Road Bike Tire Guide

Road Bike Tire Guide

Written by Joseph Bonacci, on June 12, 2024

Just a few years ago finding the right road tire was pretty easy, you just had to find a 25mm or 28mm tire and decide if you wanted a racing or durable tire. Nowadays, it isn’t that simple. Most modern road bikes have clearance for 32mm tires with some even getting as big as allowing a 40mm tire. You'll find option upon option upon option. While diehard racers will stick to a 28mm or 30mm at most, going a little bigger than what you have typically run will add comfort to the ride with minimal impact to speed and rolling resistance. 

Road Tire Line Up


Let's break tires down into three categories: race, endurance and all-road. The race tires will focus on more lightweight performance, while endurance are more durable and an all-season road tire. The all-road tires go down any road, asphalt or not and leave you without worry. The industry has trended towards going tubeless for road, and its benefits include lower tire pressure, a lighter-weight system, and better flat protection. Whether you ride tubed or tubeless, this tire guide will help you find a great option for new tires.

The biggest thing you need to check before getting started is first whether or not you want tubeless, and then if you have ZIPP or ENVE wheels, make sure the tire is hookless compatible. Today, most tires are hookless compatible but it doesn’t hurt to ask one of us to double-check. One thing to note with a hookless tubeless setup is that you should never exceed 72 PSI. If you are running something wider than 30c, that should not be an issue for any riders. However for those on the heavier side wanting to run around 28c, you may want to consider a hooked solution. 


For those who are speed-oriented, there are many good tire choices. The main downside of these tires is their limited durability due to the high-end, soft compound that most tire companies use. At the shop, we have a few go-to tires for racing. The first tire to mention is the recently released ENVE SES Race Day Tire. Prioritizing performance, the tire is only available as a 27mm or 29mm in 700c. Compared to their ENVE SES Road tire, the tire offers an 8.5-watt improvement at 60psi, while dropping 75 grams. The tires feature the same tread pattern as the SES Road Tire, which is widely praised for its cornering grip. These are tubeless and hookless-wheel compatible, designed around the ENVE SES 6.7 wheelset. They simply are a great option for a racing tire. 

Vittoria Corsa Pro

Another option for pure performance on race days is the Vittoria Corsa Pro Tires. The first thing that stands out is its 320 tpi, cotton casings, giving them their striking tan-wall only look. The cotton casing isn’t just for show though, it gives the tires grip in the corners and ensures that you stay rubber side down. Team VismaLAB uses these as their go-to, riding them on everything from the Alpe D’Huez to the rough cobbles of Roubaix. These tires are available in 2mm increments from 24c to 32c and are tubeless and hookless compatible, making it easy to find the perfect width for your bike. Some other race-focused tires you can check out are the Pirelli P-Zero Race TLR, the Schwalbe Pro One, or the S-Works Turbo. 


Endurance tires, unlike their racing cousins, prioritize slow wear and puncture resistance. These tires last most people the whole year. Most endurance tires feature the same tread pattern as the brand's standard race tire, but made with durable rubber instead of the lightweight race rubber. The Schwalbe One tire is a perfect endurance tire. Offered with their specialty Addix Performance compound, the tire prioritizes durability while still offering peak performance. These tires are tubeless and hookless compatible and are offered from 25c to 32c. 

Schwalbe One Tire

The Pirelli Cinturato Velo TLR tire is another good choice for a durable road tire. Pirelli has been a long-time maker of high-performance tires across many disciplines. This tire tread is designed for high grip in wet conditions and performance in the dry. This tire is one you can throw on your bike and forget about, until a year later when you want to get another. One thing to note, their width is measured on a 19c rim at the factory, so oftentimes they are wider than what the packaging says. Other than that, they are still a great option for tubed, tubeless, and hookless use. Also check out the Vittoria Corsa N.EXT Tires and the Maxxis High Road. 

Pirelli Cinturato Velo


All-road tires are still going to be slick tires, but be prioritized towards use on dirt roads with extreme puncture protection. These tires will also be offered in wider widths, usually up to about 700x40, for use on new all-road bikes like the BMC Roadmachine and the ENVE Fray. The first tire that makes this list is the Maxxis Re-Fuse, a tire that bridges the gap between road and gravel use. Made with the MaxxShield tire compound, this tire prioritizes puncture protection over any road surface. The Re-Fuse tire is offered in widths from 23-40c and is tubeless and hookless compatible (except the 23, 25, and 28). 

Maxxis Re-Fuse

Panaracer, a tire company known for its gravel tires, makes a fantastic option for all-road use in the Gravelking Slick tire. As the name suggests, this tire is for riding off the beaten path and has incredible resistance to punctures. Like the Re-Fuse, the Gravelking is tubeless and hookless compatible, except on sizes smaller than 700x30. All-road tires are great options for your designated commuter rigs. Because of their puncture resistance and lifetime, you'll have peace of mind as you ride through potholes or broken glass. 


For the most part, endurance tires will be your best friend for a season of riding, but if you need extra durability or extra speed you can consider an all-road tire or race tire, respectively. Stop by the shop or call us and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have on getting a new set of tires for your road bike. 

1 comment

  • This is the most concise and easy to follow break down of tire brands, traits, uses and beading I have read to date. Great job and Thanks!!

    Michael G Mancuso MD on

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