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3 Great Cheap Road Bike Tires

Liam Hallam is a sports science graduate. He is also a keen cyclist and a lover of the Derbyshire Dales and Peak District.

Road bike tires don't have to cost a fortune. There are some great cheap options out there that do the job well

Road bike tires don't have to cost a fortune. There are some great cheap options out there that do the job well

Cycling: The Expensive Sport

Cycling is an expensive sport. As the professional riders in the Tour de France dance their way up mountain climbs on the lightest equipment, prices are climbing higher and higher.

The cost of buying the latest all-singing, all-dancing cycling equipment is getting higher than the mountain passes, and in times of financial austerity, it makes sense to make your money go further.

For road cyclists, tires are an item we all need. Yet we seem to go through them very quickly for racing, training, and commuting purposes. Riding the latest professional team-endorsed tires is not always within everyone's means; therefore, we've compiled a list of three great cheap road bike tires which will function as excellent options for winter training or a fast commute to work.

Vittoria Zaffiro Tires Offer Great Value and Performance

Many well-established tire manufacturers have line ups that have been relatively constant over the years. Italian brand Vittoria has produced their Zaffiro tire for what seems like an eternity. The reason for this is they’re a fantastic value tire that roadies still love as either a training/ commuter bike tire, using on a turbo trainer (which can be very harsh on tires) or simply to keep a few at home as spares in case of emergencies. They’re not particularly lightweight, but for training and commuting this should not be a major issue as the tires still exude a feeling of quickness.

Vittoria Zaffiro Specifications

Wire bead

Kevlar PRB puncture resistance

28 Threads per inch

Optimal pressure 100-120 PSI

330g per tire

The Vittoria Zaffiro tread pattern helps to clear water and provide excellent grip

The Vittoria Zaffiro tread pattern helps to clear water and provide excellent grip

Vittoria Zaffiro Performance Review

I’ve used these tires extensively over the years on my bikes. From my first road bike over ten years ago to my winter bike I currently use for commuting throughout the summer on some pretty rough roads. I’ve found the Zaffiro tire to be a completely capable tire for commuting. The PRB puncture resistance bead that’s in place seems to give myself relatively few punctures although I expect a flurry of them next week having just written that statement.

Grip is fine in dry and damp conditions with a feeling that your speed isn’t being curtailed by your tires which I’ve had in the past with some inexpensive road tires. Once the roads get damp and wet I’ve had no issues with grip as long as I’ve not pushed into corners at speed. They seem to clear water relatively well through the long cross channels of the tread pattern and the siping of the tread provides predictable performance. Would I race on them? Yes, though compared to more expensive tires the only drawback seem to be wet weather grip and additional rolling weight being around 100 grams more than my chosen race weapon—Vredestein Fortezza Tricomp's, which themselves are not a ‘lightweight’ racing tire.

A German-Engineered Bargain: Schwalbe Lugano

With a file tread central strip and direction-specific-arrowing for water clearance. The Schwalbe Lugano represents a great value cheap road bike tire with reliable performance in wet and dry conditions with its grippy tread pattern to help inspire confidence in your bike handling.

Featuring a kevlar belt for puncture resistance to give you many trouble free rides the Lugano represents excellent value for money.

You can pick up Lugano tires for around 10 dollars across the internet and if you're luck you might pick up even more of a bargain—particularly in the UK where you can pick up the tires online from around £5-6 upwards which represents exceptional value for money.

85-130 PSI pressure range relates to the 700x23c size tire from the Schwalbe USA website

Schwalbe Lugano Specifications

Wire bead

Kevlarguard puncture resistance

50 threads per inch

Optimal tire pressure 85-130 Psi*

Weight 325g

The Schwalbe Lugano tread pattern features a traditional file tread combined with directional arrowing sides

The Schwalbe Lugano tread pattern features a traditional file tread combined with directional arrowing sides

Schwalbe Lugano Performance Review

Having spent a winter riding on some of the rough roads of the UK on these tires I would happily ride them again. Their traditional tread pattern is very similar to that of the Vittoria Open Corsa Evo CX and Vredestein Fortezza tires which are firm favourites at the higher ends of the market.

Performance is predictable in dry conditions. In wet conditions they perform well without allowing you to really nail corners. Grip is adequate for a British winter when you're never really challenging their handling capabilities.

The Schwalbe Lugano is a more than capable tire for road cycling training and commuting purposes at a great price.

Hutchinson Equinox 2 Specifications

Wire bead

Thermoplastic rubber tread for durability and grip

Kevlar puncture belt

66 threads per inch

Max pressure up to 125 psi

Weight 325g

Smooth Tread for Speed on a Budget: Hutchinson Equinox 2

Another great training tire to consider at a low price is the Hutchinson Equinox 2. The tire is billed as a high-performance yet economical training tire, and if you shop around you can pick them up for around 10-15 dollars, so they're certainly economical.

The smooth tread provides excellent road feeling characteristics which makes these tires a great option for road racing or on a spare set of race wheels in case of punctures. Whilst their grip and longevity give good reason to use them for training.

Can You Tell Us Any Bicycle Tires We've Missed Off?

We're always on the lookout for others' opinions. Have you found an awesome budget road cycling tire that you would like to share with the world? We'd love to hear from you!

—Liam Hallam (CyclingFitness on Hubpages)


Liam Hallam (author) from Nottingham UK on July 17, 2013:

That sounds great Tony, im currently Waiting on sending some ultremos back to Schwalbe due to a fault and have some fortezzas to for to my new Swiss Side wheelset.

Veloflex make some awesome tires although I've heard they can be a little flimsy. A former teammate shredded one on a Majorcan descent once a goat walked out in front of him.

Tony Capon from Upminster, Essex, United Kingdom on July 17, 2013:

Liam, Now that Veloflex are producing a 23mm Master tyre, I was able to pick-up a couple for their 22mm tyres for less than £30.00, including posting (from Switzerland). Not an ultra cheap, but good value for money! Tony

Liam Hallam (author) from Nottingham UK on July 15, 2013:

Thanks bill- the main purpose of this article is the value end of the marketplace which tends to rule out the kaliente on price.

I've heard mixed reports on the kalientes. Certainly the objective performance reports don't show them in the best light. My race tire of choice presently is the schwalbe ultremo zx's which are very fast tires I've had minimal puncture issues with.

Bill from Canada on July 15, 2013:

I like Kendas, and the Kaliente is a nice option for between $25 - 35. Nice article, up and useful.