Wet, gritty and slippery roads are synonymous with this time of year as the winter months and inclement weather close in. You may be focused on buying winter clothing and mudguards to keep warm and dry to make winter riding more comfortable, however have you considered the impact that changing your tyres will make? Summer riding is all about speed and efficiency and lightweight racing tyres are often fitted to lower rolling resistance and grip the warm dry tarmac, however winter riding is a whole different affair. UK conditions can be particularly challenging with grit, water, potholes and even ice gracing our tarmac. Selecting a tyre that provides grip in winter conditions and is more puncture resistant is going to enhance your winter cycling experience and ensure that your ride does not end with you shivering at the side of the road fixing a flat or sliding along the tarmac after a sudden loss of grip.
At Hunt wheels we have created a range of 4 Season wheels specifically designed to withstand the harsh conditions of winter riding and training but what tyres should you fit to suit the conditions? We have a look at 3 tyres that are perfect for winter riding:
Continental's Gatorskin tyre is a good balance of rolling resistance and strong puncture protection. This tyre is great if you want a fast rolling tyre to use throughout the winter. It has a tread moulded into the rubber of the tyre which slightly enhances grip in wetter conditions by allowing water to dissipate. The Poly X breaker layer and Duraskin reinforced side wall provide excellent puncture protection which is especially useful in adverse winter conditions. It is available in 23mm, 25mm and 28mm sizes and we would recommend running 28mm tyres if possible. Running a larger tyres gives a great tyre volume which increases both comfort and grip due to the increased contact area with the road.
The GP4 Season is billed as having exceptional wet weather and winter performance characteristics. It utilises Continental's Vectran Breaker anti puncture layer as well as the Dura skin layer for sidewall protection. It also uses a slightly softer rubber compound specifically designed to grip at lower temperatures and in wet conditions. This makes it an ideal performance tyre for winter use however the pay off of the enhanced grip is a slightly higher rolling resistance. If your main concern is just getting in the miles and not hitting your top average speed then this could be the tyre for you and of course it is available in 23mm, 25mm and the recommended 28mm versions.
Although the Schwalbe Pro One tyre is not specifically a winter tyre it does possess many qualities that make it suitable for winter use. Running a tubeless wheelset and tyre has many advantages that make it suitable for running during winter. Tubeless tyres can be run at much lower pressures without the risk of pinch punctures. This enhances grip and is particularly useful in wet and slippery conditions, you could even run as low as 60psi. Tubeless tyres use a latex sealant to ensure an airtight seal and this has the added benefit of sealing any small punctures that you may pick up. In actual fact you may not even know you’ve puncture such is the sealing efficiency which is invaluable when the temperature drops and it is essential to keep moving to stay warm. The Schwalbe Pro Ones have a particularly low rolling resistance so coupled with the benefits outlined above could be the best all round performance tyre for you to fit.