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Good Road Bike Tires For The Rain

Updated on November 10, 2012
CyclingFitness profile image

Liam Hallam is a sports science graduate. A keen cyclist, runner, and obstacle racer, he ran his first ultra-marathon in 2016.

You shouldn't need to use the rain as an excuse not to ride

Rain tires for bikes are gaining in popularity and offer exceptional wet weather performance.
Rain tires for bikes are gaining in popularity and offer exceptional wet weather performance. | Source

Road Bike Tires For Rain- a relatively new innovation

Road bike tires for rain and wet conditions are a relatively new development in the cycling world. Coming from the UK it's quite surprising really that such a specific product hasn't been offered on the marketplace before.

This article looks at some great specific road bike tires for wet conditions which are available on the market as well as assessing their performance to allow you to make an educated decision on which tires you need for your riding.

I'm currently riding a set of wet weather specific Vittoria Open Corsa Evo Tech Tires so you'll also get a brief review of the tire from my experience in a British winter.

Why consider a wet weather road bike tire?

If it rains a lot where you live a wet weather specific road bike tire could be a good option as they aim to offer improved grip on wet roads. This is usually achieved through the use of special, softer rubber tread compounds. The downside of the increased grip is the requirement for a lighter, less dense rubber compound which can subsequently have an increased wear rate when compared to a regular, all purpose road bike tire.

The additional grip can also lead to increased rolling resistance: Leading to a potentially slightly slower rolling tire in dry riding conditions.

What rain specific road bike tires are available?

At present on the marketplace there are a selection of wet weather specific tires which you could choose from.

  • Maxxis Radiale 3C
  • Schwalbe Ultremo Aqua
  • Vittoria Corsa Evo Tech

The specifications of each tire is discussed below in detail

Maxxis Radiale 3C- Specific Wet Weather Racing Tires

If you're looking for a tire for road racing in the wet, the Maxxis Radiale 3C could be the tire for you. The 3C means it features a triple compound tread with a more dense centre section and extra grip to the outsides for when cornering in the rain.

Added sipping to the outskirts of the tread flex to increase the contact area the tire has with the road for increased grip.

Maxxis Radiale 3C Racing Tires

Maxxis 700 x 23 Radiale 3C Folding Tire
Maxxis 700 x 23 Radiale 3C Folding Tire

Maxxis' road racing specific wet weather tire features a triple compound tread. Softer sipped external sections of tread to increase wet weather grip.


Maxxis Radiale 3C Tire Specification

Weight: 230g per tire in 700c x 23mm size, 220g per tire in 700cx 22mm size

TPI: 120 Threads Per Inch

Tread: Slick centre with sipping exterior sections

Puncture Protection: Silkworm anti-puncture protection band is fitted from bead to bead

Schwalbe Ultremo Aqua- wet weather lightweight racing tires

Schwalbe make some great lightweight road racing tires in their ZX and R1 racing models. The Ultremo Aqua is their version of a fast, lightweight, rain-specific road racing tire for wet conditions

It's light weight of 195g puts this firmly in the 'race specific tire' category. However despite it's light weight the Ultremo Aqua features a high density puncture proetction strip under the tread.

The tread features a traditional file tread pattern which actually improves surface contact area for additional grip in wet conditions when combined with it's Aquagrip compound tread.

Schwalbe Ultremo Aqua Tires

Schwalbe Ultremo Aqua Black Folding Bead Tire (700X23)
Schwalbe Ultremo Aqua Black Folding Bead Tire (700X23)

Featuring a file tread design for optimal surface contact and an aquagrip compound the lightweight Ultremo Aqua offers race performance


Schwalbe Ultremo Aqua Tire Specification

Weight: 195g per tire in 700c x 23mm sizing

TPI: 127 Threads Per Inch

Tread Pattern: Traditional file tread design to increase surface area contact

Tread Material: Wetgrip Compound

Puncture Protection: HD Guard High-Density anti puncture band

Vittoria Corsa Evo Tech Tires- for great road feel in foul conditions

Vittoria's Evo lineup of tires feature some of the most supple casings of any road bike tire manufacturer with TPI's of 320 threads per inch throughout their lineup. This leads to tires that mould exceptionally well to the roads while offering enhanced 'road feeling' characteristics and grip.

Many of Vittoria's tire line-up has been around for many years. The Corsa Evo Tech is the latest model from a manufacturer that specialises in classic tire designs. It features Vittoria's specialist Aquagrip compound to maximise road contact, as well as being 'beefed up' with an additional protective layer to it's sidewalls for protection which adds additional practicality as a training tire for a wet European or North American winter.

Vittoria Open Corsa Evo Tech Tire Specification

Weight: 270g per tire in 700c x 23mm sizing

TPI: 320 Threads Per Inch

Tread: Slick centre with diamond tread pattern

Tread Material: Aquagrip Compound

Puncture Protection: PRB 2.0 anti-puncture resistant belt with additional latex to sidewalls for added slash protection.

CyclingFitness Review of the Vittoria Open Corsa Evo Tech

I've just started riding this tire and after a few damp trips into the Peak District area of the UK am extremely happy with the reassuring levels of grip offered. The tire feels assured while cornering on wet roads which would worry many other all-round road cycling tires.

They're certainly not a light tire for racing but I feel that they could be an excellent option as a winter training tire where their additional weight will not be seen as a hindrance to speed.

I've had no punctures as yet so the puncture protection is clearly doing it's job although I've had positive experiences with Vittoria tires in the past in terms of puncture resistance. The jury is out still in terms of longevity- although I'm sure Vittoria wouldn't sell a tire which would only last 1000 miles.

What's your experience with road bike tires for wet weather?

We'd love to hear from you regarding your experiences with these tires and any others you use for road cycling in foul weather conditions

Please leave any comments below.

Liam Hallam


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    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 5 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Thanks tireless, Specialized make a number of different versions of the Armadillo tire (the Armadillo corresponds to their heavy duty protection)- which version do you have?

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 5 years ago from California

      Specialized. We certainly need them today. With the forecast for up to 5 inches of rain we have wimped out, and fled to the gym

    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 5 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Thanks for the comment tirelesstraveller. These tires are more geared towards the performance end of the marketplace. Out of the choices above for commuting I would consider something heavier than these tires if you're on rough roads

      Which Armadillo do you use?

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 5 years ago from California

      It would be interesting to see the difference between these tires and a regular commute tire like Specialize Armadillos which I use.

      My husband who rides anywhere from 10 to 30 miles a day to work is always looking for ways to maximize safety without losing durability and