Rubber Soul—Top Tires

From Issue 90

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As the interface between you and the road, tires contribute immensely to the tactile feel of a bike. Changing up your tires can make your bike feel like a brand-new machine for relatively cheap, so make sure you choose wisely next time your tires needs replacing.


schwalbe pro one tubeless easy

Schwalbe has been a big backer of the tubeless road movement. The company’s flagship road Pro One tire was already an industry leader in tubeless, but now it jumps even further ahead of the competition with Tubeless Easy. The name is not hyperbolic; this latest edition is easy to install at home—dare we say it’s the easiest tubeless set-up we have tried. This could be a turning point for getting roadies to adopt tubeless en masse. Before, tubeless tires were (and can still be) too tight of a fit for many rims, making installation a chore. Plus, an air compressor was needed to seat each tire. Not the Pro Ones, they can mount without a tire lever and seat with a floor pump. They ride better too—approaching tubular-ride quality. Schwalbe made adding souplesse (“suppleness”) a priority with this redesign, and it shows. We took full advantage, running high-volume 30c tires with a 58/60psi pressure front and back. This setup let us glide over potholes on well-loved country roads, almost like they were freshly paved tarmac. The 30 grams saved per tire is icing on the cake, helping them roll up to speed faster than before. $81; 298g (30c);


pirelli p zero velo

The most technologically advanced machines in motorsport trust Pirelli to make their tires. The Italian company brings those years of making ultrafast-rolling compounds for Formula One to bicycles, making some swift tires that compete with the top brands in cycling. Out of the box, these 207-gram tires are noticeably soft and tacky. The rubber compound uses SmartNet Silica, finely arranged silica particles, to strike an optimal balance of wet-weather grip, rolling resistance, puncture resistance and mileage. We’re slightly disappointed that Pirelli has not included its iconic logo on the P Zero Velo. And we’re more disappointed that the flagship P Zero line does not include a tubeless option (and seems a bit stuck in the past by still offering a 23c version). But we can’t deny that these tires are fast. If you want a brand steeped in racing heritage and don’t mind foregoing tubeless, Pirelli has you covered. $59; 207g (25c);


vittoria corsa tubular

For most riders, the proposition of tubular tires makes less and less sense with each passing day, especially with tubeless ride quality in hot pursuit. Tubulars can be time-consuming, cost more and can completely end a ride when they flat. But there’s a reason they still dominate the pro ranks: They have a supple ride quality and allow for a lower wheel weight. And, look, we get it. For some, tubulars are always going to be the way to go for racing. Many tubular fanatics even get misty-eyed recalling the ride quality of their favorite tires. But if you are going to go through the effort of breaking out the rim glue, you want to make sure it’s worth it. The Vittoria Corsa tubulars are worth it. With a supple cotton casing that conforms to the road’s surface, these tires are ultra smooth and grippy—we opted for the 28c version for extra confidence through corners. The latest version has a faster-rolling Graphene 2.0 compound, among a total of four compounds that hit a balance of speed, grip and durability. Just don’t expect these tires to last forever. They’re like your best suit: reserved only for special occasions. $124; 360g (28c);

This article originally appeared in issue 90
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