What are the best puncture resistant bike tyres?

Ask one hundred cyclists what the best puncture resistant bike tyre is and you may not get a hundred different answers but you will soon wish you'd asked about something less contentious such as Brexit or immigration. One person's "bullet proof" is another's "wet tissue paper". There are simply too many variables to make an objective judgement. Tyre pressure, rider weight, road surface, even air temperature all have an impact. So how do you decide which tyre to buy if fixing punctures at the side of the road is not your idea of fun? Let's consider the options.

Heavier Tyres

The traditional remedy to the problem of punctures has always been to fit heavier tyres. Harder rubber is more difficult to penetrate. Yes, it weighs more and may have the grip of a bar of soap when it rains, but if you're just using your bike to get from A to B then the weight penalty is worth it. Probably the best known heavy duty tyre is the Schwalbe Marathon Plus. As well as using thicker rubber, the Marathon Plus adds a 5mm thick layer of foam known as SmartGuardTM beneath the tread. With all this protection the 32mm wide version of the Marathon Plus weighs in at 810g. About 50% more than a regular tyre and tube. And despite its durability and SmartGuardTM the Marathon Plus is still not 100% puncture proof.

Another drawback with heavier tyres is that they often have a wire bead. The manufacturer will tell you that this is more durable. What they won't tell you is that fitting wire bead tyres - even for experienced bicycle mechanics - should not be done in the vicinity of small children or nuns. Swearing will ensue. Lots of swearing. The lack of flexibility that comes with wire beads means snapped tyre levers, bleeding fingers, and language that would make a docker blush are all part of the process.

Tannus Armour Inserts

Tannus Armour Tyre Insert

Like Schwalbe's SmartGuardTM, Tannus Armour inserts add an extra layer of puncture protection beneath the tread of your regular tyre. Unlike the 5mm of SmartGuardTM, Tannus Armour provides a whopping 15mm of protection. That's enough to see off those pesky Autumn hedge clippings, broken glass, or even a rusty nail. An added bonus of Tannus Armour is that the protection extends down the side of the tyre, offering 2mm of protection at the side. So even if you suffer a nasty side slash, you'll more likely than not get to where you're going. Even better, Tannus Armour only adds 200g to a regular 32mm tyre and tube set up. That's about a pound lighter across both wheels. Even if performance isn't on your agenda, you'll notice the difference (in a good way).

Rather than compromise on grip during the colder months, Tannus Armour lets you use your favourite grippy tyres all year round. Armour stops around 90% of punctures and is available for tyres that use an inner tube and for tubeless tyres. You can use it on your road bike, folding bike, mountain bike, gravel bike, even a wheelchair.



Tannus Airless Tyres

How's this for lateral thinking: if your tyre doesn't contain air then it can't be punctured. That's the idea behind Tannus Airless tyres. Unlike the solid rubber tyres that used to adorn kids' bikes in years gone by, Tannus Airless tyres use a special polymer called Aither which flexes just like a regular tyre and tube. It's the ultimate commuting tyre since even if you were to drive a screw through it from side to side you'd still be able to ride it. Tannus Airless tyres are also guaranteed to last 5,000 miles. That's a lot of commutes to work or even a decent winter mileage for serious club cyclists. Tannus Airless tyres are available to fit road bikes, folding bikes (including Bromptons), as well as children's bikes.