Tire Types

What is a clincher tire?

These days clincher tires are the standard for bicycle tires (see tire construction). The wire tire bead prevents the tire from expanding with the pressure and thus from rolling off the rim.

What is a folding tire?

A folding tire is, in a way, a special version of the clincher tire (see tire construction, bead core). In this tire, the wire is replaced with a bundle of Kevlar fibers that allows it to fold easily and also makes the tire lighter by about 50 - 90 g.

What is a Tubular?

In a Tubular, the tube is sewn directly into the tire. The tire is then glued onto a special rim.

Many pros still swear by them, claiming that they provide a better "feel" and that the tires have more "life", i.e. better comfort and smoother cornering.

At least with regard to rolling resistance, this is now very much an outdated idea as modern folding tires have certainly caught up with tubulars in terms of rolling resistance with some, as is the case with the STELVIO LIGHT, even exceeding tubular performance.

The unquestioned advantage of tubulars lies with their puncture stability, as even in the case of a catastrophic puncture, the tire stays on the rim. The rider can safely stop without losing control of the bicycle, or even slowly ride on until the team car arrives.

The drawback of tubulars is in fitting. The fixing of the tire onto the rim with glue is much more awkward than fitting a clincher tire. Furthermore, in the case of a defect, the tubular cannot be repaired easily like a tube as the complete tire has to be replaced. The manufacturing process is also more labor intensive, which explains the high cost of top quality tubulars.

What is a tubeless tire?

As the name implies the tubeless system needs no tube. The tire and the rim are made in such a way that fitting them together provides an airtight seal. So special tires and rims are necessary and at the moment tubeless tires are only available for mountain bikes.

The Mavic UST (Universal System Tubeless), which was introduced in 1999 has become, to all intents and purposes, market standard.

The advantage of tubeless tires is that there is no sudden loss of pressure in case of a puncture. The perforating object either remains in the tire, sometimes even sealing itself, or it is dislodged and the air escapes very gradually. It also provides better impact resistance and valve tear off due to the tire slipping on the rim is impossible.

It is important to note that fitting requires more effort and is significantly different from the fitting of traditional tires, so the fitting instructions must be followed closely (see section on fitment).

The tire and the rim must be perfectly clean, especially in the contact area, in order to have an airtight seal. A puncture can be repaired from the inside with a traditional repair patch. But because the hole can often be hard to find, it is recommendable to insert a standard tube to repair a roadside puncture.

In order to fit a tube, the valve first has to be removed from the rim.