I've been using the last year thickslicks to driver mainly inside my city and I usually tried to don't go through anything else but asphalt to prevent punctures.

I've been wondering if going through a rocky path (or something similar with lot of little rocks) with thickslicks (700x28) and pressure around 100psi is more likely to get a puncture than the traditional wider and with tread tires that most MTB bikes have.

Example with no tread:

No tread

And with:


  • Having ridden on thickslicks, they have dreadful puncture protection. Now they're hanging on the spare-tyres hook, waiting for a use case to come up.
    – Criggie
    Apr 15, 2018 at 19:57
  • 1
    I've got experence with cycling on a towpath for my commute at 5km for 2 years.(a mix of loose gravel, glass, smooth road, bridges and main road) I found that mtb tires punctured regularly, at worse once every two weeks. I then tried kavlar road tires on amazon (£20 for 2) for my mtb and immediately only recieved 1 puncture in 8 months. As long as tire presure is sufficient, the road tires where worth to me way more than £20! Apr 16, 2018 at 6:37

1 Answer 1


It depends. Tread pattern affects puncture probability in two opposite ways:

  • Slick tires often, but not always, have thinner rubber, which offers less protection.
  • Knobs are generally too thick to be punctured through and put some distance between ground and the flat parts of the tire, but on the other hand the part between knobs may be very thin.
  • Tires with grooved tread may be punctured because small pieces of gravel or glass get stuck in grooves and eventually dig through the rubber. This happens very rarely with slick or knobby tires.

In your case, you should be worried about pinch flats, which happen when the tire is pinched between a rock and rim. 28mm may be just enough for smooth cobblestone roads but is very narrow for rocky or soft terrain.

  • 1
    A treadless tire can have a thick puncture resistant casing - the WTB ThickSlick being a good example of such a tire. Apr 15, 2018 at 19:33
  • Edited for clarity
    – ojs
    Apr 15, 2018 at 19:56
  • 2
    Threaded tyres are not necessarily better for road use since aquaplaning would only happen at speeds of around 200km/h because of the very small surface of contact between tyre and asphalt (according to St. Sheldon Brown).
    – Carel
    Apr 15, 2018 at 19:56
  • The grooves on grooved tires have other functions too. First, they increase flexibility, which makes them more comfortable and reduces rolling resistance. Second, they improve grip on loose surfaces. Third, aesthetics.
    – ojs
    Apr 15, 2018 at 19:59
  • 1
    The tread pattern doesn't matter as much other puncture protection and you should be more worried about pinch flats aka snakebites than punctures.
    – ojs
    Apr 19, 2018 at 21:39

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