Can You Put Hybrid Tires on a Road Bike?

On every cyclist’s dream list is a more comfortable ride on wider tires that hug the road, can handle city streets, rough roads, trails, avoid flats, provide a better grip, and absorb your bike’s vibration. Is there such a tire? Yes, hybrid tires. But will it work on road bikes?

Can you put hybrid tires on a road bike? You cannot put any pair of hybrid tires on your road bike. It depends on the frame and if it has enough clearance for larger diameter and width. Hybrids come in many variations for different terrain and are wider than standard tires. They need a broader frame and brakes that fit the tire and reach the rim.

Did you know the average tire lasts around 1,000 to 2,000 miles, but high-quality ones can more than 10,000 miles? Still, it doesn’t matter if you have a beautiful frame with perfectly fitted handles, seat, and grips – if you don’t have the proper tires, it can throw everything off. If you’re looking for the perfect fit, we’ve done the research to help you choose the best hybrid tire.

Can You Put Hybrid Tires on a Road Bike?

Hybrid bike tires have become very popular because of their versatility. A hybrid tire can be fitted on one frame and used for different purposes. However, no matter what’s popular or how much it costs, you should always choose the best tires that will prevent injury and make for an uncomfortable ride.

We’re going to look at the characteristics of a tire and you’ll see that the best hybrid tires have excellent traction and grip and use high-quality rubber to enhance balance and performance. A hybrid tire is wider and needs:

  • A wider frame
  • A fork that fits their girth
  • A wider brake that can fit the tire and reach the rim

Therefore, you cannot put just any pair of hybrid tires on your road bike. Putting hybrid tires on a road bike depends on your bike frame and if it has enough clearance for larger diameter and width.

However, if you have the type of road bike that can benefit from hybrids, we’ll cover the types of tires and treads to choose from, what the numbering system means, and check out the top 14 hybrid tires for 2019.  But first, let’s talk about what makes a hybrid tire different.

The Characteristics of a Hybrid Versus a Road Tire

Your tires are in constant motion and can encounter multiple surfaces on just one ride. If it’s not durable, you’ll end up spending more money on tires over a lifetime of riding. To buy the right ones, you need to understand the difference between standard and hybrid tires, and what that will mean for your specific bike.

There are several components to a tire that you should know about, particularly if you’re relatively new to cycling:

Tire Type A hybrid bike has rims that are best suited for wider tires, and the fork and frame have space for large wheels.
Grip Hybrid tires have a smooth central strip for wet roads, and larger notches or lugs at the edges for sand and loose soil. These notches help you control the bike better
Surface The larger contact surface of a hybrid tire reduces pinch flats and requires less air pressure.
Effect The bigger hybrid tires absorb vibrations, which makes it a more comfortable ride. They also weigh more than road bike tires, and acceleration will feel different. Because they have more resistance, many hybrid tires are not designed for speed.
Diameter To determine the diameter, measure the distance between the two (outer) ends of your tire. A large diameter offers speed at the expense of stability and is determined by the size of the wheel. Hybrid rim sizes range from 16-29” wheels, with the most common being the 26” and 27” and 622mm and 700mm (or 700C and 622C).
Width Slimmer tires don’t perform as well on loose surfaces and offer low resistance. Wider tires have better traction and grip and are perfect for resistance because of better sidewalls and deep tread patterns. The downside they are heavy. Hybrid width runs from 1.95 to 2.35 (thinner tires equals more speed) and 2.35 to 3.0 (for a better grip). The width determines how much resistance versus how much grip you’ll receive.
Size Determining the right tire size comes down to what you desire, speed or stability. A narrower tire will offer lower traction and faster speed, but stability and comfort will be sacrificed.
Weight A hybrid tire should be between 0.8 to 1.5 lbs. Below that might be too light for a hybrid bike but may work for certain road bikes because it’s smoother. Over this range, and it becomes a bulky and uncomfortable ride, but maybe more durable and offers higher resistance.
Bead This is what holds the tube and keeps things in place. It’s located on the sides of the tire and is a line made of thin material that is removable (when inflating the tire). Steel or wire bead hybrid offers better results.
Sidewalls Thicker sidewalls are more resistant to puncturing and are heavier in weight, which affects speed. Gum walls have higher-grade rubber than skin walls and act as a protective layer. Skin walls reduce rolling resistance. Hybrid rubber sidewalls provide greater resistance to punctures and grip when cornering. Depending on the type of sidewall, the speed of the bike will change.
Compounds This is the material that the tire consists of, and some ensure a better grip, while others provide faster speed. Hard tires wear down faster so be sure to ask about the compound when you’re buying. Some brands have compounds that increase durability, speed, and grip, but it is scarce in hybrid tires.
Tube Tube tires are easier to handle, and if there are punctures, the inner tube can be repaired. Tubeless tires have no inner tubes but have a small amount of sealant. They are not weighty so speed isn’t reduced.
Casing The casing is the inner tube layer that protects the internal of the tire. It’s made of nylon and prevents stretching when the tire contacts the ground. Sidewalls are part of the casing.

Different Bikes and the Tires That Work Best

There are so many kinds of tires that it worth highlighting to understand why hybrids may only work for certain types of bikes. There are five types of bikes (including electric bikes), but we’ll only discuss four.

For each bike type, some treads work best. The more tread you have, the better the grip, and the more rolling resistance if offers. Hence, you will have to decide which you need more, speed or grip.

Road Bikes and Tires

  • Slick bike tires are best for the city, commuters, and touring because it’s smooth with no real tread pattern. They work well on asphalt and Slickrock. Some have grooves that help during the rain and when cornering, but it is basically for smooth surfaces. Inverted tread might work in some instances, but it has more tread than road bike tires.
  • Puncture-resistant tires are not as fast as standard tires, but great for commuting. They are made of a durable belt of aramid fibers that protect the inner tube and avoids punctures, or the thread thickness is increased. Foldable tires, soft tires, hard tires, and tubeless will also work.

Depending on the conditions, tubeless tires can ride on low pressure, and get good traction without pinch flats. They are heavy but perform well, have fewer moving parts, and have a lower rolling resistance. They are not the easiest to install or remove, however, and its recommended that you purchase tubeless-ready rims or a conversion kit (for standard rims and tires).

Mountain Bikes and Tires

  • Description: These are designed for rough and off-road riding. They are wide, knobby, and thick for shock absorption, and great for gravel, dirt, or unpaved terrain. They are also heavier and more comfortable off-road than a road bike. The best ones have low rolling resistance and good grip control.
  • Tread: Knobby tires have several knobby tread styles designed for different terrain and trails, including roots, rocky, soft trails, muddy roads, and loose and hardpack conditions.
  • Tire: Studded tires have steel or aluminum studs (with carbide pins) that increase traction, especially when cycling in slippery conditions, snow, and icy terrain.  Inverted, hard, and tubeless ties may work in some instances.

Commuter Bikes and Tires

  • Description: Designed for road riding, they are great on speed and have a good grip because they are wider than regular road tires. It’s more comfortable and considered all season-tires.
  • Tread: Semi-slick tires have a smooth center, little rolling resistance, and thus faster acceleration. It’s a thicker tread that works for surfaces a littler rougher than indoor biking. They have some off-road applications. The inverted tread may also work.
  • Tire: Foldable Tires are as the name implies and can be folded and carried because it has an aramid-fiber bead (instead of a wire bead – the part that holds the tire onto the rim). It is light and popular, but expensive. Puncture-resistance tires, tubeless tires, and soft tires will also work for commuter bikes. 

Cyclocross Bikes and Tires

  • Description: Used on most surfaces it works well in wet, rough, or smooth conditions and has great traction.
  • Tread: Inverted tread tires have less rolling resistance than knobby tires but more than slick tires. They work well on asphalt, flat roads, and rough surfaces and are a good balance between grip rolling control.
  • Tire: Soft or hard tires can work in multiple conditions and not only for cyclocross bikes. Soft tires have a better grip but don’t last long, and hard ones are more durable but less flexible on some surfaces. There are also dual-compound tires which have soft rubber on the exterior, and hard rubber on the interior. It creates a better grip and cornering, but are expensive.

What the Numbers on a Bike Tire Mean

The numbering on the side of the tires is a combination of numbers and sometimes letters. They are marked based on ISO standards and may look something like this: 37-622, 700x35C or 26×1.5. In the 37-622, the first number is the tire width, and the second, the bead diameter.

Road bike tires usually come in a 700×23. The (700) is the size of the tire’s outer diameter (and not the bead). The (23) represents the tire width. If you have a tire with a letter at the end, such as a 700x35C, it denotes the different inner (bead) tire diameter and represents 622mm.

A tire that’s in the 700 series is the same as 700C tires, whether it has a letter at the end or not. If you have a road bike with a 650 series number (i.e., 650a, b, or c), it’s the same at a 27.5” and the letters stand for the inner tire diameters. 

The Top 13 Hybrid Tires in 2019

Hybrid tires can be used for mountain, commuting, trekking, and casual riding. They are useful for multi-purpose tires that come in the 700Cx26” (which is the hybrid wheel size).

They are very versatile and, except for size, have similarities to standard tires. We’ll break it down with so you know what to buy when you’re ready. First, here are some terms for the different kinds of hybrid tires.

  • Road, Touring, and Adventure: These types of tires are called clinchers, and they are common in hybrid and commuter bikes. They’re made with steel wire, and the bead is inside the rubber and held together by an inner tube. They work best on smooth surfaces.
  • Mountain, Cross, Off-road: These tires are very reliable, with good grip and bracing, and perform best on hard paths. Because of the tread’s low-resistance, they tend to roll fast in rough conditions. You can use them for both wet and smooth surfaces, as they are versatile.
  • Commuter, cruiser, urban: This is the most common of the hybrids because it’s smooth, wider than most, and has a good grip for city riding. Combined with a flat tread, it allows for better speed and braking, without forfeiting grip control.

Schwinn Brand

1. Comfort/Hybrid Tire (with Kevlar)

This is a 700Cx38mm tire that has a flat-resistant layer, and the steel bead provides extra protection on rough roads. It is suited for trails and roads.

2. Comfort/Hybrid (with Kevlar)

The tire is a 700×28” comfort ride with high traction. It has a steel layer bead and is great on hard paths and streets.

3. Replacement Hybrid/Comfort

The diameter is 26”x1.95” and can be used for dirt road cycling. It is a resistant build with a durable steel bead and Kevlar center.

Kenda Brand

4. Kross Plus Front/Rear Slick

The Kenda front/rear slick 26”x1.95” tire is made for off-road riding. It also works on wet surfaces, trails, and paved roads. It has high rolling resistance and works well for commuter bikes, as well. It is versatile.

5. Kwest Commuter/Urban/Hybrid

A hybrid tire with a 700Cx25mm diameter. It is a reliable tire that works in sun, dirt, rain, gravel. It also has a tire pattern that dispenses water evenly.

6. Kwest K193 Hybrid

With a diameter of 38 and 700mm by 1.5-27,” it is one of the more affordable Kenda tires. It has fast-rolling treads, with great traction in wet conditions. It has wire beads and works for commuting, cruising, and is designed for comfort.

7. K838 Commuter/Cruiser/Hybrid

With a diameter of 650mmx26.5”, the K838 Slick tires deliver high speed, along with a smooth ride, and without losing traction. It has very little rolling resistance and works well for street biking.

8. Kwick Track K1053 Hybrid

The diameter is 700mmx27,” and is a great commuter tire because it works on flat surfaces while still being reliable on city streets. It has an excellent grip with low rolling resistance, a flat groove tread, and works best in wet conditions. It also has excellent traction and great speed.

Serfas Brand

9. Drifter Tire (with FPS)

This tire works for the city and off-roading cycling, including unpaved roads and works well for long-distance riding. It had a wired bead and can be used with tubeless or tube rims. It’s also shock-absorbent. 26 and 29 series, 1.5-2.0, and 700x32mm.

10. HTK Vida Hybrid (with FPS)

With a diameter of 700mmx27,” this tire has a low-rolling resistance, better grip, great cornering, and it’s durable, making it a multi-sport tire. Performs well in touring and commuting, and is best on pavement and streets.

Other Brands

11. Diamondback Hybrid/Comfort

The Diamondback has a diameter of 622mmx26” for high traction without losing speed. It is not faster on dirt roads, but it has great rolling tread and adheres well in wet conditions. It has a wire bead and can convert a road bike to a commuting or comfort ride with these tires.

12. Sunlite Kwest Hybrid/Touring

It has two diameters options of 700mmx27” and 622mmx26” and works best on city streets and for commuting or touring. This tire offers high speeds without lowering traction. It has a good grip and works well on flat surfaces.

13. Schwalbe Marathon Speed Guard Cross/Hybrid

The diameter is 700mmx27” and is an HS 469 with excellent tread and minimal grooves, is a smooth ride, and very versatile. It is one of the fastest cross tires and offers reliable braking.

Bike Tire Acronyms to Know

TPI

 Beneath the rubber tread of your bike is a durable nylon structure that has threads, which are measured in TPI or threads per inch. Higher thread counts use lighter materials and offer a more comfortable ride. TPI ranges from 60 to 320, and high TPI starts at 120. Low TPI tires are heavier, last longer, and have fewer punctures. 

PSI

It stands for pounds per square inch of air pressure. It is determined by the size of the tire, the weather, the terrain, and the weight of the cyclist. Too soft PSI causes damage to rims and punctures, and too hard PSI decreases grip and is an uncomfortable ride.

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