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




Specialized Armadillo All Condition Tyres – Puncture Resistant 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.



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.


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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130 Responses to Best Puncture Proof Tyres

  1. Phil 27/09/2010 at 9:27 am #

    The Specialized Armadillos are very good tyres, I ran them for about six months with no puncture. I would say though that the grip isn’t fantastic. Am running some Continental GPs at the moment and the difference is very noticeable. Not sure if it’s due to the rubber compound or the profile of the tyre, but the GPs are far more rounded than the armadillos.

    The GPs supposedly have some kind of puncture proof layer too, which seems to be working so far, albeit I’ve only been running them for about three months.

  2. markbikeslondon 27/09/2010 at 9:27 am #

    I’m with you on the Marathon Plus tyres – have these on my bike and have never (touch wood) so far had a puncture and I tend to put my bike through the ringer a bit on these. They also have nice reflective banding round the outside of the tube which lights you up like a Christmas tree at junctions. I’m never going back to another tyre brand, that’s how much I recommend them.

    • Andreas 27/09/2010 at 12:12 pm #

      Think they are a slightly better option out of the two – though there is no doubt the Armadillo are more puncture proof.

  3. Hox 27/09/2010 at 9:29 am #

    The right tyre is always a personal choice. If you’ve had a good experience on a set made by a manufacturer you are unlikely to shift from it.

  4. Kirses 27/09/2010 at 9:30 am #

    Bontrager hardcase! They havent elimnated punctures altogether but has definitely decreased. I used to have Specialized armadillos but found them impossible to get off the wheel – really stiff, and a litel heavy

    • Andreas 27/09/2010 at 12:13 pm #

      A few people have reported that problem with puncture proof tyres that you can’t get them off without some ridiculous effort!

      • Tim 27/09/2010 at 12:24 pm #

        Not found getting them off a problem but getting them back on has required a big effort. OK at home or in the workshop but not much fun on the Strand!

      • benji 28/09/2010 at 10:37 pm #

        The kevlar bead versions are trivial to get off. The wire bead are more of a pain, until you get the right technique.

    • Cait 01/10/2010 at 4:22 pm #

      I would just like to say that my bontrager front tyre has been on the bike since mid-2008 and in that time the only punctures I have ever had have been because the innertube rubber degraded too much over time, and started to burst when pumped up.

      It looks like it’s been in a war, is ripped to shreds almost but is still shugging along.

      Apex in Clapham fitted an Armadillo on the back and I haven’t had a puncture in the year since they did, and I’ve done nearly 2k this year (so far).

      I was given a michelin one on the back wheel by a different bike shop and it was terrible, frankly. As bad as if I had a normal tyre.

      I’m such a fan of these tyres, you’d be nuts not to have a pair – they only cost a tenner extra, yet they save you over time hours, and hours – or imagine if you took your bike to a bike shop every time you had a puncture! How much money would that extra tenner have saved?

  5. Pete 27/09/2010 at 9:32 am #

    I have not tried the Marathon Plus but have used other Schwable tyres and in general they are really good.

    For commuting I use either the Armadillo or the Continental Gator and I find them both bullet-proof on the London Roads. I do roughly 110 miles commuting a week and get 4 months out of either tyre, When I do get a puncture it usually means I have worn them down and they need replacing.

    From others I know with the Marathon Plus, the advantage they would have over the Armadillo or Gator is they have a bit more grip and that would be good for going into the winter months

  6. Gaz 27/09/2010 at 9:37 am #

    Greentyre? A tyre without air = no punctures. Not sure how comfortable they are to ride.

    • Andreas 27/09/2010 at 1:15 pm #

      I came across them as good puncture proof tyres but didn’t mention them due to the fact that I think they won’t be very comfortable to ride. Checkout the comment by Tim also below on this.

  7. Mike 27/09/2010 at 9:39 am #

    Vittoria Randonneurs are my choice.

    Brick Lane Bikes stock them at £20 a pop as well, at least that’s what they cost last time I bought a set.

    I’ve done 2000 miles through the glass-strewn roads of North and East London and not had one puncture since I fitted them. Like the Schwalbes they have a reflective strip around the outside. Agree about Armadillos being a PITA to get on and off.

    I thought the McDonald’s thing was a bit of a cheap shot. Regardless of what you think about them as a company, the burgers are 100% beef, apart from the seasoning. Also, they aren’t shy about using the lawyers.

    • Andreas 27/09/2010 at 1:16 pm #

      Not heard of these Vittoria tyres before but thanks for recommending! (I see in the comments a few people have mentioned them as being good puncture resistant tyres)

  8. Grant 27/09/2010 at 9:49 am #

    Yup, I run the Armadillo’s on the my commuter and have had no punctures after almost 6 months. They’re slightly on the heavy side and as a result don’t roll as well as other tyres, but that pay off is enough for me to enjoy puncture free commuting, especially with winter on it’s way…

  9. Tim 27/09/2010 at 10:07 am #

    I have moved to the schwalbe Marathon Plus tryes a few months ago after reading very good reviews on various sites they are excellent and ride very well with no noticeable difference. After a few months no punctures and I do a 16 mile round commute each day often partly on tow paths along the Regent Canal.

    The one thing users may wish to consider that they are very tight to get on thumbs are not enough and tyre levers need to be used with care to prevent catching the inner tube. There is a fantastic tool however called the Simson tyre mate that makes getting really tight tyres on. This can be carried in a toolkit.

    I wouldn’t wish to try mending a puncture on a cold freezing tow path without a suitable tool to help and as you say Andreas there is no such thing as a puncture proof tyre. An earlier poster mentioned Greentyres these are solid rubber and yes will not get a puncture. However they will give you a very difficult ride which will vibrate your arms off on a London commute.

  10. Ben Brown 27/09/2010 at 10:08 am #

    I totally back Mike as a fan and user of the Vittoria randonneur. Very reliable tough and grippy and good price. People who don’t use highly puncture resistant tyres are just causing themselves a lot of heartache. You can buy all styles of puncture resistant tyres now and they really are worth using.

  11. Andy 27/09/2010 at 10:14 am #

    I got some cheap kevlar mountain bike tyres from Asda for about a tenner each and had no punctures since using them, including on road, off road, tow paths, bridleways etc.

  12. Tim 27/09/2010 at 10:15 am #

    Here is the link that I mentioned to get these difficult to fit tyres on.

  13. LTMWB 27/09/2010 at 10:30 am #

    Thanks for the info Andreas very useful

  14. Pete 27/09/2010 at 10:36 am #

    Another tyre to add to the mix is the Vittoria Rubino Pro.

    I used them during my recent John O’Groats to Lands End ride (1100mi) and did not get a puncture. They are really fast and good cornering but I think they might be a bit on the soft side for commuting, more a good training tyre

  15. Philip 27/09/2010 at 10:41 am #

    I had the Schwalbe Marathon fitted on my new Brompton as I’d also heard so many reports of them being good. Six months of urban commuting and no probs to date (famous last words :- )). The Brompton catalogue said they would be noticeably slower than the default option tyre, but I’ve noticed no difference. And they have excellent grip, which is a bit iffy on the standard tyre. (PS Andreas another really useful topic / discussion thread. Always rely on you for practical subjects! Great work).

    • Andreas 27/09/2010 at 12:16 pm #

      Thanks Philip, I’ve been meaning to write about puncture proof tyres for a while now

  16. Paul K 27/09/2010 at 10:49 am #

    I also use Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres to commute 18-20 miles per day. So far only one puncture (industrial staple) in 4000 miles. These were a good upgrade from my previous Continental Travel Contact tyres that eventually punctured when glass worked its way through.

    Also, during the icy weather early this year I was very impressed with their grip – better than my shoes, but no substitute for studded ice tyres!

  17. Dave Escandell 27/09/2010 at 10:50 am #

    Having suffered a puncture this morning, and not having my full ‘winter’ kit with me yet, this topic has come just in time for me to get out at lunchtime and make the right purchase.

    Thanks all.

  18. Graham Ashton 27/09/2010 at 10:51 am #

    I agree with both recommendations, and run Marathon Plus tyres on my Bromptons and 23mm Armadillos on my road bike. Neither have ever punctured. Both can be hard to get on and off (it’s especially difficult on small wheels) but I got a pair of long steel workshop tyre levers from SJS Cycles and haven’t looked back.

    I’m about to start using Panaracer Paselas on my new bike, as they have good puncture protection and low rolling resistance (due to thinner side walls). You need to keep them inflated properly or the side walls suffer, but you should be doing that anyway. My Dad has used them exclusively when touring for some years and they haven’t picked up any punctures. They also come in white…

  19. Kerena 27/09/2010 at 11:58 am #

    I currently have one of each of those – the Schwalbe on the front & the Armadillo on the back. Both seem to be doing pretty well at the moment – I too cycle along a glass strewn canal every day! The only slight downside to the Armadillo is that it doesn’t grip quite so well in the wet. I probably ought to swap them over…

  20. Emstro 27/09/2010 at 12:04 pm #

    I have the Marathon + on my cyclocross, and in a year of almost-daily riding, I’ve not had a single puncture. They’re a masterpiece of German engineering.

  21. SM North London 27/09/2010 at 12:10 pm #

    hmmm, I wasn’t carrying an inner tube or even a repair kit last week when I got my first puncture, so had to wait until a bike shop on my route opened.

    So getting some new tyres that are less susceptible are definitely on my wish list.

    I do now carry a spare inner with me, but not changed one before 😛

    • Tim 27/09/2010 at 12:49 pm #

      Always good to attempt your first few goes at home, that cup of tea reduces the stress levels but after a few goes as with most things it become second nature. These puncture resistant tyres are harder than usual to take off and on, but on the other hand you need to do so much less often.

  22. Hox 27/09/2010 at 1:08 pm #

    I should add I’ve just bought a pair of Maxxis Re-Fuse tyres. Great grip, courier recommended as being puncture proof

  23. philup Bentley 27/09/2010 at 2:01 pm #

    Yeah have run armidillos for over a year on my rear tire on my road bike and continental gator skins on my front. Both have been excellent with no punctures during that time. I ride about 40 km a week on them along a foot/towpath with no probs.

    Keep up the good work on the blog

    • Andreas 28/09/2010 at 2:09 pm #

      Any word on the “roll-ability” i.e. do you feel a lot of resistance from them compared to normal tyres?

  24. Neil 27/09/2010 at 4:25 pm #

    I put some marathons on my hybrid commuter when we had loads of rain a few weeks ago. They were much grippier in the wet than my Conti Duraskins and hardly slowed me down at all, so I left them on knowing winter was just around the corner. I’ve had one puncture in about 500 miles of riding which is less than I got on the Contis, so not too bad really. I’ve ridden over plenty of broken glass without problems too.

    I don’t actually mind getting the odd punture on the way to work. It gives me a good excuse for being late, and there’s something satisfying about fixing a puncture en route and carrying on with the ride. To save time I bung on a new tube and fix the punctured one when I get to work – so it’s ready to use in case I get another flat on the way home.

  25. Iain 27/09/2010 at 4:37 pm #

    Fitted marathon + to my hybrid last year and 4000 miles later had to replace one due to a cut in the tyre (no idea of the cause, no puncture, just a cut in the tread that caused some strange handling) Not 1 puncture in a year, heck it was only in the last few months that I put any extra air in them! (not reccomended to not check them anything like that often!) There’s not that much wear on the remaining marathon, indeed the boggo tyre put on as a stop-gap is deterioating quickly while the marathon goes on and on! Performance wise they handle well, certainly grippier than the “standard” tyres Halfords put on the bike (one of which is now back on it and destined for replacement soon) Wet weather performance is great – although invest in mudguards and overshoes, as they lift a lot of water (first run in the wet resulted in flooded trainers after a few miles!) They’re the sort of tyres that in a way make you fell invincible, we’ve all ran over a bit of tree on a trail, but with marathons you feel you can clatter over anything and keep going.

    Have to say the ride is rather harsh, although if the roads had a decent surface it wouldn’t be as bad. The thing I don’t understand is why puncture resistant tyres/tubes aren’t fitted as standard (anyone would think the shops want us to get punctures…) When you add two marathons and two slime tubes to the cost of a bike it adds up (especially if it’s for kids, but a bike with flat tyres is going to spend most of it’s life in the shed)

  26. John 27/09/2010 at 6:21 pm #

    Marathon plus do seem to be invincible, I have had them on 3 bikes now and apart from a pinch flat have never had a puncture even though the bike is used 6 to 7 days a week and clocks up about 1500 miles per year.
    They do a good job in the winter ice so long as you take it a bit slower as well.
    I used the last of my patches that I have carried for about 5 years (just habit) up the other week in work mending a friends puncture!
    But it seems only a few are prepared to pay for new tyres once they have bought the bike and all so often I hear ‘I would ride my bike to work but it has a flat tyre’

  27. Henz 27/09/2010 at 6:24 pm #

    It seems that Brompton now ship their bikes with tyres which “almost eliminate punctures”, and count the Schwalbe as an upgrade. I know a couple of people running on standard Brompton tyres for daily commutes with only very occasional punctures.

    That said I have done a reasonably regular, if short, commute for the last 3 years on cheap-o tyres without a single puncture.

    The Schwalbe sound like a definite consideration for a replacement, especially when the reflective sidewalls are taken into account. Thanks for the heads up.

  28. Wozzeur 27/09/2010 at 11:26 pm #

    I have the Continental City Contact tyres fitted to my commuter and got my first punture today. Not bad going after 1500 miles at about 100 miles a week through war torn South East London. Interested in the Schwables now though.

  29. Ol 28/09/2010 at 8:24 am #

    Armadillos all the way! Slightly heavier, slightly stiffer and, provided you’ve got the correct PSI the best way to prevent punctures.

  30. martin hunt 28/09/2010 at 7:52 pm #

    2500 miles, today got first puncture with my Marathon Plus’s. Bummer i have a puncture but 2500 miles is damn good going.

  31. Bertrand Delacretaz 28/09/2010 at 9:35 pm #

    I’ve had Schwalbe Marathon plus tires on my previous bike, and only two punctures in more than 12’000km of city riding. When they got old the tires were full of small holes which look like punctures that didn’t happen, very impressive.

  32. James Stevenson 30/09/2010 at 12:07 am #

    I have ridden with Marathons Scwalbes for two years in London including a ride from Simla to Leh on the Manali Leh highway over the Himalayas without a single puncture. I only changed the tyres when they had worn completely smooth.

  33. Gary 01/10/2010 at 1:26 pm #

    I used armadillos for while but they are nowhere near as good as Maxxis Re-fuse which I have been using for about 10,000kms and have only had one puncture in that time. I even had what I thought was a cut in one tyre, but when I removed the tyre it was actually a sharp piece of metal imbedded into the tread but it had still not punctured the tube – unbelievable.

  34. Mr Jones 01/10/2010 at 8:37 pm #

    There is no such thing as puncture proof unless you’re using solid tyres. A more appropriate term would be puncture resistent.

    The Marathon Plus gets my vote. I’m a big bloke and often I’m carrying a lot of weight. The grip in the wet and dry is excellent and added to that is their longiverty. They’re expensive at £30 a pop from most retailers but well worth it for the savings in inconvenience. Bike shop charge at least £15 to fix a puncture (£20 for mine because it has a hub) so getting four punctures would pay for a pair.

  35. Stephen Forde 03/10/2010 at 9:31 pm #

    My Brompton has the standard Kevlar tyre and they run fine and fast. I have just had my first punture in 7 months and that was due to damage done to the outside of the wall of the tyre when I had a fall. Even then that was sustained at least 3 months ago and they have held up since then.

  36. nopy 05/10/2010 at 9:41 pm #

    Decided to try Michelin city as they were 10 quid a pop. 600 miles so far and no punctures, although rolling is not as good as a more expensive tyre.

    not bad for a budget buy from a well known brand.

  37. Jane Ed 06/10/2010 at 1:03 pm #

    Queued up in Evans last Thursday morning to get my puncture repaired (Bontrager on a standard Trek hybrid – first puncture in a year). Guy in front of me – Armadillo. Guy in front of him – Marathon. Seems there’s definitely no such a thing as a puncture proof tyre. Or it was just a bad day in Waterloo!

  38. Steve H 06/10/2010 at 6:54 pm #

    My pair of Schwalbe Marathon Plus’s lasted 140 miles before puncture and in dreaded rear wheel. Was going up steep hill in pouring (I mean pouring) rain. Couldn’t fix patch on due to aforementioned deluge bike fully laden with camping gear. Had to remove wheel and use spare inner tube. I was a bit miffed. I don’t trust them now.

  39. Will 08/10/2010 at 7:39 am #

    All this talk of no punctures must be bad juju! How many people have had one since posting these comments?!

    Kevlar lined tyres are a great help, but I find keeping an eye on your tyre pressure is the best way to minimize punctures. Only really works on the road, but if your tyres are hard enough all but the sharpest objects will be deflected. Just thought it was worth a mention.

    Bontrager hardcase get my vote, London to Paris, 2xdunruns and loads in between, can’t remember 1 puncture.

  40. KJK 15/10/2010 at 12:30 pm #

    Agreed – Bontrager Hardcase are great!

    • pedalingfuriously 17/10/2010 at 5:36 pm #

      Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase, not puncture proof (nothing resembling a bike tyre can be) but highly resistant – downside is they are a harsh ride and don’t offer huge grip in the wet! You pay your money and make your choice…

  41. Cathal McElwee 08/11/2010 at 5:14 pm #

    My Bontrager race lite tyres are so worn after 6 week road use.
    I cycle 2-3 hours a week on main roads.
    My rear tyre has 4-5 sizeable tears so much that my finger nail fits in, front is fine.

    Is this normal? Do you think I’m entitled to a refund from the bike shop, faulty?

  42. idavid 24/01/2011 at 6:25 pm #

    Agree with your correspondent. Have been an Armadillo fan ever since a friend told me they have no practical effect on performance then proved it by flying round the Cape Argus in 3 hrs (the Pros only shave 30 mins off that) while I carried my steed the final km with a big hole in my rear Conti.

    Now I have ‘Dillos on my road bike (23×700) and hybrid (32×700). No punctures in 3 years, just as well as they’re a sod to fit.

  43. butters81 28/01/2011 at 1:05 pm #

    Perhaps the definitive round-up is on LFGSS:

    I’ve been running a Hutchinson Intensive & Maxxis Re-fuse on my road/commuter bike – has been great so far. I’ve always found that Armadillos are a really harsh ride.

    Really worth checking your tyres every couple of weeks, taking out the flints/glass shards and sealing back up again – e.g. with superglue. will make them last a lot longer!

  44. Doug S 28/01/2011 at 7:58 pm #

    Brompton with marathons.
    I got a puncture on my first ever ride with my beloved Brompton. For those in the know, fixing a rear wheel puncture isn’t easy – YouTube came to the rescue.
    I’ve since done 3000 miles without another puncture. I do keep them fully inflated. One thing really impresses me is their wear – they still have loads of tread keeping the bike really sure footed in all weathers.
    I use Panaracer Trailraker PR (puncture resist) on my mountain bike for the wet winter. They are amazing. With all the crud we travel through, we expect a puncture about every 2 hours pedalling. So far so good with these. Prob about 50 hours so far.

  45. Greg Russell 02/02/2011 at 3:17 pm #

    I have been using Greentyre racers for two years. They are 5 minutes slower Tooting to the Square Mile but hey, I haven’t had a puncture. I’ve broken 3 spokes in 2 years. Spokes are under 1 pound each and you can just fold back the tire from the offending place on the rim and slot a new one in. Also, you can still get home with a broken spoke. They are bumpy and slow but great if you don’t like being surprised when you go to cycle home.

  46. Steve 02/02/2011 at 4:24 pm #

    Re spokes (should be an interesting thread) I’ve broken a few in my time and always take a couple if cycle camping along with freewheel removing kit. But they’ve always broken on rear freewheel side and try as I might have not been able to fix without removing freewheel, Any tips hints work-rounds very gratefully received

    • Greg Russell 03/02/2011 at 9:42 am #

      With gears you would need the chain whip to remove the cassette to get at the hub. Fixed and single speed you can just thread one in.

  47. Steve 03/02/2011 at 10:17 am #

    Yes I know about chain whip and cassete thingy. I should have figured you had a fixed wheel or a single speed. I just hoped there might be some ingenious work rounds. I still try to put spoke in without removing freewheel hoping against hope that I’ll find an angle I’ve not tried before, but always fail. And it is very unwise to cycle camp without taking all the necessary weighty gubbins required to replace spokes.

    • Greg Russell 03/02/2011 at 11:22 am #

      I suppose you have tried bending the spoke and going from the inside of the hub…

  48. Steve 03/02/2011 at 11:58 am #

    Yes I have but spoke has to be bent quite a lot and one needs pliers to do it and this technique won’t work if spoke has to enter from the freewheel side. As spokes are set left to right so to speak

  49. Dave H 16/02/2011 at 4:38 pm #

    How about Jack Browns? I have the Greens with the Kevlar belt, three times a week dirt tracks grassy ruts towpaths two Winters later and no punctures at all.
    Plus they are good weight and a nice ride for a tough all season tyre.

  50. Kate 22/03/2011 at 3:19 pm #

    If my Armadillos can survive weekend mornings through Shoreditch and Hackney, and make it back to Shepherds Bush, I think there is no better recommendation. I’m there before the roadsweepers arrive and I find it hard to believe there is a higher concentration of broken glass anywhere else in the world. The only puncture I ever had was from a horseshoe nail in Hyde Park.

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