Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Clinchers vs. Tubulars

From the Newsletter Archives, September 2007.

Confused about the difference between tubular and clincher tires? We have some pro's and con's of each...

Clincher - Conventional tires used on 99% of all bicycles are "clincher" type, also known as "wire-on." They consist of an outer tire with a u-shaped cross section, and a separate inner tube. The edges of the tire hook over the edges of the rim, and air pressure holds everything in place.

- less expensive
- more common
- wheels are more common
- easier to patch on the road, no need for gluing, stretching tire, etc

- if you flat, you can't really ride on it
- some say a lower quality ride
- will always be heavier (tube, tire, clincher interface)

Tubulars - Tubular tires, also known as "sew-ups" or "sprints" differ from clinchers in that they don't have beads. Instead, the two edges of the tire are sewn together around the inner tube. Tubulars are used on special rims, and are held on to the rims by glue.

- the lightest practical tubulars will always be lighter than the lightest clincher
- if you flat, you can ride on it for a little longer
- if glued properly the tire will stay on the rim even if it flats
- ride quality

- costs more (rims, tubulars)
- more difficult to maintain/repatch as an individual without team support on the road
- you could get tire/rim separation, especially when rims are hot from braking.

The ride quality and weight differences are getting smaller, but will continue to be there, especially with carbon wheels - carbon clinchers are more difficult to make and will be heavier than their carbon tubular rim counterparts.



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