The Best Road Cycling Tyres For This Winter

Get the right winter cycling tires

Schwalbe Durano Tires are an ideal choice for winter cycling due to grip, durability and puncture resistance
Schwalbe Durano Tires are an ideal choice for winter cycling due to grip, durability and puncture resistance | Source

The Best Tires For Winter Cycling

Winter cycling to many people means two things- cold, wet weather and punctures.

Therefore for road cycling you need a bicycle tire which combines the features of wet weather grip and excellent puncture resistance for your winter training and cycling enjoyment.

Many companies now make specific tyres designed towards winter (and year round) cycling enjoyment. Whether you are just riding for enjoyment or training throughout the winter with road races, cyclo-sportives, mountain biking or other forms of competitive cycling in mind

The below winter tyre reviews will classify based on criteria of i) grip and ii) puncture resistance- key winter cycling tyre characteristics. It will also consider tire weight and longevity to help you make an educated decision when purchasing your next winter cycling tires.

Unfortunately as you'll likely find from the below- great puncture resistance and fantastic grip are often a difficulty to achieve in a winter road cycling tire.

Winter Cycling With Dean Downing in the Peak District

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Continental Gatorskin

Continental's Gatorskin tyres offer excellent puncture resistance
Continental's Gatorskin tyres offer excellent puncture resistance

Continental Ultra Gatorskin cycling tyre for winter cycling

Continental Gatorskin cycling tyres for winter

A firm favourite amongst winter road cycling enthusiasts and in reviews are the Continental Ultra Gatorskin road tyres (Now known simply as 'Gatorskins' to many riders). Hard wearing and heavily puncture resistant properties make them suitable for long distance, problem free winter riding.

Continental Gatorskins feature a full length duraskin layer which gives the tyres resistance from slashing. They also feature an aramid puncture protection strip which provides excellent puncture resistance.

The CyclingFitness review of Continental Gatorskin Tyres

Having used these tyres on my winter and commuter bikes in the past I can safely say that they offer excellent puncture resistance. I went for almost a year without a puncture and covered close to 5000 kilometres kin that time frame on relatively rough roads.

In terms of grip I found these tyres to offer fantastic grip on dry roads however once roads become damp or wet I found the tyres to be a little slippery and subsequently they did not inspire confidence during winter weather riding. Most team-mates and cycling friends are of a similar impression. Many of these people have subsequently only ever purchased one set of Gatorskins- Swapping to different brands after wearing them out. Our British winter can leave damp and slippery roads so a degree of grip is a definite requirement but if you're willing to take care on wet corners these are a good set of tyres for winter which offer almost fit and forget characteristics.

The new Gatorskin Hardshell adds a little extra weight further excellence in puncture protection. Local riders have found them to be a fit and forget tire for the harsh British winter where users have had almost puncture-free riding.

For UK viewers you can also buy Continental Ultra Gatorskin Tyres at Amazon.co.uk

The Vredestein Fortezza tread pattern

The Vredestein Fortezza tread pattern
The Vredestein Fortezza tread pattern | Source

Vredestein Fortezza Tricomp road cycling tyre for winter and year round racing and training

Vredestein Fortezza Tricomp tyre review for winter cycling

Many road cyclists have tried switching tyres from their summer 'race' bikes across to their winter training and commuting bikes with varying success. A favourite of many road cyclists who have done this is the Vredestein Fortezza Tricomp due in part to their wet weather performance characteristics.

The Fortezza Tricomp tyre offers a patented puncture protection system whilst also featuring a grippy silica energy gel tread featuring three rubber compounds in it's production to contribute to exceptional wear characteristics, cornering confidence and casing protection.

The CyclingFitness review of the Vredestein Fortezza Tricomp tyre for winter cycling.

I stumbled across using Fortezza Tricomp tyre's on my winter training bike due to requiring some new tyres for my winter bike many years ago while trying to be financially frugal. I decided to swap the relatively new tyres from my race bike across to save money at the start of the winter and kept using the tyres for the whole winter despite originally planning to treat myself to some new winter training tyres the following pay-day.

I love these tyres on my race bike as they give exceptional grip on both dry and wet roads. I feel confident road racing on them in wet conditions where you often don't get to choose the line you take through corners and therefore need a confidence inspiring tyre. That level of grip translates across to damp and wet winter roads well which means i'll happily use them over all four seasons of the year.

I've found the puncture resistance of these tyres to be pretty good as well. I weight around 73 kg and I've experienced relatively few punctures despite thousands of kilometres of riding. They don't have the puncture resistance and slash proof sides of Continental Gatorskins, however still offer good puncture resistance in comparison to many other tyres with significantly better grip characteristics.

They're on my bikes come rain or shine throughout the year.

Schwalbe Durano Plus tyre for winter cycling

Schwalbe Durano Plus tyre for winter cycling
Schwalbe Durano Plus tyre for winter cycling

Schwalbe Durano Plus tyres for winter use

This Durano Plus is the road bike equivalent to Schwalbe's excellent trekking tyre- the Marathon Plus. A thick rubberised puncture breaker strip protects against pretty much anything however the trade off is weight and ease of fitting. This tyre is almost rigid and takes a great deal of effort to mount to a rim. The trade off is almost a fit and forget about tyre which you simply cannot puncture!

CyclingFitness review of the Schwalbe Durano Plus tyre for winter cycling.

After fitting these tyres to a set of Mavic Aksium wheels (not recommended wheels i'm afraid!) which took a hell of a lot of work and time I didn't have a single puncture while using these tyres over a whole year of winter training and commuting to work.

The trade off with the puncture resistance however is definitely in their weight. It takes more effort to get an already pretty slow wheelset up to training speeds than other tyres I've used.

These tyres provide a good level of grip on dry road and provide a relatively grippy ride on damp and wet roads. Not quite the levels of grip of Vredestein Fortezza Tricomps however an adequate level of grip for winter cycling and training.

If you're looking for a lighter tire consider purchasing a set of Schwalbe Durano's (not the Plus verson) which weigh considerably less and offer great levels of performance in comparison to excellent puncture protection properties.

If you're from the UK your can also purchase Schwalbe Durano Plus Tyres at Amazon.co.uk for less than £20 (as at December 2012)

The CyclingFitness Top Winter Cycling Tyre

While the extreme puncture reistance of the Schwalbe Durano and it's fit and almost forget characteristics are great for winter cycling I personally would happily forego the occasional puncture in exchange for the fantastic grip of the Vredestein Fortezza Tricomp.

For winter training and fast riding it is hard to beat the Fortezza Tricomp

What do you think in the Durano vs Gatorskin vs Fortezza debate?

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Anything you'd like to add? Have your say here 5 comments

capon profile image

capon 4 years ago from Upminster, Essex, United Kingdom

Morning Cycling Fitness. Having further reviewed tyres, I am now inclined towards the Michelin Pro Race 4 Service Course. They are for my second best road bike and so I've decided that feel and grip should major, albeit at the expense of longevity. So thanks for your input. It is appreciated. In any event I have Krylions on my Fixed, so any really "filthy-day "rides can be on those.

Interesting what you say about the Pro Race 2's, as when I first tried them I was really pleased with their performance and all round grip. Having said that, the Autumn before last I used a Spin tri-spoke wheel (just for a change), swooped around a round-a-bout, turned off at speed, when the front wheel lost adhesion and slid away. This was the first time I can remember ever losing the front. The front was shod with a decent, but relatively old, Panaracer and the rear with Pro Race 2. When I got home I cut up the Panaracer!


CyclingFitness profile image

CyclingFitness 4 years ago from Nottingham UK Author

Thanks Tony

I've heard good reports regarding the Pro 4 Service Course tires although from experience often find that an endurance specific tire leads manufacturers to a harder rubber which leads to decreased road feel and ultimately grip. I've personally steered clear of Michelins after a bad experience with their Pro 2's a few years back where I felt I was going sideways through corners. They're probably the only tires I've ever had such a worry over. I even used Vittoria's ultra cheap and cheerful Rubino's (Ribble used to sell them for about £7-8) for many years and had no major issues, although had to take a little care through corners. For the money though they're still hard to beat.

Liam


capon profile image

capon 4 years ago from Upminster, Essex, United Kingdom

Thanks Cycling fitness. I used Gatorskins a few years back (if I recall correctly it was before the "Ultra" version), they weren't good. I got many punctures with them and I was not riding along very bad roads. I ended up replacing them with Michelin Krylion tyres, which I am still using on my Fixed and which have been great as a fast commuter tyre. Krylions have been discontinued and replaced by the Pro 4 Endurance, hence my interest. But I am concerned that they might be a bit too "racey" at the expense of durability! Regards Tony


CyclingFitness profile image

CyclingFitness 4 years ago from Nottingham UK Author

Tony- I personally know of no one using this tyre. Most riders I know who've used Michelin tend to buy one pair only and then move on to another brand. Will keep an eye out for others responses on local rides.


capon profile image

capon 4 years ago from Upminster, Essex, United Kingdom

Does anyone have any experience of the new Pro race 4 endurance as a winter tyre? Tony

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