How to Choose the Best Road Bike Tire

How to choose the right road bike tire

No one size fits all

What's the best road bike tire? There is no one size fits all answer to this question. Road bike tires, while they may look similar, have some distinct differences. Finding the right one for you will depend on your riding style and priorities. Read on to learn about choosing the right road bike tire for you.

To tread or not to tread

Mountain bikes have a notoriously large tread to help all that handling in dirt and rocks. On a road bike, the tread is far less noticeable. However, when choosing a road bike tire you will need to choose either a smooth tire or a tire with tread. Smooth tires will roll faster on smooth pavement, but treaded tires or more versatile. A tire with tread can handle some moisture, sand or other road debris. If you live somewhere the weather is unpredictable, you will likely want a tire with tread. These tires will be a bit heavier, but they will also be more durable.

To tube or not to tube

The second decision you will need to make when choosing a road bike tire is weather to go tube, tubeless or tubular.

Want the latest and the greatest in road bike tire technology? That would be tubeless tires. These tires are clincher tires that seal to the rim and are filled with a liquid sealant. If you roll over a nail or staple, the tire will reseal itself. They allow for a lower pressure and better handling, and are also lighter since they do not have a tube. However, you must have a tubeless compatible wheelset to use them.

The classic road bike tire is the tubed tire. These tires work with a clincher rim and require an inflated inner tube. They are easy to service, can be bought in many places, and are quick to repair even on the side of the road.

Tubular tires are the least frequently used tires. Generally, they are only used by professionals for races. On these tires the tire is glued to the rim. The positives include their lightweight nature and exceptional handling. However, on the negative side they are hard to maintain and are quite spendy.

What's the TPI?

When purchasing a tire you will want to know its TPI. TPI stands for "threads per inch." This number refers to the casing below the rubber. This casing helps hold the tire's shape, helps prevent flats and dictates the tire's rolling resistance. The lower the TPI, the better the puncture resistance. The higher the TPI, the smoother the ride. You can balance your priorities to pick the right TPI.

What's the width?

The last decision to make with a tire is its width. Road bike tires come in a variety of widths with the most common being 23 mm, 25 mm or 28 mm. Lately the trend has become to go with a wider tire. The wider tires are more versatile and can be run at a lower PSI. This means the feel of the bike will be more supple and you'll have better traction. However, if you're looking for a more aerodynamic setup, narrower is the way to go. Not sure what size is best for you? Our staff can help you pick the right tire!

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