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The top 5 best 650b road tires

In this article I’m going to give you my top picks for the best 650b road tires.

Normally, you’d equate road tires with road bikes, and of those there are plenty of solid to choose from. As soon as we added 650b to the mix I had to get more creative and try harder to get a list that still makes sense. That’s because a lot of the tried-and-true brand names for road bikes are simply not available for this tire size.

What you’ll find on this list is an eclectic mix of tires, which will all perform fantastic on tarmac. And I’ve included pure road bike tires as well as slicks and semi slicks from more gravel-oriented brands like WTB and Panaracer. Those brands have a proven resume in making awesome tires, and their slicks are among the best the market currently has to offer.

But don’t be mistaken about the tires on this list, because they are among the best and fastest in their respective tire size category, and will prove to offer mile upon mile of carefree riding. So without further ado, here are the very best 650b road 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

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

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 road 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
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
Continental CONTACT Speed
27.5×1.25
32-584
470
Black
Black
SafetySystem Breaker
tlr
3/180

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
Sebastian Vidal, Review: Schwalbe G-One Speed Tires, To Be Determined Journal, January 29, 2019
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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