michelin krylion carbon road bike tire

“What’s the best road bike tire?”

That’s a popular question. It’s almost as popular as “what bike should I buy?” and equally difficult to answer!

People love to debate between top tier tires like the Continental GP4000, Michelin ProRace, etc. And there’s always the clincher vs tubular debate. There will never be a clear answer, but I can give you a few tips on deciding which road bike tire will work best for you.

But first I have to tell you a story…

My first experience with road bike tire shopping was probably much like yours. I started reading about road bike tires, learned about some of the features, then narrowed my choices down to maybe five top tires.

Now, these were all top-of-the-line tires. Expensive, light weight, fancy rubber compounds, used by pro riders, etc. But you wouldn’t know it from reading the reviews. The first review would say the Continental Grand Prix 4000 was awesome and the Hutchinson Fusion was garbage. Then the next guy would say the Fusion was the best tire ever and he wouldn’t even run the GP 4000 on his beater bike!

It wasn’t until I took a ride with a retired European pro that I learned the truth…

After the ride, I saw he had a Conti GP4000 on the back, and I was considering a set of those at the time. So I asked him how he liked it, and his answer surprised me.

More so, his lack of an answer! He said he had found the tire lying around and tossed it on there. Kinda like ‘a tire is a tire.’ He didn’t drone on and on about how this rubber compound and tread design provided such great grip in all weather conditions and it made him 0.01% faster.

The moral of the story is…

While there are huge differences between cheap tires and the expensive ones, don’t waste too much time fussing over tire choice. Just pick out a top offering from Michelin, Hutchinson, Continental, Vittoria, or Schwalbe, and you’re all set.

You’d be much better off spending the time riding your bike and improving your handling skills!

But here are a few tire tips for you…

There are many, many options for road bike tires. Some will be good for your riding conditions, some won’t. And some tires you simply might not enjoy riding.

1. Look at the rubber compound.

Racing tires use a sticky rubber compound that is great for sharp cornering and quick maneuvering. However, these tires lack durability. If you want to put lots of miles on a set of tires, you’ll need to find a touring tire with a harder rubber compound.

2. Flat protection

If you have to ride through glass and other road debris more often than not, consider a set of tires that have a built-in kevlar belt for flat protection.

3. Width

Small riders and racers will usually want a 700x23c tire. These are usually fast and lightweight tires, and some bike frames won’t accept a wider tire. Heavier riders may find they get a better ride from a 700x25c or wider tire. The point to remember here is that not all tires come in all sizes.

4. Weight

A lighter tire is generally a faster tire. If speed matters, look for a light tire.

5. Price

Prices for most good tires vary from $25-80. So you have to consider what is in your price range and how long you need the tire to last before it wears out. Note that durability does not increase with price; usually the more expensive tires are less durable.

6. Clincher vs Tubular

Most people will be looking at clincher tires. However, if you are a pro racer, you may be looking for tubular tires for your tubular-specific wheelset. (If so, you’re probably past the point of asking what bike or tire to buy, and can figure this out on your own.)

7. vs Tubeless

Road tubeless is a thing now.

You see, there is no road bike tire that is the best option for everyone.

Generally, I say go with mid-range durable tires for recreational riding and the high-end rubber for racing and performance riding. I’m a Michelin guy, so that means either the Krylion Carbon (training) or the Pro Race (racing).

Your needs will vary, so pick out the brand and tire that fits your needs. There are plenty of good ones!

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