What's the Best Tire to Use with a Kinetic Trainer?

Riders often ask us which tire works best on a trainer, and whether or not using a standard tire will have any adverse effects on either the tire or the trainer. For the best performance we recommend using a trainer-specific tire. We are obviously fond of the Kinetic trainer tire, but any trainer tire should work well. The difference between a trainer-specific tire and a standard tire is based on intended use. Standard tires are designed to grip asphalt, and to wear well when used on this very abrasive surface. The roller on a Kinetic trainer is machined aluminum, which presents a different set of requirements. Thus, the rubber compound on a trainer tire is a bit softer than some standard road tires, so it grips the roller better.

Here are a few tire tips:

  • Keep a spare wheel: If you are using your bike both indoors and outdoors one option is to keep a wheel with a trainer tire mounted on it. If you upgrade the wheels on your bike this is a great use for the stock rear wheel.

  • Your trainer tire works outdoors too: You can also ride our trainer tire outdoors. The color is a bit loud, but it will work fine on the road.

  • Non-trainer tire guidelines: Some standard road bike tires will work fine as well, just try to avoid tires designed for puncture resistance or billed as high-mileage tires. They typically use a harder rubber compound, which doesn’t grip as well and results in slippage. The slippage causes premature wear and leaves rubber on the roller of the trainer.

  • Smooth tread works better: Look for a standard road tire with a fairly smooth tread in the center designed for all-around use and it should perform reasonably well on the trainer.

  • Keep your tire and roller clean: Whatever tire choice you make, it’s important to keep the tire clean. Wipe the tire and roller down with a bit of rubbing alcohol or glass cleaner on a rag to remove the grime that can build up—especially if you are riding it outdoors as well. Either solvent evaporates quickly and makes for superb tire contact.

  • Fat tires? No Problem: Kinetic offers two trainer tire sizes. Our 700 x 25c tire can work on a 29-inch mountain bike wheel and offers a great solution for fat-tired bikes and our 26 x 1 tire is great on smaller 26-inch wheeled mountain bikes. For 27.5 inch wheels we recommend the WTB Thick Slick.