Whether you are simply an enthusiast or an amateur to a professional rider, by far one of the more important choices regarding equipment that you will make involves which kind of tires you choose. If you ride your bike exclusively on the road, then it only makes sense for you to look for the best road tires available.
That said, there are many different subcategories of road tires, but few are as versatile and as good of an option for more riders then puncture resistant road tires. This group of road tires takes the smooth ride and long mileage of your standard road tire and reinforces the tire with various forms of protection to ensure that you do not get a flat from an external puncture.
Of course, figuring out which is the best puncture resistant road tire for you can be a difficult and confusing task. The is why we have put together a list of the best road bike tires for puncture resistance, highlighting what each road tire does best. Then we provide a helpful buyer’s guide, so you find the best puncture resistant road tire to suit your needs.
Best Road Bike Tires for Puncture Resistance 2018
(for size 700x25C)
|Continental Grand Prix 4000 S II|
|Continental Gator Hardshell||270g||Clincher|
|Michelin Power Endurance||230g||Clincher|
|Schwalbe Pro One||269g||Tubuless|
1. Continental Grand Prix 4000 S II – Best All-Around Road Bike Tires
When looking at road tires of any sort, there are few companies out there that are more well respected or well known than Continental. With a storied history that stretches back over 130 years, Continental has always been a high-end and professional-grade road tire to which most of their competitors are compared to as a general benchmark for overall quality within any of their given categories. That trend remains pretty much constant as the Continental Grand Prix 4000 S II beat out the other road tires to be our Editor’s Choice Best Performing puncture resistant road tire.
One of the best qualities about the Grand Prix 4000 S II is its use of the company’s patented Black Chili compound which is in a large part responsible for this road tire being able to provide such all-around great riding qualities. The Grand Prix 4000 S II may not necessarily be the fastest puncture resistant road tire we saw, but it is very nearly so. The same thing can be said about the mileage of this tire which, while not strictly the best, is still well within the tour to shorter “marathon” range and potentially longer depending on the conditions of the road. That said, you will definitely have to pay a bit more for the Grand Prix 4000 S II than you will virtually any other puncture resistant road tire we saw.
2. Continental Gator Hardshell – Most Durable Puncture Resistant Road Tire
As one of the most well-respected companies in professional-grade bike tire manufacturing, Continental understands that it must do more than simply provide the best all-around performing tire on the market. They must also produce the highest performing bike tire in different niche categories. For instance, sometimes the area where you are riding is not one which you can readily predict the conditions of–like for a city road whose conditions can change from day to day. It is in this precarious and unpredictable scenario that you will likely want to opt for the puncture resistant road tire that is the most durable.
The Gator Hardshell has numerous layers of protection to ensure that it has nothing to fear from an external puncture, but it also has some protection built into the design itself. For instance, this puncture resistant road tire uses the Carbon Black compound which is in a large part responsible for the Gator Hardshell’s exceptional mileage when compared to many other road tires. That said, the compound is a bit heavier than most and all of those layers do add a fair degree of weight to this road tire as it comes in at a heavy 460 g. This means that the Gator Hardshell is not the road tire you choose if you are looking to train for speed–unless you are looking for light resistance training.
3. Continental Gatorskin – Best Cheap Road Bike Tires
While Continental his continued to innovate and pioneer the advancement in technology and technique in the professional biking tire market, that does not mean they have forgotten that there is a large enthusiast market for riders who are not necessarily looking to spend as much money as someone who might be training for a competitive event. Thankfully, Continental is so consistent developing new technologies for their biking tires that older models soon become the new budget option within the category, and that is precisely the case with the Continental Gatorskin.
Like the Gator Hardshell that came before it, the Continental Gatorskin makes use of a number of design and construction choices that ultimately make this an incredibly durable puncture resistant road tire, and were it not for the proceeding successor, the Continental Gatorskin would be the most durable puncture resistant road tire we reviewed. This construction includes both of the standard protective layers for the Gator product line like the Polybreaker polyester reinforcement or the DuraSkin sidewalls to prevent errant punctures from pinches or debris. On top of that, this puncture resistant road tire is also made of the popular Black Carbon compound from Continental. That said, the absence of the hardshell exterior that gives the Gator Hardshell its namesake does mean that the Continental Gatorskin tires are prone to becoming tacky when wet.
4. Michelin Power Endurance – Best Mileage Puncture Resistant Road Tire
Michelin is the first company to make an appearance on our list that is not Continental, though this brand is likely far more well-known–even if they are more known for automotive tires rather than high-end road bike tires. That said, Michelin does have a fairly good reputation with tires in its primary market, so there is no reason those same qualities could not crossover and apply to road bike tires. In fact, Michelin actually managed to do that which is a great thing on one hand but a bit limiting on the other.
The Michelin Power Endurance is also a fairly convenient puncture resistant road tire and offers an easier way of doing things in a couple of ways. For one, this is a clincher type of puncture resistant road tire, so if you ever do have a flat tire, you can quickly and easily change it should you keep an extra on you while riding. Another way that the Michelin Power Endurance aims to make your ride easier is by providing tread wear indicators which make themselves known when you have worn the tread on your tires low enough to need new ones. Finally, this tire comes in 5 sizes which are generally the most common wheel rim and racing sizes.
5. Schwalbe Pro One – Best Road Bike Tires for Racing
Schwalbe is definitely a well-respected maker of high-end bike tires, even if they are also one of the youngest companies at a sprightly 55 years old. That said, Schwalbe was founded for a singular purpose: to make the best professional bike tires on the market. While their success towards that goal is debatable, what is not is that Schwalbe has definitely managed to consistently put out well-made and well-performing bike tires. In this case, Schwalbe decided to offer the best of both worlds with the Pro One, our best hybrid puncture resistant road tire.
By far the best quality about the Schwalbe Pro One is its type, and that is largely because the Schwalbe Pro One does not have a single type. Instead, this puncture resistant road tire was designed to be able to fulfill whichever role you need of it. If you need an inner tube, then this puncture resistant road tire can serve as a tubular road tire. However, if you would rather not deal with the inner tube, the Schwalbe Pro One can also always be used as a tubeless puncture resistant road tire. The only downside to this is that you will definitely need to have the wheel adhered either way.
Outside of the interchangeable type design, the Schwalbe Pro One also offers an all-around solid build with numerous features that are on par or average for the market of road tires. For instance, while it is not the fastest road tire anywhere, it is by far one of the faster puncture resistant road tires that we reviewed. Part of this has to do with the fact that the Schwalbe Pro One uses a patented MicroSkin compound which provides the Schwalbe Pro One plenty of grip and traction to get the most out of every stroke. Another way that the Schwalbe Pro One ensures that you get as much speed as possible is by keeping the weight down well below that of some of their competitors’ puncture resistant road tires.
Best Road Bike Tires for Puncture Resistance – Buyer’s Guide
The sheer number of material used for the best puncture resistant road tires is vast with each major manufacturer designing their own proprietary blend. This means that very few puncture resistant road tires will carry the same ingredients unless they are made out of some generalized mono or triple compound. That said, even the generic compounds of puncture resistant road tires are significantly more durable and get better mileage than your average road tire and will certainly provide more durability when compared to a speed road tire.
One thing to keep in mind regarding the materials of a puncture resistant road tire is that there will often be different layers. Aside from the fact that the puncture resistant road tire’s main body is already made out of one of the innumerable compound formulae, puncture resistant road tires are often reinforced with one or more additional layers of protection or support. Sometimes the layers can be localized to a specific part of the tire to provide protection to a specific area of the tire that might otherwise be left unprotected and act as the veritable chink in the armor.
With the additional layers of protection, each layer can–and often is–made out of a different material. In this case, you will often need to choose between strength and flexibility as the materials used for reinforcement are fibrous in nature and must balance the two qualities, though certain materials with incredible torsion strength, like Kevlar, are sometimes used for professional road tires. That said, the materials used for these components are generally synthetic in nature and judged on their thread count.
For the actual composition, all puncture resistant road tires will include some amount of rubber–though the actual amount can vary a great deal being less than half of the compound’s composition. The remaining amounts of material will generally be used to fine tune how the rubber responds and what specifically it is best at.
For instance, there are additives used in different types of road tires to give them their specialized function. It is already fairly well-known that a puncture resistant road tire and a sprinting road tire will contain different materials in the compound of their tire, but even within the puncture resistant road tire market, there can be significant differences in the specific approach and intended strengths of a given puncture resistant road tire.
One puncture resistant road tire may use an ingredient that is designed to prevent the rubber in the road tire from breaking down to increase the mileage. However, deciding to favor the mileage of the puncture resistant road tire over other qualities means that you will ultimately be forced to sacrifice in some other aspect as there is no compound found yet which is universally the best at all things.
As such, when choosing a puncture resistant road tire, it is important to ignore whatever terms the manufacturer uses to sell the compound and instead focus on what does that compound do best. For all of the major manufacturers, this is not too terribly difficult as they pride themselves on specializing their product lines, so each type of rider in all settings can find the best puncture resistant road tire for their needs.
While ostensibly all of the tires reviewed on our list are puncture resistant road tires, that does not mean that the market itself does not differentiate between different types of road tires–whether puncture resistant or not. In this case, the different puncture resistant road tires can fall into one of 3 different type categories: Clincher, Tubular, and Tubeless. The type of puncture resistant road tire will play an important role in determining a couple factors. First, the setting you intend to ride your bike will help determine which of the 3 is right for you. For instance, you will not necessarily want the same type of road tire designed to withstand the road hazards of city roads that you would were you intending to ride your bike on a long stretch of mostly deserted back roads.
Clincher – This is by far the most common type of road tire used for virtually every focus of road tire including puncture resistant road tires. Essentially, a clincher tire is made of almost two different parts: the outer casing and a smaller inner tube. This type of tire differs from the other two primarily by the way that it connects to the wheel rim. Instead of needing to be glued, taped, or otherwise adhered and sealed to the wheel rim, the clincher type of road tire is designed simply to hook onto the wheel rim. This is incredibly convenient and makes changing a flat tire much easier than with the other types of road tires. That said, if you are actively training, chances are you are not carrying a spare tire nor the tools necessary to change a clincher road tire on you. As such, this is a much better tire if you are not actively training for a competitive race or another event where you would not be carrying the requisite equipment to change a flat tire.
Tubular – This type of tire is not uncommon among road tires, but it is definitely a bit different than the norm. Essentially, a tubular tire is a bit like the clincher in design except where the tube can be removed from a clincher type of road tire, the casing is sewn shut around the inner tube for a tubular racing tire. In practice, this can provide a great many benefits to the rider which is a large part of why it is the type of tire of choice for professional road bike riders. That said, tubular road tires are often the most durable on the road due to the fact that the inner tube’s position within the casing protects it further from internal puncture threats. Tubular tires are also known for providing many riders with what they consider to be a superior feel–though this is an entirely subjective perception and does not in any way demonstrate an evidentiary advantage. That said, one of the best qualities about a tubular road tire is that they can still be ridden if they get a flat. So long as the adhesive does not separate the casing from the wheel rim, you can keep riding a tubular tire–which is important for long distance training or marathon competitions.
Tubeless – The tubeless design has long been popular with mountain biking enthusiasts, but it has only recently begun to catch popularity in the road biking world. That said, this type of road tire is far more different from the previous two as they were from each other. As the name implies, the big difference with this type of road tire is that it does not include an inner tube. In essence, it is little more than a clincher tire without an inner tube, but this is where the tubeless tire shines. Instead of gripping the wheel rim like a standard clincher tire, the tubeless tire sealed to the wheel rim. The tubeless tire is then filled with air which presents some significant improvements over the experience of tubular or clincher road tires. First, this provides a more even ride and is significantly more resistant to interior punctures–especially considering that there is no tube to puncture. This can also leave the tubeless road tire more resistant to external punctures since the same engineering limitations between tire thickness and inner tube volume no longer matter. The main thing to remember about tubeless road tires is that they do not deal with stress to the wheel rim as well as tubular or clincher tires do.
Threads per inch or tpi is often considered a good shorthand for judging how much puncture resistance a given tire has. However, it should be understood that the tpi only tells half of the story and should only be seen as that deciding factor if both puncture resistant road tires use the same materials and techniques. This is because not all protective materials are going to be equal. For example, a kevlar layer that has a lower tpi than one made of polyester is still liable to provide better puncture resistance specifically because the material in question is that much stronger. Likewise, the way that the threads are then woven can add significantly more strength against punctures.
As we can see, there is no puncture resistant road tire which will be unanimously the best puncture resistant road tire for all riders. There are some riders out there who will need to contend with unpredictable city roads while other riders will have the relative peace and luxury of a little used back road or two.
If you have no distractions to worry about, by far the best puncture resistant road tire we reviewed is the Continental Grand Prix 4000 S II. While it is not necessarily the best in any given category, it does have the highest tpi count at 330 and is an all-around great puncture resistant road tire that can provide a modest improvement to all elements of your ride while still being nigh-impregnable.
On the other hand, if you find yourself forced to ride in chaotic city streets, we recommend the Continental Gator Hardshell. While it may not necessarily achieve the greatest speeds that we saw, it is by far one of, if not, the most durable puncture resistant road tires that we saw with patented and focused layers or protection at every point of the tire’s construction. It is also more reasonably priced than many other puncture resistant road tires we saw.