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The top 9 best road bike touring tires

With this blogpost I’ll be giving you an overview of some of the very best road bike touring tires for your next cycling adventure.

I’ve done many cycling trips with my friends, and when I was younger I simply did it with the bike I had, which happened to be my father’s old road bike. I still have that bike, and it still sits on the original tires I used for those road trips. They are skinwall Michelin tires with a tire width of 23mm, because that’s what would be common width for the late nineties.

If I would do the same thing again today, I would never go for 23mm wide tires. That particular bike is from the late seventies, so I don’t know if the frame clearance even allows for a 28mm tire, but if it did I’d probably go for such a size. Tire widths make a huge difference in terms of comfort and durability, which I feel should come first for touring.

And wider tires also mean you have the benefit of improved grip for nastier sections of road. And because I’ve become so sick of repairing flat tires, I would definitely go for the most puncture-resistant one money could buy. This list includes tires of various widths, and by all means choose the one you like best. Everybody is different, and I’m just telling you my point of view.

It’s those tire characteristics I’ve kept in mind when creating this list of the best road bike touring tires. A handy table overview is included at the end of the article for your convenience.

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 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

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

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

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

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

Pirelli Cinturato Road

Pirelli Cinturato Road
Pirelli Cinturato Road tread pattern

The Pirelli Cinturato Road is the more durable version of the Cinturato Velo, which means you get the grip of the Cinturator Velo in an all-season tire.

How they achieved this is by simply using more rubber in the 60TPI casing and reinforcing the center tread with both a bead-to-bead reinforcement and breaker.

It does make the tire slightly heavier with 370 grams vs 340 grams for the 28mm width version. Pirelli isn’t known for making lightweight tires and this will not change that reputation.

But I get reminded how little weight matters, if you’re not moving at all because of a flat. And with this tire, the Italian brand upped their game another notch in their fight against flats.

Pros and Cons

Specifications road bike touring tires

Name
Size
ETRTO
Weight (gr)
Tread color
Sidewall color
Compound
Puncture protection
Tire bead
Panaracer Pasela ProTite
27×1
25-630
250
Black
Amber
ZSG
ProTite Shield / 400D Lite Extra Cord
foldable
Panaracer Pasela ProTite
27×1 1/8
28-630
270
Black
Amber
ZSG
ProTite Shield / 400D Lite Extra Cord
foldable
Panaracer Pasela ProTite
27×1 1/4
32-630
350
Black
Amber
ZSG
ProTite Shield / 400D Lite Extra Cord
foldable
Panaracer Pasela ProTite
700Cx23
23-622
220
Black
Amber
ZSG
ProTite Shield / 400D Lite Extra Cord
foldable
Panaracer Pasela ProTite
700Cx25
25-622
250
Black
Amber
ZSG
ProTite Shield / 400D Lite Extra Cord
foldable
Panaracer Pasela ProTite
700Cx28
28-622
270
Black
Amber
ZSG
ProTite Shield / 400D Lite Extra Cord
foldable
Panaracer Pasela ProTite
27.5×1.75
42-584
480
Black
Amber
ZSG
ProTite Shield / 400D Lite Extra Cord
foldable
Panaracer Pasela ProTite
700Cx23
23-622
220
Black
Black
ZSG
ProTite Shield / 400D Lite Extra Cord
foldable
Panaracer Pasela ProTite
700Cx25
25-622
250
Black
Black
ZSG
ProTite Shield / 400D Lite Extra Cord
foldable
Panaracer Pasela ProTite
700Cx28
28-622
270
Black
Black
ZSG
ProTite Shield / 400D Lite Extra Cord
foldable
Panaracer Pasela ProTite
700Cx32
32-622
350
Black
Amber
ZSG
ProTite Shield / 400D Lite Extra Cord
foldable
Panaracer Pasela ProTite
700Cx32
32-622
350
Black
Black
ZSG
ProTite Shield / 400D Lite Extra Cord
foldable
Panaracer Pasela ProTite
700Cx35
35-622
440
Black
Amber
ZSG
ProTite Shield / 400D Lite Extra Cord
foldable
Panaracer Pasela ProTite
700Cx35
35-622
440
Black
Black
ZSG
ProTite Shield / 400D Lite Extra Cord
foldable
Panaracer Pasela ProTite
700Cx38
38-622
420
Black
Amber
ZSG
ProTite Shield / 400D Lite Extra Cord
foldable
Panaracer Pasela ProTite
700Cx38
38-622
420
Black
Black
ZSG
ProTite Shield / 400D Lite Extra Cord
foldable
Panaracer Pasela ProTite
26×1.25
32-559
250
Black
Amber
ZSG
ProTite Shield / 400D Lite Extra Cord
foldable
Panaracer Pasela ProTite
26×1.25
32-559
250
Black
Black
ZSG
ProTite Shield / 400D Lite Extra Cord
foldable
Panaracer Pasela ProTite
26×1.50
37-559
380
Black
Amber
ZSG
ProTite Shield / 400D Lite Extra Cord
foldable
Panaracer Pasela ProTite
26×1.50
37-559
380
Black
Black
ZSG
ProTite Shield / 400D Lite Extra Cord
foldable
Panaracer Pasela ProTite
26×1.75
42-559
460
Black
Amber
ZSG
ProTite Shield / 400D Lite Extra Cord
foldable
Panaracer Pasela ProTite
26×1.75
42-559
460
Black
Black
ZSG
ProTite Shield / 400D Lite Extra Cord
foldable
Panaracer Pasela ProTite
27.5×1.75
42-584
480
Black
Black
ZSG
ProTite Shield / 400D Lite Extra Cord
foldable
Continental Gatorskin
27×1 1/4
32-630
395
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
700Cx25
25-622
245
Black
Black
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
foldable
Continental Gatorskin
700Cx25
25-622
315
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
700Cx32
32-622
345
Black
Black
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
foldable
Continental Gatorskin
700Cx32
32-622
420
Black
Black
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
wired
Continental Gatorskin
26×23
23-571
275
Black
Black
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
wired
Continental Gatorskin
26×1 1/8
28-559
320
Black
Black
DuraSkin / PolyX Breaker
foldable
Continental Gator Hardshell
27×1 1/4
32-630
455
Black
Black
Hardshell
wired
Continental Gator Hardshell
700Cx32
32-622
370
Black
Black
Hardshell
foldable
Continental Gator Hardshell
700Cx32
32-622
445
Black
Black
Hardshell
wired
Continental Gator Hardshell
700Cx23
23-622
265
Black
Black
Hardshell
foldable
Continental Gator Hardshell
700Cx23
23-622
265
Black
Black
Hardshell
wired
Continental Gator Hardshell
700Cx28
28-622
400
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
700Cx25
25-622
340
Black
Black
Hardshell
wired
Continental Grand Prix 4-Season
700Cx23
23-622
235
Black
Black
Max Grip
DuraSkin / Double Vectran Breaker
foldable
Continental Grand Prix 4-Season
700Cx25
25-622
230
Black
Black
Max Grip
DuraSkin / Double Vectran Breaker
foldable
Continental Grand Prix 4-Season
700Cx28
28-622
295
Black
Black
Max Grip
DuraSkin / Double Vectran Breaker
foldable
Continental Grand Prix 4-Season
700Cx32
32-622
340
Black
Black
Max Grip
DuraSkin / Double Vectran Breaker
foldable
Schwalbe Durano Plus
700Cx23
23-622
410
Black
Black
ADDIX
SmartGuard
wired
Schwalbe Durano Plus
700Cx25
25-622
385
Black
Black
ADDIX
SmartGuard
foldable
Schwalbe Durano Plus
700Cx25
25-622
450
Black
Black
ADDIX
SmartGuard
wired
Schwalbe Durano Plus
700Cx28
28-622
450
Black
Black
ADDIX
SmartGuard
foldable
Schwalbe Durano Plus
700Cx28
28-622
530
Black
Black
ADDIX
SmartGuard
wired
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 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
Pirelli Cinturato Road
700Cx24
24-622
310
Black
Black
SmartNET
TechWall +
foldable
Pirelli Cinturato Road
700Cx26
26-622
330
Black
Black
SmartNET
TechWall +
foldable
Pirelli Cinturato Road
700Cx28
28-622
370
Black
Black
SmartNET
TechWall +
foldable
Pirelli Cinturato Road
700Cx30
30-622
420
Black
Black
SmartNET
TechWall +
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

Sources

Paul Norman, Continental Gatorskin tyres review, Cycling Weekly, June 02, 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
Rachel Sokal, Schwalbe Durano Plus tire review – reliable winter rubber, Cycling Weekly, December 20, 2022
Shaun Audane, Panaracer Pasela PT Folding Tyre, Road.cc, December 24, 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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