What Kind of Road Bike Tires do I need?
Most road bike tires come in size 700C, or the smaller 650C. On older bikes, the 27” size is generally used. Check the size for tyres on your bike by determining the size of your rim (it should be written on the)
Narrower tires suit speedy riders and wider tires suit those embarking on long touring expeditions. The narrower tire is more aerodynamic, but it provides less stability and comfort. Typical racing bike tires might have a diameter of 700mm and a width of 23mm (700x23).
Road racers should choose skinnier tires for speed and agility. But wider tires are ideal for those road riders who might be carrying a load. For touring bikes, typical tire widths are from 32-35mm.
The most versatile type of tire for commuting and general use is probably a medium width tire (28mm to 32mm or 1.5" to 1.75"), with a semi-slick style tread. Semi Slicks have a smooth centre for fast acceleration but knobbly corners to help with cornering. Any more tread than is strictly necessary will just slow you down.
Although slicks are ideal for city riding in the dry, semi-slicks will provide you with a bit more grip and stability in the wet. Puncture resistant tires are worth consideration for commuting riders, as they are slower but do reduce the risk of punctures. You could also consider investing in some Tire Liners, thin strips of plastic that fit between the tire and the tube. This helps avoid tire penetration by thorns etc. A good example of some puncture resistant tires are the wirebead reinforced Continental Ultra Gatorskin
Puncture resistant tires are worth consideration for commuting riders, as they are slower but do reduce the risk of punctures. You could also consider investing in some Tire Liners, thin strps of plastic that fit between the tire and the tube. This helps avoid tire penetration by thorns etc.
Some road bike tires incorporate a raised central strip that is thought to reduce rolling resistance. However, this also makes cornering feel slightly uncertain and is not recommended. Tubleless or Tubular tires might suit you if you can cover the extra expense. These are more common in mountain bikes than road bikes. A good tubular tire is more comfortable than a regular tire and handles very well on corners.
Make sure you purchase a tube with the correct type of valve for your bike, and a tube that has the correct measurements. Presta valves are the thinner type normally seen on road bikes, and Schrader valves are the thicker type used for mountain bikes and cars. You can purchase adaptors to make the switch between valve types.