Bicycle Tyres: Buying Guide

Welcome to our Bicycle Tyres Buying Guide! Maybe you’re looking for a brand new pair of tyres for your new Mountain Bike or Road Bike or a upgrade from your current pair. Whatever your scenario may be, we’re sure you can learn something new from this Buying Guide!

Firstly, below are some links to our different Bicycle Tyres categories if you wanted to look around yourself – otherwise read on for more information about each type.

Road Tyres

We’ve all seen a Road cyclist, whether it be on their speedy commute to work during the week or the Lycra cladded group on the weekends during their cross country route

Bicycle Tyres for Road Bikes will usually be narrower than Mountain Bicycle Tyres and will more often than not have a lot less tread on them. Quite simply, this is to ensure less grip is produced on the road. Therefore allowing you to glide along quicker and smoother compared to a tyre with lots of tread on.

Road Tyres come in lots of different styles, tread patterns, sizes and even colours. Read below for everything you’ll need to know about Road Tyres.

The key things to look for:

So, the main thing you’ll want to consider before even looking for your new Road Tyres are:

  • What you’ll mainly be using the bike for
  • The size of the tyre you will need for your wheel
  • The amount of money you want to spend

What you'll mainly be using the bike for:

The Commuter:

So, you’re using your Road Bike to get you to and from work. We would suggest affordable yet durable tyres for this. They will be getting plenty of use and more than likely between roads, pavements and possibly a little bit of off-road too. Looking for tyres with good puncture protection would be a good start. The last thing you want on your commute is a puncture (making you later for work than usual).

Another thing would be ensuring there is a fair amount of tread on the tyre. Living in the UK you’ll be experiencing wet weather conditions. The combination of slick tyres and wet roads can result in some nasty injuries you’ll want to prevent.

The Racer:

If you’re looking to use the bike for road racing, or even competitions than just for commuting to work you’ll definitely want to be looking for higher end and fairly slick tyres.

We would suggest the Corsa tyre from Vittoria, this is a top quality Road Bicycle Tyres. Designed for high speeds and has been trusted by professional athletes for many years. Another top suggestion would be the Pro One Tubeless Tyre from Schwalbe. Again, combining speed with top control, you won’t go far wrong with these. They are even hailed as the ‘Greatest Road Bike Tyre Schwalbe Ever Made’ by Schwalbe themselves.

The ‘A Bit of Both’:

Reading the previous two types of rider, you may be thinking “Well I do a bit of both of these things – what would you suggest for me then?” Well…

We would suggest a durable tyre, again for the commuters amongst you who will be navigating roads, tracks and pavements. Looking for something with a high puncture protection like GreenGuard or SmartGuard technology from Schwalbe.

A top recommendation from OverLive would be the Rubino Pro IV from Vittoria. This amazing tyre combines both Racing and City riding. With just enough tread on the sides to keep you firmly in place, whilst cornering on any road in more-or-less any weather condition. But also features a slick pattern down the centre of the tyre that you’ll very much appreciate on the race-days.

The Indoor Trainer:

Okay, so maybe none of the above have really summed you up. Maybe you’re happy training indoors and have invested in a nice turbo trainer for yourself. (This is always handy for the UK’s horrible rainy days).

With a turbo trainer tyre, you’ll not have to worry about puncture protection nor tread patterns really. The less the better, and in fact the tyre’s we would suggest are completely bald in terms of tread.

The Zaffiro Pro from Vittoria is not only heat reducing but is also completely noise cancelling too. This will become a godsend after many miles on your turbo trainer. Additionally, they are made from a long-lasting compound so should see you through many training sessions before needing replacing.

The size of the tyre you will need for your wheel:

Road bikes feature many different sized wheels but the majority of road bike tyres you come up against will be 700c.

The big differential with them is the width of the tyre. They can span from very narrow 20mm up to much thicker 40mm and sometimes even thicker. What you’ll want always depends on what you’ll be using the bike for mainly.

As a rough guide, below are the suggestions OverLive would give for tyre widths:

  • 20-25mm: These are very narrow tyres and would be best suited to a racing/competition cyclist. Due to their very narrow width, they have less connection to the road and therefore feature less drag and increase speed.
  • 25-30mm: Best suited to a rider who wants to do a bit of road racing but will also be wanting to enjoy a comfortable city ride and every-day usage.
  • 30mm+: For riders who will favouring more city/touring rides than competition riding. Will offer a more comfortable ride due to more tyre surface connection to the road. 

The amount of money you want to spend:

This is very variable as you can spend as little or as much as you would like. There are some great options on the market that won’t be breaking the bank. Also, there’s some top quality options that you may need to save up for.

A affordable suggestion for all-round use would be the Randonneur Tech from Vittoria. This won’t hurt your pockets too much but will serve you well for a long time. It also features plenty of size options to fit your set-up, whatever it may be.

Tools you will need:

Below is a list of tools you’ll want to invest in after deciding on your Road Bike Tyre.

Mountain Bike (MTB) tyres are more-or-less the bang opposite of Road Bike tyres. MTB Tyres usually have a lot of tread on them to aid in extra grip on the trails. They will also usually be a lot wider than the usual narrow Road Bike tyres. Again, this is to aid in grip on the trail and allow for more control.

The desire for as much grip as possible comes from Mountain Bike riders riding on rough terrain. Without the extra grip provided from the tyres you could lose control and could injure yourself. The more air inside the tyre also makes for a much more comfortable ride and allows for impact cushioning.

The key things to look for:

Again, the bicycle tyres you will need comes solely down to how and where you’re planning to ride the bike. These are other key things you will want to look out for:

  • Tread patterns
  • Material (or compound)
  • Tubular or Tubeless
  • The size of tyre you will need for your wheel

Tread patterns:

Firstly, tread patterns. You will notice a good majority of MTB tyres feature a V-shaped pattern, these are mainly designed with speed in mind. Allowing the tyre to roll naturally without any resistance.

Some tread patterns are slightly more random and will have spaced out knobbles. These are designed to disperse the mud quickly and allow you to tear through the course with ease. More close together knobbles will allow more grip on the path so dependant on your requirements, the tread pattern plays a important role.

Material (or compound):

MTB Tyres can be made from a lot of different materials. Keep an eye out for the durometer measurement. This informs you of the density of the tyre. They are usually measured in ShoreA (sA) and will range from 0 to 90.

  • 50 sA and below – This is a very soft compound that will offer superior grip but sacrifices speed and durability of the tyre.
  • 70 sA and above – An extremely hard compound that allows for great, natural rolling and great durability but will lack in grip in comparison to a softer material.

Most riders will opt for a middle ratio of around 60 sA. This allows for a best of both worlds scenario. Decent rolling characteristics and speed with good grip and high durability of the tyre.

Nowadays, a lot of tyre manufactures will put three or even four different compounds in their tyres. This allows for harder compound in the centre for the speed and softer compounds on the edges for improved grip and better cornering.

Tubular or Tubeless:

So, what it is Tubeless? Tubeless Tyres don’t use a inner tube like regular Tubular Tyres. This makes Tubeless the lighter option and you won’t have to worry about the inner tube getting pinched and punctured. As they also contain a sealant liquid, this acts as puncture protection that fills the puncture when it’s created and keeps it sealed and the tyre inflated.

They aren’t as simple to install as Tubular bicycle tyres so this can be off-putting for beginners. Once you get the hang of it, Tubeless seems to be the way to go!

A kit like the Schwalbe Doc Blue is a all-in-one kit to get started with Tubeless tyres. It includes a larger bottle of sealant to get you started and a smaller bottle for top-ups over time.

The size of tyre you will need for your wheel:

Mountain Bikes often have more sizes to choose from when it comes to tyres. Unlike Road Bike tyres that are usually 700c, MTB Tyres can be 26″, 27.5″ and 29″.

To find out what size you need, you can look on your current set of tyres and it is usually printed on the side. Alternatively, if you don’t have a set of tyres, you can look on the wheel itself which will tell you the size.

So, why does tyre size and tyre width matter you might ask? Well, as mentioned before, narrower tyres don’t have as much connection with the trail. Therefore provide less drag and more speed. With that comes a sacrifice on the control and much less grip which can result in more accidents. Wider tyres essentially do the opposite, they grip the road/trail better and provide more drag and less speed. This allows for better control and more grip. It all comes down to where you’re planning to ride the bike, and what you want from the experience.

We hope this Buying Guide was informative and you will check out our ranges of Tyres.

Each category mentioned in this guide is listed below:

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