Cycling Tips: Types Of Road Tires

Here's a comparison of the different types of tires that are available for a road bike.

There are many factors to consider when selecting a road tire. Tires can be broken down into three main categories: clincher tires, tubular tires, and tubeless tires. All have their advantages and disadvantages depending on your riding style. The width of a tire and pressure that you run will not only affect how fast you will go, but also how the bike handles.

All of the tires are available in various widths to accommodate different riding styles. A thinner tire offers an aerodynamic and weight advantage at the cost of comfort. Having a tire that is the same width as the rim might be great for racing, but this can result in a harsh ride for a recreational rider. Cyclists will sometimes run different width tires on the front and back rims to achieve the desired ride from their bicycle.

The pressure in your tires can have a dramatic effect on rolling resistance and handling. Generally, the higher the tire pressure, the lower the rolling resistance. Higher pressures decrease the amount of tire in contact with the road, which can make handling in windy or wet conditions difficult. The pressure in the tires is what supports your weight and the weight of the bike. Heavier riders should consider riding at higher pressures due to the greater deformation of the tire. The more a tire deforms, the greater your rolling resistance and the slower you will ride.



Clincher tires are the most common and readily available road bike tire. They are also typically the cheapest. The tire is assembled onto a clincher rim and requires a rubber tube to be inserted for inflation. Clincher tires are also the easiest tire to service. The tire needs to be pried off of the rim and the tube can be repaired or replaced. Typical tire pressures range from 90-120psi.

Tubular tires have the tube already integrated into the tire. A tubular tire is glued to a tubular rim and then inflated. Tubular tires are generally a little more expensive than clincher tires. They are also harder to service. These tires require the rider to cut open the casing to access the tube. The tube can then be repaired the same way you would repair a clincher tube. Then the casing needs to be sewn up and glued back onto the rim. These tires are capable of higher tire pressures than the clincher tires.

Tubeless tires are similar to tubular tires except that the outer casing of the tire is also the tube. A tubeless tire is attached to the rim in the same way that a tubular tire is, and it also uses the same rim. These tires are generally the most expensive tire of the three. The advantage of these tires is reduced weight and the ability to run very high tire pressures, some as high as 220psi. Because the casing of the tire is also the tube, you will have to replace the tire if you get a flat.

Ultimately, each individual rider must decide which style of tire will best suit their needs. The type of riding that you will be doing, pressure you want to run, and the amount of money that you are willing to spend will determine the type of tire that you choose.

© High Speed Ventures 2011