THE BEST TUBELESS TIRES

If you want the best tubeless tires for your road bike, there’s a lot to consider.

New and updated models are regularly being introduced. They have different aero, resistance, comfort, handling, grip, and installation performance properties in combination with different wheels. That forces you to consider what wheels you ride and the type of riding you do when deciding which tires to buy.

Traditional considerations like a tire’s puncture resistance, weight, wear, and price also plays into your decision-making.

And if that weren’t enough, updated views about which tire widths and inflation levels give you the best performance, recently introduced standards, and supply chain shortages on some of the tires are enough to make your head spin nearly as fast as your wheels do.

To deal with all of this, I periodically update (see date at the top of this post) the tires models and sizes I’ve reviewed,  what matters most in evaluating them, and how they compare to find the best tubeless tires for road cycling enthusiasts, those we can ride on every day for training and racing that have a puncture belt.


 

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What You Need To Know About Tubeless Tires

Click on any red statement below to go directly to that part of the post

Some things matter more than others in picking the right tubeless tires for your situation

Other things matter less – puncture resistance, weight, wear, and price

See our comparative ratings and tire reviews

Why some tires aren’t included in this review

What Matters Most

If you are a fast rider or racer and your tire pressure is set right, choosing between tubeless bike tires that give you the right aerodynamic relationship with your rims matters most and should be where you start. Once you’ve got that dialed in, you can pick between tires that provide the best road feel (comfort, handling, grip), the lowest tire loss rolling resistance, and that setup easiest on your wheels.

However, if you average less than 25mph/40kph on well-paved roads, ride at any speed on worn or rough pavement, or don’t care about riding fast above all else then the minimal absolute or relative amount of rim-tire aerodynamic drag in those riding conditions won’t make a difference to your speed or efficiency.

Other considerations including puncture resistance, weight, wear, and price matter relatively less. That’s because they aren’t as important as the four that matter most to your performance to outweigh the other criteria and, for most tires in this review, there’s little difference between them.

I’ll explain each of the criteria that matter most and matter less in the following sections.

For this review, I’ve compared what my research and testing shows are the best tubeless tires for everyday training and racing that have a puncture belt or equivalent. These are best suited for the demands and expectations of road cycling enthusiasts.

Using the criteria that matter most, I’ve chosen not to review or include in this latest update the tubeless tires with puncture belts whose tire loss rolling resistance isn’t in the top tier, are a bear to install, and have been discontinued. You can read more about which tires I didn’t include and why at the end of this post.

1. Aerodynamics of the rim-tire combination

My 2022 post on how wide tires and wide wheels can make you faster confirms that the fastest riders will benefit from the reduced aero drag that comes from using tires whose actual width once mounted and inflated measures less than the rim’s outside width at its widest point.

However, the research I did for that post led me to conclude that today’s wide wheels and wide tires have made the rule of 105 an anachronism. Airflow reattachment happens at rim-to-tire width ratios less than 105% on wide wheels and the penalty for having the tire wider than the rim is far less than it was on the narrow rims and skinny tires used to establish that “rule” some 20 years ago.

Mea culpa. I based many of my past tubeless tire aerodynamic ratings on this rule but will do so no longer.

Fortunately, many tubeless disc wheels introduced in the last couple of years have outside rim widths that are wider than the measured width of 28mm tires installed on them. There is also enough clearance on most modern road disc bikes for these wider tires.

The aero optimized tire size for many wheels remains 25mm. That’s the size that those you racing or riding closer to 25mph/40kph on well-paved roads should use.

If you ride closer to 20mph/32kph or on rough, worn, or chip-seal surface roads, wider tires inflated to lower pressures will probably gain you more watts by reducing the vibration loss portion of your rolling resistance more than the aero penalties you incur from a tire that exceeds the width of your rim.

I get into all of this in the post I linked you to just above.

For those of you who have wide rims now or are racing and riding fast, there are up to 3 watts of reduced aero drag to be had by having rims wider than your tires. That amount is a marginal gain worth having if you are trying to decide what tire to buy.

The challenge in getting this rim-tire combination right comes in that the actual sizes of tubeless road bike tires and wheels are both unique and change with each new model of either. For that reason, I’ve measured the actual rim and installed tire widths of current models of both to see which combinations have rims wider than the tires and by how much.

Rim-tire measurements

When I get a new wheelset for evaluation, soon after my childish excitement eases a bit, I weigh it and then measure several rim dimensions.

First, I’ll measure the depth of the front and rear rims. Most are the same but not always due to wheel design or manufacturing tolerances.

Next, I’ll record the inside rim width between the hooks or the full inside rim width if it is a hookless rim. I’ll then put my calipers across the rim’s outside width at the “brake track” or where one would be if it weren’t a disc brake wheel. If the rim has any variation in width such as a toroidal profile, I’ll also measure the rim’s maximum width.

Using a digital micrometer, I check these depths and widths at a half dozen places until I get a pretty good fix on the average of most of the measurements. While there are some outliers, typically there will be a variance of up to +/- 0.1mm across the places where I take these measurements.

Measuring the width of Tubeless Tires

For the latest update of this tubeless tire review, I’ve measured 25mm and 28mm tires on wheels whose inside and outside rim widths are representative of tubeless-ready road disc wheels you may own or can buy. Those rims range from 19mm inside, 26mm outside with a hooked rim to 25mm wide inside, 32+mm wide outside using a hookless rim.

Depending on the rim and tire size, I inflate the tires to 60psi/4.1bar and/or 80psi/5.5bar for these tire measurements on hooked rims. I’ve used these pressures in part for continuity with the database I’ve built to measure tire-rim combinations over the years. Luckily, those pressures continue to be in the range recommended to many of us cycling enthusiasts when we plug our weight, rim and tire sizes, and other factors into one of the tire pressure guides.

Now that there’s a newly created, not-to-exceed pressure ETRTO and ISO standard for tubeless tires on hookless rims (72.5psi/5bar), I’ve used 60psi and 70psi for those tire-rim combinations.

To give this some context, the recommended inflation pressure for a 150lb/68kg rider using a 25mm tire on a rim with a 21mm inside width is in the neighborhood of 70psi. A 180lb/82kg rider with the same tire and rim would want to increase that pressure to 80psi or so.

Using a 28mm tire on that same 21mm rim, the recommended pressure for the 150lb/68kg rider would be 60psi with 70psi suggested for the 180lb/82kg rider. With the 28mm tire on a hookless rim that’s 25mm wide inside, a pressure of about 50psi would be recommended for the lighter rider and 60psi for the heavier one.

If you are unsure what pressure is best for you, take a look at one of the guides and experiment with what they suggest. The easiest one, and frankly one I’ve found recommend a pressure closest to where I end up after my experiments lowering the pressure further is available from ENVE (which sells both wheels and tires). SRAM (parent of wheelset and tire seller Zipp) and Silca (seller of tire pumps) also have tire pressure calculators you can use.

I discuss the differences between these three and how to come up with the right pressure for you in the post I linked to at the beginning of this section.

Measuring tubeless tire widths

Wheels and tires lined up for the March 2022 measurements

A couple more things to finish off this preamble. Since the front wheel affects your aero performance far more than the rear, I’ve done all the tire rim-tire combinations on the front wheel. If you can’t decide between prioritizing aero performance and comfort, you have my permission to put a wider tire on the rear wheel. It won’t matter that much to your aero performance unless you are doing a 40K time trial type of event.

And to reiterate what I wrote above, if you are a slower rider or even a fast one riding rough roads, you’ll likely be faster riding a properly inflated tire that’s wider than the rim.

I measure new or minimally used tires (typically with under 250 miles) and, as with the rim measurements, use the calipers to get readings at a half dozen places across the widest part of each mounted and inflated tire.

Unless you put on new tires every 1000 km (620 miles), you need to account for the reality that tires will stretch and widen over time. How much? While I’ve measured mostly new tires, Jarno Bierman at Bicycle Rolling Resistance has done endurance testing that tracks changes in the width, tread-thickness, and tire loss rolling resistance of a 28C Continental Grand Prix 5000 (non-tubeless) clincher at 1000km (620 miles) intervals.

He’s found that the tire widened by 0.5mm at his first 1000km checkpoint but only another 0.2mm all the way up to 5000km (3100 miles).

Most of us enthusiasts by definition ride 5000km (3100 miles) to 10,000 km (6200 miles) a year and might go through one or two pairs of tires a season. Based on what Jarno found in his endurance testing, that means our tires will likely be another 0.5mm or wider during most of the time we ride them, ie., after about 1000km or 620 miles.

In the chart below, you’ll see how much wider or narrower the rim is than the tire for each combination. When the rim is wider and should continue to be over the life of the tire, the cells showing the measurements will be shaded green. If the rim is initially wider but tire wear will cause the tire to expand beyond the width of the rim, they get a yellow shading. When the rim is narrower than the tire to start with, the cells are shaded pink (but only because you couldn’t see the numbers if I used red).

While my measurements were limited to the wheelsets you see in the charts below, I’ve hopefully given you a wide enough range of wheels with different inside and outside widths that you can find one with similar measurements to yours.

Results and key take-aways

Click the chart to enlarge it.

Tubeless Tire Rim-Tire width differences

Here are my key conclusions from these rim-tire measurements:

* The actual width of the same size tires from different brands can measure very differently, especially for narrower tires on narrower rims at higher pressure but also for wider tires on wider rims at lower pressures. For example:

  • 25mm size tires set up on the 19.0mm inside, 26.3mm outside rim at 80psi are as much as 1.9mm different in actual width (rim wider than tire by 1.7mm, 0.9mm, 0.3mm, 0.1mm, -0.2mm)
  • 28mm size tires set up on the 25.2mm inside, 31.5mm outside rim at 60psi are as much as 0.9mm different in actual width (rim wider than tire by 2.1mm, 2.0mm, 1.7mm, 1.2mm)

* The difference in actual width of 25mm and 28mm size tires vary from one brand/model to the next. For example:

  • The increased actual width between 25mm and 28mm size tires of one brand/model averages 2.6mm installed at the same pressure across 3 wheels while only 1.2mm for two other brands/models

* For rims with an outside width of 26mm, you need to be very selective to find a 25mm tire that will measure less than the width of the rim once installed

* For rims with roughly the same outside width, those with a narrower inside width will make the actual width of 28mm tires narrower as well.

Comparing the measurements of different brands/models across all of the rims, I also draw the following conclusions:

* Among 25mm tires, the Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR and Veloflex Corsa TLR tires measure notably narrower than the Michelin Power Road TLR, Schwalbe Pro One TLE, and Specialized S-Works Turbo Rapid Air, which measure about the same.

* Among 28mm tires, the Continental, Schwalbe, and Specialized measure about the same and notably narrower than the Michelin.

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2. Road feel

When I describe a tire’s road feel, I’m talking about how comfortable it is, how well it handles in corners or maneuvers when you’re changing direction, and how much grip it provides in those handling maneuvers and when accelerating or just speeding along straight down the road.

The better the road feel, the more precise you’ll be taking those corners and doing those maneuvers, or generally accelerating on your bike. While it’s hard to measure, the added confidence that comes from tires with a superior road feel will allow you to ride more aggressively without taking on more risk. That will make you faster.

Tire size, compound, casing, and tread all contribute to the road feel as does the inflation pressure and wheel size in combination with the tire.

We’ve all read how a wider tire, inflated to the same pressure, gives you a wider contact patch between the tire and road surface. A wider contact patch can give you better handling. A narrower tire at the same tire pressure as the wider one gives you the same tire patch area but is narrower, running more along the length than the width of the tire and therefore doesn’t handle as well.

However, a wider tire at the same air pressure has a greater volume of air in it. That gives you less suspension and therefore less comfort.

One of the major reasons people use wider tires is to improve comfort. So you lower the air pressure to reduce the air volume and improve the suspension and comfort in a wider tire. (Throw the contact patch argument out the window.)

With a tubeless tire that’s filled with sealant, you can keep lowering it and get more suspension without concern for a pinch flat the way you would with a tube in your tire at that lower pressure. More suspension, especially on a rougher road can also give you better handling (and lower vibration losses) until you hit a pressure where the handling feels imprecise or mushy when cornering or accelerating.

Tire compound and casing also play a role in how the road feel of tires differ at the same width and inflation pressure. You can often feel the difference with a tire that has a more supple casing or grippier compound. These contributions to better road feel give you the ability and confidence to ride faster.

Most road tires are slick down the center with a limited amount of tread on the sides. It’s hard to know if the tread on a road tire actually improves acceleration and handling the way it does on a gravel or mountain bike tire.

My fellow tester Miles and other serious road racers believe the tread adds grip when they’re ripping through corners. Miles doesn’t like to ride tires without tread. Real or imagined, it adds to his confidence and makes him faster.

Tire companies say the tread is there to channel moisture on wet roads and trip the air to reduce aerodynamic drag. Not wanting to mess with Mother Nature or Father Grime, I religiously mount tires in the direction indicated in hopes that it will help me ride faster or at least, not work against me should I find myself riding out on a wet, oily road.

Cynics, or perhaps those who know more about tire marketing than I do, say the tread is purely cosmetic. Per this reasoning, road bike tires deflect and rebound as their primary way to give you grip and traction, not from a small amount of tread.

But, as this perspective goes, since almost every vehicle tire has tread, consumers expect it and road bike tires sell better with it.

Too many of us roadies inflate our wider, tubeless tires too high even though the dial shows a pressure far lower than where we have normally set our narrower, tubed clinchers all these years.

Getting your tire pressure set right is key to getting the best road feel you can with whatever tires you’re riding and reducing vibration loss rolling resistance on all but the smoothest road surfaces. Use one of the tire pressure guides I linked you to above and experiment with lowering your pressure further until you get to where the handling starts to feel imprecise or mushy.

My fellow testers Nate, Miles, and I start with these pressure guides to find a pressure that gives us the best road feel for the tires we are testing.

3. Tire loss rolling resistance

Rolling resistance has become a popular decision criterion for many riders these days. With several labs and magazines publishing results, it gets a lot of attention and is more easily quantified than aero performance or road feel.

However, the quantified results – usually stated in watts of rolling resistance – depend on the specific protocols used by the testers. Those results will vary with the tire and rim width, inflation pressure, drum surface, drum speed, weight applied, and other test controls.

And what these testers are measuring is the rolling resistance from the losses in the tire compound and casing. What they don’t measure is the rolling resistance that comes from vibration losses that happen when your tires (and wheels, bike, and body) come up off the road surface and land back on it. That happens over and over and over during the course of a ride, especially on worn and rougher road surfaces.

Tire losses and vibration losses together add to your rolling resistance. And the rolling resistance that comes from vibration losses can exceed that from tire losses when your tire is inflated beyond a certain “breakpoint.” I go into all of this in more detail in my post about how wide tires and wide wheels can make you faster.

As it relates to choosing between tubeless tires, here’s the really important bit: With a few exceptions, the rolling resistance results of the best handful of tires made for a similar riding purpose like those we roadies buy and that I’ve evaluated for this review (everyday tires with a puncture belt) are not more than a couple of watts different at the speeds and pressures we ride tubeless bike tires under the testing protocols at each of different testing labs I reviewed.

Further, because the testing protocols differ slightly as do the production runs that the tested tires come from, there may be almost no real differences between the best tires that would make us choose one over another based on the published tire loss rolling resistance numbers.

For example,

  • Bicycle Rolling Resistance found the Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL and Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR tire that replaces it have tire losses within the margin of error (0.2 watts) but have less tire loss (2.5 watts on average at 80 psi/5.5 bar) than the Schwalbe Pro One TLE.
  • TOUR Magazin’s tests found the S TR has a tire loss 1 watt more than the TL in their smooth surface test but 3 watts more in their rough surface one.
  • Renn-Rad Magazine’s tests show the Schwalbe Pro One TLE and Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL have similar tire losses (0.2 watts difference).

If all of this suggests to you that it’s a mistake to choose between the top tubeless training or racing tires solely based on their watts of tire loss or relative ranking in these tests, then that’s the conclusion I’ve reached as well. You can pick any from the top group of tire loss performers and be confident that there won’t be a tire loss difference that will affect your speed or time.

And that’s the great benefit that BRR, TOUR, Renn-Rad, and other independent testers provide us as cycling enthusiasts. They allow us to see which small group of tires are among the “best” or in the “top” tier rather than which individual one to buy based on an absolute best tire loss rolling resistance number.

Note also that if you are a partially converted tubeless tire rider, meaning you use a tube instead of sealant inside your tubeless tires, make sure to use a latex tube if rolling resistance matters to you. Using a butyl tube will add 2-3 watts of tire losses to your rolling resistance per BRR’s testing. That will essentially knock your tire out of the “best” tier of tubeless tires with puncture belts.

However, using a latex or butyl tube may limit your ability to reduce your vibration losses without increasing the risk of getting pinch flats more common at lower pressures.

4. Installation ease

For those of you who are tubeless converts or those who remain interested but have held off because of some of the horror stories of installation difficulties, I can tell you that a lot has changed for the better in just the last few years.

Newer, wider, deeper road tubeless wheelsets have a center channel in the rim bed that is supposed to be 2.6-3.4mm deep for hooked rims and 2.9-3.5mm for hookless ones per the 2020 ETRTO standard.

Some also have “bead locks” or shallower, narrower channels running inside the rim walls where the tire beads sit after the tire is installed and inflated. Those without locks have the horizontal rim bed meet the vertical rim wall with or without hooks.

Compare the tubeless rim bed on the left with the classic clincher one on the right.

Tubeless Bike Tires

The channel in the tubeless rim is the key to getting your tires on. At that spot in your rim bed, while the wheel’s diameter is reduced a few millimeters, the circumference is reduced over 3x (or by Pi) that amount. That makes all the difference in getting tubeless tires on your wheels.

Without using the channel, you probably won’t get your tires on. You’ll blister up your thumbs, abuse the rim beds and tape using tire levers, and likely swear till you are blue in the face.

So, use the channel and make it easy on yourself.

How? As you put the first sections of the first bead of the tire over the edge of your rim, put the bead into the rim channel and then mount the rest of that first bead into the channel as you go all the way around.

Keeping that first bead in the channel, push the second bead over the rim edge and into the same channel as you install the rest of the second bead.

If you are having difficulty with the second bead, check to make sure that all sections of both beads you already have over the rim edges are still in the channel.

You also want to put the sections of each bead near the valve on last since the channel is blocked by the valve and the tire will sit higher there than if it were in the channel.

IRC created this graphic to show the steps.

How to install tubeless road tires

Here are a couple of videos that show some best practices for how to install modern tubeless road tires on tubeless-ready rims. They take slightly different approaches, but both work.

This one from ENVE starts with a tubeless road rim and shows you how to tape it and then put on the tire, inflate and seat it before injecting sealant. That’s the approach I follow.

This next one from GCN starts with a pre-taped tubeless road rim and shows how to use sealant before inflating to help you seat your tire bead. This approach works too if you don’t have a valve with a removable core through which you can add the sealant.

We’re seeing more wheels being introduced with hookless rims. They are less expensive to make and improve aero performance slightly by smoothing the tire-rim interface. At 50 to 70psi pressures typical of what you’d use for wheels with 23mm and 25mm inside widths and with 28mm tires, the beads hold the tires in place without concern for them coming off the rim.

ETRTO and ISO standards established in 2020 define the rim diameter and bead lock tolerances for hooked and hookless rims to +/- 0.05mm. They also use a more modern rim width for tire makers to use in labeling the size of their tires. This means that tires should fit more interchangeably with rims and measure truer to size once installed and inflated.

Unfortunately, we’re not there yet. While I hope installation becomes simpler and more uniform as the next round of tubeless wheels and tires are introduced, the current reality is that some tires mount, inflate, seal, and can be removed more easily on some rims than others. This is important not only when you put new tires on but even more so if you have to install a tube on the road to deal with a major puncture that the sealant doesn’t fill.

For my tire ratings, I’ve noted which tires are easier or harder to get on and off the range of wheels we’ve tested.

Hookless Compatibility

ENVE and Zipp, two leading wheelset makers have taken different approaches to advising cyclists on the compatibility of tubeless tires with their hookless rims.

ENVE tests each tire model and size on its wheels that have been submitted to them by tire companies. Tire models and sizes are listed as Approved/Recommended or Not Approved/Incompatible. Tires that are not on either list have not been submitted for testing and ENVE suggests you “contact the tire manufacturer and ask them if their tires are approved.”

Zipp lists tire models and sizes that tire companies have told them are compatible with Zipp’s hookless rims. Zipp doesn’t do any testing to confirm compatibility. Companies that have not communicated the compatibility of their tires are listed with a message to “check with brand for specifics.”

In the chart under section 1. Aerodynamics, I’ve noted where tires are not compatible with Zipp and ENVE hookless wheels. I say more when the same tires come out with different compatibility listings in the tire reviews below.

The ETRTO and ISO standard for tubeless tires on hookless or “straight side” rims states the maximum pressure at which tires can be safely inflated is 5 bars (72.5 psi). You shouldn’t inflate it higher for safety reasons and even a 250lb/115kg shouldn’t need to for performance reasons.

What Matters Less

5. Puncture resistance

Of course, one of the main reasons to go tubeless is to protect yourself against punctures. When you puncture a tubeless road tire with sealant, the best measure is how quickly and well the sealant fills it.

This is puncture resilience, the ability of your tire to recover from a puncture.

On the other hand, puncture resistance, the ability of a tire to initially resist a puncture, is important if you have no recourse other than to get off your bike and replace your tube.

Puncture resistance is most relevant to the tube and clincher tire world but matters much less in the tubeless one. Not only because of the role of tubeless sealant in filling the puncture but because tests run by BRR, Tour, and Wheel Energy show little difference in puncture resistance between most everyday tubeless road tires with puncture belts.

By my lights, puncture resistance testing data essentially evaluates the strength of your puncture belt and the thickness of your side walls. It’s at best a poor surrogate measure for the puncture resilience of a sealant-filled tubeless tire, the true indicator of whether you’ll be able to continue riding when your tire punctures out on the road.

A test that measured whether and how fast a tubeless bike tire resealed punctures of different sizes in the bottom and side of the tire spinning at cycling speeds would be more useful in choosing between them than the small differences in puncture resistance. Another test that evaluated the relative effectiveness of different sealants would be a bonus.

I don’t know how to do those tests but I’m sure or at least hope that some smart tire engineers will come up with them soon.

In the meantime, we default to puncture resistance data.

The most important thing you can do to overcome a puncture is to make sure you’ve got the right amount of sealant in your tires. I find 30 to 45ml (or about 1 to 1.5 ounces) is the right amount to initially get your tires sealed and protected against normal punctures. However, because the sealant dries out over time, you’ll want to make sure to add more every 3-4 months to keep it at that level.

Sealant in tubeless road tires

Make sure to keep enough sealant (30ml) in your tubeless road tires for them to quickly seal after a puncture.

Of course, there are times when a puncture is so large that sealant won’t do the job. Usually, that only happens with a good-sized gash in the side or bottom of your tire or when you are racing on a tire with no puncture belt. For those situations, carrying a tube to inflate the tire and using a food wrapper or paper currency to block the tube from going through the gash is a good backup plan.

Using a set of all-season tubeless road or cross tires for commuting or on roads full of puncture-rich obstacles will give you better puncture resistance than everyday tires with puncture belts but will make for considerably poorer tire loss rolling resistance and road feel.

6. Weight

One of the arguments for tubeless road tires is that they weigh less than clinchers. This isn’t the case, at least not comparing different tubeless and sealant vs. tubed clincher setups.

The actual weight of the 25mm tires in this review (one is actually labeled 26mm) range from 233 to 267 grams and average 253 grams. Add to that average another 30 grams for an ounce (30ml) of sealant and another 7 grams for the tubeless valve. That adds up to 290 grams.

As a reference, a top everyday clincher tire like the 25mm Continental Grand Prix 5000 weighs 220 grams. With a good butyl tube like the Continental Race 28 Light, add about 75 grams. Total 295 grams. No diff.

If you replace the butyl tube with a super lightweight, 23-gram Tubolito S-Tubo Road tube, then the clincher is down to 243 grams. But then you’re giving up nearly a watt of tire loss rolling resistance to the 80 gram Vittoria Latex 25/28 inner tube.

Are you planning on rolling 28mm tires for increased comfort and reduced vibration loss rolling resistance? Of the 28mm tires we’ve tested, they range from 276 to 305 grams and average 294 grams. Fill them with 1.5 ounces (45 grams) of sealant for the wider tire and you’re at 346 grams for the tubeless (including the 7-gram valve).

Compare that with the 28mm wide Conti GP 5K clincher at 250 grams and you’re at 325 grams with the butyl tube and 273 with the Tubolito latex tube. But my guess is you aren’t going to run a latex tube if you are going with the wider, less aero tire.

Comparing tubeless vs. tubed clinchers or different models of the best tubeless tires at either 25mm or 28mm wide is a fun exercise but comes up with very small actual differences.

While it might weigh on the minds of weight weenies, you’d be hard-pressed to tell these differences out on the road. That’s why I put weight in the what matters less bucket of criteria.

7. Wear

The good news about riding different wheels and tires all the time is that I and my fellow testers get to try out and evaluate a lot of new gear and report that out to you. The bad news is that we really don’t get to ride any one set of tires for more than 1,000 miles and spend a lot of time installing and removing them to make way to test others.

Other than a tire that wears quickly or cuts easily within our testing period, I can’t really offer my own opinion on tire wear or whether one model lasts 2500 miles while another goes 4000 miles. Of course, we all ride on different roads too, some of which are harder on tires so wear is a situational thing anyway.

I and my fellow testers can tell which tires wear quickly within the first 1,000 miles and can project wear based on what we see during this interval.

While most of us roadies are frugal, I will pick a better-performing tire over a long-lasting one every day of the week. Spending $25 more per tire to get better performance or spending an extra $50 or so to replace worn tires with better ones even twice as often isn’t going to be a budget-buster for most of us.

So wear and price are two criteria I believe should matter less.

8. Price

Most better-performing tubeless road tires with puncture belts are priced between US$60-80/£50-60/€65-85 per tire. You can see the market prices for each of the tires I’ve reviewed in the table below.

One or two may sell for as much as $20/£15/€10 more or less depending on supply and demand or individual store discounting practices. But compared to what we spend on our bikes, gear, apparel, food, event fees, etc., tires are a minor cost for such a big contributor to our performance and enjoyment on the bike.

With that in mind, I suggest you put the price of tubeless road tires at the bottom of the list of decision-making criteria.


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Reviews and Recommendations of Tubeless Bike Tires

The chart below shows the relative ratings of tubeless tires we’ve evaluated using the criteria I’ve written about above for what matters most and what matters less.

A “o” rating means that the tire performed similarly to the majority of those we evaluated. Those that performed better get a “+” rating; those that perform worse get a “-“.

In the reviews that follow, I say more about why each tire rates where it does.

Tubeless Tire Ratings


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Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR

Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR

Market price US$100, £75, €90. Many sizes are hard to find but the following stores have some in stock: Competitive Cyclist, Amazon, Chain Reaction Cycles, Merlin, and other recommended stores at Know’s Shop.

The Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR replaced the very popular 5000 TL. The company set high expectations for the S TR, most notably its claims of reduced rolling resistance, hookless compatibility, and easier installation compared to the TL.

While introduced in late Fall 2021, popular sizes have been hard to find and whatever sizes are available have been selling at the top of the range for training and racing tubeless tires with a puncture belt tested for this comparative review.

From the time I and my fellow In The Know Cycling testers have spent riding the 5000 S TR done and the tests conducted by others I trust, it’s clear that Continental has one of the best tubeless tires available. That’s why I’ve included it in this comparative review.

But, they’ve overpromised and underdelivered on claims that would make you believe that this tire stands head and shoulders above others. And, while I normally don’t spend any time regurgitating or giving a rat’s @ss about a supplier’s product claims in my reviews, the overblown product claims for this tire forces me to call out the BS from the reality.

That along with the limited availability and high price makes it hard to review this tire principally based on its performance, something I prefer to do.

On the plus side, the Grand Prix 5000 S TR in the right size should make for a low aero drag combination when installed on the range of modern road disc rims. The 25mm S TR sets up narrower on the wheels I tested whose outside rim width is between 26mm and 28mm than any of the others on review. And the 28mm size S TR is nearly as narrow (and sufficiently aero) as the best of the other tubeless tires on rims that measure 31mm and wider.

As with second-generation tubeless tires created by other companies in the years that ETRTO was overhauling its tire size recommendations for wider wheels, the S TR is a narrower tire than the TL. The 25m S TR measures nearly the same as the 23mm TL.

Getting the S TR tire on rims and inflating them is the easiest of any I’ve mounted in 5 years of installing tubeless tires including the 50+ installations I did across 8 wheelsets from 5 leading brands for this updated review. While it takes two to tango – even tires made of supple materials with malleable beads and manufactured within tolerance need rims with center channels and bead seats that mate well with tires – these new Conti tubeless tires are the belle of the ball.

If you have even a minimum amount of experience installing tubeless tires, you’ll find that few of the best these days require levers to get them on the newer designs of road disc wheels that meet the ETRTO standard. Yet, the S TR goes on with noticeably less effort than most and inflated on nearly every wheelset I tested with a regular floor pump.

This is a HUGE improvement over the experience installing the TL, a tire I couldn’t get on many rims. It caused me to recommend against buying the TL except for the most skilled installers or those willing to call for a ride if they got a flat on the open road.

But, it may be that in overperforming the installation experience they may have created a tire that underperforms the claim they’ve made to be hookless compatible.

Yes, it mounts on hookless rims. And yes, Continental has approved the Grand Prix 5000 S TR for hookless rims and includes a chart on its site and packaging (though not on the tire) that shows the max inflation pressure of 5 bar or 72.5 psi per new ETRTO and ISO standard. Based on this, Zipp shows the 28mm and larger sized S TR tires are supplier approved (by Continental) for Zipp’s hookless rims. (The 25mm is not supplier approved.)

But what if you mistakenly inflate and ride the tire above the max level or the pressure increases beyond that level when your bike is stored in or on your car on a hot summer day?

Continental has an answer for that. They point to an industry “blow-off” guideline of 110% (5.5 bar/80psi) and their own internal testing of 130% (6.5bar/94psi).

Cycling Weekly reviewer Michelle Arthurs-Brennan explains all of this and did her own testing of a 28mm S TR on Zipp 303 S (23mm inside width) and 353 NSW (25mm inside width) wheels. Inflated to 100psi/6.9bar or 136%, the tires blew off after about 10 mins.

The bead material Conti uses to make the tire easier to install than any other also stretched sooner than most when inflated well beyond the max standard pressure in Michelle’s tests.

Sooner than most? ENVE tests all the tubeless tires submitted to them by suppliers at 150% of the max recommended pressure before saying it’s compatible with their hookless rims. ENVE has approved the S TR for their hookless rim wheels.

So yeah, it works with hookless rims. But don’t overinflate it and I’d suggest you let half the air out before you leave it in your car or prop it up on the roof on a hot day.

Continental’s most jaw-dropping claim is that the Grand Prix 5000 S TR is 20% faster than the TL. While they don’t define what they mean by faster, what makes it possible, or under what conditions it’s faster, I’ll assume they’re talking about the extra speed that might come from a combination of less aero drag from being narrower, lower tire loss rolling resistance, and lighter weight than the TL.

Even with the S TR setting up narrower than the TL on the same rim and both being narrower on the rim wouldn’t come anywhere near a 5% reduction in aero drag, let alone anything approaching 20%.

And while the 25mm S TR is 50 grams (or 17%) lighter than the TL per my measurements, independent testers BRR and TOUR (subscription required) found that the S TR has a marginally higher tire loss rolling resistance than the TL.

It’s still a very low tire loss rolling resistance number, one that only the Schwalbe Pro One TLE matches per Renn-Rad (subscription required) tests. But once again, they overpromised on something they really didn’t need to.

With its 50-gram weight loss, the S TR is about 20 grams lighter than most other tubeless tires with a puncture belt. I don’t know that anyone was complaining about the weight of the TL but I don’t live in the weight weenie world so I may have missed that.

As BRR explains, Conti made changes in the tire casing and construction. It no longer has a butyl liner that earlier generation tubeless tires used to employ to run the tire airtight without needing a sealant.

Yet, in the same way that losing weight to improve your watts/kg can also reduce your power, the changes that led to S TR’s weight loss may also be the reason why it now has been shown in tests by BRR to have less puncture resistance than the TL. While it retains the Vectran puncture belt, BRR rates its puncture resistance scores closer to those without puncture belts like the Vittoria Corsa Speed G+ 2.0 than the ones that have those belts and reviewed here.

My advice is to make sure you keep the sealant topped off.

This Grand Prix 5000 S TR’s road feel – its comfort, handling, grip – is quite good. While not quite to the outstanding level of the Specialized S-Works Turbo RapidAir or Veloflex Corsa Race TLR reviewed below, it’s very good and on par with what we enjoyed with the TL. This S TR’s handling through corners is worthy of your total trust. Miles and I pushed it hard in different situations, Miles in crits and me in fast, sweeping downhill turns. We both came away very confident that the S TR was riding shotgun with us, able to cover our flanks (and keep us upright).

There’s no slip in the grip when you accelerate either.

While the S TR is sufficiently comfortable, it’s not quite to the level of the plush Spech or the cotton-sensitive Veloflex. And like the TL and other Contis that use the same Black Chili compound, the S TR is noisier than most tires including the others in this comparative review.

Bottom line, the Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR scores slightly better on more of the performance measures I believe matter most while getting dinged on a couple of criteria that matter less.

While it may be a while before the tires are widely available. their price will likely come down once they do based on what we’ve seen with other Conti Grand Prix tires that have come to market before these.

Michelin Power Road TLR

Market price US$57, £53, €63. Available at the best prices through these links to Amazon, Tweeks, and other recommended stores at Know’s Shop.

While an everyday tubeless tire, the Michelin Power Road TLR is the only one in this comparative review without a puncture belt. Instead, Michelin added a fourth 120TPI (thread per inch) layer to the casing in place of the belt and a bead-to-bead liner to create puncture resistance similar to tires with a belt. BRR’s puncture resistance tests confirmed the result, its scores coming in very similar and in some cases better than other tires in this comparative review.

Independent tests of the Power Road TLR’s tire loss rolling resistance also put it in the top tier with the very best everyday tubeless tires that have puncture belts.

Remember what I wrote above about puncture resistance is one of the things that “matter less” and rolling resistance is less important than some of the other things that “matter more?”

Well, I found both to be true in testing these Michelin tires.

While sufficiently aero in the right combinations, the Power Road TLR is generally wider than the other tires reviewed here and is wider than the rims in more combinations than any of the others. Specifically, if you are planning on using a 25mm tire, make sure your rim measures at least 28mm wide outside. With the 28mm size Power Road TLR, you’ll want rims that are at least 31mm wide outside to minimize your aero drag.

When it comes to installation, they go on and off most rims easily but I usually had to use a compressor to get them inflated. And they don’t hold air the way a tubeless tire with a butyl liner like these should. With my normal 1 oz/30ml of sealant squeezed in through the open valve stem, they would lose 20-30 psi overnight and, worse, 10-20psi over a several-hour ride.

Retaping the wheels didn’t do the trick but doubling the amount I normally put in each tire did. To be sure it wasn’t the wheel or my tape jobs, I subsequently mounted another TLR tire on the same rims with 1 oz of sealant and only had routine air loss.

It’s clearly not an issue as long as you remember to double your normal sealant volume. And while I’ve said weight is also something that matters relatively less, you essentially add 30g to the weight of each tire by doubling the amount of sealant based merely on tire construction. That’s kind of like an “own goal” though you’re the only one that will know you’ve scored on yourself.

On the road, they feel quite grippy – actually more like “tacky”. They ride quite comfortably perhaps because they are a bit wider than most tires of the same label size. Overall, the Power Road TLRs provide a good ride but not to the level of the best.

ENVE has approved the 28mm size Power Road TLR for compatibility with their A/R hookless wheels. Michelin hasn’t told Zipp whether the tire is compatible with their hookless wheels however other 28mm tires are both compatible and more aero than the Power Road TLR.

The Power Road TLR is currently priced below most of the others in this review and is available. If you prefer to use a tube and aren’t rolling fast enough to where aero performance matters to you, the TLR offers you a good option.

Schwalbe Pro One TLE

Schwalbe Pro One TLE

Market price US$78, £55, €67. Available at the best prices through these links to Amazon, Merlin, Wiggle, Chain Reaction Cycles, and other recommended stores at Know’s Shop.

Schwalbe introduced the successor to the popular Pro One tubeless tire around the same time the ETRTO standards body had made clear their intention for tire labeled sizes to measure closer to installed sizes on wider, modern wheels.

The updated Pro One is called the Pro One TLE or Pro One EVO Tubeless and has a bit of orange in the logo as you can see in the photo above. The earlier Pro One has a completely white logo.

This latest model is rumored to be made in the same molds used for the prior one except with labels a size up – the new 25mm is the old 23mm, the new 28mm is the old 25mm, etc. My measurements suggest that regardless of what molds they are using, they have effectively gotten their stated tire sizes close to actual tire widths after mounting and inflating them on rims that measure 19mm through and 25mm inside.

The result is good aero performance for rim-tire combinations with the 25mm Pro One TLE on rims that measure at least 27mm wide outside and with the 28mm Pro One TLE on 30.5mm and wider rims.

The 25mm TLE passed ENVE’s testing and is approved for their Foundation series hookless rims while the 28mm TLE is a go for ENVE’s AR and Zipp’s hookless wheels.

Out on the road, this Schwalbe provides only average comfort, a characteristic that was never a strength of the original Pro One. But because the current model provides good grip and handling, the overall road feel falls just short of the best.

After reviewing independent tire loss rolling resistance tests, it looks to me that the Schwalbe Pro One TLE is on par with the top-ranked Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR. BRR has the S TR ahead of the Schwalbe but Renn Rad has them a bike throw better than the TL which both BRR and TOUR rated better than the S TR. This is noise-level difference at best.

The suffix TLE stands for “tubeless easy” and I interpret the EVO designation to mean this is a tubeless tire that has evolved. Regardless, installation isn’t the easiest and doesn’t demonstrate the level of advancement most of us garage mechanics will love.

While I could get them on most rims with my average size hands and strength, I had to use a lever with about 1/3rd of those I mounted these on to get the last section of the second tire bead over the rim edge.

Clearly it’s a stiff bead and one that almost always required a compressor to get fully seated in the rim. Since the tire bead is strong enough to hold air without being fully seated, you need to look at the rim all the way around both sides to make sure there aren’t sections of the tire that are still hiding below the rim edge.

That and their tendency, like their predecessors to wear more quickly than tires made by other brands in our testing make the Schwalbe Pro One TLE feel more like a fast-rolling, great handling race speed tire than one I would confidently pick for lots of training and long endurance rides at a slower pace on a less demanding course.

Specialized S-Works Turbo RapidAir

Specialized S-Works Turbo RapidAir

Market price US$80, £59, €85. Available at the best prices through these links to top-ranked store Competitive Cyclist in the US/CA and at recommended store Tredz for UK/EU residents where you can receive a 10% discount exclusively for In The Know Cycling readers with code ITKTDZ10. You can also find them at other stores I recommend in my Know’s Shop.

The Specialized S-Works Turbo RapidAir tubeless tires are solid performers across all criteria without a discernable weakness.

Their road feel is among the best of any tires we’ve ridden, both supremely comfortable and grippy on straights and precise in corners. Riding the S-Works Turbo RapidAir gives your great confidence in any road handling situation. If that’s what’s most important to you, these are the tires you want wrapping your wheels.

Specialized makes a 26mm labeled version of the Turbo RapidAir rather than the 25mm size sold by most tubeless tire brands. That said, my measurements show they size similarly in rim-tire combinations to the 25mm Michelin Power Road TLR and Schwalbe Pro One TLE and will minimize aero drag in combination with rims whose outside width is 28mm or greater.

The 28mm model of the Turbo RapidAir also measures similarly to the 28mm sizes of those tires and the Continental 5000 S TR. Rims whose outside width runs 30.5mm or wider will be at least 1mm wider than the Turbo RapidAir and be marginally better than the other tires in this review up through the 32mm wide wheels we tested them on.

This Specialized tire loss rolling resistance is in the group of chasers just a couple of watts off of the pace of the Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR and Schwalbe Pro One TLE. But unless you’re racing at mid-20mph/high 30kph speeds, this amount of rolling resistance difference is less important than the Turbo RapidAir’s road feel.

While I used to struggle to get Turbo RapidAir tires off of earlier generation road disc wheels, that’s not been an issue with the range of wheels I mounted them on for the latest update of this comparative review, ones all made to the new ETRTO rim diameter standard. They go on without levers on almost every wheelset and, like all but the new Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR, are usually best seated with a compressor. They ping into place fully and without a struggle

There’s no drama between these Specialized tires and hookless rims made by ENVE (26mm and 28mm size tires) and Zipp (28mm) for which they are compatible.

The Turbo RapidAir tires are a bit pricey, typically at the premium end of the range when there’s an ample supply of tires and most of the other options are selling below their full retail prices. Should those days ever return, getting hooked on the road feel of these tires will likely be a security blanket you’re unwilling to go without no matter the added cost.

Compared to all the other stuff we spend money on to feed our cycling habit, I’d happily pay extra for all of what the Turbo RapidAir offers.

Veloflex Corsa Race TLR

Veloflex Corsa Race TLR

Market price US$58, £49, €53. Available at the best prices through these links to Merlin and Veloflex.

To take a line from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, “And now for something completely different.”

While maybe not completely different, the Veloflex Corsa Race TLR tire is different enough from the rest of the field of tubeless tires I’ve tested to stand out. At the same time, the characteristics it shares with some of the fastest cycling tires around really held my attention, much like one of those old Monty Python sketches.

It’s a handmade (think FMB), cotton (think Specialized Turbo Cotton) tire made in Italy (think quality). It has a built-in puncture belt yet is still as light as the best belt-less race day tires from Vittoria, Schwalbe, and Pirelli and scores nearly 2x as well as those and the Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR in BRR’s puncture resistance tests.

Add to that, the Veloflex Corsa Race TLR’s price is less than any of the other tires in this review, and its tire loss rolling resistance scores are on par with the Specialized S-Works Turbo RapidAir and Michelin Power Road TLR.

That’s a whole lot of goodies I’ve never seen packed into one tire before.

If you’re in it to win it, the 25mm Corsa Race TLR measures narrower with room to spare mounted at 80psi on rims as narrow as the Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO 60 (26.3mm outside rim width) to as wide as the Bontrager Aeolus RSL 62 (30.9mm).

For those of us looking for wider tires, the Corsa Race TLR only comes in a 25mm size. When I asked Veloflex if they had any plans to introduce a 28mm wide version, they responded that they didn’t for now as “the yarn used to produce the 350 TPI casing is really thin and wouldn’t be in the safety parameter for the high pressure exerted on the area of a 28mm section.”

OK then. But 350 TPI casing? More to throw on the goodie pile.

Being a cotton tire, it goes on and off of rims with keyboard roughened hands (i.e. “soft” like mine) but takes a liberal amount of sealant (2 oz) to get it airtight the first time and probably needs to be regularly refilled to keep it inflated. You could always run it with a latex tube if you don’t like to keep up with more frequent sealant checks.

How does it feel on the road? Pretty freakin’ amazing. As a cotton tire and regardless of the fact that it has a puncture layer, I was a bit careful with it the first couple of rides out, concerned that it would be too sensitive for my rough handling on worn roads.

Yet, it was sensitive in a very supportive way, sharing more feedback from the road than most other tires I’ve ridden. That feedback helped me in the cornering in the way a caring part would, letting me know when I could go harder and when I needed to ease off.

I soon stopped worrying about whether it would be as fragile as other cotton tires I’ve ridden like the Specialized Turbo Cotton clincher and enjoyed the added comfort that came from such a supple tire.

IFor how well it performs and how relatively little it costs, the Veloflex Corsa Race TLR is a great tire. Even if it wears sooner than others, something I haven’t seen in our testing but I suspect will be the case from its cotton casing, I wouldn’t be dissuaded from riding it.

I just wish they could make it in 28mm and wider sizes.

Why some tires aren’t included in this review

I rated the Bontrager R3 Hard-Case Lite TLR among the best in prior updates of this review because it was one of the most aero, had a great road feel, and was clearly the easiest to install. Since then, others like the Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR measures just as aero and goes on as easily yet has far better tire loss rolling resistance scores.

The Zipp Tangente Speed Road Tubeless tire was a + performer on every one of the criteria that matter most. Unfortunately, Zipp stopped selling the tire when Covid hit likely due to production issues at their supplier. No word on if they plan to bring it or something like it back.

A favorite of many, I included the Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL and rated it well in past updates for it road feel and tire loss rolling resistance despite its installation challenges on some rims. It’s been replaced by the Grand Prix 5000 S TR I reviewed above.

Hutchinson’s Fusion 5 Performance 11 Storm is a light, easy to install, and low-priced tire that I’d included in earlier editions of this review. As other tires have gotten better in the areas that matter most, the Hutchinson no longer competes well on anything other than price.

I’ve tested the ENVE SES Road Tire and included it in the previous update of this review. Regardless of its other performance properties, none of which stand out, I just can’t get past how hard it is to get on and off every rim I’ve tested it with including ENVE ones so have taken it out of this latest update.

Installation challenges also caused me to drop the Vittoria Corsa G+ 2.0 and Maxxis Padrone TR from earlier editions of this review.

While you still need a compressor or floor pump with a high-pressure cylinder like the Joe Blow to get some tires to inflate, you shouldn’t have to engage in hand-to-tire combat to get any tubeless tire on and off a rim these days.

I’ve looked closely at adding other everyday tires with puncture belts that get reviewed in industry publications including the Pirelli Zero Race TLR, Goodyear Eagle F1, and Challenge Strada Pro HTLR. The tire loss rolling resistance of these falls a step or so below the tires that I have included at the 60 to 80 psi pressure range that’s right for most of us.

And then there are a handful of thin, puncture-belt free tubeless tires that have tire loss rolling resistance so low that some enthusiasts may be tempted to ride them if only in races. I’m talking about tires like the Vittoria Corsa Speed G+ 2.0 and Schwalbe Pro One TT TLE.

I’ve not tested them and I don’t race. My fellow tester Miles, who wins a lot in Pro/1/2 regional races and is very competitive in Masters Nationals age group races every year won’t use them. Unless you’ve got a support car following you, it just doesn’t make sense. You flat and your race is over.

The Continental Grand Prix S TR and Schwalbe Pro One TLE that are included in this review are close enough in their tire loss rolling resistance ratings that you may not notice the difference to these top-rated, belt-free tubeless tires. You should be able to regain those watts and then some with more time in your position or by dialing in any number of other incremental gains (inflation pressure, chain lube, better fitting kit, etc.)

* * * * *

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First published on August 9, 2020. Date of the most recent major update is shown at the top of the post.

174 comments

  • I had 2 sets of Hutchinson which both delaminatef at the joins clearly seen when immersed in water. These were exchanged. The third set I binned same type of issue. Since changed to 5000tl love them and no problems

    • My experience with the Conti 5000 TLs is similar. They are EXTREMELY difficult to mount when new. But otherwise, they perform and hold up well. The Schwalbe Pro One TLEs are easier to mount, but don’t roll as well. Also, the Schwalbe are more susceptible to “cuts”. I’m on my second set of both brands with the same observations.

  • Again- thank you. Site is awesome and today it was incredibly timely as I have had 3 flats in a week with brand new rubber (Bontrager R3 clincher but 2 unlucky cuts and one hasty mount that pinched) and was about to order Conti5000 TL when I saw your article this morning…. Four questions: 1) is there a better sealant? lasts longer, evaporates less, seals more, better container so less mess… 2)I had a LBS employee say that he had a few customers he was switching back to clinchers because the tires lost considerable pressure every day. I was sort of confused by two things as I walked away: they said that one ladies tires went from 90PSI to 70 in a day and had to be pumped up each day. I check tire pressure every day so…. so who cares about having to check tire pressure, and why 90PSI to start based on values you checked… essentially shop guy might have many missing knowledge pieces but maybe something to the losing pressure? 3) why would Trek’s own tire not be a good aero fit with their own rim? they know the rule of 105 – right? I’m on last years Madone with Aeolus XXX 4 wheels so had been also considering the Bontrager R3 but were pretty pricy and now seem to be an aero disadvantage…. 4) haven’t gone to TL yet but I lowered my clinchers to the recommended pressure today (82) just for kicks and they felt pretty “squirrelly.” Is that the clinchers or the pressure? will I feel that when I go tubeless? Again – Thank you! Site is my goto and will be buying in a few days based on links from the site.

    • Scott, thanks for your kind feedback and support. Your questions are good ones. My accompanying post called The Realities of Tubeless Road Tires provides some perspective that you may find helpful as you decide what to do next.

      In answer to your specific questions.
      1) I’ve used different sealants but haven’t tested them for the things you’ve asked about. I use Stan’s No Tubes tire sealant. However, with any sealant, you’ll need to be willing to learn how to use it and maintain it in your tires if you want to have success with it. The “Realities” post I linked to above will help get you there.
      2) Tubeless is not for everyone and especially not for riders who aren’t comfortable with change. I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone who doesn’t do their own regular maintenance and things like checking their pressure frequently before riding, cleaning and lubing their chain regularly, washing their bike, etc. Most road cycling enthusiasts do these things, enjoy keeping their bike in great shape, look for the right gear, optimize their pressure, train for events, etc. Most recreational riders leave the maintenance to others, do what the salesman suggests for things like gear, tire pressure, etc. and enjoy riding a few times a week without ever considering a training plan or preparing their physiology for an event. Both are fine but I wouldn’t recommend tubeless to recreational riders as shouldn’t most sales and service people at bike shops.
      3) I asked Bontrager about their view of the Rule of 105. Was told there are many, many factors they model to determine rim and tire dimensions. This is true about most companies that do computational fluid dynamics (CFD) now and trade-off many considerations within and beyond aerodynamic drag. Rule of 105 isn’t an end/be all but is a rule of thumb that seems to work out for many.
      4) “Squirrelly” is a subjective term. If the cornering feels sloppy on you XXX 4, you are likely underinflated. But if the tires just feel a little more comfortable or less hard than what you are used to, that doesn’t mean that they are underinflated. Recommended clincher pressure is typically a little higher than tubeless so make sure you’ve got that dialed into your calculations. Use the Zipp pressure guide to make that distinction. It might take you a while to get comfortable psychologically as well as physically riding at lower pressures. I know it did for me. But after a while, the increased comfort and better handling overcame the sense that I wasn’t hardened up enough. Steve

  • Steve, it’s nice to see your tire reviews not only in-depth but with their selection criteria evolving. I’d like to see your test of the new Enve SES TLR tires, not only the 25c but also the 27c on wide wheels like the Enve 3.4ARs (I ride Light Bicycle WR50s = same width). These being made by Tufo adds a new manufacturer to the mix. I want aero performance but comfort and feel are at the top for me to let me keep riding at 60+ years. Thanks

  • Dan, Thanks for the feedback. Just received and installed the 25c on the SES 5.6. Photos up on our social media accounts. Trying to get a hold of a set of 27c for 3.4 AR tests now but ENVE site shows they won’t be available until December. Will report out on both. Least I can do for a young man like you still wanting aero while enjoying comfort. Cheers, Steve

  • Awesome review as usual, I’ve really come to trust your advice and so far it’s helped me (among other factors) achieve better average speeds – currently about 17.5 to 19.5 mph (depending on the hills and wind) which is about a 2 mph increase since I’ve started reading your posts. The hills are what really kill my average speed, I normally cruise along at 22 to 24 mph on flat pavement and the only advantage I can not seem to gain is the aero effect of the correct rim/tubeless tire combo since I have alloy wheels. I’ve pretty much upgraded every component on my bike so I’m left looking for any marginal gain I can get. I was wondering if you might have any interest in reviewing the Kenda Valkyrie Pro TLR? I already bit the bullet and I’m waiting for a set of 23mm to arrive in hopes that they will fall into the rule of 105 on my rims but I was curious to see if the larger sizes might be a good option for carbon wheels if I ever choose to upgrade. I do realize Kenda tires probably create as much excitement as watching paint dry and the names they choose aren’t the greatest or even remotely related to cycling for that matter but these tires have received some solid reviews from customers (one mentioned that they are narrow) and might be a decent budget option. None of the major cycling websites have done an in-depth review it seems and Kenda doesn’t give any statistics other than weight. I’ve been running the GP 5000TL in 25mm and while they feel amazing and roll fast the amount of air I lose daily is concerning and they always seem to have a bulge in the tire, while this is probably nothing to be worried about it doesn’t inspire confidence. I was also wondering if I should even be concerned about the aero gain with shallow (27mm) rims?

    • Steven, Thanks for your kind feedback. Glad to help. Those are pretty impressive speed gains. As your questions about tires, your last point is the key one. There’s no aero benefit or loss you’ll see because of tire width on 27mm deep wheels. Inflation pressure and the rolling resistance will affect your speed so you want to get both right. I know nothing about the Valkyrie but do know that the Conti GP 5K TL has very low rolling resistance. Steve

      • Might be time to upgrade to carbon wheels after all, thank you.

      • Seeing as the Kenda tires will not be beneficial in the way I had hoped I was looking to get the Zipp Tangentes but the company I like to buy from was out of stock so I opted for the new Michelin Power Road TLRs and I’m actually quite impressed with them. They mounted and seated easy enough and the bead actually stays locked in place on my Easton rims when deflating them completely and removing the valve core which scores major points with me, topping off or replacing sealant will be simple with a syringe and reinflating them will be stress free. Michelin is also buying into the lower pressure concept and has 87 psi listed as the max pressure on 19C rims for these tires. The ride quality (to me) feels better than the GP5000s, they seem to absorb more road buzz but still let you feel enough feedback and they also feel just as fast. I only have about 120 miles on the pair so of course durability and puncture resistance is still in question. Unfortunately I do not own a pair of calipers so I couldn’t tell you how wide they get on 19.5 mm internal rims but they appear similar the the GP5000s so they may or may not be a good aerodynamic option for some carbon wheels. Not sure if you would be interested in trying them out but they seem like a pretty good option.

        • Steven, I have checked into those tires. As a filter to choose between tires, I’ve tested only those that I’d consider everyday training and racing tire and that have a puncture belt. While I hope not to jinx you, the Power Road TLR don’t have a puncture belt in them so I passed. Steve

          • That does concern me, although the puncture resistance is supposed to be decent it is strange they chose to not put one in. Time will tell I guess.

          • The Michelins (surprise) did not end up working out for me, you just may have jinxed me but I’m not blaming you – I should have listened to reason regarding the lack of a puncture belt. I got about a 3 mm cut that would just not permanently seal, too bad because I really enjoy the way they ride. Thankfully I bought the Zipp tubeless tires in anticipation of failure with the Michelins and will install them soon, I was wondering how your luck has been as far as punctures go with them?

          • Steven, Did you try patching the Michelin? A 3mm isn’t that big that you shouldn’t give it a try. Steve

          • I tried using the Stan’s Dart Tool but broke the plastic tip off two of them (wrong angle), I will patch the bad tire and keep them as backups for the Zipps. I just mounted the Tangentes and they were surprisingly easy to get on the rim, so easy I was afraid they might pop off at high pressure but of course that didn’t happen. The beads do stay locked in when the tire is fully deflated (awesome) and first impressions are these are going to have a really nice ride, hopefully my horrendous luck with punctures and sidewall cuts doesn’t continue with these. Thanks again for the in-depth review, if you hadn’t covered the differences in bead thickness I doubt I ever would have considered buying Zipp’s tubeless tires.

          • I’m at a loss here, the maiden voyage with the Zipp tires ended up with my front tire completely popping off the rim (both beads) 13.5 miles into the ride as if it exploded. I don’t know if it’s my rim or a faulty tire or the garbage roads I ride on but I followed the installation instructions Zipp has on YouTube perfectly. I’ve had a Hutchinson tubeless ready tire and a GP5000TL do the same thing when trying to inflate it for the first time but never had a tire do this on the road, has this ever happened to you with any tire?

          • The obvious questions: What wheels are you using? Are they tubeless ready? Tape well? Sealant or tubes? How much sealant? What pressure? What condition are your wheels in?

          • I have Easton EA90SL tubeless ready wheels, the tape (DT Swiss) is in good condition and I use 30-40ml of Stan’s Race sealant. I used Zipp’s tire pressure guide and ran 85/90 front/rear, my wheels are in good condition as far as I can tell – both are still true or very close. There is a very small nick on the outer edge of the rim but I highly doubt it would have caused the tire to blow off. Maybe the Easton’s bead hooks are too small but the Michelin and Zipp beads looks pretty similar to me, I suspect I got a bad tire. I tried reinstalling it to see if it would hold but air was leaking past the bead in at least 2 spots so I couldn’t get it to seat, I did put the Michelins back on with no issue.

          • Steven, Not sure what is going on. That tire and rim combination, if each are sound, should be good up to 100psi or so. Perhaps there’s something going on in the rim that is not easy to see. You might want to have a trained eye look at it.

            I’d also suggest you set aside the Stan’s Race sealant in favor of the Standard sealant. While neither should have caused the tire to blow off the rim, the Race sealant is known to dry up pretty quickly and no longer seal; it is best for race day only. If it was a few days from when you sealed up the tires to when you rode them, that might have contributed to the problem and your Michelin not sealing earlier after the cut you got in the tread.

            Backing into where you’ve set your pressure, I’m estimating you are riding the latest EA90 SL that has a 19.5mm inside rim width, the 25mm width Zipp tires, and you weigh 200 lbs or more. If you weigh less, are using a 28mm tire, or have the prior model EA90 SL that was 17mm, you might want to recheck your pressures settings. Also should use the standard tire casing settings. 85-90 psi is pretty high for tubeless but, again, shouldn’t cause the tire to blow off. Steve

          • You’re right about the wheelset and my weight (205-210), the tires did feel a bit harsh and really fast at that pressure and I was going to drop 5 psi each on the next ride. Thinking about my rim I have had quite a few flats and they always seem to happen at higher speeds or I won’t notice a slow leak until I hit a crater and feel the rim slam against the road. Although the wheel is still true I may have stressed it enough to cause some flex which contributed to the tires blowing off. Seeing as the GP5000TL and Michelin tires inflate well over their advertised widths they most likely would have enough flexibility to stay on the rim whereas the Zipps combination of running true to size and the high pressure I ran them at would make them much more susceptible to blowing off with a compromised rim.

            Thanks again for your feedback, I will switch to the regular Stan’s and have my wheel checked out.

          • Hey Steve, so I ended up replacing my front wheel and getting another Zipp tire and so far they have been excellent. These hold air better than any tires I’ve tried (tubed or tubeless), for the first time ever I actually had to let air out the next day to get the comfort level where I wanted it. They really feel rock solid when leaning into corners, no noticeable deflection even after dropping the front to about 75psi. I don’t know if it’s the compound or the wall thickness but I get the sense these will not puncture (not easily anyway), kind of reminds me of using the GP4000 SII when I felt safe running over just about anything.

            I did buy two more tires to have a spare and one of them has white lettering where the first three have gray. I’m guessing the white lettering is the newer version but was wondering if you know one way or the other or have seen both? I got them from Planet Cyclery so I highly doubt either one are fakes.

          • Steven, Good to hear. Let’s hope your puncture-free rides continue for a while. As to the lettering, I’ve only ever seen white. Steve

  • Michael Faragher

    Great article as usual Steve.

    I run the new Giant SLR-1 disc hookless wheelset and I’m very impressed in combination with the Giant Gavia tyres.

    I have been a dedicated GP4000 and 5000 user in the past.

    I’m puzzled as to why Continental have painted themselves into a corner with there “DO NOT USE ON HOOKLESS RIMS” ruling.

    Surely they are or should have accelerated testing in order to open up a growing and future mainstay of the market in hookless rims?

    Do you have any information from Continental on this?

    When big hitters like Enve, Zipp and Giant are backing hookless rims a big tyre hitter like Continental should be onboard. Both Pirelli and Goodyear have just launched tubeless, hookless compatable tyres as relative newcomers to this area of the market.

    • Michael, I don’t know any more than what Continental has stated. Making tires for cars, bikes, and other wheeled vehicles, they certainly know tires and wheels so I’ll go with their recommendation. There are certainly other brands to choose from that work with hookless rims. Steve

      • Thanks Steve

        Please could you list some of the tyres that you know that are compatible with hookless rims?
        Nick

        • Nick, The list I trust is this one that ENVE publishes and updates for their hookless rim wheels. Zipp says any tire works with their 303 hookless rims but they don’t test different tires (ENVE does) and some tire makers like Continental say their GP5000 TL shouldn’t be used with hookless rims. Steve

    • “I’m puzzled as to why Continental have painted themselves into a corner with there “DO NOT USE ON HOOKLESS RIMS” ruling.”

      The Conti seems to dominate, at least on the Internet. Virtually every single discussion threads or tyre reviews have the Conti mentioned and compared to. It seems that every person on earth who rode a bike have tried them.

      So Continental can afford not to hurry for anything.

  • I can concur with the findings about Pro One TLE – I fitted a pair without having read this review. My first go at tubeless. Fitting was on 24mm external Kinlin 26T rims – and was very easy. The 30mm labelled tyres filled out to only 29.5mm, weighing 290g. The ride quality is OK but not same feel as high quality supple sidewall tyres with latex tubes. I was a bit disappointed having read the glowing reviews.
    My past experience includes the Zipp Speed R28 (non tubeless), looks like I should have stuck with Zipp.

    • Greg, thanks for sharing your experience. One thing I will say in Schwalbe’s favor is that they were first ones I’ve tested that have modified their sizing for modern rim sizes and in sync with where the standards appear to be going. So while tires once mounted and inflated used to be (and many still are) 1-3mm wider than the labeled size, the Schwalbes are a lot closer. Steve

  • I have Easton R90 alloy rims (for rim brakes) and ride on Continental GP5000TL tires. I think the rims are shade under 25mm wide. The tires appear to be >105% when inflated to 75psi. The tires are due for replacement and I’m considering the Zipps you recommended. I ride at 20mph on the flats and do a lot of climbing. What are your thoughts about the aero characteristics of the Zipps for my setup, and should I maybe consider a different tire because of its width?

    • Robert, I wouldn’t worry about the aero characteristics of your tires. The R90 rim specs are 27mm tall, 24.25 max outside width and 19.5mm inside. Your rims aren’t deep enough to bring you any aero benefit. I’d use the other criteria to make your choice. Steve

  • Hey Steve, a general question….do you find that the wear/longevity of a tubeless tire tends to be inferior to that of its non-tubeless counterpart?
    I’m new to tubeless this season (so only have experience with one brand), but note that tread wear is surprisingly quick- particularly on the rear.

    • Dave, I think it depends on the compound and perhaps tire thickness in the tire model regardless of whether it’s tubeless or clincher. For example, the Conti GP 5K clincher and TL both use the same compound so I don’t know why one would last longer than another. Steve

  • Hi
    I Have recently bought a Giant TCR Advances Pro 1, which comes with Giant’s own SLR 1 42mm (deep) wheelset. The rims are 17mm internal and 23mm external. Tubeless ready, but can run clinchers.
    Going by your recommendation, from an aero point of view, at least, I should be looking for a tyre that ‘comes up’ as 22mm.
    Is this correct? Or would a tyre with an actual width of 23mm suffice?
    Many thanks in advance
    Nick

  • Hi Steve: sorry if I missed it in the article, but do your recommendations apply to Enve 3.4 wheels, particularly the Rule of 105/aero benefits? I need new tires and have always used Contis, so am wondering if I should switch up to the Zipps you recommend (on Competitive Cyclist, of course). Thanks!

    • Jay, Depends which ENVE 3.4 are you referring to – 3.4 rim, 3.4 disc or 3.4 AR disc? You can get aero benefits from each using the rule of 105 but they are more limited on shallower wheels like the 40mm or so 3.4 series. The Zipp Tangente Speed Road Tubeless RT25 will give you those benefits on the 3.4 rim and 3.4 disc. The Schwalbe and Specialized reviewed in this post will be marginally more aero than the Zipp RT28 on the 3.4 AR disc but have other drawbacks I wrote about that would steer me toward the Zipp. You should not use the Conti on the 3.4 AR as both Conti and ENVE say they are incompatible. And thanks for supporting the site by using the link to my recommended stores. Steve

      • Thanks for the response, Steve! I should’ve said the ENVE 3.4 disc.

        When ordering the Zipp Tangente, I see references to the “RT25” tire, but also just to the “Speed” tire. Are they different models? By the way, Competitive Cyclist appears to be sold out.

        • Jay, I’ve added links to stores that have the tires in stock. The best price is now $59 at this link to Planet Cyclery, another store I recommend and that supports the site. The tire model is the Zipp Tangente Speed Tubeless. The RT25 stands for Road Tubeless 25mm. It also comes in an RT28 or Road Tubeless 28mm. They also make Tangente Speed Clincher and Tangente Speed Tubular tires for clincher and tubular wheels. But you want the Tangente Speed Tubeless 25mm tire often referred to as the RT25 for your 3.4 disc. Hope that covers it. Cheers, Steve

  • Love you reviews. Do the Zipp NSW 303 have an internal width of 21 mm, I thought NSWs were 19 mm? In your review on the best rim carbon wheelsets where the best performers were the NSW 303 and Bontrager XXX4, you said you ran tubeless, do you remember the tires you used for that review in Feb. 2020?
    Thank you

  • There seems to be something wrong with Enve’s Aero Drag + Rolling Resistance Drag chart in the 3rd section. The blue line (Aero Drag + Rolling Drag) should be a simple sum of the other two (Aero and Rolling separated) shouldn’t it? It obviously isn’t. For example, at 20MPH Aero Drag looks like 120W and Rolling 45W, the combination should be about 165W. I agree that rolling drag is certainly less important but I don’t come to the conclusion that it is insignificant.

    Other than that I very much appreciate this analysis!

    • Clarence, Yeah, I agree. It looks like it’s poorly drawn. Best to look at the orange and grey lines. However, I don’t think I wrote that rolling resistance is insignificant but that it “matters relatively less than aero drag starting around 12 miles per hour and increasingly less as you go faster.” With few exceptions, the amount of difference between like tires is so small (a couple of watts) that making a choice on rolling resistance alone rather than also considering aero performance would be a mistake. Great aero and rolling resistance performance would be ideal but I’d prioritize the aero drag (rule of 105 as a surrogate) if I had to choose between them. Steve

  • Bought a pair of Zipp Tangente in early 2019 – without being ridden, both sprung leaks in the centre of the tread (sprayed my mechanic’s workshop with sealant)! These were successfully returned and since then have used original Pro 1 (cut-up quite quickly but pretty reliable) and Hutchinson (easy to install, grippy, but have had a few sidewall gashes and gone through tires quite quickly). GP 5000 in the cupboard for next tire change (not looking forward to fitting).

    Performance not being my main goal, my general argument for tubeless is, if it saves you having to change a tube even once, it is one time you did not have to do a puncture repair by the side of the road. But be sure to prove you can get the tire off if you have an issue, and be able to remove the valve (I use ones that let you use a hex key and little spanner e.g. muc-off). Following these rules, I did convince my partner to go tubeless and she has already avoided at least one puncture stop.

    Regarding Zipp, I have also had a Zipp wheel fail with a negative warranty experience (should post details of this somewhere more appropriate for other’s to consider when buying wheels), so overall would never purchase a SRAM / Zipp product ever again!

    • Anthony, That’s an unbelievable experience you had with the Zipp tires. With your experience on the Schwalbe and Hutchinson, sounds like you are pretty hard on tires. With performance not being your main goal, you might want to go with more of an all-seasons kind of tubeless tire rather than any I’ve reviewed here. Steve

  • Thanks for the in-depth review! Much appreciated. I am getting ready to install my 2nd pair of Zipp Speed rt25 tires. I started using them last year mainly due to ease of installation compared to the competition, and have been very happy with them. I have a new wheelset (HED Jet6) which will be used mainly for racing next year. With winter coming and only occasionally using these wheels, I was thinking of just leaving tubes in for while and having one less bike/wheelset to worry about maintaining sealant or the sealant drying out. But I notice the Zipp box and tire itself say “Tubeless Only”. Do you have any idea if this disclaimer is meaningful in practice? I thought you could always put a tube in any tubeless tire. Thanks.

    • Bill, As with you, I can’t think of any reason why you couldn’t put a tube in. Perhaps give a call to Zipp on Monday to see if they can explain what’s on the box. Steve

  • What has happened to the Zipp Tangente tubeless? The have become almost impossible to find and now the RT 28 doesn’t even show up on Zipp’s website. I got one from R&A Cycles that came with a white decal which was discolored (yellowish) where it had been exposed to light in the original box. Although I didn’t find that acceptable, I kept it since they are so scarce. Eventually R&A somehow got some more in stock (when nobody else was), so I ordered a second one. It came with a silver/grey decal rather than white, but looking at it closely you could see it was also discoloring where it was exposed to light in the box display opening. Now the R&A website says the RT28 has been discontinued. The do show RT25’s in stock. Zipps website never showed them with a silver decal. Very confusing. Any idea what’s up Steve?

    • Greg, This is another case of demand exceeding supply and supply being constrained by Covid. I know it’s very frustrating but is happening all across cycling and in most other industries where product is in high demand. I called Zipp customer service and they confirmed the RT28s are out of stock on their site but have not been discontinued. I regularly update the post after searching all of the stores I recommend and post links where they are available from the best stores at the best prices.

      As to your experience with R&A, I can only say it’s not a store I recommend because their customer service rating from the independent services I use rate them poor (Trustpilot) and average (Google). Discolored labels could mean they didn’t store the tires well or they are older tires that have been sitting around for a while. Either way, they aren’t ones that are likely to give you the performance of a newer tire. Not sure what the deal is with the silver/grey decal.

      While I do recommend the RT25 tires, there are other good 28C tires, some of which will give you better aero performance if that’s important to you or are available at a lower price if not the same performance to hold you over until the RT28s are back in stock. Cheers, Steve

  • Hi Steve,
    I bought a pair of Enve SES 3.4 rim brake wheels this winter and am very anxious for the snow to go away so I can get on the road to ride them.
    I know you rate them well , as I used your advice and a recommendation from a wheel builder to confirm my decision.
    These are new 2020 model with 21 mm inside width , 38 deep front and 42 deep rear.
    My question for you is which tire do you think is best for this wheelset.
    I have the new Enve 25 mm tires ( I ordered them with the wheels), but I wonder if you have a particular 700×25 tire you know works especially well with this wheelset ?
    My priorities are , comfort , and then speed and ease of installation .
    Thanks , you remain a trusted resource .
    Dave

    • David, I haven’t completed my review of the ENVE tires but, since you already have them and they are designed for the wheels you bought, I’d start there. If you don’t care for them, you can refer to my recommendations in this review. But no, I don’t recommend specific tires for specific wheelsets. Rather, specific tires maximize aero performance on specific rim widths and other factors I detail in the post. But since comfort is your priority and the 3.4 aren’t deep enough to have a big aero impact, you could easily pick from those I’ve rated at the top of the recommendations section based on what is most important to you. Steve

  • Hi Steve – impressive work with this post!

    I just took delivery of my 4.5 AR earlier than expected and now I’m scrambling around researching the best tubeless tires to get.

    The ENVE website states the front wheel width is 31mm (30.5mm for the rear) and after speaking with their support team they stated that their new SES 27c Road Tire inflates to 30mm and their 29c inflates to 31mm.

    If I’m understanding correctly, 30mm + 105% = 31.5mm.. so even though ENVE say the wheels are optimized for 28c, their own 27c inflates too much to have any aero benefits – is that right?

    I’m waiting for them to email me back with what their 25c tires inflate too.. was really looking forward to running 28s though lol.

    • Edward, It’s a bit more nuanced than you describe it but it’s probably my fault for not making this clearer in the post. While I haven’t tested or measured the production line ENVE tires, I think you’ll be best with the SES 27c or the Schwalbe Pro One 28c tubeless tires.

      Here’s why. First, these numbers and their effects are more shades of grey than black and white. For example, ENVE shoots for 31.0 and 30.5 front and rear external rim widths but on the 4.5AR I tested, the front rim width came in at 31.2 and the rear at 30.4. Since there are tolerances around these widths (along with my measurement accuracy) and, in my experience widths vary 0.1 to 0.3 at different places on most rims, yours may be wider or narrower than the target.

      Second, tire widths depend on both tire pressure and tire use. Higher tire pressure increases tire width and a tire with 1000 miles on it is wider than a new one. Exactly how much difference depends on the pressure range and tire but were talking about 0.1 to 0.5mm in my experience.

      Third, the aero benefit starts to kick in around 18-20 mph and, since it’s exponential, you really start to feel it in sustained momentum around 22-23 mph and up. The 4.5AR is aero for sure but is more of an all-around wheelset that brings aero, comfort, handling, crosswind mgmt. and other benefits in good measure. If aero is your overwhelming priority, you’d want to go for a deeper wheelset, for example, the ENVE 5.6 or something with 55-65mm deep wheels.

      And finally, as long as the tire isn’t wider than rim, you aren’t wiping out the aero benefits of the wheelset when riding at 18-20 mph speeds and higher. Yes, the greatest benefit kicks in at 105% and there’s notably less benefit below but if you are at 103% (31/30), you aren’t wiping out all your aero benefits of a deeper wheelset.

      BTW, I definitely wouldn’t go with a 25c tire on that rim. Yes, it will likely exceed the rule of 105 but on a 25mm internal width rim, the tire’s sidewalls will get rounded off, provide less support to your rims, and make your handling very sketchy.

      I hope that makes things clearer. Steve

      • Hi Steve, thank you for the detailed reply!

        ENVE wrote back to me saying do not use 25c on 4.5AR as they just won’t work.

        I primarily ride in Miami where it’s flat as a pancake so 100 mile rides at 20mph avg are quite common, with shorter rides averaging 21-24mph so I almost went for the ENVE 5.6 – but.. it gets hella windy here with the various tropical storms and hurricanes we frequently have, plus I plan to travel with my bike to more mountainous regions so opted for the 4.5AR as I’m also a big fan of comfort on my long rides and hoping wider tires will help with that, as well as with grip when caught in a sudden downpour.

        I ended up ordering the ENVE 29c last night before reading your reply, and have put an order in for the 27c but probably won’t receive those until May!
        Hopefully the 29c won’t feel too sluggish and I’ll be able to get some use out of them on light gravel after I run 27c as default.

        • What did the Schwalbe Pro One 28c inflate to for you?

          I noticed you said the 28c is like their old 25c, so if they’re 28mm inflated then I’ll try cancel my ENVE order.

          • Edward, See the Rim to Tire ratio chart in the post for all the details. Steve

          • Got it – thank you.

            Curious to know why you would recommend the Schwalbe Pro One over the S-Works Turbo RapidAir?

            One reason for going for the ENVE 29c was the aesthetics of matching to the rim, but S-Works will match my frame and your write up on them seems better than the Schwalbe.

          • Aesthetics!$%&? We do science 🙂 Look at the numbers; the Schwalbe is a slightly narrower (and therefore more aero) tire that is also less expensive than the Spech. It performs similarly except on comfort.

          • Haha I hear you. Didn’t realize there were further aero gains going beyond 105%, surely there’s a point where 108% vs 111% see incredibly diminishing returns vs say 103% vs 105% because even though it’s only a 2pt vs 3pt difference, you’re crossing the threshold required to see gains?

          • Look at the chart. The 4.5 AR front rim width is between the HED Eroica and 3.4 AR on the chart. Based on how the Schwalbe and Spech measured on those rims, I’m projecting that the Schwalbe will come in closer to 105 than the Spech on the 4.5 AR.

          • My mistake then, I had been assuming the width was the same between the 3.4 and 4.5 AR and was just using data in chart for 3.4, but there’s a 1 and 1.5mm smaller width on the 4.5AR per ENVE’s specs (weird the rear would be narrower than the front).

            From Schwalbe: “The 28c Pro One is true to width on a 19mm wide internal rim, so on your 25mm internal rims it’s going to be about 30-31 mm wide.”

            From Specialized: “Unfortunately, we haven’t mounted our tires and measured them on those wheels so I can’t give you an exact measurement. I can tell you that our S-Works Turbo RapidAir 28mm measures 29.9 on our CLX 32 rim with an internal width of 20.7mm. So on that ENVE rim that you have, maybe 31mm.”

            It seems there’s no tire that will meat the 105% rule for 4.5 AR even though both of the above mentioned do on the 3.4 AR.. I wonder if the 1/1.5mm narrower width makes up for not being able to recapture the air around the rims?

            If I can find the right tool, I’ll measure my 4.5 ARs for you. But let’s assume the 31mm is really an average of 31.2mm around the rim based on the variance of the 3.4 – this would mean I need a tire that inflates to no more than 29.7mm if I’m to hit that sweet spot, correct?

  • Sebastian Riedel

    There is no link to rolling resistance tests in the article. Where was the Zipp tire tested as fast as the Gp5000?

    • Sebastian, Rolling resistance test results vary depending on protocol so my ratings show relative differences from tests done by respected, independent testers rather than absolute scores based on a single test or protocol or a company-sponsored test or set of claims. For the Zipp tires, I looked at tests done by Wheel Energy for Bike Radar reported here. Yes, not exactly the same tires against the same competition, blah, blah, blah but the same/similar compounds as in the current tires made by the same companies. BRR will be testing the Zipp tire using their own protocol later this month for added perspective.

      I’ll also use this opportunity to paraphrase what I wrote in the section above on this topic: Rolling resistance differences found in the lab between the kind of tires I evaluated are not more than a few watts, will be more or less significant depending on the road surface you ride, and matters relatively less than aero drag at the kinds of speeds most enthusiasts ride. Steve

      • Sebastian Riedel

        Thanks for the reply. Unfortunately I cannot open the link (‘this site can’t be reached’). My rims are 31mm wide, so all 25c tires should obey the 105% rule. Also, according to the figure in your article, rolling drag is bigger than 10% of the total aerodynamic drag (wheels 10% of total) even at 30 mph. So for me rolling resistance is the deciding factor (if I compare tires with proper puncture protection) maybe price and weight as well. Never had tubeless installation problems except with a corsa speed 1.0

  • I’ve been riding regular GP5000’s for 3-4 years with very little problems. I think I’ve ran 2-3 tires in the rear in that time, around 4-5000km per year. So I was really happy about that, also because I had only 1 or 2 flats.

    Now with my new bike I run the same width (28mm) GP5000’s, but now in tubeless. Getting them on was a b*tch, but once they were on they were a-ma-zing. Really great rolling and subtle.

    However, now around 6 months later I’ve had 2 flats, which couldn’t be fixed by the sealant. I’ve managed to patch one hole, but now again another similar hole. Not in the center of the contact patch of the road, but also not at the sidewall, a little in between.

    My main concern is that I’m screwed when this happens when I’m far from home. Both times happened near home so I could work. I always carry a spare tube, but I don’t see myself changing a TL GP5000 along the road, they’re so difficult to get back on…

    I think the last flat happened when I did some light gravel where they used some concrete rubble to patch some holes. I love to do some light gravel sometimes, and it was fine with the tubes, but seems to puncture quickly without tubes and can’t get patched with just sealant.

    So I’m wondering, what kind of tire should I go for next? Something still fast, but easier to get off and on when I need to, and something maybe a bit more suited for light gravel. I do 90% of my riding on smooth tarmac, so I don’t want to lose too much speed, but having something that doesn’t puncture this quickly would be nice. I’m on a gravel bike so I can fit wider tires, like 36 or 38c without issues.

    • Gerben, Yeah, road tires in this review will puncture riding over gravel like what you’ve described. I did a gravel tire review with tires in the 35 to 40c width range. They are intended for a wider range of gravel surfaces than you are describing but there are some very fast ones in that group. Steve

  • That’s insane Zipp is discontinuing production of the Tangente tubeless tire, did they happen to mention why? I’ve been loving these tires – fast rolling, no punctures, they hold air incredibly well and haven’t worn down all that much. I’m wondering if they might be cooking up a TLR version that weighs less as that seems to be the trend lately. I was also wondering if you will be reviewing the new Pirelli P-Zero tire?

    • Steven, Haven’t heard a good reason for Zipp pulling these tires and don’t know their plans for the future. Not planning to review the P-Zero Race TLR. Reports from others suggested that they are rather average. Steve

      • Wouldn’t you know it, the next ride after mentioning no punctures I get a slice that sealant won’t fix – had to be at least 5mm. Looking forward to seeing which tire you recommend to replace the Tangente.

  • So seems like ENVE 4.5 AR Disc + Bontrager R3 TLR – 28mm is the best performing combination overall?

    • While I haven’t tested that combination, I rate each as best performers and based on how the R3s size up on other 25mm wheels, would expect they would be an aero combination.

  • I’m running Bontrager R3 HC Lite non tubeless, on my 3rd set, 10k km and still no punctures. Could I run a tube in a set of Bontrager HC Lite TLR without ruining the performance?
    Dont ask why or tell me to run tubeless please….

    • Yes. You can run a tube in any tubeless tire including the R3

      • Steve, just a heads up that Rennrad included the bontrager in its recent tire test. Came in about 7 watts (single tire) behind the test winner (pro one TLE and GP5K) in terms of rolling resistance. Also to note, having spoken to Schwalbe reps, this year’s run on the Pro One TLE has been reinforced with a thicker side wall (now 15g heavier) and the compound has been tweaked. And based on Rennrad and RoadBike tests, appears to now be on level with the GP5K (and arguably faster given the well documented drop in Crr performance of GP5K as they wear).

        • Kevin, Thanks for your comment. I looked at the Rennrad test results. If the Bontrager R3 is indeed 7 watts behind or 56% higher than the Conti GP5K TL and Schwalbe Pro One TLE, then there is a problem. I don’t know where the problem might lay – the tires we rode, the tires they tested, the test protocols and controls, etc. or the rolling resistance is actually that much higher – but Miles, Nate, and I would likely notice if one tire had that much more rolling resistance than another. I expect BRR will run their test on the Bontrager in July so we’ll have another data point from a source whose tests and protocol are independent and a bit more transparent. (note, Rennrad did their lab testing at Scwhalbe.)

          I also wouldn’t (and don’t) put a lot of stock in what a company rep says. And I’d expect the Crr increases somewhat for all tires as they age. BRR’s tests on the clincher Conti GP5K showed the rolling resistance to be only about a watt higher (10%) after 5km of wear.

          I’ll also reiterate that rolling resistance matters less the faster you go and the deeper your wheels. Other things like the actual installed and inflated width of the tire on your rims (Rule of 105/108), the road feel (grip, handling, comfort), and their ease of installation (mount, inflate, seal, dismount) are equally if not more important depending on how and what you ride and what’s most important to you. Steve

  • The update to this review prompted me to check and realize my 5000TL’s have just about reached the end of their useful (and disappointingly short) life. For anyone looking to try the R3 TLR, better grab them fast if you can find them. At least in the 700x 28mm, they are backordered til Nov ’21 (which is not exactly prime riding time here in the northeast). After calling around, I finally found a shop with 3 on their shelf, and thus grabbed a pair. This supply shortage of bike stuff is a drag.
    Thanks, Steve, for keeping us in the know.

  • Hey Steve, were you running the Rapidairs in the recommended pressures range? 85-100 seems counterintuitive for tubeless although I’m sure they have their reasons. I was able to find one Bontrager tire nearby to replace my rear tire but unfortunately the bead was too wide for my alloy rims so I went with a set of the S-works instead. I’m heavy so I tried running them at 90 front and 95 rear but had to let air out during the first ride since it was quite harsh.

    • Steven, Depends on the tire size and inside rim width in addition to your weight. I’d use one of the tire pressure calculators I put up links to in the post to close in on where you might start and then go up or down in 5psi increments from there to get the best combo of road feel (grip, handling, comfort) for your preference. Steve

      • I have used the calculators before and they typically suggest pressures slightly higher than I prefer. I was pretty happy running 75/85 with the discontinued 25mm Zipp tires, and I may have been taking Specialized’ recommendations too seriously. Those pressures are probably there for racing since that is supposed to be what they were developed for, just wasn’t sure at first if it was risky to go lower than 85psi. I’m most likely overthinking the matter, definitely going to try dropping to the pressures I was running before. Thanks again for a great review and the recent update, the search for the perfect tire may be never ending but they are definitely improving. I’ve only done one 16 mile ride on the S-Works but initial impressions are very good, just hoping they last me a few thousand miles or more.

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