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The top 5 best Gatorskin road bike tires

In this article I’m going to cover all gatorskin road bike tires. It’s a short list, because, unfortunately, there aren’t that many tires offering the German brand’s most durable puncture protection.

Gatorskin is actually the type of tire: the Continental Gatorskin. This tire offers a characteristic reddish brown sidewall, which is caused by a bead-to-bead breaker called DuraSkin.

Duraskin is a polyamide fabric to protect the entire casing in the worst of road conditions. As such the DuraSkin technology is offered for tires, which are meant to be the most durable, and hard-wearing tires in the Continental road bike tire lineup.

The Continental Gatorskin is not the only tire offering the DuraSkin technology. There are a handful of other tires that offer puncture protection, or even more. There is the Hardshell, which adds the polyester PolyX breaker. And there’s an urban version that offers the Duraskin breaker in combination with Kevlar-reinforced SafetySystem breaker.

All of these tires from Continental are some of the highest quality, most puncture-resistant, and durable mile-crunchers money can buy. I rate them among the very best tires there are. Let’s take a look at my overview of these gatorskin road bike tires. To be complete, I also included the urban variant.

Continental Grand Prix 4-Season

Continental Grand Prix 4-Season
Continental Grand Prix 4-Season

The Continental Grand Prix 4-Season utilizes an extra bead-to-bead layer Continental calls Duraskin, reserved for their most durable tires.

Each road tire in the Continental lineup uses a puncture resistant breaker for the center tread. The Grand Prix 4-Season uses two, effectively doubling its puncture resistance when compared with the other tires. It makes for a road bike tire with a ridiculous level of puncture resistance, and is something I haven’t seen in any other road bike tire I’ve researched.

And last but not least, the Continental Grand Prix 4-Season uses 3 layers of 110 TPI for both durability and longevity, without sacrificing too much in terms of weight, grip and ride feel. Which makes this tire one of the if not the most fit-and-forget tires you can find.

The only thing keeping this tire from a 5-star rating is that it’s not available in a tubeless version. It comes in sizes 23, 25, 28 and 32 mm.

Expert Experience

Ashley Quinlan | Senior technical editor – November 9, 2022

The Continental Grand Prix 4 Season tyre has been a popular all-season option for club and competitive riders for years – and it’s still hard to argue against its plus points (unless you’re considering going tubeless).

Instead of prioritising speed with only a hint of added hardiness, the Grand Prix 4 Season hits an admirable blend of toughness, longevity, grip and speed.

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 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 Sprinter Gatorskin

Continental Sprinter Gatorskin
Continental Sprinter Gatorskin

If you’re looking for puncture protection that comes in a tubular package, the Continental Sprinter Gatorskin is your best bet.

It offers the same DuraSkin layer wrapped all around the tire as does the Continental Grand Prix 4-Season. Where it differs is both the breaker and the compound.

The Sprinter Gatorskin has a 3-layered 180 TPI all-weather casing and the SafetySystem breaker is made from kevlar reinforced nylon.

The tire is available in a black 22 or 25 mm width.

Expert Experience

Sorin Boriceanu | Professional Triathlete – May 24, 2013

I highly recommend the Sprinter Gatorskin tubulars for an everyday tyre, even for the occasional race. I would not recommend them for priority races as ITU Races. The thick construction and flat protection soak up too much energy better used in propelling you forward.

Pros and Cons

Continental CONTACT Travel

Continental CONTACT Travel
Continental CONTACT Travel

The Continental CONTACT Travel is the most durable, most puncture-resistant touring tire in Continental’s lineup.

A composite breaker underneath the center tread made from kevlar-reinforced nylon is combined with a bead-to-bead polyamide fabric to reinforce the sidewalls as well.

Meant for pavement, hardpack and gravel, commuting, touring, bikepacking, and anything your bike could basically take you apart from technical trail riding.

This protection comes at the price of both weight and speed, but you shouldn’t buy this tire if you’re looking for a tire which excels in those aspects. If you’re looking for a 4-season, long-lasting tire, which is highly versatile, look no further.

Pros and Cons

Specifications Gatorskin road bike tires

Name
Size
ETRTO
Weight (gr)
Tread color
Sidewall color
Compound
Puncture protection
Tire bead
TPI
Continental Grand Prix 4-Season
700Cx32
32-622
340
Black
Black
Max Grip
DuraSkin / Double Vectran Breaker
foldable
3/330
Continental Grand Prix 4-Season
700Cx28
28-622
295
Black
Black
Max Grip
DuraSkin / Double Vectran Breaker
foldable
3/330
Continental Grand Prix 4-Season
700Cx25
25-622
230
Black
Black
Max Grip
DuraSkin / Double Vectran Breaker
foldable
3/330
Continental Grand Prix 4-Season
700Cx23
23-622
235
Black
Black
Max Grip
DuraSkin / Double Vectran Breaker
foldable
3/330
Continental Sprinter Gatorskin
700Cx25
25-622
275
Black
Black
BlackChili
DuraSkin / SafetySystem Breaker
tubular
3/180
Continental Sprinter Gatorskin
700Cx22
22-622
265
Black
Black
BlackChili
DuraSkin / SafetySystem Breaker
tubular
3/180
Continental Gator Hardshell
27×1 1/4
32-630
455
Black
Black
BlackChili
Hardshell
wired
180
Continental Gator Hardshell
700Cx28
28-622
340
Black
Black
BlackChili
Hardshell
foldable
3/180
Continental Gator Hardshell
700Cx28
28-622
270
Black
Black
BlackChili
Hardshell
wired
3/180
Continental Gator Hardshell
700Cx25
25-622
340
Black
Black
BlackChili
Hardshell
foldable
3/180
Continental Gatorskin
27×1 1/4
32-630
395
Black
Black
BlackChili
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
Continental Gatorskin
700Cx32
32-622
345
Black
Black
BlackChili
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
foldable
3/180
Continental Gatorskin
700Cx32
32-622
420
Black
Black
BlackChili
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
wired
3/180
Continental Gatorskin
700Cx28
28-622
360
Black
Black
BlackChili
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
wired
3/180
Continental Gatorskin
700Cx28
28-622
280
Black
Black
BlackChili
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
foldable
3/180
Continental Gatorskin
700Cx25
25-622
245
Black
Black
BlackChili
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
foldable
3/180
Continental Gatorskin
700Cx25
25-622
315
Black
Black
BlackChili
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
wired
3/180
Continental Gatorskin
700Cx23
23-622
305
Black
Black
BlackChili
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
wired
3/180
Continental Gatorskin
700Cx23
23-622
230
Black
Black
BlackChili
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
foldable
3/180
Continental CONTACT Travel
28×2.00
50-622
845
Black
Black
DuraSkin / SafetySystem Breaker
wired
3/180
Continental CONTACT Travel
28×1 3/8×1 5/8
37-622
575
Black
Black
DuraSkin / SafetySystem Breaker
wired
3/180
Continental CONTACT Travel
28×1 3/8×1 5/8
37-622
510
Black
Black
DuraSkin / SafetySystem Breaker
foldable
3/180
Continental CONTACT Travel
26×2.00
50-599
760
Black
Black
DuraSkin / SafetySystem Breaker
wired
3/180
Continental CONTACT Travel
26×1.75
47-599
670
Black
Black
DuraSkin / SafetySystem Breaker
wired
3/180
Continental CONTACT Travel
26×1.75
47-599
670
Black
Black Reflex
DuraSkin / SafetySystem Breaker
wired
3/180

Sources

Andy Howe, Continental Gator Hardshell 700×25, Road.cc, October 15, 2015
Sorin Boriceanu, Continental Sprinter GatorSkin Tubular Tyre Review, Sorin Boriceanu, May 24, 2013
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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