Once you’ve found the perfect bike, bag, rack, and helmet, you’re all set for gas-free commuting, right? Not quite – the right tires are an often-overlooked part of the package, and they can make all the difference for biking around town. Here are four of the best tires for commuters, blending traction, durability, and low rolling resistance on pavement. All of the following are available in 26” diameter (the most common wheel size for mountain bikes and hybrid cycles).
Continental Travel Contact Tire – 26 x 1.75
The venerable Continental Travel Contact has a long-standing reputation as a road-friendly mountain bike tire, and for good reason. A slick center line provides easy rolling on pavement, while heavy treads on the sides offer crossover traction for riding on gravel or rough surfaces. The Travel Contact weighs 695 grams, and a Kevlar bead under the tread works with the Duraskin sidewall to provide excellent puncture protection.
The Continental Travel Contact Bicycle Tire is available for $35.96 at Amazon.
Panaracer Pasela Tourguard Kevlar Bead Bicycle Tire – 26 x 1.25
The Panaracer Pasela Tourguard is the thinnest and lightest tire featured in our list, and it features a shallow but aggressively patterned tread – so it’s a good option for riders who want slightly more grip on rough pavement or during wet weather. The tradeoff is slightly more rolling resistance than a tire with a slick centerline, but the narrow 1.25” profile keeps weight to a streamlined 430 grams (15.2 ounces). An aramid fiber (Kevlar) belt under the tread helps resist penetration punctures.
You can find the Panaracer Pasela Tourguard Kevlar Bead Tire at Amazon for $32.28.
Serfas Drifter City Tire – 26 x 2.0
Do you usually keep your mountain bike on the pavement, but still hit the dirt from time to time? The Serfas Drifter can handle serious trail rides better than many crossover designs, thanks to its inverted tread pattern and 2” diameter, but the 630-gram Drifter is still pavement-friendly thanks to its smooth center track. The puncture-resistant 69-durometer rubber, combined with the Serfas FPS (Flat Protection System) shield layered within the rubber, makes for an extremely durable tire.
The Serfas Drifter City Bicycle Tire is available at Amazon for $28.
Michelin City Bicycle Tire – 26 x 1.85
The Michelin City Tire is definitely designed for road warriors who rarely venture off the pavement. A nearly slick tread pattern provides excellent acceleration and speed for road riding. These tires certainly aren’t lightweights (835g for the 1.85″ diameter version) but they compensate with minimal rolling resistance. A couple isolated reviews have reported sidewall blowouts when inflating the tires to higher pressures (their maximum pressure is rated at 87psi) but the “Protek Plus” reinforcement under the tread provides excellent protection against puncture flats. Reflective sidewalls help increase rider visibility in low light conditions.
You can find the Michelin City Bike Tire at Amazon for $23.96.