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Triathlon Bike Tires: Best Sizes & Products the Pros Use

Triathlon Bike Tires

Triathlon bike tires are a particular point of interest for athletes looking to maximize their speed on the bike. Rolling resistance, PSI, tire size, and rider weight all contribute to what defines the best tires for triathlon. 

There’s also the debate between clincher, tubular, and tubeless, and which of these is best for triathlon and time trials. We dig into all that in more. But for a short list of Kona-worthy tires, let’s look at some of the top triathlon tires the pros use. 

What Size Tires Do Pro Triathletes Use?

Based on the pro lineup for Kona 2022, a vast majority of the professional field ran 25mm wide tires, with some running as high as 28mm tires (or 28mm in the back and 25mm up front.) On trend with wider tire movement, this debunks early beliefs that skinnier tires are faster.  

With wider and higher capacity tires come lower pressures. The PSI for most pro triathlon tires runs between 80 and 110 PSI, leaning on the lower end of that spectrum. Of course, if skinnier tires are used (21-24mm), a higher PSI is likely preferred. 

All things considered, we’ve compiled a list of the top bike tires raced at Kona and used in the triathlon world at large. 

5 Best Tires for Triathlon 

Based on what turned up at Kona, these are some of today’s best tires for triathlon. These recommendations generally fall in the 25mm-28mm size range, some with different sizes available. 

1. Continental GP5000 S TR

Continental GP5000 S TR Triathlon Tire

For a tubeless setup that’s grippy and ultra-lightweight, the Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR are a favorite. Available in 25mm to 300mm sizes, Continental GP5000 S TR tires are most notable for their exceptional rolling resistance. They’re also a triathlon tire that offers moderate puncture resistance for being so lightweight.

2. Schwalbe Pro One TT

Schwalbe Pro One TT Triathlon Tires

Indisputably one of the best tire brands in the business, Schwalbe’s Pro One TT is a triathlon-specific tire that’s topped many Ironman podiums. It’s available in 25mm and 28mm widths and has some of the best-rated rolling speeds. If you’re looking to upgrade your triathlon bike tires to pro-level status, then the tubeless-ready Schwalbe Pro One TT’s are worthy.

3. Vittoria Corsa Speed G2.0 TLR

Vittoria Corsa Speed G2.0 TLR Fastest Triathlon Bike Tires

The Vittoria Corsa Speed tire is one of the best-rated options and has been widely reported as the fastest triathlon tire. Well suited for high PSI tire pressure as well as wet conditions, the Vittoria Corsa Speed G2.0 is a high-performance, tubeless-ready tire made for the fastest bike splits. It comes in a Goldilocks 25mm size tire and is not always easy to find.

4. Michelin Power Time Trial 

Michelin Power Time Trial Tires

For a clincher tire option, the Michelin Power Time Trial is a well-balanced tire that checks all the boxes. It offers great rolling speed, traction, and is both supple and lightweight. Designed for upper-echelon racing, the Michelin Power Time Trial tires are a top-tier option that’s meant for shaving seconds off your bike splits. 

5. Cadex Aero Tires

Also a notable Kona frontrunner, the Cadex Aero Tire are tubeless slick that offers a solid balance across all categories. They’re fast, ultra-grippy, puncture resistant, and lightweight. They don’t offer the best rolling resistance rating, but they do handle exceptionally well, making them great for both road and triathlon.

What Is the Fastest Triathlon Bike Tire?

As a consistent podium topper across both triathlon and time trialing, the Vittoria Corsa Speed G2.0 TLR has perpetually gained traction as one of the world’s fastest bike tires. However, both the  Schwalbe Pro One TT and Continental GP5000 TRs offer better rolling speeds and are equipped as good contenders.

Clincher vs Tubular vs Tubeless: Which Setup Is Best?

Clinchers (with a tube), tubeless tires, or glued-on tubulars all have their place in cycling. But which option is the best tire setup for a triathlon? 

Clincher vs Tubular vs Tubeless which is best

Of the three setup options, a tubeless tire is widely known as the best. Not only do tubeless tires offer the lowest weight and rolling resistance, but they also provide added comfort and grip. Tubeless also enables faster speeds at a lower tire pressure, checking all the boxes for training and racing.

Tubeless sealant’s ability to fill small punctures is also an added benefit for triathletes and competitive cyclists, preventing the need to replace a tube in the instance of a minor puncture.

What Is the Most Puncture-Resistant Bike Tire?

In triathlon, a puncture can steal several minutes and ruin an athlete’s race. Investing in bike tires that offer superior puncture resistance can make a big difference, especially if you are riding on rough road conditions from time to time.

Road Triathlon Bike Tires

A tire’s material is the most significant factor that helps out with puncture resistance. Kevlar is one of the most popular materials used by bike tire manufacturers to reinforce their products and aid in puncture resistance. Kevlar is the same material utilized in bulletproof vests, and it can provide a significant amount of puncture protection for triathlon bike tires. Two types of Kevlar are used in today’s bike tires to make them puncture resistant. 

  • Kevlar Belted Tires – Using Kevlar material underneath a tire’s tread surface can help to reduce the impact that objects such as nails, glass shards, and thorns can have. This option tends to have a higher rolling resistance and cost more.
  • Kevlar Beads – Kevlar beads are among the most popular options for adding puncture resistance to high-performance bike tires. Using this material allows a tire to remain lightweight while adding to its durability.

These are some of the key points of importance related to the topic of puncture-resistant tires. Perhaps the most critical question is what are the most puncture-resistant bike tires on today’s market. 

4 Durable Road Bike Tire Options Worth a Look

  • Maxxis Re-Fuse Tire A top option for today’s cyclists that need a durable, high-quality tire that comes at an affordable price point.
  • Vittoria Zaffiro Pro III 23 Road Tire  – This is another top option for riders that are looking for a puncture-resistant tire that is affordable. It is an option that is one of the most popular training tires on the market.
  • Continental Gator Hard-Shell Urban This bike tire is the go-to choice for many of today’s cyclists who are looking for a reliable, puncture-resistant tire that can stand up against harsh road conditions.
  • Hutchinson Intensive 2 Road Bike Tire This highly durable tire is one of the leading options for riders looking for a quality puncture-resistant tire. Its bead-to-bead casing offers puncture protection that is reliable on a year-round basis.

Are 28mm Tires Faster Than 25mm?

Tire width has become one of the hottest topics in the cycling world in the last couple of years. It was only a short time ago that 23mm tires were considered the standard, but that has changed in recent years. Though it might seem counterintuitive, there is mounting evidence that wider tires that are run at a lower pressure will help a cyclist go faster. There has been a big move in the competitive cycling world toward wider tires. 

Best Triathlon Bike Tires

This move toward wider tires has not only turned the 23mm variety into an option that is virtually a thing of the past, but it is also quickly blowing past the 25mm option as well. 28mm tires are quickly becoming the go-to for many cyclists who are looking for increased speed. With this said, it is essential to note that it takes more than a tire itself. When wider tires are used as a part of an overall wheel system, the results can be pretty noticeable. This system includes fitting a wider tire on a wider rim to maximize the potential increase in air volume.

Tests that have been conducted on this topic of tire width have shown that the combination of a narrower tire and higher air pressure does not result in lower rolling resistance. Tests have shown that 28mm tubeless tires are the fastest option in terms of rolling resistance. According to Wheel Energy, an independent test lab in Finland,

“28mm tubeless tire is the fastest setup. At 40kmh, a high-quality clincher tire with a latex inner tube is about 2 watts slower. And a 32mm tire is only about 2 watts slower than an equivalent 28mm tire. Comparing rolling resistance, a 25mm tubeless tire at 95-100psi is the same as a 30mm tubeless tire at 72-80psi.”

These tests have been resounding to demonstrate that a 28mm bike tire is just as fast as a 25mm. This fact has led many cyclists to leap past the 25mm options and straight to a 28mm tubeless tire setup, particularly for rugged terrain.

What Tires Do Pro Tour Cyclists Use?

For competitive cyclists, it can be advantageous to look at the tires that today’s pro cyclists use. The Tour de France is the perfect place to look for some insights into this. 

Top performers in the legendary road race have been seen using tires that include:

Final Thoughts on Triathlon Bike Tires

Today’s triathletes are constantly looking for ways to gain a competitive edge. The bike leg of a triathlon is the vast majority of the distance and time invested in a race. Using the right equipment – such as bike frame, wheelset, bicycle seat, and tires – play a pivotal role in long-distance endurance events like triathlon. 

Triathletes looking to get every competitive edge from their bike technology should consider a high-quality, puncture-resistant 25-28mm tire. This size range has been proven effective in helping athletes maximize aero, speed, and efficiency, making a significant difference in an Ironman or 70.3 events.

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Head of Content at Better Triathlete | Website

Endurance athlete, professional off-road cyclist, and avid blogger, Tyler Tafelsky participates in long-course multisport and cycling events. Today, Tyler competes in ultra-distance cycling races at the professional level. Since starting Better Triathlete in 2014, he has been the head of content for the site's editorial team. Learn more about Tyler