II on the same rim as in the set-up above measuring 26.7mm wide, within a few tenths of the rim’s width.  This tire, with its top rated rolling resistance and its near identical mounted width, offers the best combination of rolling resistance and aerodynamics.  I’m actually running this 25C tire on the front wheel or “4” (for 48mm tall) of the SES 4.5 now and a 23C tire on the rear wheel or “5” (56mm tall) which is taller and narrower than the front wheel.  The “5” rear wheel is 24.7mm at the brake track and the 23C Conti measures a near identical 24.5mm wide.

Overhang 6

To underline the point that good alignment between wheel and tire width is key to reducing aerodynamic drag, let me provide you some further detail on the earlier chart that showed the aerodynamics of four different tires on the FLO 30 wheels.  The measured widths of the tires used on the 24mm wide FLO 30 rim for this test, in order of most aerodynamic to least were 24.2mm (Continental 23C), 23.0mm (Bontrager 22C), 23.3mm (Michelin 23C), and 21.5mm (Vittoria 22C).

The tire with the biggest rim-tire gap of 2.5mm had 10 watts more drag at a common 10 degree angle to the wind.  This is a smaller width gap than each of the first four examples above and only 1/3rd the gap of the 25C Conti Grand Prix 4000S II on the traditional stock or alloy upgrade wheel so many major wheel makers sell.

I don’t know about you, but it seems a bit crazy to me to buy a new set of wheels like most of those that sell for over $1000, £700, €900, A$1100 (and some for less) that are designed with improved aerodynamics in mind and then put tires on them that promptly defeat some of the aero benefits you just spent good money on.

Tire width is something you should really get right.  If you want more comfort, go ahead and get a wider tire but know that you are affecting your aero performance and potentially your handling.  You can just as easily reduce the pressure a few psi in tires that are sized right for your rims to make the ride a bit softer for an easy day and then pump them back up when you will be riding more aggressively.

A bit later in this post, I’ll give you a chart of what popular tires of different sizes and from different brands actually measure out when inflated and mounted and where you can find actual rim widths of most of the models for major brands.

Let’s move on to other design criteria.

Changing the inflation level from a hard 110 psi to a cushy 85 psi affects the drag by a watt or less.  It has more effect on comfort and handling than on drag.  While each tire manufacturer has their own recommended inflation chart, some of them seem too racing oriented to me.  They’ll have you pumping your tires up to 110 psi or more.  I keep coming back to the Michelin chart below that I’ve featured in several of my posts not because it is right but because it seems to me and others I’ve consulted to be a good middle ground between inflation charts of different suppliers and a good place to start.  I’d suggest you vary you pressure off of what is in the chart in increments of 5psi or a half bar until you find what you feel best with.


My recommendation then is to get the combination of actual tire and rim width in sync on a tire with low rolling resistance to optimize aerodynamics, handling and rolling resistance.  Once that is settled, you can modify the inflation pressure for comfort as this has been shown to have the least impact on drag.

The thread count and compound are design pieces that determine rolling resistance and how the wheel will feel, grip and handle.  As I’ve written, the rolling resistance is objectively measurable while the feel, grip and handle are subjective and largely controllable by your own decisions.

Thread count along with the presence of a puncture belt will determine the puncture resistance, about the same for those wheels that have a belt.

There’s no doubt that different cyclists like the feel and ride of different tires, but it appears to be based on one’s personal experience and subjective preferences rather than based on any set of definable, common characteristics that would allow me to differentiate and recommend one tire vs. another based on feel.

Weight, which too many enthusiasts obsess about when discussing wheelsets, varies little (10-30 grams per tire) between 23C tires intended for the same purpose (racing or training) from different brands and a little more (40-50 grams per tire) when moving up a size.  I’m not going to even mention the tire weight; you weight weenies already know and the rest of you shouldn’t care.

Going from a butyl to a light butyl tube cuts weight by about 30 grams per tube, again a relatively insignificant amount, but improves rolling resistance by 2-3 watts which is a more significant difference.

Tread pattern, graphics, and color are all marketing and have no effect on performance.  A hard road surface is going to put a lot more of an impression on your relatively soft tire than its tire pattern will ever put on the road.  The late Jobst Brandt, an innovative cycling enthusiast who never worked in the industry but whose research and publications influenced many who did was one of the first to make this point (here).

Testing has also shown that a smooth tire with no tread pattern has better rolling resistance and corners better on dry and wet roads than one with a pattern.  Yet, with few exceptions like Vittoria’s ‘slick’ models, tire makers still put tread on road bike tires as many cyclists will steer clear of a treadless tire.


As far as quality goes, most tires intended for the same purpose (racing or training) will wear at about the same rate.  Plan to get at most about 5,000 kms/3,000 miles out of a pair of training tires and 1/3 to 1/2 of that out of racing tires before you’ll want to change them.  Most will have wear-marks that disappear you when its time to change them.

An all-season tire should last you a lot more miles than a training tire but will also ride stiffer and have a lot higher rolling resistance (20 watts more).  They really should call them ‘off-season tires’.  You wouldn’t want to ride them on the road during the season if you want to keep pace with your friends merely to get a little longer life out of your $100 investment in them.   You ride them on rough or gritty roads or for commuting when durability is paramount.

Higher thread count tires or those with a light or no puncture belt will be more likely to cut than those with lower counts and belts.  Again, those intended for similar purposes will have similar thread counts – training tires usually around 120 TPI or threads per inch and racing tires around 330 TPI.

The Conti GP4000S II is a notable exception with a supple casing with three 110 thread count layers, a racing fast yet training durable compound and a full-on puncture belt.  This combination tests out with rolling resistance numbers as good as most any racing tire but is also a durable, long-lasting training tire if you treat them right.

I, for one, did not treat them right earlier this season when I followed a paceline mate into a pothole the size of the Grand Canyon, flatting both my tubes and cutting my new relatively new Conti’s enough to retire one to the trash bin and needing to patch the other.  I’m quite confident the same damage would have happened with almost any training tire and perhaps a few all-season ones as well.

Finally, among the selection criteria for tires, purchase price is a factor that varies little for tires intended for much the same purpose.  If you are a smart shopper, you can find almost every training tire in the $40-50 market price range and racing tires in the $60-80 range.

At these prices relative to what you spend on the rest of your bike gear, kit, trips and event fees, I would never let price enter into the purchase decision especially when you consider the gains in rolling resistance and aerodynamics you get from picking the right ones.

Some tires, for example Bontrager and Specialized are sold almost exclusively in local bike shops (LBS) or independent bike dealers (IBDs) with list and market prices being the same and being about what you pay for the others online.  The leading bike tires in terms of volume – those from Continental, Michelin, and Vittoria – are carried in the LBS at list prices that are typically nearly 2x what you pay for them online.


I’ve compiled some of the results of independent tire testing done Tom Anhalt, Bicycle Rolling Resistance and Tour magazine that I linked to earlier in this post.  While all their test results come from tires mounted to a wheel that runs over a spinning drum roller covered with a plate that simulates the road surface, there are small differences in how they run their tests (for example, wheel load and test temperature) and a fairly diverse set of wheels and tires they run their tests on.

While Tom Anhalt has been at this the longest of this group and has tested a fuller range of tires for both road cycling enthusiasts and triathletes, I was able to compile the results from all three testers run on many of the same brands and models of tires, at more or less the same air pressure (120psi for Anhalt and BRR, 109psi for Tour) and speed (30kph/18.6mph for Anhalt, 29kph/18mph for BRR, 35kph/21mph for Tour).

Anhalt uses the benchmark Mavic Open Pro 15C wheel as his testing wheel.  This is a traditional race and stock width wheel, one with a 15mm inner rim width and a 19.4 mm outer width.  Most of his tests are on 23C tires with latex tubes.

BRR does most of its road tire tests with 25C tires with butyl tubes on a more modern width 17C wheel for their tests. Rim widths for these wheels are typically 17mm inner and 23mm outer.  Tour’s article didn’t say what size wheel they used.

Each has run tests with enough of the size tires and tubes that the other normally runs so that I can reasonably correlate these results.

Do you know what size your wheels are?  Most stock and alloy upgrade wheels are 15C, the latter running 15mm inner and typically 20 or 21mm outer.  The widest road wheels today run 19-20mm inner and 25-28mm outer widths.  These are not very common.

Note also that Anhalt runs his tests with tires inflated at one pressure but at 3 different speeds, BRR runs tests at 3 different pressures but at the same speed, and Tour ran their lab tests at one pressure and speed.  So while I’ve only included the results at the closest speed and pressures, I was able to study the tests run at different speeds and pressures and saw enough correlations to convince myself that their test results for different tires under varying speed and pressure conditions line up relatively where they should.

Pressure changes within the 80psi to 120psi range that road cyclists might set them make relatively minor differences (a couple watts) in rolling resistance compared to speed differences from 30kph/18.6mph to 50kph/31mph (6-10 watts).  You can click the earlier links to the tests if you want to dig into the results under these different conditions.

‘Taint a perfect comparison but it’s about as good as it gets in the cycling world where most tests are run inside companies or by hired labs and results are usually unpublished.

The test results I’ve compiled tell a clear story… well at least after you look at them for a while. Even with the variability in testing protocols that I’ve described, the relative performance of different tires and brands is consistent between testers and even the absolute numbers are within a few watts in most cases.

So huge chapeau to Tom Anhalt, BRR and Tour for doing and sharing these tests.

Here’s the compilation chart.  Below it I’ll tell you what I’ve concluded from analyzing the data.

RR Compilation Chart wSchwableFirst, an explanation of the chart.  Tires are listed alphabetically by brand down the left.  Within each brand the racing tires are listed first followed by the training ones.  They are then listed in order of their ISO size: 23C, 25C, etc.  Tom Anhalt’s results are in red numbers shaded in pink (in honor of the Giro going on as I write this), BRR’s are in blue and Tour’s are in green.  The current list price (MSRP) and market price are numbers I’ve added.  I’ll provide you links to the best places to buy these tires later in the post.

Here’s how to read this chart.  The tires with the least rolling resistance are the ones with the lowest watt readings in the Rolling Resistance column.  The tires with the gold stars and the number 1 marked next to their brand names had the least rolling resistance of all those tested.  The Purpose column shows they are race tires and the Inner Tube column shows they were tested with a latex tube.

The fastest pure race tires according to these tests are the Specialized Turbo Cotton 24C and Zipp Tangente Speed 25C, both of which have an Actual Width about 24.5 mm give or take a couple of tenths of a mm (on Tom Anhalt’s 19.4mm outside width Mavic Open Pro) and regardless that the number entered in the ISO Size column suggests they are different widths.

But don’t choose one of these two yet.  There’s more to reveal that I’ll walk you through in the remainder of this post that will hopefully lead you to the best decision on what tire to get.

For example, note the rolling resistance of the best training tires or those that can confidently be used for both racing and training.  These are marked with the silver stars with the number 2 inside.  The first brand and model of these is the Continental Grand Prix 4000S (now called S II – only difference is that the II come in colors) in 23C, 25C, and 28C.  They are only a few watts behind the pure race tires.

The two other fastest training tires are the Specialized S-Works Turbo 24C, an actual 1 mm wider than the Continental GP 4000S 23C and the Zipp Tangente Course 25C, just a few tenths of a mm wider than the 23C Conti.

Note that while there’s only a 3 or 4 watt difference between the lowest rolling resistance racing and training tires at a 30kph speed, that difference grows about a watt with every additional 10kph increase in speed.

Another take-away is that a butyl tube adds between 3 and 5 watts of rolling resistance over a latex one at 30kph and 5-8 watts difference at the higher speeds racers ride.  You can see this in the yellow oval marked with the number 3 inside.  This was seen in tests run on three different sets of tires of tires by two of the testers.

Add these up and you can see that if you are racing a crit or time trial at 40kph/25mph, we’re starting to talk about some serious differences in rolling resistance alone by riding on a race tire with a latex tube vs. a training tire with a butyl one.

But, if you are a road cycling enthusiast that doesn’t race but still wants to go faster, I don’t suggest you start using a racing tire and latex tube.  Racing tires typically wear 2 or 3x more quickly than training ones and don’t have as good a puncture belt or next to none at all.

Latex tubes are also less durable than butyl ones on the road, need to be topped off with air every day and don’t store well in varying temperatures.  These issues make them less practical, harder to find and probably suitable only for racers.  Don’t expect to leave one in your saddle bag for months and have it ready to rock and roll when you need it.  A better option is to go with a so-called ‘light’ or thinner butyl inner tube for fast riding and a heavy butyl one for training.  The light butyl tube will probably save you about a couple watts over a heavy one at enthusiast level speeds.

Next, let’s look at the effect of wider tires on rolling resistance.  This is marked on the chart with the number 4 over a one-sided ladder.  Both BRR and Tour tested the Conti Grand Prix 4000S in 23C, 25C and 28C sizes and found essentially 1 watt less resistance as you went up in size.  Interestingly, Tour also looked at the same progression of sizes in the Schwalbe One clincher tires and found 1 watt more resistance as you went up in size. And recall, this is maintaining the same pressure in each tire, while most people put on a wider tire in part so they can reduce the pressure and increase the comfort without concern for pinch flats.

This really pulls back the curtain on the belief that wider tires roll faster.  They don’t really roll much faster (and some roll slower) even at the same pressure.  When you reduce the pressure to get a more comfortable ride, they have essentially the same rolling resistance as BRR’s resulted showed here when testing the three Conti sizes at 80, 100 and 120psi.

Yes a 25C tire at 80psi will be more comfortable than a 23C at 100psi but if you put it on any rim that isn’t about 26mm or wider at the brake track, you’ll probably be taking a 3-5 watt aerodynamic hit depending on your speed and how much rubber overhangs your rim.

Let’s look next at the relative performance of the leading models of training tires.  These tests establish that the Conti GP4000S, Specialized S-Works Turbo and Zipp Tangente Course have the least rolling resistance (silver stars with number 2 inside).  But how much is the difference over the other major brands?

Here are the results with the comparative brands noted on the chart as 5* in black (Anhalt tests) and 6_ in blue (BRR tests).

Tom Anhalt

  • Conti GP4000S 23C, Specialized S-Works Turbo 24C and Tangente Course 25C – 24 watts
  • Zipp Tangente Course 23C – 25 watts
  • Vittoria Rubino Pro II 23C, Vittoria Rubino Pro Slick 23C – 27 watts
  • Specialized Roubaix Pro 23/25C, Michelin Pro4 Comp 23C – 29 watts
  • Michelin Pro4 Service Course 23C – 30 watts


  • Conti GP4000S 28C – 23 watts
  • Conti GP4000S 25C – 24 watts
  • Conti GP4000S 23C – 25 watts
  • Schwalbe One 25C – 25 watts
  • Vittoria Rubino Pro II 25C – 26 watts
  • Michelin Pro4 Service Course 25C – 30 watts

Since, there are differences in the testing conditions between the Tom Anhalt and BRR, look at the relative results within Anhalt’s and BRR’s group of tested tires rather than the differences between the same models of tires in the different test groups.

What I find interesting is the relative position and order of training tire models from the major brands is the same in both Anhalt’s and BRR’s tests – Continental followed by Vittoria followed by Michelin – as is the difference between them – Conti’s perform about 3 watts better than the Rubinos and about 6 or 7 watts better than the Pro4s.  These wattage difference between these tires is significant.

I’m not saying these results are conclusive, but the consistent rankings and significant performance differences suggests to me which tires roll better and by how much.

It is one thing to get a tire with low rolling resistance and it’s another to get one that also has good aerodynamic properties.  Wheelset engineers put a lot of effort into coming up with innovations to make their rims aerodynamic – rim shapes (toroid vs. U-shaped vs. V-shaped), leading edge treatments (Swirl Lip Generator) and spoke hole and adjustment fittings (internal vs. external) being just a few examples.

It doesn’t make sense to do that and ignore the aerodynamic effect of the rim-tire intersection and the shape the mounted tire takes on.  Zipp has designed its own tires (made for them by Vittoria) and companies like FLO have both conducted and published the results of tests essentially recommending which tires are most aerodynamic for their FLO 30 wheels.

Take note of the Actual Width column (brown box with the number 7 inside) and compare to the Size (ISO) column to its left.  This shows the actual size that each tire measures when mounted and inflated.  There’s variance within this based on the inside width of the rim and inflation pressure.  Tom Anhalt measures this to one decimal place and BRR rounds it off, and they use 15C and 17C rims respectively, but it’s a lot better guide than the size you see on the box either as something like 23C or 23mm.  Tour’s numbers were all 0.5 mm wider than the ISO size which I don’t take as credible so haven’t used them.

You can see from the six wheel-tire set-ups I prepared and measured for this review how different the same tire can size once mounted and inflated and how wrong you can get the overlap if you don’t pick it right.  While I’m trying to flip the switch for you, hopefully the light bulb has gone off in your head rather than making up the shape of your tire.

Again, the size on the box is not a good indication of the tire’s actual mounted and inflated size. There is no consistency – some actual widths are wider, some narrower, and some are close to the ISO size.  So it is important to know the actual width of the tires you are interested in and get one as close to the brake track width of your rim.

Some of you may not know the brake track width of your rim.  If you’ve got a toroid shaped rim, the brake track is often angled and it’s narrower than the marketed rim width which is often the widest part of the rim on the toroid.  Also, the rim width listed by the manufacturer may not always be exact for the same reason that the wheel weight isn’t usually right – marketing.

Fortunately, Greg Kopecky who writes for Slowtwitch has done us all a great service by measuring and publishing actual rim widths (inside and outside) as well as rim depths of most of the major wheelsets. His latest table can be found here.

I recommend you confirm your wheel’s outside width with Greg’s table and match it up with the Actual Width measurement in the chart above of the tires with relatively low rolling resistance to help you pick tires which will have the best combination of rolling resistance and aerodynamic performance for your rims.

The challenge for many of you who have stock wheels and some of the traditional design alloy upgrade wheels is that these rims are far narrower than many of the readily available popular brands of tires.  The actual widths of the 23C versions of the Michelin Pro4, Vittoria Rubino and Zipp Tangente Course are the narrowest, roughly in that order but have the higher rolling resistance, roughly in the same order as the wider Conti GP4000S 23C.

You can get 20C versions of many of these tires.  I haven’t seen rolling resistance test results on those but I’d expect they would run in the same order as the wider ones and run much closer to your wheel width than the 23C versions.


Hard to believe I’ve written 8,000 words on tires but as I hope you can see, making the right choice is not simple.

Fortunately, buying them is a lot easier.  Online they cost about the same from model to model and store to store, not enough to change your decision about what tire to buy or even where to buy it if you typically prefer one store over another.

If you buy two tires and a couple of light butyl tubes to go with them, you’ll typically get close to what you need to cover the amount that qualifies for free shipping.  If not, add in a new set of tire levers, some chain lube or hub grease, a jersey or something else you’ve been thinking about.

Buying them in the store, though key if you are in a pinch, will typically cost you 65% to 100% more than the online prices at the stores below, unless they are Bontrager or Specialized tires which sell principally at LBS/IBD shops.

If you like what you’ve read here and want to save yourself serious money the next time you buy some cycling gear, you can do so in a way that also supports the costs of cranking out these reviews.  Simply click on and buy through the red links next to each product I’ve reviewed.  These will take you to the lowest price, in-stock listings across stores that sell online and have high customer satisfaction ratings.  I regularly update these links in each review by looking at over 60 stores.  Some pay this site a small commission when you buy through them but I pick the best stores either way, same as when I’m buying gear myself.  If you prefer, you can support the site by making a contribution here using your credit card or Paypal account or when you buy anything through these link at Amazon or eBay.  There’s more on all of this at the about and support pages.  Thanks.

Here are the shops with great customer satisfaction ratings that have the tires (listed in order of rolling resistance performance) in inventory at the best prices as of August 2016.

Training Tires

Racing Tires

Back to Contents

Thanks for reading and supporting In The Know Cycling.  If you’ve made it this far, congratulations and please let me know what you think about what you’ve just read or ask any questions in the Comments section below.

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  • Hello Steve, just came across your site, great info! Question please – what race tire(s) would you recommend for a HED disc wheel on a TT bike? It seems the HED rims add a few mm to the actual tire size, e.g. a 23mm tire “becomes” 25mm when fitted on a HED wheel. Anyway, more interested in what brand (Continental GP TT, Michelin Power Competition, Zipp Tangente Speed, etc.). My weight is 88-90kg. Thanks!

    • Charl, Despite the width designation on a tire (e.g. 23C or 23mm) tire widths will vary based on the brand, bead width, psi and how old it is. Read this post for more on what is the best width tire for your wheelset. The charts in this review will tell you which tire brands and models have the least rolling resistance, which will also vary by width. Steve

  • Hi Steve,

    Planning on trading in my Defy Advanced for a Defy Advanced Pro in the spring. The Pro comes with tubeless tires (and I assume wheels that can be used tubeless or with tubes). Read your clear comments on tubeless tires in this article and just wanted to check in since it has been a while to see if anything in tubeless technology has changed the benefits and therefore your recommendations. If not, it will be off with the tubeless tires and on with 23C Conti GP4000S II.

    Waiting for wider carbon disc brake wheels to become more common (better pricing?) before I upgrade the wheels.

    Take Care!

  • Hi Steve, Thanks for writing your very informative article. One thing to clarify, I have 25 mm GPS 2000s II on my Shimano RS81 C35. Based on your article, is this too wide a tyre? I am not sure what you mean “at the brake track”? The RS81 is 24 mm all around. I inflate to 120 psi on rear and 110 psi on front as I weigh 87 kg

    • John, I’d recommend you using a 23C version of that tire so you minimize the aero penalty of having such a wide tire. I also would suggest you reduce the pressure by 5-10psi. The brake track is the width of the wheel where the brakes are applied. Steve

  • Getting my Reynolds assault slg discs soon. What width would you recommend?

    • Tristan, Cool. Enjoy the wheels. Tire model, size and pressure choice depends on your relative speed/handling/comfort priorities, your riding profile (speed, weight, distance, competitiveness, handling skill, etc.) the roads you ride (smooth, rough, gravel, etc.). Read here to help make a choice that’s right for you. Steve

  • Hi Steve. Thanks for the update. And more generally thanks for your site! So if I have box shaped wheels (bontrager race) that measure 17mm and 23mm externally, does it matter if I have 23mm vs 25 mm tires? the wheels aren’t aero anyway and the width means I shouldn’t get the folding issue you’ve discusse din other posts. Any reason not to go with a 25 mm tire? (am leaning toward the Michelin power competition you note in this post).


  • Thanks for the great and informative article, Steve. I clicked on one of the links to buy some of the Conti training tires and I see that they are available in a 20c size as well. I’m going to get a set of Pro-Lite Bortola wheels, which measure 23.2mm on the brake track. I believe the inside width of the clincher is 17.5mm. Do you happen to know the inflated width of the 20c tire when mounted on a wheel of this width? I’m trying to decide whether to go with a 20c tire or the 23c. Thanks!

    • Pete, 20C tires are really best for narrow aero or track wheels at this point. For the Bortola, I’d go with a 23C. They aren’t deep enough to get you aero benefits so having a tire wider than the rim won’t affect your aero performance. At 23C, they will be more comfortable and give you better handling than the narrower tire. Steve

      • Thanks for your reply. I was ready to purchase a pair of the Continental Grand Prix 4000S II tires and saw they have the Grand Prix 4 Seasons for roughly the same price. What is your experience with those and how would they compare to the 4000S II? It looks like the puncture and sidewall protection and wet weather traction would be greater, but how do they compare for rolling resistance, comfort, and speed?

  • Hi, I’m quite new here. I love reading your reviews. They are very informative and helpful. I have a question on tubular tires. What do you recommend? I’m doing triathlons mostly. And do you know of any good bike shop or mechanic who does installation? I live in San Jose, CA. Thanks!

    • Dondie, I don’t recommend or review tubular wheels or tires because of the extra installation effort required and on the road hassle if you have a flat. Clincher and tubeless wheels with the right tires can be nearly as fast and, in some cases faster. Steve

      • Thanks Steve. The only reason I’m using tubulars is because I bought them at a really good price from my bro-in-law. I have clinchers on my other road bike. Anyway, thanks for your quick reply and thanks for your website. I enjoy reading during my break at work. One other question, what do you recommend to improve braking? I have a set of Roval CLX 40’s and they don’t brake quite as well as my Zipp’s, I am using Swiss Top Black Prince for pads. I read somehwere some people sand the pads. Would you recommend it? Thanks!

        • Dondie. Got it. I’m a bro-in-law too so I appreciate what you’ve done. Take a look here for some tubular tire rankings.

          Regarding the Roval braking, Zipps are some of the best braking wheels around so it’s hard to make that up with the pads. About the best you can do is to make sure they are set up right (distance, alignment, cables, etc.), the slots in the pads remain clean and that you toe-in the bads if you are getting any squealing. You can also check my review here to make sure you are using the right technique for carbon rim braking.

          I’ve never heard about sanding your pads. I’d think you’d prematurely wear the pads that way and get grit in the pads that could transfer to the brake tracks and prematurely wear those too. Steve

          • I see Vittoria has the highest rating but I’ll probably just go with Continental. I’m just more familiar with that brand. I’ll definitely tune my brakes (again). Thanks for the links.

  • Steve, after we spoke on the Best All Around Wheelset thread, I went ahead and put the Aeolus 3 D3 on the Domane with my 28mm Roubaix tires and ten miles out, I could tell I had over compensated for comfort and stability. Handling had improved greatly along with vibration reduction over the stock wheels, but I could feel some drag, couldn’t pin point but I think you’re right, the 25mm Conti’s are worth a try, especially for the flat surface i usually ride. Another issue is clearance on the rear fork with 28’s is barely 1/64″ or less. At 220lbs I’ll be happy to ride 25’s on a good carbon wheelset. Thanks again for the advice Steve, Allan

  • Steve, I’ve been running Conti 4Ks since getting back into road biking as it was the overwhelming recommendation of my cycling club. Was happy to find your excellent website last year, and the technical reasons why running Conti 4Ks is a win.

    I’ve decided to run tubeless during this year’s goathead season, already had two flats this month and past experience tells me that I can expect two or more flats a month from the tiny thorns that grace our roads until November 🙂

    Saw your Pro One recommendation based on their performance, however I know a handful of local cyclists that tried them last year and had sidewall blowouts – and there are similar comments on Competitive Cyclist, Amazon and other sites. Until goathead season passes, I’m going for protection first and performance second. Any thoughts on another 25/28mm tubeless tire? My Wed night ride leader is running Hutchinson Sector 28s on his bike, is on his second set, first set lasted 2400 miles, and he loves them because its been 1+ years with no flats or sidewall issues. Thanks.

    • Buzz, Have personally had good success with three pairs of Schwalbe Pro One tubeless (23C, 25C, 28C) with no flats but I haven’t dealt with goatheads (don’t even know what they are). I’ve also used 28C Maxxis Padrone TR on my ENVE 4.5 AR as they set up a couple mm narrower than the Pro One (and the 4.5 AR front rim). These are both road focused performance tires (i.e. priority for low rolling resistance) but I’ve used them on some dirt and fire road surfaces without issue. That’s the limit of my experience. Steve

  • Steve, thanks for the Maxxis Padrone TR suggestion. Is there a generic Competitive Cyclist link so that if buy either Padrone or Sector 28 then I’m supporting your site?

    Goatheads are the bane of our cycling existence this time of year… Wikipedia pic titled “Thumbtack-like Tribulus terrestris nutlets are a hazard to bicycle tires” is here:

    and for size perspective:,_Marfa,_Texas.JPG

    Be very thankful you don’t have to deal with them!

  • great write up on tires Steve! If you were to compare apples to apples as in same tire pressure, same measured width, on same wheel, same road etc… whats your opinion on the GP4000IIs vs Michelin’s new power competition tires?

    There’s this word used my many, and that is “supple”, to describe how smoothly a tire behaves over rough surfaces. Something like Schwalbe Ones or Vittoria Corsa’s are said to be more supple than the likes of the Conti GP4000IIs at the same pressures. Now this sounds subjective to me as one’s definition of supple might be quite different to mine or that a brand new tire might feel nicer than one thats lost a couple mm of rubber over a few K miles.

    I’ve ridden the Conti’s for the past 3 years and have been quite happy with them. I’ve only ever compared them to my bikes original Michelin $15 tires, the older Pro4 SC’s, Conti Gatorskins and Conti Ultra Sport 2 wire beads (spring use). I felt the Gatorskins robbed a lot of watts from me by ways of rough ride (got tired from all the vibrations and bounciness) and if I dropped the PSI even just a few #’s, they felt quite sluggish to spin up (could have been cause it was spring and I didn’t train all winter). However, the other models felt fine to me. Maybe I’m not as sensitive to whether or not a tire is supple enough or not and any sluggish feeling, i tend to blame on my fitness or ‘off days’.

    Anyway, i thought I’d ask, since by doing Ctrl+F and “Supple”, the word only came up once in this article. Did you consider this ride characteristic of the tires you reviewed? Maybe you did but found it’s not worthwhile since there’s no noticeable difference between the top tires? Would love to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks!


    • Hi Karl, I’ve been riding the PowComps for about six months now and I find they measure and ride much like the GP4KS. The test data I’ve seen on them says their rolling resistance and puncture resistance is also essentially the same. I don’t try to assess how supple the tire is. Very subjective though it’s clear that some tires like the Gatorskins ride harder than others like the GP4KS. Instead, I try to get a sense of handling in my selection criteria (full criteria list here). That’s also subjective but is the performance outcome of design inputs like compound, thread count and a bunch of other things that probably also drives how supple they feel. Steve

      • Thanks Steve. Good points re: handling and your criteria. With this in mind, have you had a chance to ride Schwalbe One clinchers or Vittoria Corsa G+? I noticed you recommend the Pro One Tubeless so curious if maybe you got your hands on the non TL versions as well.

  • Hi Steve,
    thank you for very useful information on your detailed site !
    I have got a query :
    Iam using rather obsolete but nice 20 years old roadbike from Look, having Campagnolo Atlanta 1996 wheels. as rims have got internal width 13C only (they are very aero in 90’s point of view) I am thinking to go to 20C Conti GP 4000 S II tires. Even going against current trend using wider tires …currently I am using 23C tires, however seeing your photos – nbr 2,3 , my situation resembles to them …overhang of about 5 mm. Your opinion – would you agree with me ? Thank you, kind regards, Eduard Benda.

    • Eduard, I’d think the 20C would handle better. Less of a “light bulb” effect. You didn’t say how deep the wheels are but probably no aero difference between 20C and 23C if it is a low profile wheelset. Steve

      • Steve, thanks for your prompt reply !

        Here is more info about rim vertical profile found on web: the aero depth is 34mm.

        Can you please re-confirm your opinion of better suitability of 20C tires for this wheelset knowing this additional fact ?
        Thanks in advance, Eduard.

  • Steve, I have been riding since before the Ice Age, which is to say I’m old and stubborn and set in my ways, and I don’t usually follow the “latest greatest” bike mindset that always seems to change every decade or so. Here’s the deal: I ride is a 35-year old Masi Nuova Strada (Ferrari red!), equipped with a Campy Mirage groupo, and through the years I have settled on a seat and pedals that work for me and overall I’m a happy rider who hits the road for solitude and “me” time. How-some-ever I never quite understood the formula for choosing the right tire for a particular set of rims, and in my case the bike came with Fir rims, 700 x 20 C (made in Italy) and from my research and trial error I have settled on Conti Grand Prix 4000 II 25 mm tires pumped up to 100 psi. My question is: at my riding weight of 165+- pounds would my purpose be better served with a more narrow tire (23 mm), or just stay the course with what I have and be done with all the second guessing? Thank you so much for doing what you do and breaking complicated issues down to basics.

    • lapd13142, If it’s a 20C (i.e. 20mm inside width) wheel, I’d say you’re good with your the Conti’s but could go down to 80psi for a much more comfortable, better handling ride. If it’s 20mm outside width rim which I’m guessing may be the case considering the wheel/tire clearance on a 35-year-old bike and you’re at 165lbs, I’d suggest the 23C Michelin Power Competition at about 90psi. The Power Comp has a hair better rolling resistance than the Conti GP4K and will measure and inflate at mm narrower. That will remove the light bulb, undersupported shape of your tire and in-turn give you better handling and reduce the likelihood of pinch flats vs. the 25C Conti tire. Read this post on matching tire and rim size Steve

  • I’m poised to buy my second set of Conti 4Ks for my Dura Ace 35 wheels. Amazon alerts me that there is a newer model: the Grand Prix 5000. What do you recommend? (Thanks in advance.)

    • John, Independent testing shows the 5000 to have 12% better rolling resistance than the 4000 at 80psi. The 5000 also sets up about 1mm narrower, but that won’t help improve your aero performance unless you are using 23C tires on your DA 35s and riding at 20mph or faster. Weight, puncture resistance, compound, and other factors are essentially unchanged. It’s too early to tell but I suspect that wear rates will likely be very similar as well. So you need to decide whether you value the better rolling resistance enough to justify the higher price. Steve

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