If, like many riders in the UK - you plan on riding throughout the colder and wetter winter months in the UK - whether that’s to maintain fitness levels, or as part of needing to ride to get around, the right equipment can make a massive difference in how much you can enjoy, and tolerate riding around in the winter months, on both road bikes and mountain bikes alike.
Do Winter Road Bike Tyres make a Difference?
Across any type of vehicle, tyres are massively important with regards to grip and handling. On a road bike, tyres are responsible for how the bike handles, the amount of grip the bike has, how quick the bike can accelerate as well as how effectively the bike brakes.
During the winter months, the demand on tyres massively increases - with tyres having to deal with wet weather as well as ice, and even snow and slush on the roads, which can make progress incredibly difficult.
Winter tyres have been specifically designed for poor weather conditions, and to protect the tyre from punctures during the winter months (caused by greater debris on the roads) winter tyres usually have greater puncture protection and resistance.
Winter Mountain Bike Tyre Design
Although this guide is mainly about road bike tyres, it is worth mentioning MTB tyres too. Normal mountain bike tyres can really struggle in winter conditions, and the design of winter mountain bike tyres includes deeper and wider tread patterns, as well as some options to add spikes or studs into the tyre itself. There is not just a blanket winter mountain bike tyre choice, there’s versions which are designed to carve through thick and soft mud - whilst others have been designed to travel across harder packed trails, such as fire roads in winter weather.
When purchasing mountain bike tyres, it’s important to remember that the more aggressive the tread pattern - the slower the bike will be, meaning it takes more effort to get up to top speed. This fact whilst true, has been negated somewhat by tyre manufacturers placing greater amounts of tread on the sides of the tread pattern, meaning that the tread is only used when in deep mud and similar conditions.
Different tread compounds are also used across different winter MTB tyres. The compound of tyres is measured on a Durometer scale - with 70 being hard tyres, softer tyres which provide a ‘stickier’ level of grip are most commonly 50 durometer. 60 is a good combination for using across winter.
Tyre width is another choice that riders need to make - with wider tyres providing increased stability when cornering and providing a more stable feel. Thinner tyres do a better job of cutting through tricky conditions.
Front and back tyres are often different widths on many mountain bikes, with front tyres being wider to accommodate the turning and steering tasks they have to do - and the rear tyre being thinner to cut through mud and grime easier.
Winter Road Bike Tyre Design
At the other end of the scale - winter road bike tyres provide a smooth surface which is designed to grip really well on wet tarmac. The thin profile of these tyres allows them to cut through puddles and wet areas, so there’s no need for complex water dispersing tread. There’s not a huge amount of difference in tread design between summer and winter road bike tyres, but there’s extra puncture protection and a tougher tyre compound.
As discussed above, a tough tyre is one of the most important things you can buy for your road bike over winter. During the winter months, rain washes a wide range of rubbish and debris onto the road, including glass and other bits of debris which can cause a puncture. Winter tyres have been reinforced using a massive array of different technology, including a more robust tyre thread, extra strengthening in the sidewalls of the tyre, as well as puncture protection systems inside of the tyre.
There are some downsides to these attributes, with a heavier tyre providing more rolling resistance - but the ability for these tyres to keep you going in poor weather is the most important performance indicator.
Winter tyres are usually wider than summer tyres as well - providing extra levels of grip and stability.
Winter Bike Tyres Online
You can view the full range of bike tyres we have for sale here, and you can also search our site for the best winter tyres for your bike and riding requirements. As always, if you have any questions about which tyre is right for your bike - get in touch and we will be happy to provide expert advice.