Tyres (or tires if you’re in the USA). That tiny little pair of contact patches connecting your bike to the blacktop. In terms of simple performance upgrades, changing your rubber can have one of the largest impacts on how your bike feels and handles. It’s also an easy place to save a few grams at the same time.
Say you’ve got a pair of Continental Ultra Sport II wire beaded tyres with regular inner tubes on your bike, that’s pretty standard spec for many off the shelf road bikes. There’s nothing overly wrong with this combo and it’ll serve you well. Once worn out however, you’ll want to replace them with something much nicer!
Make the switch from those standard tyres to Continental GP4000S II hoops (205g/each) paired with Supersonic tubes (55g/each) and you’ll not only shed weight but also be rolling on far superior rubber.
Here’s a little bit of maths…
2 x Ultra Sports II = 620g, 2 x Standard Tubes = 210g
Total = 830g
2 x GP4000S II = 410g, 2 x Supersonic Tubes = 110g
Total = 520g
Weight saving = 310 grams
Remember that’s a weight saving AND a performance upgrade.
I’ve dabbled with a few different tyre makes over the years, but my “go-to” tyre of choice is still the Continental GP4000S II. They attain that almost elusive balance of light weight, low rolling resistance, excellent handling and puncture protection. My second choice for good weather tyres are the Specialized S-WORKS Turbo, super fast and supple but they lose out ever so slightly in the puncture protection rating.
In the UK I rolled on GP4000S II tyres all through the Spring and Summer months, switching to Continental 4 Season tyres once the weather turned. The 4 Seasons have an extra puncture protection strip and are constructed from a rubber that performs better at low temperatures. Perfect for those grimy, crud covered roads of the winter club ride.
I’m a fan of Continental tyres, but there are also great alternatives from Schwalbe, Vittoria, Pirelli and Zipp. My shallow-section lightweight Mavic wheelset came fitted with matching Mavic Yukon tyres. They are a pretty good tyre in their own right, but once they wear out it’ll be back to the Continentals for sure.
A LITTLE EXTRA: Looking to dominate the hill climb season? You could take your weight saving even further with a pair of Continental Supersonic tyres, tipping the scales at a feathery 150g each! Beware though, what you gain in speed and suppleness you lose in puncture resistance. One for race days only!
* All weights are for 23mm tyres.