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The top 8 best semi-slick road bike tires in 2023

In this article I’m going to give you a list of the best semi-slick road bike tires.

A semi-slick tire is a tire which has a minimalistic tread pattern to decrease rolling-resistance as much as possible. Basically all road bike tires are either slicks or semi-slicks, with semi-slicks reserved for 4-season tires, commuter and touring tires, and riding on something else than smooth tarmac.

The difference between a slick and a semi-slick when looking at the tread pattern, makes the least difference of all cycling difference. It’s easy to understand the impact between a knobbed mountain bike tire, and a semi-slick one. But there aren’t any knobbed road bike tires (with a tire width up to 28mm). Knobbed cyclocross tires ususally start at a width of 33mm, which is a tire width you can’t use for your standard road bike frame with respect to frame clearance.

What you do see is that semi-slick road bike tires in general offer more durable compounds, and more puncture resistance, with single or dual breakers being used. And a semi-slick tire does offer a bit more grip, especially in wet conditions.

Here’s the overview of my top picks for the best semi-slick road bike tires.

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 BlackChili casing and the SafetySystem breaker is made from kevlar reinforced nylon.

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

Continental Sprinter Gatorskin Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
The most puncture resistant tubular tire on the market
Reasons to avoid
It's a tubular tire

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.

Continental Ultra Sport III Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Extremely budget-friendly, no-frills commuter tire.
Reasons to avoid
None for its price-point

Michelin Dynamic Classic

I’ve seen vintage road bike resellers dress their entire lineup with Michelin Dynamic Classic tires. The reason for this is that it’s a perfect match for any vintage road bike at probably the lowest cost for a tan wall road bike tire.

In the quality department this tire will not be top of its class, but it does come in an affordable package. And with prices ever going up that’s always a good thing.

Michelin Dynamic Classic Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Cheap, great for retro builds
Reasons to avoid
Not the most durable

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 a 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.

Panaracer Pasela ProTite Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Fantastic allround tire, very light, true skin wall tires. Go-to option for retro commuter builds.
Reasons to avoid
None

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.

Panaracer RiBMo Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Ultra-light slick tire, affordable, durable, and supple, japanese build quality
Reasons to avoid
None

Pirelli Cinturato

If you ask me the 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 are 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.

Pirelli Cinturato Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Fantastic grip, durability, and puncture-protection for a 4-season tire, very fast.
Reasons to avoid
A bit on the heavy side

Vittoria Corsa Control

If you want a bit more puncture protection but still have Vittoria emblazoned on your sidewall, the Vittoria Corsa Control will suit your needs.

It’s obviously heaver than its other namesake, but with it comes extra protection. It has an extra tread inserted into the tire, which adds control and durability for less than optimal road conditions like cobblestones and rougher roads.

It’s also a perfect companion for those who don’t mind riding in wet conditions. So choose this tire over the normal Corsa if rough and wet is what you like.

The Vittoria Corsa Control is also the only tan-wall road bike tire on this list that comes as a tube. So if you have a very premium vintage road bike or a very premium set of modern-day wheels you can take advantage of everything tubes have to offer as well.

Vittoria Corsa Control Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Added puncture protection, tan option available, tube
Reasons to avoid
None

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 and enhanced puncture protected layer. It’s 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.

Vittoria Rubino Pro Control Value
Brand link
Reasons to buy
Solid puncture protecton with a bead-to-bead protection layer, and breaker.
Reasons to avoid
None for its price-point

Specifications semi-slick road bike tires

Name
Size
ETRTO
Weight (gr)
Tread color
Sidewall color
Compound
Puncture protection
Tire bead
TPI
Buy at Amazon
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 Ultra Sport III
700Cx28
28-622
295
Black
Black
PureGrip
 
foldable
3/180
Continental Ultra Sport III
700Cx25
25-622
270
Black
White
PureGrip
 
foldable
3/180
Continental Ultra Sport III
700Cx23
23-622
255
Black
Yellow
PureGrip
 
foldable
3/180
Continental Ultra Sport III
700Cx23
23-622
255
Black
White
PureGrip
 
foldable
3/180
Continental Ultra Sport III
700Cx23
23-622
255
Black
Black
PureGrip
 
foldable
3/180
Michelin Dynamic Classic
700Cx20
23-622
 
Black
Tan
 
 
foldable
 
Michelin Dynamic Classic
700Cx25
25-622
 
Black
Tan
 
 
foldable
 
Michelin Dynamic Classic
700Cx28
28-622
 
Black
Tan
 
 
foldable
 
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 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
700Cx28
28-622
340
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
Black
SmartNET silica
Armour Tech
tlr
66
Pirelli Cinturato
700Cx32
32-622
360
Black
Black
SmartNET silica
Armour Tech
tlr
66
Pirelli Cinturato
700Cx35
35-622
410
Black
Black
SmartNET silica
Armour Tech
tlr
66
Vittoria Corsa Control
700Cx25
25-622
265
Black
Tan
Corespun K
Protection Belt
foldable
320
Vittoria Corsa Control
700Cx25
25-622
265
Black
Black
Corespun K
Protection Belt
foldable
320
Vittoria Corsa Control
700Cx28
28-622
280
Black
Black
Corespun K
Protection Belt
foldable
320
Vittoria Corsa Control
700Cx28
28-622
280
Black
Tan
Corespun K
Protection Belt
foldable
320
Vittoria Corsa Control
700Cx30
30-622
280
Black
Tan
Corespun K
Protection Belt
foldable
320
Vittoria Rubino Pro Control
700Cx23
23-622
290
Black
Black
Nylon
Protection Belt
foldable
60
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

Bicycle tire puncture resistance

EXO, GreenGuard, AGC, AEC, ATC, do you ever get confused with all the jargon related to puncture protection. I know I did? That’s why I’ve written a separate article about puncture resistance technologies. That way, you’ll be able to better understand what’s out there and if it’s worth your money.

Johan van Seijen

FoundeR Restoration.bike

Johan van Seijen is the founder of restoration.bike. His passion for cycling in general, and restoring older bikes turned into a website to share his knowledge with a broader audience. Starting out on his father’s road bike and riding classics as the Amstel Gold Race and Liege Bastogne Liege he has shifted his attention to trail, XC, and gravel riding since. No matter how much he loves writing about everything related to cycling, nothing beats actually using his ever-expanding bicycle collection.

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