What is a touring bike?
The simple definition is that a touring bike is a bicycle that has been modified to make it more resilient, robust, and capable of carrying enormous loads for travel over long distances. It can aptly be called an endurance bike since it can handle a lot, something that a standard road bike may not be able to deal with.
When you consider the purpose they’re designed for, the one thing that will catch your eye when you look at a touring bicycle are the tires. They’re some of the sturdiest tires in the bike world and are built for extremities.
This is a quick look at some of the best bike touring tires on the market. We’ll explore the good and bad sides of the touring tires and furnish you with a detailed buying guide that’ll help you with your search.
- At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Best Touring Bike Tires
- Top 7 Best Touring Bike Tires – Our Reviews:
- Buying Tires for Touring Bikes: Factors to Consider
- The Bottom Line
At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Best Touring Bike Tires
If you’re in a hurry, you can jump straight into our top picks (these are the touring bike tires that most people buy).
- Schwalbe Marathon Plus Top Pick
- Schwalbe Marathon Mondial Runner-up
- Continental Contact Tires Runner-up
Top 7 Best Touring Bike Tires – Our Reviews:
1. Schwalbe Marathon Plus
The Schwalbe brand is well known worldwide, and every cyclist worth their salt has used these tires at some point in their life.
As expected of a touring bike tire, the Schwalbe Marathon Plus is built for all types of terrain, from paved roads to rough mountain trails. You can always depend on them to come through when you’re in a pinch in the wild.
The Schwalbe Marathon Plus bicycle touring tires are puncture-proof, thanks to a unique technology called Smart-Guard, which involves an elastic 5 mm protective belt. Marathon Plus touring tires simply stretch when they come into contact with a sharp object, keeping the tires safe from such kinds of punctures.
Lastly, they have an adequate weight capacity and are ideal for long-distance cycle touring riders who carry their big bags along.
- Puncture-proof technology
- Good optimal duration time
- Good traction
- Good rolling resistance
- Can handle all terrain
- Quite heavy
- Not so sleek
2. Schwalbe Marathon Mondial
The Schwalbe Marathon Mondial is another offering from the Schwalbe bicycle brand that’s just as good as the Marathon Plus.
They have one of the longest lifespans of bike touring tires with an impressive 20,000 km mileage. You could ride them for years without ever visiting the bike repair shop.
These best bicycle touring tires have a superior puncture protection feature and can handle almost any kind of road they’re put on with ease. The traction on these tires is also off the charts, which explains why they don’t come so cheap.
If you want a touring bike tire that can be pushed to the limits without breaking apart, then the Marathon Mondial is the type that you need.
- Excellent mileage
- Superior puncture resistance
- Solid construction
- Can handle all terrain
- Well known travel tire brands
- Very pricey
3. Continental Contact Tires
The Continental brand has been around for almost 150 years; the fact that they’re still competing with new brands on the market without sweating much is proof that they know what they’re doing.
The Continental Contact tires are a cut above the rest and can take the crown of the top bike touring tire on this list.
These bicycle touring tires are built for efficiency. They have an Aralon 350 cap ply that gives the rider extra handling when they maneuver through muddy and slippery terrain; this means that you can speed through any terrain without needing to slow down to deal with tricky situations, the perfect bike tire for long-distance races.
On top of all that, they have the Sport Plus Tech that offers a firm grip on wet and slippery smooth roads.
- Solid construction
- Built for speed
- Excellent handling
- Very pricey
4. Vittoria Adventure Tech
Vittoria Adventure tires are made by the same company that made headlines with their Revolution tires which were used for a long bike trek in South Africa some years back. They’re heavily accented on the side to provide an extra layer of traction that comes in handy in all kinds of weather and terrains.
On the puncture protection front, the bike tire uses a feature called Solid Shielding that ensures the tire can move over sharp objects without incurring any damage in the process. The fully loaded bicycle tyres also come in various sizes that can fit just about any touring bicycle.
- Puncture shield
- Smooth on asphalt roads
- Reflective stripe for visibility
- Compatible with e-bikes
- Doesn’t perform very well on loose gravel
- Very rigid tires for bicycle touring
5. Kenda Alluvium
Kenda is another world-renowned brand that has established itself as a significant manufacturer of high-quality tires.
The Kenda Alluvium continues that trend, and it’s one of the best long-distance tour tyres on this list. It’s also built for speed and has very decent rolling resistance that makes those long treks smooth with good handling to boot.
The bike touring tires have an excellent construction that ensures they last for very long; it’d be a while before you start thinking of replacements. The travel tour tire also has a reflective band that increases visibility on the road on top of being a tubeless-ready touring tire.
- Low rolling resistance
- Decent speeds
- Durable bicycle tour tire
- Good tread design
- Puncture protection is medium at best
- High price tag
6. Pirelli Cinturato Gravel Tires
Pirelli is another big brand name known for motorbikes and racing cars. They, too, have a tour tyres line exclusive for bikes, and the Pirelli Cinturato is one of their best tires.
The tour tyres are built for those adventurous riders who love to get in touch with nature, dealing with technical hills and narrow forested trails.
This touring tire also has a solid grip powered by the SpeedGRIP Compound that gives amazing traction, allowing riders to easily maintain stability over dirt roads that would make most tires struggle.
Lastly, the Pirelli Cinturato gravel tires have a high resistance to punctures due to the fabric layer that’s combined with the tubeless-ready Aramid material—the ideal product for bicycle tours.
- Reliable puncture shield
- Excellent build
- Best traction
- Limited size options
7. Michelin Protek Cross Max
Michelin is a household name in the car industry, so it may come as a surprise to many that they too have a hand in the mountain bike tire sector. The Michelin Protek Cross Max tour tyres bring about reliable features that have made riders around the world happy for years.
This bike tour tire has an extra 5 mm layer that’s puncture-resistant, giving the bike the needed protection to plow through any kind of terrain no matter how rough it may be. That extra layer also has massive treads to ensure maximum traction that prevents sliding even in rainy bike tours.
- Excellent fluidity
- Can handle loose gravel roads
- Excellent design
- Good tire option for bicycle touring
- Not ideal for super long journeys
- Can be a little heavy
Buying Tires for Touring Bikes: Factors to Consider
When buying a touring bicycle, you have to also spare extra attention to the tires you intend to use. To maximize efficiency and success, the following are some of the factors you should consider beforehand.
The size and tread pattern will tell you how good the traction of the tire is.
Touring bikes are built for long distances and tricky road surfaces; therefore, conventional bicycle tires or a bikepacking tire simply won’t cut it. You want tyre options that’ll be able to plow through a dirt road without sacrificing your velocity.
The higher the puncture resistance, the better your chances of travelers having a smooth and uninterrupted ride.
Puncture resistance doesn’t give you the license to be reckless because the tire will still burst open like others if you ride over a nail. However, a higher resistance means that you can comfortably deal with less potent objects on the road without worrying about getting a flat tire.
Get a bicycle tire with a good grip, decent tire levers, and sidewall protection for a long travel bike tour.
The better the bike tour tire, the higher the price tag and vice versa. However, at times, you may be lucky to get a budget tire that’s cheaper than others but packs some high-end qualities.
If you can afford the expensive ones, the better for you, but always keep your spending within your budget.
The Bottom Line
When dealing with touring bikes, getting the best gear is paramount given the great distances that they cover in a single trip.
When you visit bike shops for purchases, never compromise on touring tires. Get the best information on the tire options on sale, and remember that they have to be in their best shape with a protective rubber compound if you ever want to have a wholesome riding experience.