Check out our YouTube channel to see our independent and sponsor-free video reviews.

THE BEST TUBELESS BIKE TIRES

Among tubeless tires for everyday road cycling and racing, I’ve found that a tire’s aerodynamics, road feel, rolling resistance, and ease of installation matter most to your speed and experience. The Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR performs nearly as well as or better against these criteria as other tires we’ve tested or considered for this comparative review. 

At the time of this update, you can find it at Competitive Cyclist, BTD (BikeTiresDirect), Performance Bike, Amazon, Merlin, Sigma Sports, and BikeInn.

Slightly more expensive but with even better grip and comfort and similar rankings on most other key performance criteria is the Vittoria Corsa Pro G2.0 TLR. You can order a pair through these links to Competitive Cyclist, BTD (BikeTiresDirect), Performance Bike, Amazon, Sigma Sports, and BikeInn.


In The Know Cycling is ad-free, subscription-free, and reader-supported. If you want to help keep it rolling without any added cost to you, buy your gear and kit after clicking the store links on the site. When you do, we may earn an affiliate commission that will help me cover the expenses to create and publish our independent, comprehensive and comparative reviews. Thank you, Steve. Learn more.

If you want the best tubeless tires for your road bike, there’s much 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 influence 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 tire 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.


Related Reviews

THE BEST CARBON ROAD BIKE WHEELS

THE BEST GRAVEL TIRES

HOW WIDE WHEELS AND TIRES CAN MAKE YOU FASTER

 


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 the easiest setup 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 matter relatively less, including puncture resistance, weight, wear, and price. 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 bike tires for everyday training and racing, most 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 whose tire loss rolling resistance isn’t in the top tier, are a bear to install, or are intended for time-trial racing. 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, my research for that post led me to conclude that today’s wide wheels and 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 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 these 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 represent 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, and 32+mm wide outside using a hookless rim.

Depending on the rim and tire size, I inflate the tires to 60psi/4.1 bar and/or 80psi/5.5 bar for these tire measurements on hooked rims. I’ve used these pressures partly 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 bike 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 recommends a pressure closest to where I end up after my experiments of 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 create 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 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 must 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, our tires will likely be another 0.5mm or wider most of the time we ride them, i.e., after about 1000km or 620 miles.

The chart below shows 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 tire’s life, 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 takeaways

Click the chart to enlarge it.

Best Tubeless Tires rim to tire measurements

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

* The actual width of the same size tubeless bike tires from different brands can measure very differently, especially for narrower tires on narrower rims at higher pressure and 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 1.4mm different in actual width (rim wider than tire by 1.7mm, 0.9mm, 0.6mm, 0.3mm) and only two will remain narrower than the rim after about 1000 km or 600 miles of wear
  • 28mm size tires set up on the 25.0mm inside, 32.3mm outside rim at 60psi are as much as 2.0mm different in actual width (rim wider than tire by 2.8mm, 2.5mm, 1.8mm, 0.8mm)

* 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 three 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 Schwalbe Pro One TLE, and 26mm Specialized S-Works Turbo Rapid Air, which measure about the same.

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

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 take those corners and do those maneuvers or generally accelerate on your bike. While it’s hard to measure, the added confidence that comes from tubeless bike 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 the 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 tire’s width, 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 road bike 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 limited 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 patterned tread channels moisture on wet roads and trips the air to reduce aerodynamic drag. Not wanting to mess with Mother Nature or Father Grime, I religiously mount tires in the direction indicated, hoping 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 much 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.

These testers measure the rolling resistance from the tire compound and casing losses. I refer to this as tire-loss rolling resistance.

They don’t measure 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. I refer to these as vibration-loss rolling resistance.

Both of these types of losses add to your total rolling resistance. But as you increase tire pressure, tire-loss rolling resistance decreases and vibration-loss rolling resistance increases.

At a certain “breakpoint” pressure unique to each tire model and size, rim size, rolling surface, rider and bike weight, and perhaps a few other factors, the increased losses from vibration will overcome the reduction of resistance in the tire. That’s the pressure just below which you want to inflate your tires and the one that most tire pressure calculators suggest.

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 bike 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 for training and racing but not time trial or track tires) 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.

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, Aerocoach, 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 road bike tires for everyday use.

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 should 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, ensure 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 valve blocks the channel, 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 some videos showing some best practices for installing 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, then put on the tire, inflate, and seat it before injecting your 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 also works if you don’t have a valve with a removable core to 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 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 bike 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 the 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 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; even a 250lb/115kg rider 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 for everyday training and racing.

By my lights, puncture resistance testing data essentially evaluates the strength of your puncture belt and the thickness of your tread and 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 develop them soon.

In the meantime, we default to puncture resistance data.

The most important thing you can do to overcome a puncture is to ensure 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 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 seal quickly 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 a thin tread and casing intended only for time trials. 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 training and racing tires 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) ranges from 233 to 267 grams and averages 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 lightweight, 23-gram Tubolito S-Tubo Road tube, 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? The 28mm tires we’ve tested 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 25mm or 28mm wide is a fun exercise but comes up with very small 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 my fellow testers and I get to try out and evaluate a lot of new gear and report that to you. The bad news is that we don’t get to ride any set of tires for more than 1,000 miles and spend a lot of time installing and removing them 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 2,500 miles while another goes 4,000 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.

The bottom line: wear and price are two criteria I believe should matter less.

8. Price

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

Depending on supply and demand or individual store discounting practices, one or two may sell for as much as $20/£15/€10 more or less. 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.


Find what you're looking for at In The Know Cycling's Know's Shop


  • Compare prices on in-stock cycling gear at 15 of my top-ranked stores
  • Choose from over 75,000 bikes, wheels, components, clothing, electronics, and other kit
  • Save money and time while supporting the site when you buy at a store after clicking on a link

Reviews and Recommendations of Tubeless Bike Tires

The chart below shows the relative ratings of tubeless road bike 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 most of those we evaluated. Those that performed better get a “+” rating; those that performed worse get a “-.”

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

Best Tubeless Tire Comparison


 

Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR

Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR

Market price US$85, £60, €50. Available at Competitive Cyclist, BTD (BikeTiresDirect), Performance Bike, Amazon, Merlin, Sigma Sports, and BikeInn.

The Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR replaced the popular 5000 TL, Conti’s first tubeless tire. The company set high expectations for the S TR, notably its claims of reduced rolling resistance, hookless compatibility, and easier installation than the TL.

While introduced in late Fall 2021, popular sizes were hard to find during the pandemic, and whatever sizes were available sold at the top of the price range for training and racing tubeless tires.

That’s all changed now. Prices have come down to competitive levels, and the “Conti GP5K S” is now widely available.

My fellow In The Know Cycling testers and I found this tire’s performance and ease of installation superior to others available when we first began testing them. They became the standard against which we compare tubeless tires that have followed and the benchmark tire we use to test different wheelsets.

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 or narrower (and sufficiently aero) as the best of the other tubeless tires on rims that measure 30mm and wider.

Getting the S TR tire on rims and inflating them continues to be one of the easiest of any I’ve mounted in 7 years of installing tubeless tires, including the 50+ installations I did across 8 wheelsets from 5 leading brands for this 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 bike 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 inflates on nearly every wheelset I tested with a regular floor pump.

This is a HUGE improvement over the experience installing the prior generations of tubeless tires, including the Conti GP 5K 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.

The new S TR is also compatible with hookless rims. But don’t inflate it above the 72.5psi or 5 bar level established by the ETRTO and ISO standards organizations and agreed to by the leading wheelset makers.

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, 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 Michelin Power Cup TLR and Vittoria Corsa Pro TLR match among everyday tubeless tires. But once again, they overpromised on something they really didn’t need to.

With its 50-gram weight loss, the 25mm S TR is one of the lightest tires in this review. 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.

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 why it has been shown in tests by BRR to have less puncture resistance than the TL and most other tires we’ve compared it to this review.

We have punctured a couple of the S TRs over the last few years, but considering all the miles that the half-dozen pairs we’ve been using have seen, flats have not been an issue.

My advice? Keep the sealant topped off on this and any tubeless tire. With the right level of sealant, tubeless tires are still far more puncture-resilient than tubed and clinchers.

This Grand Prix 5000 S TR’s road feel – its comfort, handling, grip – is good. While not quite to the outstanding level of the Veloflex Corsa Race TLR and Vittoria Corsa Pro TLR we’ve reviewed below, it’s very good and on par with what we enjoyed with the TL.

The S TR’s handling through corners is worthy of your total trust. We push it hard in crits, sweeping downhill turns, and fast group rides and come away feeling very confident that the S TR is riding shotgun, able to cover our flanks (and keep us upright).

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

While the S TR is sufficiently comfortable, it’s not quite at the level of the plush Spech RapidAir or the feeling you get from the cotton casings in the Veloflex and Vittoria. And like all the Contis that use the same Black Chili compound, the S TR is noisier than most tires, including others in this comparative review.

Bottom line, the Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR scores as well as or better than other everyday tubeless tires on more of the performance measures I believe matter most while getting dinged on a few criteria that matter less.

Vittoria Corsa Pro G2.0 TLR

Market Price: US$105, £90, €88. Available through links to Competitive Cyclist, BTD (BikeTiresDirect), Performance Bike, Amazon, Sigma Sports, and BikeInn.

The Vittoria Corsa Pro G2.0 TLR is my answer to the question: What tubeless tire would you ever want to ride beside the Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR?

Vittoria appears to have combined the superior handling, grip, and comfort of the cotton casing historically used in tubulars and some clinchers into a tubeless tire that’s sufficiently aero and easy to install.

And, unlike other cotton tires where the tread is glued on the casing, the Vittoria Corsa Pro’s tread is heat bonded or “vulcanized.” Independent testers, including Bicycle Rolling Resistance and Aerocoach, show that its tire-loss rolling resistance puts it in the same top tier as the Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR and Michelin Power Cup TLR, likely due in part to that process.

Putting the characteristics, numbers, and comparisons aside, riding the Vittoria Corsa Pro gives you the confidence to do things you might not usually try or succeed on other everyday training and racing tubeless tires.

Cornering hard, riding bumpy pavement, or racing in the rain like a pro, they take you to the next level.

Miles, my P-1-2 fellow tester, did training rides, fast group rides, and a couple of races on the Corsa Pro.

For him, they had great straight-line speed and excelled on bumpy terrain. Dropping the pressure a few psi before the start of a wet criterium, he felt “supremely confident” on a hard left-hand turn at the bottom of a downhill on every lap.

All this while “overcoming the limitations” of a very rigid, budget-priced carbon wheelset I had mounted them on.

His review notes included this memorable line: “To be honest, I never really found this tire’s limits.”

My most memorable ride on the Vittoria Corsa Pro was at the inaugural Tour de Cider Donuts, a mixed A and B-level club ride with a ton of climbing and a half dozen stops at apple orchards to fuel up on… cider donuts. The ride felt like a series of 7-10 mile sugar-powered intervals over less than smooth pavement covered in spots by leaves, pine cones, and needles that had fallen in the previous night’s rain.

Knowing I would ride above my usual speed (mixed group rides always seem to move at the pace of the faster riders), I mounted these tires on some light climbing wheels and hoped for the best.

The Corsa Pro’s comfort and supple road feel made me smile as soon as I started rolling. Their grip and speed allowed me to hang with the group until I dropped back after the first couple of donut stops to get some video of my friends in the C group.

Throughout the ride, I worried that the worn roads along the route, the rough ones entering the orchards, and the leaves and pine cones I rode over might flat one of my tires.

Not an issue. Indeed, the puncture tests done by BRR show the Vittoria Corsa Pro falls in the same range as the Conti GP 5K S tubeless tires. And while I need to pump them up before each ride, similar once again to what I need to do with the Conti’s, they don’t seem to lose air during the ride.

But since they have a cotton casing, they wear faster than most tubeless tires, right? While we’ve found that true with the cotton Veloflex Corsa Race TLR tires, that’s not been our experience with these Vittorias.

Given their price, the race-day riding experience they give you, and how hard it is not to think of all cotton tires as fragile, it’s natural to think you should save these for your fastest days on the smoothest surfaces.

I get it, and I won’t blame you if you want to do that. Me? I haven’t taken them off the wheels I love to ride when I’m not testing others or when it’s time to show up for a fast group ride.

Michelin Power Cup TLR

Michelin Power Cup Tubeless Tire
Market price US$80, €50. Available at the best prices using these links to BTD (BikeTiresDirect), Performance Bike, Amazon, and BikeInn.

The Michelin Power Cup TLR competes well against the top-performing everyday training and racing tubeless tires we’ve tested.

The Power Cup’s grip is its best feature. On smooth and rough roads, both on dry and wet days, its grip gives me the confidence to ride as hard and fast as I want to.

My fellow tester Miles especially likes how the grip feels in corners, and being a P/1/2 racer, he typically rides through corners very fast.

Compared to other tires, the Power Cup TLR’s grip seems somewhat tacky, as if it is sticking to the road surface. Am I paying a rolling resistance price for that grip?

Apparently not. Bicycle Rolling Resistance’s drum roller tests show the 28mm Michelin Power Cup offers as little tire-loss rolling resistance as the Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR, both a couple of watts or so better than other high-performance tubeless tires I’ve reviewed in BRR’s medium to high air pressure test range.

Aerocoach’s tests show similarly competitive results for the 25mm sizes of those two tires and the 26mm wide Vittoria Corsa Pro TLR.

At the pressure that Miles and I ride the Power Cup, it is also about as comfortable as the Contis, a feeling that neither adds to or takes away from the ride.

The tubeless “installation experience” – getting the tires on the rim, inflating them, getting them to seal initially and hold air between rides, and removing a tire if needed – is also average, not as good as the easiest or as challenging as the hardest.

The Power Cup TLR is more bulbous than others in this category. At 80 psi, the 28mm model measures about the same width as a hookless rim with a 32mm outside and 25mm inside width. At 60 psi, that rim is about a millimeter wider than the tire. Compared to other 28mm labeled tires in this review, the Power Cup TLR gives you marginal aero benefit and less performance than tire-rim combinations on other 28mm labeled which measure 1-2mm narrower.

On rims in the range of 28mm outside and 21mm inside width, the 28mm Power Cup measures wider than the rim, creating a disadvantageous aero profile until you get well below 60psi. While I didn’t measure it, using a 25mm tire with that size rim would likely give you better aero performance while giving up some comfort.

For more comfort, Michelin also makes the Power Cup in a 30mm width. But that tire sets up wider than even the 32mm outside, 25mm inside width rim at the lower tire pressure that you’d want to ride the wider tire.

Michelin labels the Power Cup TLR with a minimum pressure of 73 psi or 5 bar for their 28mm and 25mm tire sizes. That’s 8 to 17 psi higher than the level suggested by the SRAM guide and about 10 to 20 psi above where I ultimately found the most performance and comfort from the Michelin Power Cup TLR, depending on the width and presence of hooks on the wheels I used to test the tires.

I go into more detail about our experience riding this tire below its minimum pressure, tire pressure guides, minimum pressure labels on this and other tires, implications for hookless rims, and what you should do about it in my individual review of the Power Cup TLR.

But experience and my independent streak tell me I’m okay riding the Power Cup TLR at the pressures I ride other high-performance tubeless tires on hooked and hookless rims at today’s typical rim widths.

If you value grip and low tire-loss rolling resistance with decent comfort and acceptable installation hassle, these Michelin tires offer a good option.

Schwalbe Pro One TLE

Schwalbe Pro One TLE

Market price US$77, £50, €60. Available at the best prices through these links to Competitive Cyclist, BTD (BikeTiresDirect), Merlin, and Sigma Sports.

Schwalbe introduced the successor to the popular Pro One tubeless tire in 2020, around the same time the ETRTO standards body had clarified 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 had 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. Its grip and handling are good but surpassed by the other tires in this review, all of which were introduced after this latest Schwalbe Pro One.

Rolling resistance results from several independent testers show it a few watts off the leaders’ pace. While I have always found it fine for my B-group riding speeds, my fastest fellow testers have told me they prefer the performance of the Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR and several of the other tires we’ve tested more recently.

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 is one of the toughest of the current generation of tubeless tires 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.

It’s a stiff bead that almost always requires 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 ensure there aren’t tire sections still hiding below the rim edge.

While priced below most of the other tubeless tires in this review, its relative performance tendency to wear more quickly makes it time for a new Schwalbe Pro One model if they are to keep up to the competition.

Specialized S-Works Turbo RapidAir 2Bliss Ready T2/T5

Specialized S-Works Turbo RapidAir

Market price US$90, £65, €83. Available at Competitive Cyclist, Performance Bicycle, and Sigma Sports.

The latest version of the S-Works Turbo RapidAir is Specialized’s top tubeless road racing tire. Unlike other brands’ fastest racing tires – all made for TT events – and similar to many of the other tubeless tires I’m comparing it with, the RapidAir comes with a puncture protection belt.

So while billed and priced as a pure racing tire, I’ve found it also serves as an everyday tire for fast-riding enthusiasts in the same way that the Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR and Schwalbe Pro One TLE do. In several months of testing, I’ve had no cuts or punctures though I probably just jinxed myself by writing that.

Unlike the prior generation RapidAir available in 26mm, 28mm, and 30mm widths, the new model only comes in a 26mm width, weighs 25 grams less on my scale, adds the T2/T5 suffix to its name to signify its two-compound composition, has some minor tread changes, and has a less pronounced label.

Specialized has not announced its intention to make wider sizes of the new S-Works Turbo RapidAir though I expect it will happen eventually. I can only guess that Specialized could not get any wider models of the RapidAir made due to ongoing supply channel issues affecting the availability of other tubeless road bike tires in this comparative review.

Or, perhaps they were guided by the simultaneous release of the tubeless-approved Roval Rapide CLX II wheelset, which Roval says is “aero optimized” for 26mm wide tires. (More on this below.)

Specialized also simultaneously introduced a similarly named tire – the S-Works Turbo 2BR 2Bliss Ready T2/T5. RapidAir is in the middle of the name of one tire while 2BR replaces it in the other; all else before and after are the same.

I’m not exactly sure what 2BR means. “tubeless ready” would be redundant, and it doesn’t mean “tubular” as it’s obviously a tubeless-ready or “2Bliss Ready” tire. Whatever.

More importantly, Specialized describes the 2BR as an everyday group ride tire and a race tire durable enough for rough surface racing. With its three 120TPI casing layers (the RapidAir and Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR each have two layers), Specialized asserts the 2BR has more puncture resistance than the RapidAir yet is slightly slower and heavier than the RapidAir. The 2BR comes in 26mm, 28mm, and 30mm versions.

l tested the 28mm 2BR model and it felt slower and less responsive than the RapidAir. Fine for easier rides but a notable step down in performance.

Based on measuring the rim and tire widths of the RapidAir tires on a range of wheels, the new 26mm RapidAir should provide marginally better aero performance than the one it replaces, which was already good, though it is not likely to be perceptibly different to most enthusiasts.

Rims ranging in width from 19mm inside and 26mm outside to 23mm inside and 31mm outside measure comfortably wider than the new RapidAir tires and about 0.2mm wider than the old 26mm RapidAir. This keeps the new RapidAir tire in the same rim-to-tire width range for the 26mm tires as those from Schwalbe and Michelin in this comparative review but not as good as the Continental and Veloflex ones. (See chart in my section on aerodynamics above.)

This is most important for those riding wheels with rims in the 21mm inside, 28mm outside width, and narrower range who are riding or racing on relatively smooth surfaces at relatively high speeds well north of 20mph/32kph.

For those of us with wider rims riding rougher surfaces and not going that fast or constantly positioning our upper bodies to lower drag, 28mm tires will be sufficiently aerodynamic (rims wider than tires) and faster (lower vibration loss rolling resistance).

All of this makes it curious and somewhat frustrating that the new RapidAir isn’t (yet?) available in a 28mm width size. Specialized confirmed their testing shows the 26mm RapidAir is more aero than the 28mm 2BR when air comes straight at the tires mounted on Roval’s all-around and aero-oriented Rapide and climbing-focused, far shallower Alpinist tubeless wheelsets.

Interestingly, they also told me their tests show the 28mm tire has an aero advantage on the 26mm when tested in crosswinds on the deeper Rapide, while the 26mm was still better in crosswinds on the far shallower and climbing-oriented Alpinist.

Note that Specialized wouldn’t share their data, quantify the aero differences between their 26 and 28mm tires or generalize beyond those tires on the Roval wheelset models, so it’s hard to get more granular than these directional and wheelset-specific claims. Without the data, it’s also hard to know what yaw angles constitute “straight” and “crosswind.”

Assuming a new 28mm RapidAir has the same width as the 28mm 2BR, my measurements of the 2BR show that a new 28mm RapidAir would be about 0.5mm narrower than the prior 28mm RapidAir. That would make a new 28mm RapidAir as or more aero than the Conti and Schwalbe in this review on the range of the eight different rim size combinations I measured at 60 and 80 psi.

While setting up the Specialized tires on all those rims, I also found the new RapidAir goes on, inflates, and comes off or “installs” as easily as any tubeless tire I’ve tested including the Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR. That’s a noticeable and welcome improvement from the prior RapidAir and is much appreciated by my desk jockey’s hands.

Ironically, only the new Roval Rapide CLX II tubeless wheels required a lever to get the RapidAir tire on. (Same thing with other tires I mounted on that wheelset.)  And it never took me more than a track pump and my cyclist’s skinny forearms to inflate the RapidAir on any rim.

The RapidAir’s road feel – the combination of its comfort, handling, and grip – is different than the previous model and now more similar to the Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR.

Most notably, the new RapidAir no longer has that somewhat spongy, somewhat tacky feel of the tire against the road that gave you a very planted and grippy sensation and unlike any others when rolling or accelerating in a straight line or getting back on the gas coming out of a turn.

It’s still on par with anything we’ve tested, just not better than everything we tested, as was the last RapidAir.

However, the cornering is still wonderfully confidence-inducing, and the tires ride quietly, two real strengths of these RapidAirs. While I don’t let design predict performance – performance speaks for itself – I’m guessing that the compound used on the tire’s shoulders that comes into contact during cornering is more like whatever was used throughout the earlier RapidAir and the compound used in the center is a slightly harder, lower hysteresis one.

It’s hard to feel whether the new RapidAir is any more comfortable than 25mm or 26mm labeled tires from other brands. I don’t ride a lot of tires at that width anymore to be able to judge fairly. While I tested the RapidAir at different pressures suggested by the SRAM/Zipp, Silca, and ENVE guides, I never felt them to be uncomfortable but also never as comfortable as 28mm tires at 10psi lower on the same wheels.

Independent tests from Bicycle Rolling Resistance show that the new RapidAir’s tire loss rolling resistance is reduced over the prior model and marginally closer to the Conti Grand Prix 5000 S TR benchmark. The differences between these two and all of the tires I’ve selected for this comparative review are small. I filtered out the tires that had much larger differences.

The relative importance of these small differences compared to other things that matter to your speed remains debatable for some though no longer for me. At the speed that these tires are meant to be ridden, I’ve concluded from my research that aero performance, road feel, and vibration-loss rolling resistance, all of which depend on your rim-tire size combinations and inflation pressure choices, matter more than the small differences in tire-loss rolling resistance between the best tubeless tires measured on a steel drum.

At US$90, £65, €83, the RapidAir’s price is in the top tier among tubeless bike tires. As with any tire, however, the additional amount we as enthusiasts pay for these or another one of the best is small and the importance is large relative to almost any other piece of gear or kit we can buy in our passion to ride as fast, safe, and enjoyably as possible.

Veloflex Corsa Race TLR

Veloflex Corsa Race TLR

Market price US$64, £49, €62. Available from BikeTiresDirect and BikeInn.

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.

That’s a lot of goodies packed into one tire.

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. It also wore pretty quickly in our testing. The label on the lower part of the shoulder began to wear off from cornering.

How does it feel on the road? Pretty freakin’ amazing. As a cotton tire and although 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 corner in the way a caring partner 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 of such a supple tire.

For 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 tubeless tires aren’t included in this review

There are a handful of thin, puncture-belt-free tubeless road bike 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, Schwalbe Pro One TT TLE, and Continental Grand Prix 5000 TT TR.

I’ve not tested them, and I don’t race. My fellow tester Miles, who races 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.)

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 measure just as aero and go on as easily yet have 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 improved 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 training and racing tires 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 I have included at the 60 to 80 psi pressure range that’s right for most of us.

* * * * *

Thank you for reading. Please let me know what you think of anything I’ve written, or ask any questions you might have in the comment section below.

If you’ve benefited from reading this review and want to keep new ones coming, buy your gear and kit after clicking the store links in this review and others across the site. When you do, we may earn an affiliate commission that will help me cover the expenses to create and publish more ad-free, subscription-free, and reader-supported reviews that are independent, comprehensive, and comparative.

If you prefer to buy at other stores, you can still support the site by contributing here or by buying anything through these links to eBay and Amazon.

You can use the popup form or the one at the bottom of the sidebar to get notified when new posts come out. To see what gear and kit we’re testing or have just reviewed, follow us by clicking the icons below.

Thanks, and enjoy your rides safely! Cheers, Steve

204 comments

  • Steve
    Great review as always, thank you. I didn’t see the Zipps reviewed and I recalled that you had ranked them high previously. Do they no longer make a tubeless tire?

    • Steve, Thanks for the kind feedback. Yes, Zipp stopped selling tubeless road tires. Steve

      • Steve – Do you have the width data from the Zips on the ENVE AR still? Wondering how wide it actually is and I don’t have fancy calipers like you. Thanks!

      • Hi Steve, which tire do you recommend for the new Zipp 353 NSW’s? I’m more interested in climbing so perhaps rolling resistance is more important to me.

        • Jay, if you care principally about rolling resistance in your tire selection, the Spech and Schwalbe tires reviewed above have the lowest rolling resistance of the tires we’ve tested that are also compatible with hookless rims. There’s a new Conti tire released that is designed for hookless rims and shows slightly lower rolling resistance than the Spech and Schwalbe in one independent test I’ve seen but I’ve not road tested it as yet. I’m planning to ride and review that tire in the early spring. Steve

  • Hi Steve, first time caller here.

    Interesting findings, I like that you use data instead of “they roll good” type of thing.

    The biggest question I have is with this statement:

    “On a typically longer competitive group ride, distance event or road race, you’re talking about riding at a 5-15 watt higher power level for several hours to keep up with the pack and avoid losing minutes depending how much time your are riding into the wind vs. tucked away in the draft of a paceline.”

    Would you have any data about the impact of drafting and Rule 105? I know in a road race or typical A ride, there is minimal time taking pulls if there is a peloton over 20 strong. And if you are following wheels, what’s the difference?

    In so many real-world situations, wider is better. 25s are not suitable for most events now, or at least not advisable. Most races are now mixed surface, and the rest have a lot of bad surface. Also most races are climbing competitions where you are not exceeding 18mph. And when you are descending, well, you gain or lose time due to technical skills rather than aerodynamics.

    Then, with punctures, you will have much easier time plugging a 28-32, while plugging a 25 would carry probably 80% failure risk. And plugs are the thing that will make you get through a race much faster.

    Lastly, I’ve been mounting tubeless before there was tubeless, and GPs go on as good as any other tire. The toughest tires to mount are open tubulars like Challenge Bianca Strada (straps needed). The better test is whether you can inflate them without a compressor, which most people don’t have. GPs can be inflated with a floor pump.

    So my concern is if the conclusions here are steering people back to 25s, and downgrading quality tires like GP5Ks due to difficulty of installationb, his might or might not be the most complete set of data points.

    • Ilya,

      Riding in a draft is obviously the best thing you can do to reduce aero drag (estimated 30% reduction) and would matter far more than any aero benefits from a 105% rim-tire ratio and probably as much as some combination of aero equipment like an aero bike, aero bars, aero road helmet, 105 rim-tire combo. Then again, racers and A group riders use all those things and still shave their legs and don’t ride in an endurance position during races and group rides even though they ride in pacelines. In my two-part series, I put power and time savings numbers on the various ways to ride faster on your bike.

      So why bother with any aero approach if you are doing an A group ride or road race? It’s for the times when you aren’t tucked into a paceline – you are in the wind, breaking away, trying to get back, there are small separations in the group, or the wind is coming from yaw angles that the paceline isn’t blocking.

      If you want to give up the aero benefit from having 40-65mm deep wheels by mounting tires wider than your rims, then yes, go with wider tires. Assuming you run lower pressures on your wider tires, you are also likely to add to your tire’s rolling resistance though can save yourself some energy by reducing the losses from vibrations (impedance losses) by inflating the wider tires 5-10 psi lower than narrower ones.

      Clearly, some of us ride on worse surfaces than others but I don’t know if I’d agree with your characterization that most races are on mixed surfaces (that term usually means paved and unpaved), bad surfaces, and are climbing competitions. I’m not active in the road racing scene but those I know who are don’t race on mixed surfaces unless they are called out as such and organizers try to avoid holding races on bad roads. Every club is different but I’d expect most ride callers also try to avoid leading group rides on bad roads if they can avoid it by modifying the route the group takes. Fast rides on bad roads – be they races or group rides – can create safety issues that everyone wants to avoid.

      There are certainly plenty of races where the selection is made on climbs but probably just as many if not more that aren’t. But, like any race or ride, you can choose different depth wheels or other gear to go along with tactics specific to the route profile, your skills, and team. And I’d think aero is especially important in the growing crit racing world.

      I don’t know why a puncture would be easier to fix on a wider tire than a narrower one. I’d think it’s more a function of how bad the puncture is than the width of the tire.

      As to mounting and inflating tires, I can only report my experience from mounting all the tires I’ve reviewed here on the range of rims I’ve installed them on. I’d love for the Conti GP5KTL to install easier than I’ve found it does. It has a great road feel and the lowest rolling resistance.

      And I’m not trying to steer readers to 25c tires. Instead, I’m pointing out the best aero solution. While my charts show 28c tires are a good aero solution for some rim-tire combinations, they aren’t currently for most. Steve

  • After my first year of road bike ownership, I was looking to improve the stock aluminum Affinity wheels on my Trek Domane SL5. I worked down to a list of 3 potential wheels (thanks to what I learned from your site). My final decision was made by the fact that the LBS had one of them in stock and there was an unknown wait for the other 2. So, I got the Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3V wheels and then had to find better tires.
    The LBS shop encouraged me to try out tubeless. They attempted the Challenge Strada TLRs in 30c. They succeeded in mounting one and it held pressure well. But they called me and informed me it was the hardest install they’d ever performed and I’d likely not be able to mount them myself at home and it would be impossible on the side of the road. So they recommended the Bontrager R3 Hard-Case Lite TLR.
    My choices were 32c and 28c. Not having read your article, I knew nothing of the rule of 105/108 (the 32c tire is about 2.5mm wider than the rim at 70psi). I thought the 32c would be better because it would better protect my new wheels on the pothole filled local roads. They found them easy to mount, but it did take double the sealant to get them to hold pressure well (sort of like those Michelins).
    Now that I’ve rode them about 100 miles on 3 rides, I’m not really impressed. With new rims and tires, it’s hard for this novice to accurately say what characteristics are the wheels and what are the tires. I think everything that feels better (climbing, stiffness, responsiveness) seems like it’s more related to the wheels. But when I’m trying to cruise along on the flats at 18mph+, I feel like I’m putting the same effort in as I did on my old wheels. Unfortunately I don’t have a power meter, so I don’t really know.
    The tires suppleness, grip, rolling resistance, and control feel like they are only on par with my old tires. FYI, I had Affinity TLR wheels with Specialized Espoir Sport Reflect 30c tires that I took off my Specialized Sirrus Elite Alloy (the R1 tires that came with the SL5 suffered several punctures and then a sidewall blowout within the 1st month of ownership). I’m 6 feet and about 210 lbs. and far from aero with all of my body hair and wide shoulders.
    So, would you recommend trying the 28c R3 tires before I start looking elsewhere? I wasn’t unhappy with my old tires, so my problems with the new ones is really that I expected an obvious improvement from a tire that should be an improvement. Am I too inexperienced, heavy, non-aero, etc. to discern the differences? I’ve got a handful of 9th and 10th place leaderboard spots on some well-travelled local strava segments and I usually average between 17-18mph on my usual 30+ mile rides with a handful of short climbs and lots of intersections. So, I’m not fast, but not slow either.

    • Hey Big Doug, Welcome to the world of cycling and the second-guessing that comes with it. A couple of things. 17-18 mph isn’t a speed that you’ll notice an aero difference from your tires and wheels and the Pro 3V isn’t deep enough to provide aero benefit. So forget about the Rule of 105. You’re on a good set of wheels and tires and that should provide you some added confidence out on the road. Neither will slow you down or hold you back.

      There are many, many things beyond wheel and tires that you can control to affect your speed and the best ones don’t cost anything except time and effort. I’d suggest reading through my two articles on the subject and start working on the list starting with this one. It may take a few years to get through them but that’s the normal progression of a cycling enthusiast. Welcome to the club! Steve

      • Ok, thanks for the note on aero. If I had aero wheels, what is the speed that I would notice aero? On the flats, without a headwind, I’m usually going closer to 19-20mph (it’s all those intersections and a few steep hills that really drop my avg). I thought these new wheels with these new tires would feel faster on the flats, but I’m really only noticing the improvement on the climbs (it’s a significant improvement though).

        Thanks for the link. I’ve worked on a few of these things already and made my biggest strides with my pedaling and cadence. But I never thought about some of your points. I’ve got a lot of work a head of me because I really enjoy getting faster. And I think my next significant purchase needs to be a power meter and a bike fit. The LBS wasn’t doing bike fits because of COVID when I got my bike. But the fitter did give me advice regularly when I’d stop in and share my problems with him (which were many being older with destroyed knees and ankles). My DIY bike fit and changes yielded huge positive results, but it’s probably time to get the real thing now that they’re doing it again.

        FYI, I did 3,300 miles on the road last year during COVID. Which was more than double what I did on my flat-bar hybrid the year before. Kept me sane through the worst of it. And I’ve lost over 60 lbs. since I began cycling 3 seasons ago. If I can avoid getting hit by a car, lol, cycling will certainly be the best change in my health I’ve made in my entire life. Thanks again for all the great info!

        • Big Doug, Sounds like you’re really progressing well. It’s a process and sounds like you’re getting great results from it. 19-20 mph is about where you would start to benefit from aero tech. The second part of that review I sent to you gets more into that. Steve

  • Very insightful review Steve, thank you!

    Zipp say you must run a “labelled” tyre width of 28mm or greater with their new 303 Firecrest. Given your knowledge of how a tyres “labelled” width doesn’t necessarily mean the “measured” width will be the same, what’s your thoughts on running 27mm tyres (Enve SES) to get that magical 105% on these rims? Do you see a safety issue with a 27mm tyre not holding a strong bead seal with a hookless rim that has a inner and outer rim width of 25mm and 30mm, respectively.

    Thank you in advance!

  • Hi Steve, thanks for the in-depth and insightful overview. I’m just about ready for a new set of tires and was interested the in the 28c Bontrager R3 Hard-Case Lite TLR, but their min recommendation is 90psi, but the zip 303s calculator says I should run 62 psi rear and 57 on the front.

    Does this mean the bontragers are a no go in your view?

    Thanks

    • Ben, I’m pretty sure that’s a mistake on Bontrager’s part. That’s probably the max. No one would ride at a tubeless tire at that pressure. I’ll pull a 28c tire off of one of the wheelsets we’re testing later today and see what it says on the sidewall. Steve

  • Hi there, based on this article I went looking for a pair of Bontrager R3 Hard-Case Lite TLR‘s for my new ENVE SES 3.4 wheelset (excited!).
    However, I seem to be reading elsewhere that the only tubeless version of the R3’s is 32mm?
    Am I missing something?

    • Steve, see the link in the review of the tires above for the 25, 28 and 32mm size options. They might not be available online but should be at Trek/Bontrager bike shops. Steve.

      • Thanks Steve – the Bontragers were sold out everywhere near me, so I went with the Conty TLs. Thought I’d do the right thing and shopped local… which cost me $60 more for the pair in NYC. I’ll know to order from your store links next time! Thanks for such a great article (among others!)

  • Hi Steve, when it comes to the 105% rule, and outer rim width, is it the direct tyre to rim width edge dimensions that matters or the maximum outer width of the rim?

    As some of the more modern rim designs are now somewhat bulbous , i.e. dt swiss for example may be 23 or 25 at the narrowest but then increase the width to 28-30mm. Does that ‘help’ in maintaining the transient air flow or is the air lost at interface and do not reattach, even if the width of rim increases?

    I have seen a fee videos by Jean-Paul Ballard who leads aero research of Swiss side and DT Swiss where he recommends a 23mm tyre on their old ARC wheel and 25mm on their new wheels. However given the rim egde widths on either it appears both tyres would exceed the rim width at rim edge interface.

    Thanks

    • Eric, Good question. DT Swiss is actually one of the few major brands that still make the toroid-shaped rims you describe where the max width is more than a mm or two wider than the “brake track” or tire edge width. Most have gone to more of a U rim profile or a UV one where the max width is essentially the same width at the brake track edge and is narrower at the spoke edge.

      That said, the original Rule of 105 came about during a time when Zipp and others were making toroid-shaped rims such as the original Zipp 404 Firecrest and HED wheels that were the most aero back then. But in articles and forum posts I’ve read from Poertner about this, he hints at using both the brake track width (which wasn’t parallel – so wider further from the tire edge than closer to it) and the max width for the rule but doesn’t make a definitive statement about it. My tables in this post used to show the max and brake track edge to tire percentages when those rim widths were different but so few are now that I stopped complicating the chart further by dropping that measure.

      I’m certainly not an aerodynamicist but the theory behind reattaching air flow suggests to me that the sooner it happens and the longer you can hold it, the better. This would suggest getting the flow to reattach at the narrowest point. Mavic used to employ a tire flap that would cover the junction between the tire and the rim edge to improve aerodynamics but the UCI outlawed it. Then again, Zipp claims its dimples create mini vortexes that help the air stay attached.

      Needless to say, there’s a lot of proprietary testing and ballsy marketing that go with all of this aero stuff. The Rule of 105 or at least the design concept that the rim should be narrower than the tire does seem to have been adopted by most and continues to guide design some 10 years after it was articulated.

      While the tests I’ve seen show that a narrower tire is almost always going to be more aero, most wheelmakers who talk about it say they have designed their current rims using a 25mm tire these days and recommend you use that width for best aero performance.

      Setting apart that a “25mm” tire can measure anything but 25mm wide depending on who made it, what rim it’s on, what pressure it’s inflated to, and how many miles or km it has been used for, the biggest challenge these days is getting enthusiasts to ride tires narrower than 28mm that so many mistakenly think they need to be comfortable. As the charts show, you really need a 30mm wide external rim width to abide the Rule of 105 with a 28mm. And until the last generation or two of rim designs and the most recent generation of tubeless tires, most wheels violated the rule even with 25mm tires.

      DT’s ARC 1100 62 and 80 rim brake rims are still rather “old school” in their toroid design and 17mm inside width with 27mm and 28mm external max width respectively. So, yeah, a 23mm tire is probably going to be the most aero on even those current wheels. The disc brake versions of those wheels have 20mm inside width with a 27mm wide external max width on the 62 and a 32mm external max width on the 80. Per the other wheels of similar rim dimensions I’ve measured, a 25mm tire is not likely to follow the Rule of 105 on the 62 but I’d defer to Ballard as he’s done the aero testing. Steve

  • Hi Steve,

    I haven’t seen a review on the Pirelli’s P Zero Race tires on your site. Only info I found here is that they have higher rolling resistance than the best of road tires in that regard.
    Did you have a chance to try them out? I’ve just bought them (waiting still), but have no experience with them so far.

  • Hey Steve….. do you expect to review the new Continental GP 5000 S TR’s? I’ve used conti’s for years and am especially interested in what the actual mounted width’s turn out to be.

  • I have a pair of Specialized Turbo Rapid Air 26mm mounted on a set of Zipp 303S. I mounted them myself because I wanted to see how hard they were to put on. To Zipp’s credit the rims came taped with valve stem mounted, very easy compared to mountain bike tubeless.
    After two months the rear tire had minor hole that sealant wasn’t sealing, despite having plenty of sealant in tire, occurred on group ride. Happily I was able to dismount tire easily and install tube and put tire back on using my hands, sealant was messy but repaired in very little time.
    The problem I see with tubeless road tires are unlike mountain or CX tires you are dealing with very thin rubber, especially when tire has some wear on them. As long as you remember to break both sides of bead on tires, and if tires mount back up without using tire iron I’m fine with tube replacement.

  • Hey Steve – just purchased a set of the ENVE Foundation 45’s and am now having to switch from the Continental GP5000 TL’s I’ve used and been very happy with for the past couple of years.

    I know you point to both the Bontrager and Schwalbe as being supported (and I’ve definitely checked out ENVE’s compatibility chart for other options), but I’m wondering if you have a specific suggestion on the best alternative to the Continental’s I’ve loved for these new hoops? Would love to get as close as possible to what I know and love tyre wise.

    • Brandon, Conti announced the hookless compatible GP 5000 S TR a month or so ago. I haven’t tested them as they aren’t in stock yet but probably should be in the next couple of months. I’ve got them on backorder and will review them once they come in. Not sure exactly what you love about the 5000 TL but my Tubeless Tire Ratings comparative chart shows the performance characteristics of other tires that are closest to them. Steve

      • Hi Steve – thanks for the reply and will be eagerly awaiting their release. I’ve just had tremendous luck with punctures/flats and find the rolling resistance to be incredible on the 5000’s. I’m looking at the Specialized S-Works Turbo RapidAir to mount on the ENVE Foundation 45’s based on your article – does this seem like a reasonable choice?

        • Brandon, yes, that’s a very good choice too. Great road feel and rolling resistance within a couple watts of the Conti. A bit of a challenge to put on your rims but no different than the GP 5000 TL in that regard. Go with the 28C for best overall performance. Puncture resilience shouldn’t be an issue for most normal size holes if you make sure to put and keep enough sealant in the tire (30-45 ml or 1 to 1.5 oz). You can pick them up (and support what we do here at the site) at these links to Competitive Cyclist, Mike’s Bikes or Tredz (UK/EU). There’s also deals on purchases at Competitive Cyclist and Tredz that you can see on my home page. Enjoy, Steve

    • I picked up a set of the ENVE 65s a little while back and was lucky enough to score a set of the Conti S TR from Condor Cycle in October when they just came out. I know ENVE hasn’t specifically approved them on their webpage, but being hookless compatible is enough confirmation for me. I had to sit on the 65s for a little bit before I got the Contis, but last I checked there are supply shortages for basically all hookless compatible tires, so getting in line and waiting for the S TR might be the way to go if you really liked the TL. Condor is out of stock right now, but shipping was free and delivery time was pretty good for international.

    • Actually, Condor has the S TR in 25mm in stock now, in both black and transparent side wall.

      • Thanks Kevin – I pulled the trigger on the Specialized Turbo RapidAir as they would arrive today and get me out on the new hoops this weekend. That said, I ordered the S TR as well so I can get a feel for both! Appreciate the pointer!

        • Steve and Kevin – my LBS had the 5000 S TR in 25mm in stock when I went in to mount the ENVE’s so I decided to put those on for my first ride today.

          Have to say I’m thrilled. They ran super fast, and I didn’t find the wheels to have much of a comfort penalty (even moving down from the 28mm Conti’s I was running on my old hoops). Will definitely test out the RapidAir 26mm at some point as well and share feedback. Overall though, incredibly pleased with the setup after the 1st test ride.

          Thanks for the detailed content here, was invaluable in making some of these decisions (including the ENVE 45’s)

          • Brandon, You’re welcome. Thanks for the compliment. Glad things are working out so well. If you want to help keep the site going and get better at providing that “invaluable” content, here are 10 ways to support the site, 9 of which won’t cost you anything. Cheers, Steve

          • Brandon, great job on finding the Contis at a local bike shop, and getting them before the start of Winter. I was thinking they wouldn’t be available until December or January at the earliest. Get those rides in while there’s still daylight and warmth!

            Steve, thanks for the very informative reviews and advice on the site. Although I still probably spend way too much time contemplating various purchases and upgrades, I definitely feel much more confident when deciding to pull the trigger based upon your assessments.

  • Looking for suggestions on comfortable tubeless tires that don’t sacrifice much (/any) aero performance with the latest generation Zipp 454 NSW wheels. Any suggestions? Currently thinking Schwalbe Pro 1 TLE in 28c, but curious if there are others you’d suggest instead. Would the Bontrager R3s be better? The new GP5000s are now apparently hookless compatible – any experience with them yet? Are they still a nightmare to get on? In case it helps, they’ll be on an S Works Tarmac SL7.

    • Dave, We rode the Schwalbe Pro One TLE (25C on front, 28C on back) successfully on the 454 NSW this season. That tire is sufficiently aero on front wheel and has lower rolling resistance than R3. Expect to have new GP5K S TR delivered off backorder and installed, sized on a range of wheels including 454 during Dec. Many/most of the tires I rate highly are hard to find now so not a lot of good choices currently. A lot more discussion of tires for these wheels in the comments at the bottom of my 454 NSW review here. Steve

      • Thanks, somehow I’d missed that whole discussion when reading the 454 NSW review! One last question regarding the 28s — would you expect the aero benefits to be significantly reduced if I ran it up front as well? I’m able to find both the Schwalbe and R3s in stock locally, but the GP5k S TR are still just a myth (and my biketiresdirect backorder keeps being pushed further and further into the future…). I like the idea of running 28 for the comfort, but wonder at what cost to my efficiency…if it’s negligible I’d rather have the extra volume; if it’s large maybe I should reconsider.

    • Dave, compared to the 5000 TL, the 5000 S TR is notably easier to mount. I did break a relatively cheap tire lever, as well as a couple fingernails, trying to get the 5000 TL on a set of HED Ardennes Plus (from what I hear a notoriously bad combo). The night spent trying to mount them may be my most painful biking experience. Getting the 5000 S TR on a set of EVNE Foundation 65s (again, from what I hear is a bad combination) wasn’t easy but the war of attrition against the tire was much shorter.

  • Hi Steve-

    Do you have a specific sealant you recommend for tubeless tires? I have been using Stan’s no tube sealant and find that I lose quite a bit of tire pressure before it seals.

    Thanks
    Biren

    • Biren, I use Stan’s as well. In my experience, how well a tire initially seals has more to do with the tire and installation process than the sealant. Take a look at the videos showing tire sealing techniques for some tips on how best to do it. Steve

      • Thanks Steve. The tires were installed by REI and their bike techs are usually pretty good, so I doubt that’s the reason. I only add sealant every 6 months so maybe that’s an issue? I am running schwalbe one pros on the wheels right now. No idea if they do well or not seating either. I love the tube version of the GP5000 but sadly their tubeless isn’t compatible with the ENVE 4,5AR

        Biren

        • Hi Biren, I’ve had the same problem with multiple tires, including the schwalbe pro one tle, on my 4.5AR wheels. I’ll seat a new tire, fill it with sealant and all seems good. Then a few hours later I find the tire has deflated completely.
          I happen to use orange seal, but from my experience, the problem is usually because of tiny gaps where the tire bead locks onto the rim. Maybe due to slight imperfections in the wheel or tire? I usually don’t see any sealant or hear any air escaping. My solution is to take extra time when spinning the wheel and distributing the sealant. Hold the wheel horizontally, then spin and tilt the wheel around to make sure the sealant can get into all those gaps. Flip it over and do the same for the other side of the wheel.
          And definitely check your sealant more frequently than every 6 months 🙂
          -Kyle

  • Hard to believe the review of the Conti 5000 with a Bontrager Aerolus XXX rim. That is what I have been running on my Madone SLR (with Orange Seal)

    Never an issue mounting or pumping up. The 4000 was harder to mount, but I find reasonable to work with as long as I make sure the bead stays in the center channel.

    I just replace a tire last week, no issues, used my Joe Blow to inflate; don’t need a compressor. No clue how you can say it failed or not compatible.

    • Ron, what I reported was my experience with the 25mm Conti GP 5000 TL on that rim. It was just so tight that I couldn’t get it on the rim. Your reference to the GP 4000 which is/was not a tubeless tire and mention of replacing the tire (the TL is out of production but still available at some stores) makes me wonder if we are talking about the same tire – the GP 5000 TL or the tubed clincher which goes by the GP 5000 designation that you put in your comment. Also, do you have the tubeless rim strip installed or did you tape it? The rim strip which I used makes the center channel not as deep. I tape all the Bontrager rims when I set them up tubeless now principally to reduce the weight but that’d probably make them easier to install tubeless tires on as well.

      Anyway, the new tubeless GP 5000S TR that replaces the GP 5000 TL is supposed to be easier to mount. I’ll be updating this review and include tire soon. Steve

      • Hi,

        I was using older GP tubeless maybe it wasn’t a 4000, it was a different sub version of the 5000. I got the Madone SLR Sept 2018. Been running Conti tubeless since day 1. as I said my 1st set of Conti tubeless tires in 2018 where a lot tighter. The more recent Conti’s are very workable if you are careful about keeping the bead in the center channel

      • Sorry I didn’t fully answer you.

        I used the Bontrager rim strip made for the Aerolus wheels, not tape, it is one piece.

        Tires have always been Conti, I only run a tubeless tire on a rim designed for tubeless. I do not believe converting tube to tubeless is a good idea.

        I might have the models wrong. I know I am running the 5000 TL now, not the very newest model that just came out.

        I find the 5000 TL on the Aerolus rim a very workable combination

  • Hard to believe the review of the Conti 5000 with a Bontrager Aerolus XXX rim. That is what I have been running on my Madone SLR (with Orange Seal)

    Never an issue mounting or pumping up. The 4000 was harder to mount, but I find reasonable to work with as long as I make absolutely sure the bead stays in the center channel throughout the entire process.

    I just replace a tire last week, no issues, used my Joe Blow to inflate; don’t need a compressor. No clue how you can say it failed or not compatible.

  • Steve – great article, as always. I was curious, in your discussion with tire manufacturers, have you come across a 25c tire that is compatible with a 23mm internal rim? It sure seems like flying needlessly close to the sun, but we have two of the biggest wheel makers now going down this route with their flagship aero wheels (Zipp and bontrager). Odd times…

    • Kevin, Bontrager says 25mm tires are “aero-optimized” and compatible with their 23mm inside width hooked rims on their RSL 51, 62, and 75 wheels. Unless you are going 25mph/40kph or faster on smooth road surfaces, I still think you are better off on 28mm tires with their wheels. The 28mm tires I measured for this review are still plenty aero (rim wider than the measured tire width) and will give you less vibration loss rolling resistance (and better road feel – comfort, handling, grip) than the 25mm.

      Zipp says 25mm tires are not compatible with their 23mm internal hookless rims on the 454 and 404 wheels. Their view is that the watts of aero losses from using a 28mm tire are more than made up by the watts of gains from reducing your vibration loss rolling resistance. Before I learned (or they said) that, we had been using 25mm Schwalbe Pro One TLE on their 454 and 404 wheels last year and Miles did very well racing the 454 with that setup. We’ll be testing the new 28mm Conti GP5000 S TR tires on those wheels shortly.

      Recognize also that both the Schwalbe Pro One TLE and Conti GP5000 S TR tires measure narrower than the prior model of their tubeless tires (Pro One and TL). In other words, the labeled 28s now measure about what prior labeled 25s model used to. So riding the labeled 28s now is not too different from an aero standpoint to what riding the labeled 25s used to be.

      Steve

      • Hi Steve, thank you for great review as always. I understood that some 25mm tyres are recommended by SRAM/Zipp for use with their 23mm rims? The link below seems to show that both the Schwalbe and Veloflex 25mm tyres are compatible.

        https://www.sram.com/en/zipp/campaigns/hookless-tire-compatibility

        • I actually had done the measurements for the Schwalbe 25mm and Zipp 23mm rim combination and just added it in an updated rim-tire width chart above. I hadn’t measured the Veloflex but expect it would measure very similar to the width on the Bontrager 23mm rim.

          Note that Zipp doesn’t test for compatibility and doesn’t recommend whether any tires are compatible with their rims. Their chart merely shows the rim-tire combinations that the tire companies have told them are compatible. ENVE does test tires submitted to them for compatibility with their wheels and lists the ones that did and didn’t pass their tests. Steve

      • Hi Steve,

        I have to say amazing content and analysis digging into the nitty gritty on all of these great topics. Absolutely love it.

        A follow up on the GP5000s TR measuring the same size as the old TL’ on most rims. I noticed in your measures you had a set of the 25mm TRs on the RSL 62 rims which have an internal width of more than 21mm but hooked, is that because Bontrager specifically approves them?

        I have a set of rims that are hooked, 24.2mm at the hook, 28.8mm at the brake track (although they’re disk) and 30.2mm at their widest. I’ve been using a set of old TL’s 25 front and 28 rear (areo in the front, party in the pack) with great success. I am riding close to 38kph and enjoy the smooth surfaces for the most part) I need to get a bloody caliper to see what these measure up to.

        When the GP5000s TR was released there was a lot of content around the 25mm just wouldn’t work on a rim with more than 21mm inner. But then saw the RSL measures and the comment above, and a little uncertain now whether to stick with the 25mm up front or just go to a 28 front and rear now and just bloody ride.

        Appreciate the wisdom.

        • Canuck, Thanks for your kind feedback. Just trying to figure it all out just like you and the rest of us roadies.

          Bontrager hasn’t opined on the S TR with their 23mm internal width rims. They do recommend a 25mm size tire as aero optimized with those rims. If you are on 24mm internal rims and given the narrower overall width of the S TR vs the TL at the same “size”, I’d probably go with the 28mm on the front. You could put a 25mm S TR on the front and look at the shape of the tire. I’m guessing it’s probably going to be very stretched out and might not handle as well. Steve

  • I’m surprised to see the Bontrager tire is off the list here, I finally tracked down a pair of 28mm and have been very pleased with them so far. I haven’t really noticed the extra rolling resistance although the Enve 4.5 ARs are probably making it much less apparent. For me the most impressive attribute has been the puncture resistance, this past New England winter has made for some horrible road conditions and so far I’ve only gotten one tiny cut (no puncture) on the rear tire after a few hundred miles. I suppose my priorities have shifted slightly after wasting so much money on tires that can’t survive 100 miles without flatting (S-Works), I really wish Continental would make a version of the GP5000 with a thicker tread or Vectran breaker. I would gladly give up a couple of watts for better durability and I’d imagine they would still feel pretty nice out on the road. I’m sure the new tire will feel incredible and perform brilliantly but I can’t bring myself to spend that kind of money on a tire that most likely will not last me 500 miles. I’ll probably try them at some point but not until the prices drop considerably. I was going to ask why you didn’t test the Veloflex Evos since they are available in 28mm but looking at the rolling resistance numbers online I can see why.

  • Steve:

    +1 to all of your conclusions/recommendations with which I have experience (except for one…read on). Since switching from Roval CLX’s to 3.4AR’s a year ago I moved on from the 28c tubeless versions of the Conti GP5k (good but a bear to mount/seat/inflate), Hutch Fusion5 (good value but that’s it), the older ProOne’s (harsh ride quality) and Vittoria Corsa’s (a PITA to get them to hold air).

    Since then I’ve had the newer ProOne TLE’s (on the AR’s they feel fast, secure & smooth…more “solid-feeling” than harsh and will seat/inflate w/ a floor pump!), Enve SES 29c which I only used in the rear (much harder to mount/seat/inflate than the ProOne’s but otherwise fine) and the Michelin Power Road TLR 28c (they mount up too wide @ 31mm and they punctured like crazy…crappiest tubeless tire I’ve ever owned in my 10yrs. of running road tubeless).

    The other day I needed a new tire fast (I didn’t know I could destroy two tires in one ride…), so I went to my LBS to splurge on the Spesh Turbo RapidAir 28c and I am in road tubeless tire (magic-carpet ride like the Vittoria Corsa which also makes them feel fast, great width for the AR’s @ 29.5mm–which is the same as the ProOne TLE’s for me, no drama mounting them and they seat/inflate w/ a few fast strokes of a floor pump…wow: am heading out to splurge on the 30c for the rear so hopefully they will wear well).

    Great recommendation on the Spesh Turbo RapidAir!

  • Thank you Steve for the response. The wheel manufacturers suggest a 25mm on the front to be aero but given the actual widths from your measures and discussion about the TL vs sTR sizing I suspect as you say it will be effectively the same width and shouldn’t be too detrimental to aero or handling (I have been blown away by how much more stable the bike is with 45mm rims and proper tire paring compared to the stock rims with the 32mm stock tires). I was thinking of switching to a 25mm Power Road Tubless but looks like it’ll measure close to the continental 28mm anyway.

    I am curious to see what the new Michelin Power Cups will bring, they sure have promised big things in the marketing material, perhaps they’ll be added to your top tires down the road.

    As I said before, massively kudos on the sites work, super insightful and brings a lens to this stuff that I haven’t really found on any other site.

  • Hi again Steve, I notice the tyre table with rim compatibility and 105 rule has been updated.

    I also noticed the Camapgnolo Ultra’s have made the list.

    Just as per your comment about sharing your work to date with is on the tyre assignment, please would you care
    to share some preview insights and/or feedback on the Ultra 45’s’?

    They are a ‘hot’ wheel in terms of desire and marketing even if narrow by modern standards.

  • Steve – Is your review of the Enve SES Road Tire still available? My last set of Zipp Tangente’s finally bit the dust and the only thing around town was the Enve 29’s.

    They went on my AR’s eventually (I only cried once) but wondering if I keep my eye out for when the Specialized or Continentals are available and swap them out

    Thanks!

    • Shawn, I explain at the end of this review why I no longer included the ENVE SES tires. You discovered the major reason. Tire loss rolling resistance is also high relative to those still in the review. Steve

      • Thanks Steve. I think I’ll keep searching for the Conti’s or Specializeds and then switch them out before my 70.3 in September.

  • Kerim Schellingen

    Any update on the veloflex tlr in real world use? Thx!

  • Ira Goldschmidt

    I’ve blissfully put 1,000 mi. on my Spesh Rapidair front tire since raving about ‘em in my above 3/28 post. Today I decided to swap it out for another tire I’ve wanted to try and found IT WAS ESSENTIALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO PUSH THE BEAD IN & OVER THE “BEAD LOCK” and into the center channel of my AR’s. Using the patience I’ve learned while tackling this challenge on my uber-wide MTB rims I slowly worked the 1st bead off. However this patience would not work on the 2nd bead because (it seems) the tire’s sidewall is so supple that my thumbs could not gain any “purchase” on the tire. When my thumbs started to cramp I grabbed a smooth-edged screwdriver (gasp) and finished the job without caring about damaging the tire or tape (which I didn’t but I was careful to make sure that the rim was unharmed!). Clearly this is not how this story should end and I’ve never had this problem with other tires on the AR’s.

    Any suggestions about how to push a belligerent bead in & over the beak lock and into the center channel? Maybe leave the tire inflated overnight to the ETRTO blow off pressure to stretch the beads out a skosh? HELP…THOUGHTS?

  • Just tried removing two other tubeless tires from my AR’s (a ProOne & P Zero Race) and, while their beads feel just as tight as the RapidAir’s, their stiffer sidewalls allow me to easily grab the tire and pull it over the bead lock. I then tried this approach with the RapidAir and, as with trying to push with my thumbs, I can’t hold onto the supple sidewalls/tread enough to be able to pull it over the bead lock either. Arggh…will leave it inflated to 70# overnight!

    • Ira Goldschmidt

      No improvement in getting my RapidAir to unseat from the AR’s bead locks after leaving the tire inflated to 70# overnight. I just watched two Youtube videos that both said “grip the tire in a vise” (yikes and I thought using a smooth-edged screwdriver was a stupid idea). Anyway one recommended applying “Red Rubber Grease” between the rim’s bead lock and sidewall before installing the tire (it supposedly keeps the bead lubed without hardening/swelling the rubber). That’s a UK product so I’m gonna try some version of “Brake Caliper Grease”…will see (who knew that my wish 10yrs. ago for a road tubeless rim that would keep a tire seated upon deflation would lead to this…damn the Pro’s for insisting that they won’t use road tubeless until the manufacturers could assure them that the tires wouldn’t come off the rim…and so it is!).

      • Ira, just catching up with your comments now after a long Saturday group ride. I don’t have any magic bullet answers for you but I’d suggest wrapping your palms over the tire and try to bring it over the bead lock with the force of your fingers pulling in as you make a fist. I find this distributes what strength you have over a wider area of the tire more than trying to push it with your thumbs. Failing that, I’d bring it to a mechanic who has stronger hands. Also bring some cash to give the mechanic. You may feel like a wimp in doing so but they’ll feel like a hero. I had to do this a couple times myself in the early days before I improved my technique and when tire and rim dimensions and tolerances weren’t what they are now. Steve

        I wouldn’t mess with the screwdriver as you could crack the carbon at some point. The grease sounds like a bad idea. a) it’s not going to work its way between the tire bead and bead lock at this point and b) you don’t want grease in the area where the tire is supposed to fit snug up against the rim.

  • This is great. I have horror stories of my own of bike shops not installing tubeless properly & tires literally peeling off during a race! So glad to see the improvements in installation and you marking the best of the best.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *