Different tires are better or worse for certain applications depending on the specific qualities of the tire and the concerns of the rider. Photo courtesy of Art's Cyclery

Different tires are better for certain applications depending on the specific qualities of the tire and the concerns of the rider (click to enlarge). Photo courtesy of Art's Cyclery​

Editors Note: This article was written by Art's Cyclery web content editor Jerald Westendorf. The original post can be found here.

No one piece of equipment on your bike is more important and no one piece receives more abuse than your tires. So don't just slap the deal of the week on there and call it good. Put in a little research time and you can improve ride quality, reduce weight, and increase durability.

Different tires are better or worse for certain applications depending on their specific qualities and the concerns of the rider. Read on to find out what you should be looking for when you shop, and click over to page 2 for a breakdown of some of the most popular road tires and their best qualities.

Durability

Tires
 
Tires are your connection to the road, they are on the front lines working to improve your ride (click to enlarge). Photo courtesy of Art's Cyclery

  • Look for extra protection under the tread beyond just the standard casing. Words in the description like "breaker," "puncture protector" and "puncture belt" are great indicators.
  • Sidewall protection is also a signal that the manufacturer has gone through extra effort to protect against flats.
  • Look at the tread compound of the tire for a mention of longevity (the amount of time it takes for your tire to wear out).
  • Durability is very important for training tires that take on the bulk of your mileage.

Weight

  • Look for TPI (or threads per inch) over 100. A higher tpi means that the actual threads used to make up the tire can be smaller and therefore lighter. This is not true in all cases but is a good place to start.
  • The term "racing" is usually a give away or "pro" or "pro level."
  • Look for an "actual weight" measurement, if available. Under 210g is a good weight per tire.
  • Weight is an important factor to consider if you're looking for a set of race tires.

Grip

  • Look closely at the rubber compounds used to make the tire.
  • Words like "dual compound," "double compound" or "triple compound" usually indicate that the manufacturer has used grippier rubber on the shoulders of the tire while using a low rolling resistance rubber in the center.
  • Look at the tread patterns:
    • If you are riding purely on the road, smooth tread patterns offer the best grip.
    • If you ride on uneven surfaces and bike paths or do a bit of off-pavment riding every once in awhile, raised and hatched tread patterns are best.

Ride Quality

  • Look for a high TPI count. This will determine how supple the tire will feel.
  • When a tire has more threads per inch, such as a tire with a cotton casing, the casing is more flexible.
  • Flexibility allows the tire to better absorb road debris and unevenness instead of transferring that shock to the rider.

Tubeless tires are also growing in popularity for road cycling. Making the switch can offer you flat protection, increased traction and the ability to run lower pressures. If you do any sort of gravel or adventure riding, tubeless is worth a look. Check out a pros and cons of tubeless breakdown, and head over to Art's Cyclery to see a selection of Tubeless Road Tires.

Continue to page 2 for a look at some popular tires and how these qualities come into play »



This is the quintessential all-arounder tire. It is grippy and performs reasonably well in all categories. Photo courtesy of Art's Cyclery

This is the quintessential all-arounder tire. It is grippy and performs reasonably well in all categories (click to enlarge). Photo courtesy of Art's Cyclery​

Continental Grand Prix 4000 S II Tire

  • Best trait = Grip
  • Continental's Black Chili compound offers good grip and the current Grand Prix 4000 S II features less colored rubber and more black chili compound.
  • The medium 110 TPI thread count offers middle of the road ride quality.
  • The 217g weight is fairly low.
  • This is the quintessential all-arounder tire. It is grippy and performs reasonably well in all categories.
  • Keep looking if ride quality is a top priority.

The Vittoria Open Corsa SC II is the tire to choose if you want professional performance and comfort. Photo courtesy of Art's Cyclery

The Vittoria Open Corsa SC II is the tire to choose if you want professional performance and comfort (click to enlarge). Photo courtesy of Art's Cyclery​

Vittoria Open Corsa SC II Tire

  • Best traits = Ride quality and Grip
  • The Vittoria Open Corsa SC II has a high 320 TPI thread count which creates a very supple tire.
  • The ISOgrip SC rubber compound creates traction in both wet and dry conditions.
  • The tire has a decent weight of 222g .
  • The Vittoria Open Corsa SC II is the tire to choose if you want professional performance and comfort. But because it's a race tire durability will suffer.
  • Keep looking if durability is top priority.

If you want a tire that offers the ultimate flat protection, and the other traits are secondary, the Gatorskin Hardshell is the one for you. Photo courtesy of Art's Cyclery

If you want a tire that offers the ultimate flat protection, and the other traits are secondary, the Gatorskin Hardshell is the one for you (click to enlarge). Photo courtesy of Art's Cyclery​

Continental Gatorskin Hardshell Tire

  • Best trait = Durability
  • The large puncture belt (full tread-width PolyX breaker belt) and Duraskin sidewall give you incredible puncture protection even while cornering.
  • This tire has a medium to high weight at 255g.
  • The tire has a low 60 TPI thread count which increases longevity but decreases the suppleness and comfort of the tire.
  • If you want a tire that offers the ultimate flat protection, and other traits are secondary, the Gatorskin Hardshell is the one for you.
  • Keep looking if low weight and ride quality are top priorities.

The Michelin Pro4 Service Course Tire is a great option for a race day tire with added protection. Photo courtesy of Art's Cyclery

The Michelin Pro4 Service Course is a great option for a race day tire with added protection (click to enlarge). Photo courtesy of Art's Cyclery​

Michelin Pro4 Service Course Tire

  • Best trait = Lightweight
  • At 201 grams, this is a great tire for minimizing race day weight.
  • The dual compound tread offers cornering grip.
  • A Nylon puncture barrier under the entire tread offers some flat protection.
  • The medium 110 TPI thread count offers middle of the road ride quality.
  • The Michelin Pro4 Service Course is another good all around tire with a bit lower weight than the 4000 S II. It is a solid option for a race day tire with added protection.
  • Keep looking if ride quality is a top priority.