An in-depth review of the top current road racing tyres.
Following our previous post about the differences between clincher and tubeless set ups, and our recommendations depending on certain preferences, we thought it might be a good idea to let you know what some of the best tyre choices are for now. Some of the data here hasn’t come from our own testing, but rather from www.bicyclerollingresistance.com; it’s a website that is free to all, but there’s an awful lot of data there, so we’ll filter it down and make it a bit easier to understand!
So, we saw in the last post that the market is trending towards tubeless, and for some good reasons. It’s probably no surprise that some of the top tyres are tubeless then too. The current top 3 rated tubeless tyres (and tyres in general) are:
Vittoria Corsa Speed G+ 2.0 TLR
Schwalbe Pro One TT TLE Addix
Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL
For the purpose of this comparison, I’ll also include one of the current favourite clinchers that are available to buy as well – the Continental Grand Prix 5000 clincher.
I’ll compare some of the obvious specs (rolling resistance, weight, puncture resistance, common sizes you can get and which might work best) as well as making some general conclusions as to what tyres you might want to use if you aren’t brand-loyal. I’ve also tested all of these tyres personally, so I’ll add a bit about how they might ride and my impressions of them.
// Vittoria Corsa Speed G+ 2.0 TLR
The original Vittoria Corsa’s were one of the fastest tyres around. It probably comes as no surprise that the second generation follow in their footsteps. The Corsa’s have an updated Graphene compound, multiple colours of sidewalls, and have both 23 and 25mm options for road & tri racing. I’ve tested the 25mm option, and enjoyed them quite a lot. They roll very well (Crr = 0.00225 or 7.5w at 100psi). These tyres weigh in at about 240gms +/- 10gms per tyre, and the 25mm option I used only measured at 26mm when blown up to 100psi. Overall, pretty promising!
While these were some of the faster tyres around, I also experienced the most punctures with them. Vittoria make no promises with these tyres, so it’s no surprise that they aren’t the most puncture resistant. Interestingly, I experienced more punctures on the sidewall instead of the main tread. I also experienced the fastest tyre-pressure decrease with the Corsa’s and didn’t love the grip that the tread provided, but I’ll admit that it might come down to my personal preference – I like something that looks like it’ll grip well as well as genuinely performing well, so that might have been on my mind when I was cornering on these with my NS Carbon wheels.
If you’re looking for a fast tyre to go in a straight line, this is the one. If you’re going to be racing crits, anything with high-speed corners, or maybe just corners in general, I might consider a couple of the other options around unless you’re confident in your cornering regardless of tyre.
// Schwalbe Pro One TT TLE Addix
The next fastest tyre on test. At 100psi it tests well for rolling resistance (Crr = 0.00243 or 8.1w) and weighs slightly less than the Corsa’s at around 220gms. There are both 25 and 28mm options, so for those of you who like to run lower pressures with wider tyres, these might be a better option. The 25mm Pro One I tested measured at 27mm wide when blown up to 100psi, so they do run slightly larger. I’d expect the 28mm option to measure 30mm when inflated – something to take into consideration if you’re using wider rims with narrower forks or seat/chain stays on your bike.
Again, these tyres have the option of a tan-coloured sidewall. Being the ‘TT’ version of the Pro One, these tyres have what I would consider ‘mid-level’ puncture resistance for both the tread and sidewall – it’s ok, nothing to sneeze at but also nothing to tell all your friends about either. I’d rate the Pro One TT’s slightly higher for puncture resistance than the Corsa’s, and probably slightly better when it comes to grip as well. It’s also worth noting that there is a non-TT version of the Pro One, which has a slightly higher rolling resistance than the TT version traded off for much better puncture resistance on the tread.
// Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL
Another serious option to consider. These tyres have the highest rolling resistance of the three tubeless tyres that I’d recommend (Crr = 0.00267 or 8.9w at 100psi), but they also come with some of the best puncture resistance I’ve encountered. Weighing in at 290gms for a 25mm width tyre and having a re-engineered Black Chilli compound & Vectran layer to reduce puncture resistance in the main tread and sidewall, the GP 5000 TL is a tyre system that promises a lot and delivers.
Continental openly say that they wanted to make a tyre that was great all around, and I think it’s safe to say they’ve done it. It’s a relatively fast tyre with great puncture resistance and the ability to self-seal with being tubeless, it’s a great option. The GP 5000 TL’s also come in a variety of sizes, from 23mm through to 30mm. The 25mm I tested measured at 26mm when inflated to 100psi. With all sizes likely coming in close to their stated measurements, there is probably a tyre for everyone here!
// But there’s also a clincher version of the GP 5000
So which one is better? Well, obviously if you don’t want to make the move to tubeless then the clincher version of the GP 5000 is a great option; in fact, it’s the fastest tyre on test that isn’t tubeless. It’s similar to its tubeless twin – same Vectran layer, same Black Chilli compound, same “Lazer Grip” tread pattern, same availability of sizes.
These clinchers are a much improved version of the GP 4000 that so many people fell in love with. At 100psi, the clincher version of the GP 5000 will have slightly higher rolling resistance (Crr = 0.0031 or 10.7w), but they have similar tread and sidewall puncture resistance. The clincher GP 5000’s also come with a lower weight, coming in at 210gms for the 25mm wide tyres tested! I think it’s safe to say that these would be a fairly viable alternative for anyone not going to make the move to tubeless just yet.
So, what tyre should we all be using then?
If you’re looking for speed at all costs, it looks like your best bet for tyres is to go with the Vittoria Corsa Speed G+ 2.0 TLR. If you’re looking for speed, but with a little bit of protection just in case, it might be best to go with the Schwalbe Pro One TT TLE Addix. If you’re looking for the best combination of speedy tyre and puncture resistance, then the Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL is the best option (and if you aren’t up for the move to tubeless, the good news is that there’s a clincher version of the GP 5000 too!).
Whichever tyre you go with, you’re bound to have a great choice to pair with some NS Carbon wheels!