Best Bike Tire for Triathlon

This post looks at the Best Bike Tire for Triathlon.

So you’ve just spent 3 grand on a half-decent bike for the tri season. It would be rude not to also throw in the odd bike time trial too wouldn’t it? Where you can show off your cycling prowess to the real cyclists.

Best Bike Tire for Triathlon Continental Tyre Tire
Something for the weekend sir?

You ignored people like me who told you to get some awesome new wheels and a second-hand frame. And you may not have bought the best wheel that you could as your new wheels came bundled with the frame. But, hey, there’s no budget left for a frame change or a wheel change so you’re stuck with what you have. Grrrrr.

CLINCHER WARNING: JUST CLINCHERS HERE ie the ones that have an inner tube

How about a bit of free speed then? $/£30-40 might save you 5w per tyre. $/£60 per tyre WILL almost certainly save you more than 5w per tyre.

Let’s face it, you can’t sneak a £/$3000 bike past your partner but two new tyres could EASILY be fobbed off as ‘oh they’re just a couple of quid/dollars’ hint: it works ;-). And therein starts the triathletes’ fall towards lycra-induced divorce. But that’s another far less cheery topic. Let’s talk about FREESPEED. Relatively cheap free speed too. Which I guess is RELATIVELYCHEAPSPEED and not FREESPEED. Oh well. You get the drift. Let’s get you the Best Triathlon Tyre.

  • Step 1: IMPORTANT: Look at the width of tyre that the wheel manufacturer recommends. That’s the key pice of info. Do not ask the shop, they’ll tell you to get some fat-boy tyres. Well, ask the shop if they know what they’re talking about. As a guide I do not buy  tyre wider than the rim of the wheel eg personally I’d buy a 23mm tyre for a 23mm wheel, maybe a thinner tyre for pancake-smooth roads. Don’t worry so much about the height dimension of the tire which affects the clearance to your frame.
  • Step 2: Look for your current tyres on the table below. They’re not there are they? If they are there, all may be good. You’ve just ‘saved’ $/£/Eu100.
  • Step 3: Realise that these fast tyres shown below are made of paper. If you go over a grain of sand you may well get a puncture. But if you know the surfaces where you are going to use them and/or if you want to risk them on race day on a road when you wont be riding in the gutter THEN proceed with caution and buy several.
  • Step 4: Realise that many of the tyre brands have so many variations that you may well easily choose on the wrong one   eg I use the Grand Prix SuperSonics for ‘special occasions’ but they come in a BLACK CHILLI compound version and one that isn’t BLACK CHILLI. Whatever the difference in the world of rubber; on the road BLACK CHILLI is, of course faster.
  • Step 5: Guesstimate that your current, cheap tyres  might lose more than 20w a pair (easily more) at 100psi compared to the best tyre. That’s quite a lot isn’t it?
  • Step 6: Choose the amount of watts you want for free and hence the tyre of your dreams from the table
  • Step 7: Prepare yourself for a £/$50 price tag per tyre. Hopefully; just hopefully, the one you want will be cheaper than £/$50 (it won’t 😉 )
  • Step 8: Compromise
  • Step 9: Prepare to spend several hours trying to find the exactly correct version of the tyre you want for the lowest possible price, where LowestPossiblePrice<=$/£50. You’ll save £/$3 on the price you originally saw but two hours of your time is worth that if you factor in the watts/per tyre saving 😉
  • Step 10: Groan when you realise that the right inner tubes will also give you a free watt or too. Groan further that latex tubes could give you even more but smile with relief when I tell you not to go there. ie don’t go for Latex. Do go for the race tubes as well though.
Best Bike Tyre Triathlon Continental Tyre Tire
20mm, They look different but I THINK they are the same model from different years

And yes I went through ALL of those steps MANY times. Here are my tyre choices

  1. RACE: Continental Grand Prix SuperSonic Black Chilli – yes I would use that for a PB lap of Richmond Park or for IMUK. #SpecialTyre #SpecialRace
  2. GENERAL USE: I use these Continental GP4000SII now by default.
  4. You can also use your race-day tyre when racing with your faster cycling friends. You have to just hope for the best and if you get a puncture then you get some respite from their relentless zone 2 effort. Which feels like Z4 to you.

Hey! there are some useful tyre/tube links immediately below  .


60 PSI80 PSI100 PSI120 PSI
4.1 bar5.5 bar6.9 bar8.3 bar
VittoriaCorsa Speed (tubular)2017High+2320912.711.19.99.1
PirelliP Zero Velo TT2017High2316314.612.21110.2
ContinentalGrand Prix SuperSonic2017High231791512.51110.2
ContinentalGrand Prix Force II2016High2419616.313.411.611
SchwalbeIronman Tubeless2015High2433616.614.513.512.9
SpecializedTurbo Cotton2016High+242241512.511.110.1
ContinentalGrand Prix TT2016High2519513.911.810.59.9
HutchinsonFusion 5 Galactik TL2017High2528814.612.31110.1
MichelinPower Competition2016High2521216.613.611.810.9
SchwalbePro One Tubeless2016High2525714.812.811.611
ZippTangente Speed2017High2519017.314.612.511.6
SchwalbeOne Tubeless2014High2534416.313.812.511.8
VittoriaRubino Pro Speed2016High2520617.414.312.611.9
ContinentalGrand Prix 4000S II2014High2521515.513.712.912.2
VittoriaCorsa G+ (open)2016High2525516.314.112.912.2
SchwalbeOne V-Guard2014High2524316.61412.812.3
VittoriaCorsa G+ (tubular)2016High+2528116.414.112.812.3
PirelliP Zero Velo2017High2521017.214.613.212.5
VittoriaCorsa Elite (tubular)2017High2529818.115.413.612.9
VittoriaOpen Corsa CX III2014High2523716.914.813.613
HutchinsonFusion 5 Performance TL2017High2532317.815.81413.1
ChallengeStrada Pro2017High2525417.915.31413.4
VittoriaRubino Pro III2014Med2523818.6161413.4
ContinentalGrand Prix2014Med2523918.515.914.514
SchwalbeUltremo ZX2014Med2522919.516.31514.1
MichelinPro 4 Endurance v22015High2524519.116.314.914.2
ContinentalCompetition (tubular)2016High+2528518.716.515.314.2
ContinentalUltra Sport II2015Low2526718.916.414.814.3
HutchinsonFusion 5 All Season TL2017High2533519.116.815.214.3
MichelinPower Endurance2016High2523521.217.915.614.5
PirelliP Zero Velo 4S2017High2522020.217.615.914.7
VittoriaRubino Pro G+2016Med2524822.318.21614.8
MichelinPro 4 Service Course2014Med2522220.117.61614.9
ZippTangente Course2017High2521522.718.916.715.3
MichelinKrylion 2 Endurance2017Med252612117.916.315.4
VittoriaZaffiro Slick2015Low2539824.420.117.115.7
MichelinLithion 22015Med252682218.716.715.9
SchwalbePro One HT (tubular)2017High+2530321.619.117.416.1
VittoriaRubino Pro Control2016Med252972520.617.716.9
ClementStrada LGG2017High2522523.22017.916.9
ContinentalGrand Prix 4 Season2015High2521522.519.818.117.2
MichelinDynamic Sport2015Low2530423.219.518.117.3
VredesteinFortezza Senso All Weather2015Med2523424.621.819.718
SchwalbeDurano Plus2017Med2540026.422.920.719.7
MichelinPower All Season2016High2527527.824.522.721.3
BontragerR4 320 2016High+2522616.413.912.211.5
SpecializedS-Works Turbo2016High2521519.616.314.413.4

Source: (modified/curated by me)

That site will also give you saw awesome info on tubs and tubeless tyres.


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