Tyre performance - are Gatorskins really costing me this much? 😲

I’m relatively new to cycling so have only used a couple of different tyres. The tyres my road bike came with were garbage, so I switched to Gatorskin tyres for the puncture protection. Since putting them on I’d never really put much thought into changing them (assumed different tyres would only give a marginal advantage).

After reading this Training Peaks article I’m feeling pretty foolish! An 11:02 saving over IM distance by switching to GP 4000s :astonished:


I don’t race IM distance, but that’s still a massive gain over an Oly distance tri.

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Yes, Gatorskins are “slow” tires.


Yes they are. Around 5-15 watts power loss per tire, compared to a range of “regular” and “race” tires.

That means you could be wasting 10-30 watts vs other tire options. And as they say "That ain’t nothin’ ".

It’s accepted gators are slow, but don’t forget this is theoretical modelling. Real world rarely shows consistent similarity to modelling, I don’t notice any difference whether I’m using my winter gators or summer GPs.

I still race in GPs, I think it’s worth it, but I think I’d notice a plus 30W advantage.

Most of the tire info I have seen are from actual, physical rolling resistance tests on drums. There are multiple tests from various sources that show the same trend (even if the precise values vary a bit).

This may not be “real world” flat testing since it is on a curved drum, but it is far from “theoretical modeling” (which implies mathematical and computer analysis). The testing on drums is a relative comparison between the tires with only one variable (the tire itself) changed between the tests.

Even if the actual wattage values are incorrect and not representative of the number we will see on the road, the relative differences between tires are real. The Gators are consistently slower than many other tires to a significant degree. It is real, measurable, and repeatable.


FWIW - I have ridden a couple thousand miles each on Gatorskins and GP4000’s on the same roads in an urban and suburban setting over a couple years. While the Gatorskins are more robust in the sidewall, the fact is the the marginal difference in the actual number of puncture flats is very small on the roads I ride on. Granted, we have a bottle deposit law so glass in the road is pretty uncommon, there are no native thorns or goatheads here and most of the streets I ride on are pretty clean. I’ve ditched the gatorskins and just ride 4000s and flats are pretty rare. Frankly I notice no difference in flats in my environment.

Gatorskins are tough and if you are riding in rough environments the drag is worth it. But for “normal” roads, there really is little point suffering with Gatorskins when the 4000’s are almost as puncture resistant and way faster, and they feel better too.


I know very little about tyres and bikes in general, how do I know which tyres will fit my wheels?

It would help to know the tires, but also the bike. Either can lead to a potential limit to the practical size you can run.

Also, the type of bike and riding you intend to do would be helpful to offer suggestions.

There are 2 measurements for bike tires - the diameter and the width. e.g. a “700x25” tire fits a 700c wheel and is 25 mm wide. The measurement numbers are on the side of your current tires.

Almost all road bike wheels are 700c’s. For width, any road bike and 700c wheel will fit 23mm or 25mm tires. These 2 sizes are basically the standard. After that, the frame clearance starts to be an issue you need to consider. If the tire is too wide it may rub on the frame. And as tires get wider than 25mm, the rim width can be an issue too. So, if you have a normal road bike and wheel set, any 700x23 or 700x25 tire will fit. Wider tires might fit your frame, or not, and as tires get wider, you might need a wider rim.

Mountain bikes have much more variation in wheel sizes so you need to know your bike.


Gatorskins are my commuting tires. Nothing wrong with them, but they are “slow”.


Here are some of the deltas we’re talking about:

So about 13 watts per tire. That’s a lot. And that’s on a fairly smooth, fairly pronounced radius of curvature, roller. Give how much supple tires outperform non-supple tires on real world rough tarmac it’s probably even worse on the road.



This is the current set up that I got with my TT bike, if I can buy some reasonably priced free speed I would

One common suggestion is the Continental Grand Prix 4000S II

Here is a comparison chart with your tire, the one above, and a Gator for comparison

  • You can gain a bit of speed with the GP 4000, but it’s not a massive change.

  • Notably, your tire is quite heavy, but weight is not super important unless you are doing tons of steep climbing.
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Replace your butyl rubber tubes for latex while you’ve got the wheel torn down! #SaveAllTheWatts

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Well we can agree to disagree on my use of “theoretical modelling” but we are in agreement on this:

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I’d recommend skipping over that, and go with the latest Continental Grand Prix 5000.

I’m running the 5000 TL (tubeless) and at 80psi it saves me another 2 watts per tire versus the 4000S II with Latex tube, and the 5000.

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Agreed that it is a better tire.

But in the context of his request, it is likely he can get 90+% of the speed improvement with less cost since the 4000 is now the “older” tire.

I haven’t shopped both, but history would predict that there is money to be saved by picking the 4000.

The context was go faster, not save money, so cost is a judgement call. I’ve got one bike, and put all my money into #SaveAllTheWatts

Around here there are a lot of thorns, road debris, and old country roads beat up by time/weather. Since switching to tubeless have avoided flatting AND saved watts AND have a more comfortable ride for the win-win-win.

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I’m not ready to go tubeless

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plenty of fast clinchers if you don’t want tubeless. There are some tradeoffs, and personal preferences, so start with something good and see how it goes!