Tires – Clincher vs Tubular

May 26, 2009 on 12:07 pm | In Tech Tips | 1 Comment

Today’s Tech Blog will cover tires, what you should be aware of and when to change them. Road/Triathlon bike tires come in two flavors, clincher and tubular. Tubular tires were the first widely available tires for road bikes. Most tubulars (despite the name) do not have an inner tube to inflate (some do have a latex tube inside the casing). Rather, Tubulars are completely enclosed and are glued/taped on to Tubular wheels. Clincher tires are the much more widely used and available tires today. Clincher tires require tubes in order to properly inflate. Clincher and Tubular tires are not interchangeable with each other.

Heres a cut away of a Clincher Tire

Here's a cut away of a Clincher Tire

This is the cut away of a Tubular Tire

This is the cut away of a Tubular Tire

In order to determine if a tire needs to be replaced, take a damp rag and wipe the tire down. This will enable you to view the rubber clearly. Take the wheel in your hands by the axel and spin it at arm’s length while looking over the tire as it spins. Does it have a flat spot in the middle or is it egg shaped? If there is a flat spot, it needs to be replaced. Flat spots indicate a reduction of rubber on the tire and make it easier for thorns, etc. to get thru. Check the tire rubber for cuts and abrasions. Cuts are normal but if you can see your inner tube thru the tire, it needs to be replaced. Next, take your finger nail and scrape the sidewall of the tires. Does the rubber or material flake off? If so, your tires are suffering from dry rot and should be replaced immediately. Try not to replace your tires any sooner than 2 weeks before a big event. You want to give the bead of your tire time to stretch on the wheel. If you replace your tires the day before an event, you may be in for bad surprise if you flat. It may be very difficult to disengage the tire bead from the wheel as it hasn’t had time to stretch out.

As far as recommendations for tires go, I prefer Continental tires for quality and durability. If you need a good flat protection tire with lots of durability, I’d recommend the Continental Gatorskins. For everyday use with good flat protection, I’d recommend the Continental 4 Seasons tire. The Continental 4 Seasons offer great durability and cornering with some flat protection. For pure performance, hands down, I recommend the Continental GP4000 , the Vredestein Fortezza TriComp , the Zipp Tangente or the Michelin Pro Race 3. All four of these tires have incredible handling, minimum weight with some flat protection. Keep your tires happy and they’ll keep you rolling.

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  1. Good call on the Continental GatorSkin Tires. They are all I run and I’ve avoided a ton flat tires on bikes for some time now. I’ll be cruising along and you can literally hear the rocks and stuff “ping!” out from under the tire as I roll along. Solid product.

    Comment by Dan — August 12, 2010 #

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