Best puncture proof tyres

Some people laugh when they hear the words “puncture proof tyres” but then they probably haven’t tried these two tyres.

The Marathon Swabble puncture proof tyres

Schwalbe Marathon Plus is the tyre of choice for the tough bikes used in the hire scheme in France – could it help you on your bike?

Punctures are an annoying part of a cyclists life. For me, they typically occur when I least want them to. On my way to a meeting. In the rain. And when my toolkit is sat, forgotten, on my desk at home. But there are tyres that can drastically reduce the number of punctures.

There is one piece of bad news however, that I better deliver to you now in-case you haven’t already realised. No matter what people say there is no such thing as “100% puncture proof tyres”. That’s like saying McDonalds burgers are “100% meat”. I’ll counteract that with two pieces of good news to make you feel better. These tyres don’t cost that much more than your average tyre and they won’t slow you down noticeably.

Schwalbe Marathon Plus puncture proof tyres

I rode with the Marathon Plus tyres 145+ miles from Birmingham to London along the canal towpaths (considered puncture heaven) getting only a single puncture. Others doing the same route but with different tyres have reported punctures in double figures. Since then they’ve continued to serve me well. I’d highly recommend them.

wiggle Chain Reaction Cycles Amazon  

£24.29

£24.99

£23.45

 

 

Specialized Armadillo all condition tyres

I recently got this email about these puncture proof tyres:

Was staggered by the amount of people in your what is in your bike bag article who carried spare inner tyres, puncture repair kits and CO2 canisters with them every day! Staggered. I cycle along the towpath, through Harlesden (always has glass in road). On average about 30 miles a week. Have had zero punctures in 6 years going from Shepherds Bush – Wembley. Why not do a review of armadillo tyres with the puncture protection? I ride a hybrid with these on. Am probably jinxing it now I realise, but I love them.

Evans      

£24.29

     

 

Puncture proof tyres tip

If you can fit them on your bike the 25mm or 28mm puncture proof tyres will provide greater comfort and a smaller chance of a pinch puncture.

Conclusion

The above two tyres are considered two of the best puncture proof tyres. I’m excited to hear what you guys think. It’s invaluable to have this great community of cyclists here on London Cyclist adding their personal experiences and insights.

Please add a comment below about your thoughts on puncture proof tyres & technologies..

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114 Responses to Best puncture proof tyres

  1. James 29/03/2011 at 2:00 pm #

    I do a Brxiton to Paddington daily comute and the roads at Paddington end are real tyre killers. Started with Specialized all conditions that came on the bike – which were great until the wet weather started and then punctured about every 3 days. Not good for getting to work.
    At the recomendation of the bike shop and a lot of other people, I got some Armadillos. Stiff and a little heavy but worked ok. They were tougher than the originals but still, 3 more flats in the next 350k’s. (which is about 1 every 1.5 weeks). The problems seems to be that the casing is so hard that it collects sharps. Every time I fixed a flat, I had to sit there with pliers and remove a dozen other bits of glass and flint that were slowly making their way deeper in to make the next puncture.

    So – have now moved on to the Marathon plus. Was quite an effort to fit but they are more comfortable, grip well and don’t collect shrapnel along the way. Have already far exceeded my longest previous stretch without a flat.

    I don’t think any tyre will actually be puncture ‘proof’ on the kind of surfaces you find in central london but the Marathon plus seems to be the toughest of what gets recommended.

  2. John 09/04/2011 at 11:12 am #

    I used Marathon Plus tyres until the rear one wore away when I replaced it with a Marathon Extreme to get more grip in the mud. I’ve cycled over broken glass, the odd bolt, hawthorn clippings, all sorts of things that are known causes of punctures, with the Marathon Plus and not had any trouble.

    One day I was riding with a friend who had a puncture caused by a piece of glass so small I could barely even see it. The same day I pulled an inch-long thorn out of my tyre, threw it in the canal and cycled on. No puncture.

    The Extreme has never let me down either but then I haven’t (to my knowledge) cycled over any hawthorn in it. It’s survived lots of broken glass quite happily.

  3. chris 03/05/2011 at 12:18 am #

    well rather than special tyres I use a puncture proof tape that you put in between the tube and the tyre. I have had mine for about 10 years or so – I dont know if u can even get them now. But they work well. In the long run probably cheaper ( well mine good for another 10 years I think) I use semi slick tyres and have ridden on rough dirt tracks and cant remember the last puncture I have had

  4. Leon 12/05/2011 at 12:37 am #

    Currently use a combination of two things: –

    - Slime Tyre liners in both wheels – http://www.evanscycles.com/products/slime/tyre-liner-700c-road-ec006835
    - Front wheel – Standard Specialized Tyre – Tyre that came with the bike (though i may have to change it soon as it is finally looking a bit worn)
    - Back wheel – Specialized Armadillo Tyre – http://www.evanscycles.com/products/specialized/crossroads-armadillo-tyre-ec001833

    and as a result, the amount of punctures I’ve had since owning my bike is 5. 3 of these were before I changed the tyre setup and got the liners, 1 was from some glass that pierced the side of the front tyre, the final and most recent one was in the side again but this time the back tyre which was knackered anyway so replaced with another armadillo.

    I’ve had my bike since 2007 and commute about 100 miles a week to work and back on average, plus other trips.

    So I would recommend getting some tyre liners as well as reinforced tyres and this will dramatically reduce your puncture rate!

  5. KWB47 16/05/2011 at 12:59 pm #

    punctures always happen! whatever. self adhesive patches – any good ones about?

    • Pete 16/05/2011 at 10:53 pm #

      I have tried a few brands and they have never really worked, I’d stick with carry a spare tube and the glue/patch kit as a backup

  6. chris 17/05/2011 at 12:59 am #

    well the slime or equivalent tyre liners are the best answer – as I said before mine, have lasted atleast 10 years so very cost effective. Mine are made of a dense plastic like material that is a bit spongy so sharp objects dont have a firm surface to penetrate.

  7. Tom 03/06/2011 at 5:12 pm #

    I’ve had an armadillo tyre for about 3 months and I think I’ve had 5 punctures. I’m pretty disappointed in their performance so far.

  8. Alfred 19/07/2011 at 6:04 pm #

    first off, must apologise for the invasion, am not from London, i ride on the third world quality roads in rural Gloucestershire. not a fan of Schwalbe tires (last one forcibly removed with aid of saw in minor strop after one too many punctures!!) happier times all round withUltra Gator Skins http://www.evanscycles.com/products/continental/ultra-gator-skins-tyre-ec001745.

    • Andreas 19/07/2011 at 7:09 pm #

      Gator Skins are good too. I run these on one of my bikes

  9. Dave L 21/07/2011 at 1:31 pm #

    I bought Specialized Armadillo all condition tyres after getting fed up of punctures on my daily 6-mile commute between Shepherd’s Bush and Twickenham.
    I’m shocked to see them praised on here, because I WOULDN’T recommend these in the slightest! They’re awful! And before you ask, I pump them up to the recommended pressure level, so I am using them correctly.

    - Pre Armadillo tyres (no puncture-proof protection): averaging 2 punctures a month
    - Armadillo tyres: averaging 4+ punctures a month

    90% of my punctures are coming from small bits of broken glass or sharp stones. The other 10% is more understandably nails.

    Not only do they get punctures, but the rubber is splitting in several places too!

    I’m going to invest in a pair of Schwalbe Marathon Plus puncture proof tyres now and see how I get on with them, fingers crossed!

    • Pete 22/07/2011 at 3:49 am #

      I think you may want to check your rims for any sharp bits, 4 punctures a month seems a bit excessive regardless of tyre.

      I ran either the Armadillo or the Continental Gator riding between Twickenham and Farringdon, about 12mi each way. They would normally last about 3 months or roughly 1000mi before I got a puncture by which time they usually needed replacing anyway

    • dave 22/06/2013 at 11:49 am #

      I’ve heard the Schwalbe marathon PLus were the panacea to punctures – and you’ll find a fanfare of praise. But they are a pig to get on – and in addition to puncture repiar kit, you’ll need a set of tie-wraps or velcro strips in the puncture repair bag! After riding on them for ONE DAY they have already punctured.
      No impressed. I can only imagine those who sing its praisees work for Schwalbe or are paid promoters – or armchair cyclists who pull the bike out once a month for a gentle saunter around the park.
      Pathetic in this day and age there isn;t a better tyre . Its all a con to keep the cycle shops in business. the day they realise they’re cuting off the arm that feedes them by detering many other sfrom cycling will be the day the industry moves on

  10. chris 21/07/2011 at 3:04 pm #

    I think the conclusion to all this is there is no such thing as a puncture proof tyre. I ride a motor bike also and some of the things I pull from the tyres….Bike tyres dont stand a chance. But I do think the insert strip approach is a good balance between cost and effectiveness – So called puncture proof tyres worthy of the name arnt cheap and when worn out are thrown away. The insert strips are much tougher than tyre material – you wouldnt want that on the out side of the tyre? A very hard ride it would be…

  11. Andrew H 04/10/2011 at 1:11 am #

    I searched for a long time for reasonably priced puncture protected tyres and found Michelin Tracker for my mountain bike.
    I have been using them for almost a year(2500+miles)and only had 1 rear puncture in that time,which may have been because i’d let my tyre pressure fall.
    They aren’t great in mud but brilliant for dry trails and city roads,i’ve also used them on thick sheet ice and snow around Richmond Park with no problem.

  12. KWB47 04/10/2011 at 9:56 am #

    After a previously annoying spate of puntures, I have enjoyed a ’4 month punture free’ period ave 2 hrs/dy road/dirt/towpath, running basic Spec’ Armadillo Crossroads with multi patched ‘Wilko’ inners!! However, last week the 50% of the top tread came off rear!!. Tread had dried and cracked. Still managed the 3 miles home (all 16 stone of me) on pavement, fully inflated! Have replaced with a new Crossroads Elite (different (better?)compound)which I had as spare,let’s see how we go. I think all very much down to lady luck, and thoroughly cleaning out ALL the detritus from previous puntures!!

  13. Dave L 04/10/2011 at 10:01 am #

    I am happy to report since my moody rant on 21/07/2011, I have been using Schwalbe Marathon Plus puncture proof tyres and haven’t had a puncture since :-D
    I’d highly recommend them for urban commutes!

    They also have a reflective strip around the sides of the tyre, which will be great for visibility in the looming dark months. For some reason they don’t put this feature on the description.

  14. Rubos 05/10/2011 at 8:41 pm #

    I stand firm with the Specialized Armadillo. Been using them for years now and can count my punctures on one hand. However, I have noticed that this is usually the case when the tyres have become worn and get little slits in them, allowing for invading debris. Little blighters will alwasy try and find a way!

  15. Fitzy 21/10/2011 at 11:11 am #

    I have to say Schwalbe Marathon Plus are great never had a puncture in 4 year on road 80 miles and off road 20 miles a week. Just changed to Panaracer Fire XC Pro Folding Mountain Bike Tyre as wanted some good grip off-roading and I have had 10 punctures in 2 months all in the front tire the rear does not get any what is that all about. On the plus side Panaracer Fire XC Pro are the easiest tyre to fix a puncture on don’t even need tyre levers. Schwalbe Marathon Plus take about 3 levers and a wish and a prayer and lots of effort so it’s a good thing they just keep on going. Does anyone have good experience with an off road tyre with good Grip?

  16. Kieran John 01/12/2011 at 9:52 am #

    Not a London rider, but thought I’d comment anyway. I do an 11 mile daily commute from Castleford to Leeds and get at least a puncture a month running Gator skin tyres. Going to give Armadillo a go thanks to this article and the comments. Cheers guys.

  17. Ken wells 21/02/2012 at 9:26 pm #

    Hey has anyone tried schwalbe black jacks they helped me out no end fast rolling and good in the wet

  18. MikeF 24/04/2012 at 8:57 pm #

    Before I start on this, I’ll mention that I commute in Cambridge… home of the drunk students who smash glasses and bottles everywhere…
    I had schwalbe luganos on my fixed, got punctures about once a month but always repaired with skabs and replaced with new tubes when the patch count was above 2 (I did do time trials on it too). I’m just replacing the tyres, which I’ve had 3 years and must have done over 6000miles on. I got an all-condition armadillo to use on a second commuter, about 6months after I got the luganos… still going strong and never had a puncture on that tyre. That bike has probably done over 2500miles on the ‘dillo, and I don’t need to replace it yet. The thing is I really need to replace the luganos with new tyres, 700x25s preferably, but I really want a yellow/ black, puncture resistant tyre….. any suggestions folks?

  19. Denver 24/04/2012 at 11:28 pm #

    Tips to having less tyre punctures that I’ve found helped:

    1) Always run the tyre at max. inflation.
    This deflects lots of objects that would otherwise cause damage.

    2) Check the tyre routinely for debris. If you know you rode over a glass ‘river’ it’s worth doing this after the ride, as you can stop a ‘sleeping’ puncture waking up later.

    3) Scan the route ahead and avoid potential puncture material.
    Simple enough to do, but, if impossible to avoid – distribute weight by taking it off the tyre going over the offending item – this normally means having to stand on the pedals like riding up/off a kerb. It much lessens the chance of grinding the debris into the tyre bead.

    4) Line the inside of the tyre.
    This tip has saved me *countless* punctures alone.
    You can use a kevlar belt sold especially for this. I’ve found a cut old inner tube to be equally efficient. Just be sure to line it straight & evenly (even glue it in place if needed) so it doesn’t cause problems with the inner tube inflating the tyre.

    5) Use a thick walled tyre.
    I once had 3 punctures in a day, then got a Michelin city and used the techniques listed above as well. I forgot what having a puncture was like for years after.

    …but a new bike with new tyres reminded me! =:)

    I don’t carry a pump any more. Worth investing in a CO2 cartridge. They’re tiny and light, and can generally keep the tyre inflated briefly enough to get back home sans repair from 4 miles with fast pedalling out – if the worst does happen.

  20. Goldsword 06/05/2012 at 2:55 pm #

    There are two totally puncture proof bicycle tyres, Amerityre and Greentyre. These tyres are made of high density polyurethane foam. Halfords used to sell Greentyres many years ago but unfortunately no longer do. But you can buy them online. They are uncomfortable at first until you get used to them as they feel really hard. But those who use narrow tyred road bikes will not notice much difference. They also last much longer than conventional tyres.

  21. Marcus K 29/07/2012 at 8:11 pm #

    I’m a road cyclist in London and got plenty of punctures when I first started using the narrow 23mm tyres. I went through Gatorskins and Specialized Armadillos quickly and almost always in the rain.

    On a friend’s recommendation I tried 23mm Schwalbe Durano Plus tyres and these have been brilliant. I’ve tested them quite a lot in the heavy rain recently and I’ve had one puncture so far (over about 2,000 miles on them). Make sure you get the “Plus” ones as these contain the blue belt of additional puncture protection. Surprisingly they’re not that heavy and roll quite nicely although they did need a bit of ‘persuasion’ shall we say to get them on the wheels initially.

    I won’t be going back to Gatoskins or Armadillos anytime soon and I’m hoping that the Durano Pluses will last 6 months to keep the costs down!

  22. dd 02/08/2012 at 2:18 pm #

    I was sold some specialized armadillo tyres as puncture proof by a bike shop.
    After a bit less than a year the outer covering delaminated and peeled off which was a shock, I though I had done something wrong and bought another tyre but after nine months the same thing happened. I would not buy them again, its just ridiculous. Though I did not get any punctures….

  23. Birk 07/09/2012 at 10:51 am #

    After having read this article I bought the Armadillos. I had close to ten punctures in a month, riding 10 miles to and from work from NW London to Shoreditch. I think I’ll give the Marathon Plus a go. Would not recommend the Armadillos.

  24. Aniello Del Sorbo (anidel) 11/09/2012 at 5:23 pm #

    I mounted the London Marathon Plus on my hybrid. Before them I was getting one/two punctures a day (the old Kenda tyres were worn out after 3000km :D). Haven’t had a single one since. I don’t carry a puncture kit anymore. What a freedom!

    When I got my bike a few months back, my gf changed her old tyres with a new set of Armadillo. She hadn’t had a single puncture since.

    I think they are both great tyres. Of course, your mileage may vary.

    Keep them inflated and still watchout for debris when riding.

  25. Riverdweller 11/10/2012 at 6:17 pm #

    I have done 950 miles over the last 4 months on a pair of Conti Gatorskin Hardshell tyres, 23c.
    I weigh 100Kgs and the roads are rough round here, but I have not had a single puncture.
    Fingers crossed that I don’t now!

  26. Birk 11/10/2012 at 6:26 pm #

    I have tried the Marathon Plus tires for a few weeks now, and I haven’t had a single picture. I can very highly recommend them!

  27. D1 19/10/2012 at 3:32 pm #

    I’ve been on Spec Armadillos for about 3 months (average 60 miles per week) and have had about 18 punctures! I am thoroughly fed up! Reading all your comments has been very helpful and some friends have also recommended the Marathon Plus tyres so I’m going to give the Marathons a go.

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  29. Nick 11/02/2013 at 1:40 pm #

    My bike came with Specialized Armadillo tyres fitted and I had two punctures in the first two weeks. I talked the shop into swapping them for the Armadillo All Condition version which are excellent – only one puncture in 6 months. However the back one has now worn down to zero tread after around 1000 miles. So, my experience is that they are great on punctures but not so great on lifespan.

  30. Birk 12/02/2013 at 9:09 am #

    I have had my Marathon Plus fitted for almost 6 months now and still haven’t had a single puncture. I can’t recommend these enough!

  31. John 26/03/2013 at 6:27 pm #

    Marathon Plus tyres are awesome if you’re after puncture protection above all else. They’re a devil to get on and off but the upside is that you’ll only very rarely have to actually do it.

    I’ve got two of them on my bike (700×32) and in a little under 5000 miles I’ve had one puncture, caused by a half-inch hawthorn spike. Of all the places that could have happened it was on the Kings Road in Chelsea. So I can truthfully say I once had a flat in Chelsea, although sadly that’s as close as I’m ever likely to get to having a flat in Chelsea.

    If you can accept that you will need levers to get them off, you will need levers to put them back on again, and they are heavy and slower rolling than most other tyres you’ll use, they are about as puncture resistant as it’s possible to be.

  32. Rachel B 11/04/2013 at 2:10 pm #

    I’ve just replaced a Specialized Armadillo all condition tyre 700×28 on my back wheel after fitting it just over a year ago. I’ve now had 2 punctures in 3 months and enough is enough. Both times were small shards of glass which really shouldn’t have got through a decent puncture resistant layer. I cycle 60+ miles a week – East to West London and back again, in bus lanes and on the A40 – the number of cuts and holes in the Armadillo is shocking compared to the much older version I have on the front which has a deeper tread. This has served me well with no punctures for almost 4 years – so I’m not sure what they changed to make it so much worse. I am now putting on a Schwalbe marathon plus and will report back on how this compares. I do carry kit with me to change, but as a woman cycling on her own – I don’t really want to stop in the dark or rain on the streets of Kings Cross or Shadwell to change a tyre.

    • Gaz 13/04/2013 at 11:43 am #

      Lets say just over a year is 12 months and 5 weeks. And that you average 80 miles a week. That means you tyre has lasted 4,560 miles. That is pretty darn good for a tyre!
      The rear tyre will always get damaged a lot more than the front. The rear bears most of your weight.

  33. Mark L 13/04/2013 at 10:30 am #

    I have had the Schwalbe Marathon Plus for about 800 miles now with no punctures. Need checking occasionally to remove any embedded glass shards etc.

    Bit heavier than previous tyres but you get used to it (and get a better workout!)

    Read loads about people having a nightmare fitting or removing them – it’s actually quite easy if you push the bead into the middle of the wheel. Using this technique I can remove them with nothing more than 2 tyre levers, and fir them with none.

    This video gives you the gist of it….
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XUFVrl0UT4

  34. Rob Elliott 16/04/2013 at 12:06 pm #

    I currently ride on Continental TourRide’s, they’re puncture resistant, and had to have one replaced after 100 miles, but the replacement has held up for 400 miles so far, which is great going.

    Will need to be replaced soon, as the tread is starting to go, but has plenty life yet.

    New tyres will be installed for the new bike though. :)

  35. John 03/06/2013 at 11:27 pm #

    I ran Marathon Plus tyres on my bike for some 5000-odd miles and only got one puncture. In that time I rode them through broken glass, gravel paths, all the usual debris in London’s cycle lanes, up and down country lanes and everything in between. Ironically the one puncture I did get was from a half-inch hawthorn spike in Chelsea.

    The downside is they are heavy, ride quite hard and are very hard to get on and off. If you do get a puncture you’d better have strong tyre levers because you won’t get them off without tools. Some people say if you get a puncture it’s easier to just buy a new wheel than take the Marathon Plus tyres off.

    Aside from puncture protection the other big plus for the Marathon Plus tyre is that they last a long time. After 5000-odd miles my rear tyre looks like it’s probably got another 5-10k miles in it and the front tyre looks like it’s barely been used. The only reason I swapped them out was because I wanted narrower and lighter tyres, but because I wanted to keep puncture protection I went for Durano Plus. So far after about 700 miles they haven’t given me a single puncture, and they roll faster than the Marathons.

  36. Mark L 05/06/2013 at 6:30 pm #

    Well about a month after my post above I got a flat…. turned out I’d picked up a metal staple in the side of the tyre (about 45 degrees from the horizontal) where the protective band tapers off, I must have picked it up when banked over on a corner.

    In response to the previous post regarding how hard Marathon Plus tyres are to get on or off – do check out the youtube vid I linked to in my previous post, it makes it a hell of a lot easier !!

  37. Nick Foster 25/06/2013 at 8:56 pm #

    Nearly 11,000 miles without a puncture on Marathon Plus. Recently stopped to see what was going bump-bump on my rear wheel, pulled out a one inch nail. They are heavy though and I know some people hate ‘em for the clumsy ride quality, but I’m just a commuter.

  38. teedub 01/07/2013 at 4:52 pm #

    Put a pair of Conti Gators on my Dawes Century just coming to 900 miles on Liverpool roads and puncture free despite the best efforts of the broken beer glass/bottle and smashed bus shelter fragments en route. Have a mate who uses Slime band between tyre and tube and has remained puncture free for a couple of years.

  39. Sophia 20/08/2013 at 11:16 am #

    This has prob been mentioned above, but is there an alternative for road bikes? I’m about to get a Triban 3 road bicycle from Decathlon and want to stop my tires from exploding along the way.

  40. Adrian Boliston 04/09/2013 at 9:02 pm #

    I think a lot depends on being really aware of the surface you are cycling on. I’m always scanning the surface ahead for nasty looking things like bits of hedge clipping or broken glass. Today I came across a few hedge clippings in the road but luckily previous vehicles had cleared a narrow bit of tarmac with almost no clippings so I carefully tracked this bit of road. If it was freshly cut clippings I’d get off and push rather than risk riding straight over them.

  41. Simon Wallace 26/09/2013 at 1:10 pm #

    I have had six punctures in the last seven days of cycling. I can’t find anything which is wrong with my tyre or wheel.

    I was wondering whether anyone has tried the air free tyres which you can buy at http://www.acycles.co.uk/shopping_cart.html

    Sounds like a great idea to me.

    I might try it.

    Simon

  42. David 15/01/2014 at 10:16 am #

    I used to ride on ordinary Continental tyres on my LHT. On one tour, I got seven punctures in one day.

    Switched to Marathon Plus, and I did an entire Calais – Amsterdam trip, without a single problem.

  43. Mark L 15/01/2014 at 12:37 pm #

    Been running the Marathon Plus tyres for over a year now – and apart from the puncture I mentioned above (staple in the sidewall) I’ve had no punctures in approx. 2300 miles.

    They’re showing very little wear too.

  44. Steve 24/01/2014 at 7:42 am #

    I commute in Leeds everyday, I’ve been using the Specialized AC for less than a month now and already had a puncture. Glass, right in the centre of the tyre, I’m hoping it was a one off as I was repairing punctures almost weekly in the latter months of last year…

  45. Montyz 04/07/2014 at 10:30 am #

    I have used Swalbe M+ for the past 3yrs now (1x puncture). Used normal Swalbe before that and pretty lucky to only have had 2x punctures with those albeit in quick succession. A tip I read a while back, if using more ‘puncture-resistant’ tyres or bands, is to always ride through any glass; thorns etcetera (if you see them), upright. This is because the protection does not cover the side-walls.

  46. Mrs janet groves 04/07/2014 at 7:22 pm #

    Schwalbe lugano 25mm tyres. No punctures
    I do 100 miles a week and will buy them again

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