Search
Close this search box.
Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, when you buy through our links, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

The top 7 best budget road bike tires

In this article I’m going to give you my list for the best budget road bike tires.

Ok, so before I can give you the list I have to define the budget first for obvious reasons. That’s hard to do because budget means different things for different people. So let’s instead look at what tires are available at what price is definitely considered premium.

So the most expensive tires out there are extremely lightweight, handmade tubular professional road bike tires or time trial tires. You will need to pay over a 100 dollars for an individual unit, sometimes way over a hundred. So if that’s the price ceiling would it be fair to say that a tire around 30 dollars can be considered somewhat budget? I would say it is.

So what I’ve tried to do is find the tires around this price mark that will still provide you with excellent value-for-money without sacrificing those characteristics that make high-quality road tires excel. Or at least keep the compromise that naturally comes with a reduction in price to a minimum.

Here is what I came up with, my list for the best budget road bike tires.

Continental Ultra Sport

Continental Ultra Sport III
Continental Ultra Sport III

The Continental Ultra Sport III is a budget-friendly slick tire for commuters and road bikes.

It offers a no-frills tire in an affordable package, and one of the cheapest big brand tires money can buy

It’s a solid option for people who understand they get what they pay for.

Expert Experience

Vinay Rawat | Triathlete – May 22, 2017

I did more than 1500 km with stock tires on my Giant Defy 3 and that too on bumpy and rough roads of Delhi. I used these tires along with tire liners from RhinoDillos and had very few flats in the span of 9 months and the rolling resistance was very less.

After 200 km of ride I can say these tires are quite durable and cornering feels very comfortable. Though couldn’t say if these are faster than the previous ones but comfort wise these seem much compliance. I would recommend you to go for the foldable option of these tires.

Pros and Cons

Continental Gator Hardshell

Continental Gator Hardshell
Continental Gator Hardshell

The Continental Gator Hardshell is the one of the most puncture-resistant tires Continental’s lineup with touring and road bike qualities.

It offers a 3-ply 60 TPI carcass reinforced with a wider PolyX breaker underneath the slick center tread, which is a tightly woven polyester fiber to prevent objects from penetrating the tire.

Besides the breaker, the tire also features the bead-to-bead DuraSkin polyamide fabric, giving the tire its characteristic reddish weave on the sidewall. It serves both as an added layer of puncture-protection and sidewall-reinforcement.

Naturally, all this added protection adds some weight, but as far as puncture-protection for fast commuters and road bikes go, this tire is nothing short of astonishing in that department.

Expert Experience

Andy Howe | Technical writer – October 15, 2015

The Gator Hardshell is a very durable, puncture resistant and comfortable tyre, at relatively high pressure it is yielding and comfortable for long rides. When it comes to a high speed training session or 50+ mile chain gangs this would not be my first choice but in terms of a winter training tyre, club runs and for committed commuters this is an excellent tyre.

Pros and Cons

Continental Gator Hardshell BE

Continental Gator Hardshell BE
fallback

The original Continental Gator Hardshell is one of the most puncture-resistant road tires in the market.

It’s probably the reason the German brand decided to create the Continental Gator Hardshell BE, where BE stands for Black Edition. Pretty self-explanatory what that means.

So for those of you who want this exceptional tire in an all black version, now is your change.

Expert Experience

Jarno Bierman | Tire tester – March 29, 2019

The puncture resistance tests are the natural habitat of the Gator Hardshell. When compared to the Gatorskin that already has a very good puncture resistance, puncture resistance of both the tread and sidewall has been increased by 10-15% to 20 points in the tread puncture test and 8 points in the sidewall puncture test.

When we compare the Gator Hardshell to all other road bike tires that have been tested by us, it now takes the title as the most puncture resistant road bike tire.

Pros and Cons

Continental Gatorskin

Continental Gatorskin
Continental Gatorskin

Very similar to the Hardshell version the Continental Gatorskin is an incredible road bike tire with an exceptional level of puncture protection.

It offers a more supple 3-ply 180 TPI carcass with the same PolyX Breaker, a tightly woven polyester fabric sitting underneath the center tread, preventing foreign objects from reaching the air chamber.

It also has the Duraskin bead-to-bead protection, reinforcing its sidewalls and giving the tire its distinctive burgundy appearance, and adding an extra protective layer made from an incredibly strong polyamide fabric.

This tire is the pinnacle of perfection, offering the seemingly unattainable blend of maximum puncture-protection without sacrificing to much in the weight department, all in a road bike tire with a slick tread pattern. An absolute no-brainer for people who appreciate hard-wearing, fast-rolling tires.

Expert Experience

Robin Wilmott | Contributor – Feb 8, 2023

There’s a reason the Gatorskin is so popular. It has a reputation for an enticing combination of ride quality, flat protection and durability – with a leaning towards the latter. My testing has shown this to be well-founded.

There are few tyres that give as much riding confidence while offering such strong protection against punctures as the Gatorskin.

Pros and Cons

Continental Gatorskin BE

Continental Gatorskin BE
fallback

The Continental Gatorskin BE the all-black version of the best-selling Gatorskin with the burgundy sidewall, while similar in all other respects.

This tire already sold like hot cakes, and the fact it’s going to be more compatible color-wise with your bike probably only makes it more attractive. A nice touch of the German brand.

Expert Experience

Paul Norman | Technical writer – June 02, 2017

Run at around 90psi, the ride is adequately fast and subtle over bumpy tarmac, although you can feel the tyre’s increased rigidity from its more substantial sidewalls and increased puncture protection.

I’ve not had any flats when riding the Gatorskins. Punctures are a bit of dependent on bad luck rather than something you can say anything definite about, but it’s nevertheless reassuring.

Pros and Cons

Vittoria Zaffiro Pro

Vittoria Zaffiro Pro
Vittoria Zaffiro Pro

The Vittoria Zaffiro Pro one of the most affordable road bike tires from the Italian manufacturer.

The idea behind this tire is that what it lacks in terms of technology, it makes up for in durability. That means you get a heavy, yet sturdy tire made from their proprietary Graphene 2.0 compound, which is the same compound used in all of their other tires.

So it’s a great tire for a fast commuter, or a more affordable all-season road bike tire.

Expert Experience

#REF!

Pros and Cons

Vittoria Zaffiro

Vittoria Zaffiro
fallback

The Vittoria Zaffiro is the brand’s entry level tire. As far as road tires go, it’s pretty affordable.

What you’d normally do to make a tire durable is to pack more rubber than usual in its casing. The standard TPI for a durable is 60. That’s also the number you find in your average mountain bike tire.

This tire goes below number and uses nylon plies to make a very sturdy, and very affordable tire. It doesn’t have a specific breaker, which is the puncture-resistant layer underneath the center tread. However, nylon is a very puncture resistant material itself, so you could argue it does have one.

Nylon is an excellent material to make cheap tires. By far the biggest drawback of this material is that it’s heavy. This tire is very heavy for a road tire, crossing 400 grams and then some.

For Vittoria, this is a budget tire in every respect. And if you want one from this brand for a decent price, this is that tire. It’s not my favorite budget tire though. That would go to Continental, who simply does (way) more for the same price.

Pros and Cons

Specifications budget road bike tires

Name
Size
ETRTO
Weight (gr)
Tread color
Sidewall color
Compound
Puncture protection
Tire bead
Continental Gator Hardshell
27×1 1/4
32-630
455
Black
Black
Hardshell
wired
Continental Gator Hardshell
700Cx23
23-622
265
Black
Black
Hardshell
wired
Continental Gator Hardshell
700Cx28
28-622
330
Black
Black
Hardshell
foldable
Continental Gator Hardshell
700Cx25
25-622
270
Black
Black
Hardshell
foldable
Continental Gator Hardshell BE
700Cx23
23-622
Black
Black
Hardshell
foldable
Continental Gator Hardshell BE
700Cx25
25-622
Black
Black
Hardshell
foldable
Continental Gator Hardshell BE
700Cx28
28-622
Black
Black
Hardshell
foldable
Continental Gator Hardshell BE
700Cx32
32-622
Black
Black
Hardshell
foldable
Continental Gatorskin
27×1 1/4
32-630
395
Black
Black
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
wired
Continental Gatorskin
700Cx32
32-622
345
Black
Black
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
foldable
Continental Gatorskin
700Cx32
32-622
420
Black
Black
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
wired
Continental Gatorskin
700Cx28
28-622
360
Black
Black
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
wired
Continental Gatorskin
700Cx28
28-622
280
Black
Black
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
foldable
Continental Gatorskin
700Cx25
25-622
245
Black
Black
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
foldable
Continental Gatorskin
700Cx25
25-622
315
Black
Black
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
wired
Continental Gatorskin
700Cx23
23-622
305
Black
Black
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
wired
Continental Gatorskin
700Cx23
23-622
230
Black
Black
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
foldable
Continental Gatorskin BE
700Cx23
23-622
Black
Black
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
foldable
Continental Gatorskin BE
700Cx25
25-622
Black
Black
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
foldable
Continental Gatorskin BE
700Cx28
28-622
Black
Black
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
foldable
Continental Gatorskin BE
700Cx32
32-622
Black
Black
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
foldable
Continental Ultra Sport
27×1 1/4
32-630
415
Black
Black
PureGrip
tlr
Continental Ultra Sport
700Cx32
32-622
410
Black
Black
PureGrip
wired
Continental Ultra Sport
700Cx28
28-622
295
Black
Black
PureGrip
foldable
Continental Ultra Sport
700Cx25
25-622
270
Black
White
PureGrip
foldable
Continental Ultra Sport
700Cx23
23-622
255
Black
Yellow
PureGrip
foldable
Continental Ultra Sport
700Cx23
23-622
255
Black
White
PureGrip
foldable
Continental Ultra Sport
700Cx23
23-622
255
Black
Black
PureGrip
foldable
Continental Ultra Sport
650x28B
28-584
275
Black
Black
PureGrip
foldable
Continental Ultra Sport
650x25B
25-584
250
Black
Black
PureGrip
foldable
Vittoria Zaffiro
700Cx25
25-622
380
Black
Black
Nylon
Nylon
wired
Vittoria Zaffiro
700Cx28
28-622
410
Black
Black
Nylon
Nylon
wired
Vittoria Zaffiro
700Cx30
30-622
460
Black
Black
Nylon
Nylon
wired
Vittoria Zaffiro
700Cx32
32-622
470
Black
Black
Nylon
Nylon
wired
Vittoria Zaffiro Pro
700Cx23
23-622
285
Black
Black
Graphene 2.0
foldable
Vittoria Zaffiro Pro
700Cx25
25-622
310
Black
Black
Graphene 2.0
foldable
Vittoria Zaffiro Pro
700Cx28
28-622
340
Black
Black
Graphene 2.0
foldable
Vittoria Zaffiro Pro
700Cx30
30-622
385
Black
Black
Graphene 2.0
foldable
Vittoria Zaffiro Pro
700Cx32
32-622
395
Black
Black
Graphene 2.0
foldable

Sources

Vinay Rawat, Continental Ultra Sport Road Tyre Review, Medium, May 22, 2017
Andy Howe, Continental Gator Hardshell 700×25, Road.cc, October 15, 2015
Jarno Bierman, Road Bike Tire Test: Continental Gator Hardshell 25, Bicycle Rolling Resistance, March 29, 2019
Paul Norman, Continental Gatorskin tyres review, Cycling Weekly, June 02, 2017
#REF!
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. 

You might also like

fastest tubeless road bike tires
road bike tires

The top 5 fastest tubeless road bike tires

In this article I’m going to give you my list for the fastest tubeless road bike tires of today.

When you think of fast a lot of people immediately think of weight, believing that a reduction in weig

Read More »
700 x 23 road bike tires
road bike tires

The top 11 best 700 x 23 road bike tires

With this article you’ll be given an overview of the best 700 x 23 road bike tires on the market.

For years a 23mm width road bike tire was the standard if you wanted to be as fast as possible. That

Read More »
commuter road bike tires
road bike tires

The top 8 best commuter road bike tires

After you’ve read this article, you’ll know what the best commuter road bike tires are. At least, if you trust my good judgement enough that is.

For many years I’ve ridden to and from work, which rou

Read More »