How to choose the best road bike tires

There are many different kinds of road bike tires to choose from, all with a wide variety of features, technologies, and price points. We’ll cover everything you need to know to help you choose the best road bike tires for your riding style, no matter if you’re riding for fun or racing for a spot on the podium.

What types of road bike tires are there?

Most bikes come with tube-type tire setups that rely on an inner tube to hold air. For most riders, this is the best place to start when looking for replacement tires. Some higher-performance tires may be tubeless ready, meaning they don't need to be used with tubes. Instead, they can "go tubeless" by combining them with tubeless ready wheels and sealant for a boost in performance. There are also tubular tires, used mostly by Professional road racers that have a tube sewn into the tire.

Clincher tires

Clincher road bike tires are some of the most common. They mount to a standard hooked rim and use an inner tube to hold air pressure.

Tubeless clincher tires

Tubeless clincher road bike tires are a variation of a standard clincher tire that eliminate the need for an inner tube. These virtually eliminate flats as the inner tube is replaced with a liquid sealant designed to seal small cuts and punctures as soon as they happen.

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Tubular tires

Tubular road bike tires are only compatible with tubular wheels as they combine the inner tube and tire into one and are glued onto the wheel with a special glue. Tubular tires are generally reserved only for use in high-performance racing situations.

Road bike tire clearance

A wide road bike tire grips better, and allows you run lower tire pressures for a smoother ride over rough roads. The best way to find the width that works best for you is to try a variety of options, while also keeping in mind that not all tires are compatible with all bikes. It’s important to check around the entire wheel and tire to make sure there is adequate clearance between all parts of the frame and front fork. Rim width can also affect your tire width too, so just because a tire is marked as a 28mm wide tire, doesn’t mean it will actually measure 28mm wide on every rim.

Road bike tire pressure tips

A recommended road bike tire pressure range can be found printed on the side of all tires.The amount of air in a tire has a large effect on the performance of your tire. Too much pressure will sacrifice traction, and too little pressure will sacrifice tire tire support. You’ll get the best performance out of your tires by setting them up at the recommended pressures.

If you decide to put on wider tires, remember to adjust your tire pressure. Personal preference plays a large role here, but wider tires tend to have more overall volume and perform better at slightly lower pressures than narrower tires.

Check your recommended tire pressure range here

Bontrager road bike tire tread guide

R series

A race-ready line of tires focused on performance, durability, and speed that can also handle the rigors of everyday riding.

AW series

All-weather tires with outstanding grip in wet or dry conditions and perfect if you're faced with a road full of debris.

T series

A strong, supple line of tires with recessed tread for multi-purpose riding in dynamic weather with a durable compound that gives long tread life for training, touring, or recreational riding.

Bike tire anatomy

Although tires may seem like simple rubber objects, they are actually super complex technological marvels! They’re made with special casings, rubber compounds, tread patterns, and even puncture-protection technologies, all designed to ensure you have an awesome ride.

Learn more about the parts of a bike tire

Bontrager road tire technology

Hard-Case Lite Puncture Protection

The lightest weight line of defense that features a belt directly under the tread, preventing glass, thorns, and other road debris from penetrating the tread and puncturing the inner tube.

Hard-Case Puncture Protection

3-way, lightweight puncture protection, featuring the sub-tread breaker belt found in Hard-Case Lite, plus a second anti-cut bead-to-bead casing and anti-pinch sidewall support to help prevent pinch flats from obstacles like potholes.

TR-Speed rubber compound

A proprietary rubber compound that's faster in the lab and on a variety of road surfaces.

Built for you

Bontrager prides itself on making quality, innovative components and thoughtful accessories with a rider-first, no-compromise mentality. Whether you’re looking for a replacement part, upgraded components, or a fresh set of wheels, every Bontrager product is built to make your next ride better than your last.

Be confident in your decision

If for any reason you're not satisfied with a Bontrager aftermarket purchase, return the item, along with the original sales receipt to the original place of purchase within 30 days for an exchange or refund. Think of it as a 30-day test ride.

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