Recommended tyres for a sportive

What would be my recommended tyre for a sportive?  Recently blog reader Deano asked this question in a comment on the review of the Specialized Allez.

Sportives are cycling events growing in popularity throughout the UK.  They are organised rides which are not competitive races and cyclists complete the course in their own time.  Having said that they are regarded as reasonably brisk rides for the enthusiasts taking part.  Distances tend to be in the 50 – 100 mile range for many, although there are a few longer and shorter options around.  Often they will be organised to take in some lovely countryside complete with a few hill climbs, stunning countryside views over quiet(ish) roads.

So what makes a good tyre for these events?  Well I think you need to have a reliable tyre which won’t easily puncture (hedge trimmings on road), reasonably light (you want a fun ride), fairly durable (bad road surfaces, potholes etc).  With all of the tyres below, I’d go for the 700×25 size although if you’re feeling racey there’s 23 available.  For those who’s backside needs an easier ride you could do for 28 or even 32.  With contemporary road bikes, they are generally designed to take nothing wider than a 28.

Here’s my choice for Deano (and anyone else doing a sportive!):

Continental Gatorskin

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 14.45.18

These are very popular in the UK and with good reason.  They tick all the main boxes and you can get them in the usual 700c widths 23, 25, 28 and 32.  Sensible price generally £25 to £30.

I’m running one of these right now (albeit the weight saving folding version) and the disadvantage is the wet road grip isn’t brilliant.  The plus side is puncture resistance, good all-round handling.

Great for Steady Eddy’s who wanna play safe and be like insurance brokers not wanting to take too many risks.  Bad for flash gits.


Continental Grandprix

A slightly faster and lighter tyre at just 230g, these are only available in 23 and 25 width.  Reviews on these are really positive  – virtually puncture free, good grip, comfortable and fast.  Hard to find anything wrong about these.  Expect to pay up to £32.

These are a popular upgrade to replace original equipment tyres.  Worth getting these if you’re getting punctures and can’t be bothered to wear out the original ones.

Great for well paid insurance brokers and those who like impressive looking tread patterns like those 1000cc motorbikes which are terrifying just to look at.

Schwalbe One (folding tyre)

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 15.42.23This is one fast upmarket tyre.  Okay it’s a slick tyre, really fast and racey looking.  Yep it is those things.  These are only available as a folding tyre and in the usual 23, 25 and 28 sizes.  Pretty light at 225g.

The official blurb claims “it is the fastest and at the same time most reliable competition tyre they have ever made thanks to their new OneStar compound with the added protection of V-Guard under the tread” Reviews are great for these but the only real draw back is the price at just over £40 each.

These are great tyres and fast.  Just a slight question mark over real-life durability – probably not the best commuting, touring or bad road choice.

Great for drivers of classy understated soft top Audi cars with cash to spare and who are used to billiard table roads.  David Cameron would probably go for these and the roads would become magically smoother for him. Less good for dodgy road surfaces you get in cash strapped rural counties under the influence of Eric Pickles.  Mr Pickes, who jolly well ought to become a cyclist, would probably be suited to some considerably wider balloon tyres.

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3 Responses to Recommended tyres for a sportive

  1. Deano says:

    Very interesting read that Doug thanks!…the roads down the Gower and West Wales are full of hedge clippings and bits this time of year along the coast line, so the Continental tyres sound a wise choice.

    Any advice on break pads to fit to my Allez bike?


  2. Dan Norris says:

    Very great article, and good timing too as I’ll be looking to upgrade my tyres within the next month. Agreed, Continental seem to be the best for me too.

    I got my breaks upgraded over the weekend, popped in store and the chaps at Hargroves fitted these;

    Seem to be pretty good so far, and will make it even easier to replace as their inserts 🙂

  3. I’ve been riding on Specialized Roubaix tyres of late. The come in 25 but with 23 at the top, giving a nice speedy rolling style but with some grip around the corners. Been decent so far (about 5 months).

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