Road Bike Clincher Tire Review by Greg Pelican
This was closest Google hit to a search for road bike tire reviews. Pretty good summary I think. Note that Bethel Cycle is not up, so this is copied from the Google cache
Back in my photo science days a common adage was the cheapest way to improve your camera was to change your film. This analogy can be applied to cycling as well. There is nothing (for less than $100) that can impact the performance of your bike like a new set of tires.
This review is based on personal experience blended with feedback from local racers and customers. Tire choice is definitely a subjective matter, but the purpose of this review is to help cyclists narrow down your options. The focus of the review is on the category winners, not on the poor performers. Every popular brand and tire have been tested.
- Best Lightweight Tire: Veloflex wins the category of best lightweight tire. These tires are hand made in Italy in the original Vittoria factory (Vittoria's are now made in Thailand). These tires are super light 170 grams for 20mm and 180 grams for the Pave 23mm. The thin rubber thread provides excellent traction and there is a thin Kevlar layer underneath for protection. The tires have a nice round cross section and look like a good tubular when mounted. Our experience has been that the tires are perfectly round and roll excellent. We recommend the 20mm for time trials and the 23mm for road racing. These are fast tires with a low profile (some riders complain that they ride hard and don't provide a lot of shock absorption). I use them for all around training and racing and have had good results in respect to holding up to road hazards. Keep in mind that the tread and sidewall are thin, so if you hit a big piece of glass you will get a flat and maybe slice the tire. Also, once the thin rubber tread wears down replace them. For me this occurs around 1,500 miles. Price $44.99
- Best Crit Tire: The Vittoria Open Corsa CX wins the category of best Crit tire. These tires are reassuring to have on your bike when you line up for that gnarly Crit in the rain. The big round profile of the 23mm tires provide excellent grip and a large contact area to the road. I feel more confident in high speed cornering and sprinting with these on my bike. The tread has a twin rubber compound. The sidewall is softer for grip and the center is harder for longer wear. The Vittoria's are a little heavier at approximately 240 grams, but they provide grip like no other clincher. Believe me there are many times when traction is way more important than saving an ounce! A side benefit is that the extra rubber and larger profile of the tires provide a cushy ride. This is very noticeable with stiff oversized aluminum frames. The tires are tough and wear well. Price $55.99
- Best all Around: Michelin's Axial Pro does everything well. They provide great traction; they are comfortable and last a long time. Axial Pros stand up to a ton of abuse. They have a twin tread design like the Open CX. I would stick to the 23mm tire as the 20mm. is on the narrow side. The tire is mid-weight at 225 grams for the 23mm. This is the longest lasting, high performance tire that we know of. Most riders get at least 2,500 to 3,000 miles of wear (way more than Continentals Grand Prix 3000). This tire is hard to beat for all around performance. Price $44.99
In conclusion there are no bargains with tires. You get what you pay for! Pro photographers never risk a project on off brand film, and I would never race on cheap tires!