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The top 12 best road bike tires for gravel

After reading this blog you’ll have a good idea of what the best road bike tires for gravel riding are.

Typically, gravel tires have a number of tire characteristics that make them fit into its respective tire category. On average, they are 40mm wide, they offer various levels of grip with tread patterns ranging from slick to knobbed, they can be set up tubeless, and lean towards being more puncture proof than speed.

A standard road bike frame has a frame clearance to fit a 28mm tire at the max. It’s then that you begin to realize the challenge of making this list, because you can throw almost all of the gravel tires out the window, since they’re not being offered in this size.

Then you might think that cyclocross tires might offer the solution of grippy, knobbed in smaller widths and you’re right. They are smaller, but even for cyclocross the typical width is between 33 and 35mm, so they won’t do either.

My advice would be to go for a 28mm tire. For this list I’ve added tires between 25mm and 30mm. Maybe your specific frame can fit a tire wider than this, but I very much doubt it, considering the fact that for every 30mm tire, there are roughly 15 tires with a more standard width being offered.

The list you’re going to be looking at is made up of a combination of high-quality 4-season, and touring road bike tires, mixed with small-sized gravel tires. You can find an overview of tire parameters in a table overview to easily compare them.

Here’s the list of the best road bike tires for gravel riding. Enjoy.

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 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 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

Panaracer Agilest Duro

Panaracer Agilest Duro
Panaracer Agilest Duro

The Panaracer Agilest Duro is without a doubt, the most puncture-resistant, yet lightweight road bike tire on the market.

The puncture resistance differs markedly by including the ProTite Belt, a breaker Panaracer also uses in their touring tires. On top of that an extra bead-to-bead breaker covers the entire casing.

By adding the extra breaker, they’ve bumped up the weight just a bit, but the 220 grams for a 25mm version is incredibly impressive.

Pros and Cons

Panaracer GravelKing (Tubed)

Panaracer GravelKing (Tubed)
Panaracer GravelKing (Tubed)

The tubed version of the Panaracer GravelKing inherits the compound and puncture protection technology of the entire lineup, but is offered in road bike tire dimensions.

This means you have your standard 23 to 28mm variants, with the durable ZSG compound, and the very reliable ProTite Shield Plus breaker. Which is a step up from their standard ProTite breaker, and also reinforces the sidewalls.

I use these tires for my daily driver, which is basically a road bike with panniers and fenders. They look great, ride even better, and though after many miles, there are small cuts on the well worn carcass, I haven’t had a flat.

All Panaracer tires are very low weight, including these ones. So whether you’re going to use them for a fast commuter, or a puncture-proof 4-season option for your road bike, know that these are some of the best road bike tires out there.

Pros and Cons

Panaracer GravelKing SS (Tubed)

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

Panaracer Race D Evo 4

Panaracer Race D Evo 4
Panaracer Race D Evo 4

The Panaracer Race D Evo 4 is the 4-season option from the Japanese brand’s race lineup.

The tires feature a 3D casing (Double Dip Duru Cover). That’s a fancy name to tell you that they offer dual breakers, the ProTite Belt sitting underneath the center tread, and a bead-to-bead one which reinforces the entire casing including the sidewalls.

That’s impressive, and certainly helps to prevent punctures and snake bites even more, making this a very solid contender and a high-quality all season option.

Expert Experience

Stu Kerton | Senior Product Reviewer – April 15, 2021

I found the Evo 3 tyres quick and grippy, and these Evo 4s are no different. The tacky feel to the ZSG compound really grabs on as you fly through a fast corner or tight roundabout.

The bike I swapped these onto was originally wearing Continental’s GP5000s, one of the best out there when it comes to grip and performance, and I can barely feel any difference at all. They both offer confidence-inspiring grip and impressive speed. The ride quality of the Panaracers is good too – very supple, even at high pressures.

Pros and Cons

Panaracer RiBMo

Panaracer RiBMo
Panaracer RiBMo

At 26 x 2 inches and 560 grams the Panaracer RibMo is among the lightest tires for its size on this list. Its minimal tread pattern moves it into the direction of being a slick tire, perfect for fast urban commuting.

The Panaracer RiBMo uses their proprietary ProTite technology, which is an extra puncture-resistant layer which runs the entire length and width of the tire. And they offer a more durable, commuter-friendly compound.

The conclusion is this tire will make your bike feel fast and nimble for many many miles at a reasonable enough price.

Expert Experience

Dave Atkinson | Road.cc founder – October 15, 2015

The tread shape, which is ovalised a bit like the pointy end of an egg, is designed to decrease rolling resistance while still offering good grip when cornering. I can’t say that I ever had any problems with grip, even with the hard compound.

One of the reasons for this is that with a bigger air chamber you can afford to run the tyres at a lower pressure. I’m 100kg and normally put 100psi into a 25mm tyre; I found I could run these RiBMos at 85-90psi without any more danger of pinch-flatting than I’d have with a thinner tyre. That means more grip and extra comfort too, and it didn’t noticeably affect the tyre’s ability to roll.

Pros and Cons

Pirelli Cinturato Velo

Pirelli Cinturato
Pirelli Cinturato

If you ask me, Pirelli Cinturato’s understated design is one of the best on this list. This tubeless-ready tire is far more robust than the P Zero on this list, going in the direction of a gravel tire.

A kevlar-reinforced breaker offers bead-to-bead protection, besides a smaller one sitting underneath the tread. The more durable 60 TPI casing is heavier, but will last you longer. Called Armour Tech, it’s the solution of choice for making these tires truly all-weather condition tires, offering great grip and puncture resistance all through the year.

That added protection does mean they will tip the scales at 300 and 340 grams for the 26 and 28 mm versions. So it’s no weight-weenie tire.

Expert Experience

Oscar Huckle | Technical writer – January 1, 2023

The Pirelli Cinturato Velo tyre has seriously impressed through testing and is now one of my top choices for winter use.

Although there are grippier tyres available, there’s no shortage of speed for the construction offered, and it has proven tough too.

As well as a very competent winter tyre, if you want a fit-and-forget tyre to run all year round (and you’re happy to compromise performance a little in the warmer months), the Cinturato Velo will be an excellent option.

Pros and Cons

Schwalbe Durano Plus

Schwalbe Durano Plus
Schwalbe Durano Plus

The Schwalbe Durano Plus is a road bike tire that utilizes the SmartGuard belt.

The thought behind this puncture resistant layer is rather simple, but has stood the test of time, making it a popular choice in the fight against flats.. What you do is you make the belt, sitting underneath the center tread, so thick that you could virtually run over anything without getting a flat.

Its system is utilized in their Marathon lineup as well and has found its way into this road tire. It sits at the top of their puncture proof technologies. With an extra 5 mm of material stuffed in the tire, you can basically push a thumbtack into it and still hold air.

That material does add weight, so it’s easily a 100 grams heavier than a lighter competitor. It’s also not the most supple tire, so this tire definitely caters to those who are really sick and tired of finding themselves at the side of the road with their bike upside down. And obviously, it’s a solid training tire.

On the other hand, I don’t think any other tire beats this one in terms of being puncture proof.

Expert Experience

Rachel Sokal | Technical writer – December 20, 2022

Instantaneously the Durano changed the feel of my bike, simultaneously providing brilliant grip alongside a nice and quick roll. The more I rode and trusted the grip of the tire, the more confidence the tire gave back. It’s been a long time since a single change in a component has made such a difference to the feel of my bike.

The Schwalbe Durano Plus might not be the lightest tire on the market but its quick rolling, nicely grippy and has great puncture protection which is a pretty good combination for the winter and beyond.

Pros and Cons

Vittoria Rubino Pro Control

Vittoria Rubino Pro Control
Vittoria Rubino Pro Control

The Vittoria Rubino Pro Control is the stiffer, heavier and more puncture protected version of the standard Rubino.

It’s a training tire with bead-to-bead protection besides an enhanced puncture protected layer. Its nylon casing is meant to withstand the elements of all seasons.

Available in standard sizes 23 to 28 mm as a 60 TPI folding tire.

Expert Experience

Robyn Furtado | Senior Videographer – February 15, 2023

Where I live in the south west of England, we’ve experienced a range of hostile winter weather so far this year, so it hasn’t been hard to put the Rubino Pros through their paces. I’ve ridden them on ice, down flooded or thorn-strewn farm lanes, on potholed commuter roads and over rough mountain passes.

The Rubino Pros are also wonderfully grippy. On rough pothole-littered roads, the Rubinos stayed on path confidently, and I found them sure-footed on slick and wet roads. They held their own in icy conditions too, although you obviously still need to be very careful.

Pros and Cons

Specifications road bike tires for gravel

Name
Size
ETRTO
Weight (gr)
Tread color
Sidewall color
Compound
Puncture protection
Tire bead
TPI
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
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 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
Panaracer Agilest Duro
700×25
25-622
220
Black
Black
ZSG Agile
TF Super Outer Shield / ProTite belt
foldable
120
Panaracer Agilest Duro
700×28
28-622
250
Black
Black
ZSG Agile
TF Super Outer Shield / ProTite belt
foldable
120
Panaracer GravelKing (Tubed)
700Cx26
26-622
240
Black
Black
ZSG Natural
AX-Alpha / ProTite Shield Plus
foldable
126
Panaracer GravelKing (Tubed)
700Cx26
26-622
240
Black
Tan
ZSG Natural
AX-Alpha / ProTite Shield Plus
foldable
126
Panaracer GravelKing SS (Tubed)
700Cx28
28-622
310
Black
Black
ZSG Natural
AX-Alpha / ProTite Shield Plus
foldable
126
Panaracer GravelKing SS (Tubed)
700Cx28
28-622
310
Black
Tan
ZSG Natural
AX-Alpha / ProTite Shield Plus
foldable
126
Panaracer Pasela ProTite
700×25
25-622
250
Black
Amber
ZSG
ProTite Shield / 400D Lite Extra Cord
foldable
66
Panaracer Pasela ProTite
700×28
28-622
270
Black
Amber
ZSG
ProTite Shield / 400D Lite Extra Cord
foldable
66
Panaracer Race D Evo 4
700Cx25
25-622
260
Black
Tan
ZSG Advanced
AX-Alpha / ProTite Belt / 3D casing
foldable
120
Panaracer Race D Evo 4
700Cx28
28-622
260
Black
Tan
ZSG Advanced
AX-Alpha / ProTite Belt / 3D casing
foldable
120
Panaracer Race D Evo 4
700Cx28
28-622
260
Black
Black
ZSG Advanced
AX-Alpha / ProTite Belt / 3D casing
foldable
120
Panaracer RiBMo
700Cx25
25-622
340
Black
Black
Mile Cruncher
ProTite Shield / 800D Strong Cord
foldable
66
Pirelli Cinturato
700Cx26
26-622
300
Black
Tan
SmartNET silica
Armour Tech
tlr
66
Pirelli Cinturato
700Cx26
26-622
300
Black
Black
SmartNET silica
Armour Tech
tlr
66
Pirelli Cinturato
700Cx28
28-622
340
Black
Tan
SmartNET silica
Armour Tech
tlr
66
Pirelli Cinturato
700Cx28
28-622
340
Black
Black
SmartNET silica
Armour Tech
tlr
66
Schwalbe Durano Plus
700Cx25
25-622
385
Black
Black
ADDIX
SmartGuard
foldable
2/67
Schwalbe Durano Plus
700Cx28
28-622
450
Black
Black
ADDIX
SmartGuard
foldable
2/67
Schwalbe Durano Plus
700Cx25
25-622
450
Black
Black
ADDIX
SmartGuard
wired
2/67
Schwalbe Durano Plus
700Cx28
28-622
530
Black
Black
ADDIX
SmartGuard
wired
2/67
Vittoria Rubino Pro Control
700Cx25
25-622
300
Black
Black
Nylon
Protection Belt
foldable
60
Vittoria Rubino Pro Control
700Cx28
28-622
340
Black
Black
Nylon
Protection Belt
foldable
60

Sources

Andy Howe, Continental Gator Hardshell 700×25, Road.cc, October 15, 2015
Shaun Audane, Panaracer Pasela PT Folding Tyre, Road.cc, December 24, 2017
Stu Kerton, Panaracer Race D Evo 4 tyre, Road.cc, April 15, 2021
Dave Atkinson, Panaracer RiBMo folding 700C 28mm tyre, Road.cc, October 15, 2015
Rachel Sokal, Schwalbe Durano Plus tire review – reliable winter rubber, Cycling Weekly, December 20, 2022
Robyn Furtado, Vittoria Rubino Pro tyre review – A fit-and-forget, all-season tyre, Bikeradar, February 15, 2023
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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