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The top 12 best 650b commuter tires

In this list I’m going to focus on providing you with the very best 650b commuter tires.

It seems like in the last couple of years the innovation with respect to bicycle tires has exploded. In part this is because the last decade has seen the introduction of different wheel sizes, and the gravel riding cycling category.

The latter especially has caused a plethora of high performance tires that are perfectly suited for the ambitious commuter who will not settle for your average wired tire. In this article I’ve focused on a range of more traditional, but very high-quality and durable commuter tires. And I’ve thrown in a smattering of gravel tires that are well suited on pavement and tarmac because of their slick or semi-slick nature.

Since research has indicated the benefits of wider tires significantly outweigh those of slimmer versions, the overall width lies between 40 and 50 millimeters. But the list contains entries below 40 mm as well.

So let’s see what I’ve got in store for you with my top picks for the best 650b commuter tires.

Continental CONTACT Speed

Continental CONTACT Speed
Continental CONTACT Speed

Meant for the road the Continental Contact Speed is a slick tire in the true sense of the word. A minimalistic profile will turn your bike into a city slicker.

In the commuting and touring range from this German brand, it sits in the fastest category and is one of the most affordable options to obtain a fast-rolling tire.

It also has excellent puncture protection with Continental’s more than adequate SafetySystem breaker technology. Chances of flats are minimized.

Expert Experience

Shaun Audane | Technical writer – June 30, 2020

For me at least, the Contact Speeds strike an excellent balance between speed, comfort and puncture resistance – in that order. The wide range of sizes is another big draw and I’d even do a bit of weekend/lightweight touring with them. If these are your priorities, there’s little to touch them. However, if you put reliability and durability over everything else, there are plenty of options for similar money and, indeed, less.

Pros and Cons

Continental Grand Prix 5000

Continental Grand Prix 5000
Continental Grand Prix 5000

The Continental Grand Prix 5000 is a clincher tire and dubbed as the best allrounder in the field.

And on paper at least the numbers are very impressive. A 330 TPI tire (very supple) at a claimed weight of 200 grams for a 23 mm width version. It has the exact same Vectran breaker as the other ones on this list, so as far as puncture protection is concerned, this tire performs equally impressively.

And this tire comes in a tan wall version or transparent as Continental calls it. But if you want the lightest version of this tire, you’ll have to stick to black.

Expert Experience

Stu Kerton | Senior Product Reviewer – March 26, 2021

Riding them in the winter has shown how durable they are for such a high-performance tyre. With a short test period it’s difficult to judge wear levels, but the GP5000s are looking good. There are a couple of little marks here and there from the hedge cutting season, but they haven’t punctured yet.

They have a supple feel, too. Even at the pressures I ride, they bring a noticeable cushioning effect to proceedings. The only real issue I can see is that if you want tubeless and a tan wall, you’re out of luck. If that doesn’t bother you, you’re going to have to go some to find another tyre that delivers the same levels of performance and durability. The GP5000 Transparent is excellent. As long as you’re willing to pay for it.

Pros and Cons

Maxxis DTR-1

Maxxis DTR-1
Maxxis DTR-1

The Maxxis DTR-1 is an affordable semi-slick 650b tire with a tread pattern for urban assaults.

The foldable version is reasonably light for its width of 47 millimeters, coming in at just over 500 grams.

It’s a no-fuss tire for people looking for a fast-rolling commuter option for their bike without having to dig too deep into their wallets.

Pros and Cons

Panaracer GravelKing SS Plus (Tubed)

Panaracer GravelKing SS Plus (Tubed)
Panaracer GravelKing SS Plus (Tubed)

The tubed version of the Panaracer GravelKing SS Plus is a gorgeous plus sized gravel tire.

Fairly lightweight with excellent longevity and puncture protection, the black or tan-wall version are supple tires that will last you a long time.

Just as the slimmer version they offer minimal grip with an almost slick tread pattern adn extremely small side knobbies. It means that they are both excellent and fast-rolling road tires as well as light gravel and hardpack. The round profile of the tire with the minimal tread pattern ensures a plus ride in these conditions.

Expert Experience

Iain Treloar | Contributor – May 31, 2023

A bit of a mixed bag, really. They’re a little narrowly focused for what I’m personally looking for in a gravel tyre, but if you’re mostly riding on well-made surfaces they may be just what you’re after.

If it’s a toss-up between these and the Gravel King Slick, I’d go for the SS for a bit of extra capability without too much downside. But for a lot of people and a lot of conditions, I think the Gravel King SK – and other tyres like it – is going to provide a more well-rounded experience.

Pros and Cons

Panaracer Pasela ProTite

Panaracer Pasela ProTite
Panaracer Pasela ProTite

Panaracer makes very nice mid-level priced tires. And they also offer some of the best-looking ones for retro builds. I choose the Panaracer Pasela ProTite over the normal Pasela, because it’s lighter, comes in a folding version and has better puncture protection.

The ProTite bead-to-bead protection covers is a tightly woven fabric covering the entire width of the tire, and sits in a mid-tier casing, offering a great combination of puncture protection, and low weight.

In general the Pasela ProTite are lightweight and true skin walls, that’ll look great on your bike.

Expert Experience

Shaun Audane | Technical writer – December 24, 2017

I still rate the Paselas and reckon they’re a good bet for training – especially on older bikes where preserving originality is welcome. The wide range of sizes also means they’re worth considering for cyclo-cross or gravel bikes that double as winter trainers. That said, I’d stick with the wire beads and save £30 a pair (at RRP); while likeable, the folding versions are outclassed on value by faster-rolling, higher-pressure contemporaries.

Pros and Cons

Schwalbe Big Ben

Schwalbe Big Ben
Schwalbe Big Ben

The Schwalbe Big Ben is the Big Apple’s brother, which means it’s even heavier. In fact, they’re almost the heaviest tires overall in this list. But on the flipside it does come in a number of brown colors other than black to accentuate your frame and make for a cool retro build. And it’s also reflected in a price which will hurt your wallet the least.

The Plus version is also probably the plushest ride here, but with almost a kilo per tire, don’t expect to be flying away when the light goes green.

Pros and Cons

Schwalbe G-One Speed

Schwalbe G-One Speed
Schwalbe G-One Speed

If you’re a person who likes fast, plush rides on pavement and slightly coarse roads the Schwalbe G-One Speed is probably the best tire money can buy.

It’s an exceptional big volume road tire that’s light, nimble, and lets you rip down the road with a big grin on your face. It’s a step up in width from your average road tire, which means you get an incredibly supple and plush ride and loads of grip. Sure you have to sacrifice a bit in the rolling-resistance department when compared to a 25 millimeter road tire, but this tire is simply more fun to ride and much, much more comfortable.

And this tire doesn’t shy away from light gravel riding as well, broadening the range of application beyond very fast commuting.

Expert Experience

Sebastian Vidal | Contributor – January 29, 2019

These tires are excellent and great and every other good word I can think of. The huge volume of the 38mm wide tires means that I (an admittedly smaller rider) can flirt with 20psi if I’m riding trails or bumpy stuff. On the road, I found them fast and comfortable around 45psi – as always your mileage will vary based on weight. These tires can truly handle anything you throw at them. They’re fast and supple and comfortable as hell on the road, fun if a little slip-ey on the trails, and perfectly at home on gravel.

Pros and Cons

Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB

Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB
Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB

The Schwalbe Marathon is the ultimate allrounder in the tire department and one of the best-selling tires on the market. So the German brand decided to make a MTB-specific version of this tire: the Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB.

Although it looks like a knobby tire, if you look close enough you can see that the center tread will let you run smoothly across pavement. And just like the standard Marathon is meant for commuting and touring, the same goes for this one.

It’s a heavy tire when compared to some of the XC racers. But the biggest plus for hauling all that extra weight is that in terms of puncture protection, this tire has no equal. The reason is pretty simple. Schwalbe stuffed a 5mm strip underneath the center tread, made from highly puncture resistant rubber. And as simple as that sounds, it’s extremely effective in preventing punctures.

So for those of you who want the risk of flats nearing zero, this is the tire for you.

Expert Experience

Mike | Site Owner – March 15, 2017

Since I’ve made the jump to these large-and-in-charge tires (in my case, on a drop-bar adventure bike rather than a pure mountain bike) I’ve felt like I’m getting pretty close to the right balance of tradeoffs and advantages.

I’m not whizzing through my city streets en route to my favorite forest getaways, but I roll smoothly and comfortably enough out of town. Once I’m on the rough gravel-and-clay surface of the C&O Canal towpath outside my Washington, DC home, I really appreciate the limousine-like feel and peace of mind these tires offer.

Pros and Cons

WTB Byway

WTB Byway
WTB Byway

WTB has been at the forefront of providing high-quality gravel tires and the WTB Byway is another great example of why the brand reigns supreme in that department.

The slick center line ensures this minimal gravel tire is fast when going in a straight line. But the pronounced side knobbies allow for enough confidence in dry summer conditions when riding hardpack and dirt roads.

Even a great tire such as this one has its limits, and the minimal tread pattern won’t fare well in wet and muddy conditions. Also grip on steep inclines with loose gravel might be less optimal because of its semi-slick nature. But to be fair that’s not the intended purpose of this tire.

So if your average ride includes pavement and gravel and speed is at the top of your list, this is a gorgeous option to choose.

Expert Experience

Will Jones | Technical writer – September 14, 2022

My advice would be that if you are primarily riding country back lanes with occasional forays into the woods then these are a safe, but not hugely inspiring bet. If this is the case you’ll probably want to run them at higher pressures, at which point you may as well opt for the cheaper but less supple 60TPI option anyway and save yourself a wedge of cash. If you want a more gravelly option on the cheap then look to the Kimberlite, or for a pretty similar price I’d go for the Teravail Washburns: You’ll have a better time.

Pros and Cons

WTB Groov-E

WTB Groov-E
WTB Groov-E

The WTP Groov-E was designed for e-bikes, which is reflected in the weight of 970 grams.

The reason it’s on this list is because with its 2.40 inch width and weight, it will offer an extremely plush ride. Not everybody is looking for speed, and if comfort sits high on your list, this tire might be the one for you.

Pros and Cons

WTB Horizon

WTB Horizon
WTB Horizon

The WTB Horizon is a gorgeous and supple 650b slick tire, available in both black and true tan-wall options.

The 47 millimeter width tire comes in both a single ply 60 TPI and a more supple 120 TPI version. The center tread has no pattern whatsoever and is flanked by dual herringbone patterns to provide a modicum of traction when riding anything else but smooth tarmac and pavement.

It’s fully tubeless compatible and the round tire ranging between 515 and 571 grams for the various versions will make a plush ride indeed for any type of light gravel riding or urban commuting.

Expert Experience

Jayson | Site Owner – April 19, 2017

The Horizon is a great choice for a rider who commutes a few miles / kilometres in order to reach their local gravel road(s). Not exactly designed for high-speed cornering with its lack of tread blocks on the sides, the Horizon still does well enough on just about every dirt and gravel road surface imaginable. However, as stated earlier, it isn’t a tyre I’d consider for the flinty rigours of an event like Dirty Kanza.

Pros and Cons

WTB ThickSlick

WTB ThickSlick
WTB ThickSlick

Of all the tires I’ve come across, none is as true to its name as the WTB ThickSlick.

The high-contrast white letters on the smooth carcass is one of the most distinctive designs for a black tire you can find. A tire with a non-existent tread pattern such as this one is obviously meant for riding on pavement and tarmac. And it does so admirably, with a reasonable enough weight and rolling-resistance.

It’s a very niche-oriented tire to turn your bike into something more. And one of the best-looking slick mountain bike tires ever to hit the market.

Expert Experience

Dave Henly | Site Owner – March 6, 2017

For urban riding and as a road training tire, the ThinSlicks are perfect. If you want to ride gravel on a road bike, these might work ok, but you’ll be pushing them to their limit. And if you want to do a lot of touring, you can either go with these bad boys or the Gatorskins. The Gatorskins might be more comfortable over long straight stretches.

Pros and Cons

Specifications 650b commuter tires

Name
Size
ETRTO
Weight (gr)
Tread color
Sidewall color
Compound
Puncture protection
Tire bead
TPI
Continental CONTACT Speed
27.5×2.00
50-584
700
Black
Black
SafetySystem Breaker
tlr
3/180
Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB
27.5×2.10
54-584
1200
Black
Black
ADDIX
wired
Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB
27.5×2.25
57-584
1270
Black
Black
ADDIX
wired
WTB Groov-E
27.5×2.40
62-584
970
Black
Black
Dual DNA
tlr
WTB ThickSlick
27.5×1.95
50-584
713
Black
Black
DNA
folding
Continental Grand Prix 5000
650x28B
28-584
230
Black
Black
BlackChili
Vectran Breaker
tlr
220
Continental Grand Prix 5000
650x25B
25-584
210
Black
Black
BlackChili
Vectran Breaker
tlr
220
WTB Horizon
27.5×1.85
47-584
532
Black
Black
Dual DNA
tlr
60
WTB Horizon
27.5×1.85
47-584
515
Black
Tan
Dual DNA
tlr
60
WTB Horizon
27.5×1.85
47-584
571
Black
Black
Dual DNA
tlr
120
Maxxis DTR-1
27.5×1.85
47-584
505
Black
Black
Dual
foldable
60
WTB Byway
27.5×1.85
47-584
564
Black
Black
Dual DNA
tlr
WTB Byway
27.5×1.85
47-584
535
Black
Tan
Dual DNA
tlr

Sources

Shaun Audane, Continental Contact Speed Reflex 26×2.0 tyre, Road.cc, June 30, 2020
Stu Kerton, Continental Grand Prix 5000 Clincher, Road.cc, March 26, 2021
Shaun Audane, Panaracer Pasela PT Folding Tyre, Road.cc, December 24, 2017
Sebastian Vidal, Review: Schwalbe G-One Speed Tires, To Be Determined Journal, January 29, 2019
Will Jones, WTB Byway review: An all-road tyre that is compromised by its shape, Cycling News, September 14, 2022
Jayson, Review: WTB Horizon Road Plus 650b Tubeless Ready Tires, Gravel Cyclist, April 19, 2017
Dave Henly, ThickSlicks Tire Review, Dave’s Cheap Bikes, March 6, 2017
bio vanseijen

Johan van Seijen

Founder Restoration.bike

Johan van Seijen is the founder of restoration.bike. His cycling career has seen him at the starting line of classics such as the Amstel Gold Race and Liege Bastogne Liege. Realizing his racing capacity would fall short of what was needed he obtained a MS from the University of Amsterdam in engineering. His love for cycling changed into riding in an amateur capacity with his local cycling club TFC Weesp as a roadie and supporting MTB Noordwest as a mountain biker. He repairs, restores, and builds bicycles and shares his knowledge on YouTube, Facebook and this website. 

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