puncture resistance

What Is The Most Puncture Resistant Touring Tyre? Lab Testing Results

Punctures are the bane of a cyclist’s existence. Often unexpected, punctures seem to always stop you in your tracks in the least convenient of places. We can combat most punctures by using heavy/slow touring tyres. But is there an all-around touring tyre that is light, fast and puncture resistant?

The website Bicycle Rolling Resistance carries out all kinds of lab tests on bike tyres. They focus mostly on rolling resistance but also conduct a tyre tread and sidewall puncture test. We are fortunate enough to have data available of 19 different touring tyre models to examine.

Let’s take a look at the most puncture resistant touring tyres, and weigh them up against the fastest rolling tyres.

puncture resistant

The Test

The Bicycle Rolling Resistance team position a 1 mm thick needle over the centre of the tyre tread and sidewall (not at the same time). They then add weights to the needle until the tyre punctures. To ensure that the results are consistent, they conduct this test five times per tyre tread and sidewall. A score of 10 means it will take twice as much force to puncture a tyre when compared to a score of 5.

Tyre Tread Results:
Vittoria Randonneur – 21
Continental Top Contact Winter II – 17
Continental Top Contact II – 16
Schwalbe Marathon Racer – 16
Continental E.Contact – 16
Schwalbe Marathon Supreme – 15
Schwalbe Marathon – 14
Schwalbe Energizer Plus – 14
Schwalbe Marathon Mondial – 14
Schwalbe Marathon Almotion – 13
Continental Sport Contact II – 13
Continental City Ride II – 13
Schwalbe Marathon Plus – 13
Vredestein Perfect-E – 13
Vittoria Voyager Hyper – 12
Schwalbe Kojak – 12
Continental Contact II – 11
CST E-Series Reach – 10
Compass Bon John Pass – 8

The Vittoria Randonneur required almost 3x the force to puncture than the lowest performing tyre, the Compass Bon John Pass. Continental had three of their tyres in the top five, suggesting that their protection belts are very effective.

Tyre Sidewall Results:
Continental E.Contact – 8
Continental Contact II – 7
Vittoria Voyager Hyper – 6
CST E-Series Reach – 6
Continental Top Contact II – 6
Continental City Ride II – 6
Schwalbe Marathon Mondial – 6
Schwalbe Marathon Almotion – 5
Continental Sport Contact II – 5
Schwalbe Marathon – 5
Schwalbe Marathon Plus – 5
Continental Top Contact Winter II – 5
Schwalbe Marathon Supreme – 4
Schwalbe Energizer Plus – 4
Schwalbe Marathon Racer – 4
Vredestein Perfect-E – 4
Vittoria Randonneur – 4
Schwalbe Kojak – 3
Compass Bon John Pass – 3

The Continental E.Contact required almost 3x the force to puncture than the lowest performing tyres. While the Vittoria Randonneur was at the top of the list for tread resistance, it was bumped right down the bottom of this test. Continental again had many tyres perform well in this test.

rolling resistance

Puncture Factor

Bicycle Rolling Resistance uses a metric that they call ‘Puncture Factor’. This is the puncture resistance score above, multiplied by the tyre thickness. This probably gives a more accurate depiction of resistance, as thicker tyres tend to prevent more punctures by extending the physical distance debris has to travel to puncture a tyre.

Tyre Tread Puncture Factor Results:
Vittoria Randonneur – 120
Schwalbe Marathon Plus – 117
Continental E.Contact – 106
Schwalbe Marathon – 102
Schwalbe Energizer Plus – 98
Continental Top Contact Winter II – 94
Schwalbe Marathon Almotion – 86
Schwalbe Marathon Mondial – 85
Schwalbe Marathon Supreme – 75
Schwalbe Marathon Racer – 74
Continental City Ride II – 72
Continental Top Contact II – 70
Vredestein Perfect-E – 62
Continental Sport Contact II – 55
Schwalbe Kojak – 47
Continental Contact II – 46
CST E-Series Reach – 44
Vittoria Voyager Hyper – 40
Compass Bon John Pass – 23

The Vittoria Randonneur, with its amazing needle score, still came out on top. The Schwalbe Marathon Plus was breathing down its neck thanks to its 9mm thick tread. It’s interesting to note that Schwalbe tyres score better when we factor in tyre thickness (three of their tyres are in the top-five).

Tyre Sidewall Puncture Factor Results:
Continental E.Contact – 15
Continental Contact II – 14
CST E-Series Reach – 11
Continental City Ride II – 11
Schwalbe Marathon – 8
Schwalbe Marathon Plus – 8
Schwalbe Marathon Mondial – 7
Schwalbe Energizer Plus – 6
Continental Top Contact II – 6
Vredestein Perfect-E – 6
Schwalbe Marathon Almotion – 5
Vittoria Voyager Hyper – 5
Continental Sport Contact II – 5
Continental Top Contact Winter II – 4
Vittoria Randonneur – 4
Schwalbe Marathon Supreme – 3
Schwalbe Marathon Racer – 3
Schwalbe Kojak – 2
Compass Bon John Pass – 2

The Continental E.Contact again tested best in terms of sidewall protection. This can be attributed to the fact they’re designed for high-speed electric bikes which require a stiff sidewall casing for imperfections in the road. The Continental Contact II and City Ride II also scored particularly well for the sidewall test.

rolling resistance

Puncture Resistance vs. Rolling Resistance

While the Vittoria Randonneur and Continental E.Contact tyres took out the two puncture resistance tests, they have also shown to be the slowest touring tyres available out of the 19 tested.

In my article about tyre rolling resistance, I show you how using high rolling resistance tyres can actually slow down your speed more than carrying 30kg (66lbs) extra. That’s a lot, so it got me thinking…

By ranking both the puncture resistance and rolling resistance test scores, then combining those rankings together, I could get an idea of what was best overall.

Combined Puncture and Rolling Resistance Scores Based On Ranking:
1. Schwalbe Marathon Almotion – 7th Puncture / 1st Rolling
2. Schwalbe Marathon – 3rd Puncture / 6th Rolling
03. Schwalbe Energizer Plus – 5th Puncture / 7th Rolling
=3. Schwalbe Marathon Supreme – 8th Puncture / 4th Rolling
04. Vittoria Voyager Hyper – 12th Puncture / 2nd Rolling
05. Schwalbe Marathon Plus – 2nd Puncture / 14th Rolling
=5. Continental Sport Contact II – 11th Puncture / 5th Rolling
=5. Compass Bon John Pass – 13th Puncture / 3rd Rolling
06. Continental Top Contact II – 8th Puncture / 9th Rolling
07. CST E-Series Reach – 10th Puncture / 8th Rolling
08. Continental E.Contact – 1st Puncture / 19th Rolling
=8. Continental City Ride II – 7th Puncture / 13th Rolling
=8. Continental Contact II – 8th Puncture / 10th Rolling
=8. Schwalbe Marathon Racer – 9th Puncture / 11th Rolling
09. Schwalbe Marathon Mondial – 6th Puncture / 15th Rolling
10. Vittoria Randonneur – 4th Puncture / 18th Rolling
11. Schwalbe Kojak – 12th Puncture / 12th Rolling
12. Vredestein Perfect-E – 9th Puncture / 16th Rolling
13. Continental Top Contact Winter II – 10th Puncture / 17th Rolling

To help visualise some combined puncture/rolling resistance rankings, here are the scores displayed on a scatter chart.

The Best Overall Touring Tyres

The Schwalbe Marathon Almotion is the combined rolling/resistance test winner, followed closely by the Schwalbe Marathon.

Picking between them is a matter of prioritising speed or puncture resistance. If you’re after a lightweight tyre, the Schwalbe Marathon Supreme is ~30% lighter than the Marathon Almotion as well as being almost as puncture-resistant and fast.

Lake Hume

Choosing Your Puncture Resistant Touring Tyres

If you never want to think about punctures again, I’d suggest using:
Vittoria Randonneur ($30)
Schwalbe Marathon Plus
– Continental E.Contact

BUT… if you’re keen to reduce your rolling resistance but don’t want to compromise too much on protection – it’s hard to look past the Schwalbe Marathon ($33). These are the most common touring tyres for a reason.

If rolling resistance is your priority (the best touring tyres can save you 1-2km/h) then you’ll want to get your hands on some Schwalbe Almotion tyres ($54). I’ve been using a set for over 2000km now and haven’t yet had a puncture. Plus they feel really fast under my loaded touring bike.

Wanna help support CyclingAbout? Grab some tyres from Amazon by using the links above & CyclingAbout gets a tiny bit from each sale. No cost to you, easy as pie!

Have You Read About Touring Tyre Rolling Resistance Yet?

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