Tubular Tires Vs. Clincher Tires Benefits

Looking to get yourself some new tires and face with Tubular and Clincher tires with no idea which one is best for you?

Well, you’re not the only one. 

When it comes to bike tires, Clincher or Tubular is often your top choice; I’m here to break down all the top benefits of each and which one you should go with. 

Now I know, choosing tires can be quite a confusing task, especially when you’re new to the world of road biking. Some people say clincher tires are better, whereas others will say Tubular is better– it’s never helpful!

But wait, let me tell you something.

To make things easier for you, I have broken down all the confusing features and offered my least biased opinion of ‘better’ on paper. 

It is all down to your riding technique, your riding level, and your personal preference as a rider, so stay tuned for the benefits, as some may benefit you more than others. 

Without further adieu, let’s jump in! 

 

What are Tubular vs. Clincher Tires?

Before we go into each’s benefits, let’s talk about what a clincher tire is and what a tubular tire is.:

Clincher Tire: 

Now you will find the most common tire found on road bikes are clincher tires. Clincher tires are the tires you grew up with as a kid.

They have an outer ‘carcass which means they can fit any bike; they are referred to as clincher tires because these tires ‘clinch’ at the rim with a bead of hard rubber.

They also have an open bottom, and the only way it stays on the rim is the clinch to it. A clincher tire also needs an inner tube that holds the air and creates its well-known solid pressure.

Instead of pumping air into the tire, you’re actually pumping air into the tube, and the tire sits on top.

It is important to know that every clincher tire comes with clincher rims that are of three types. These include hooked-bead rims, crochet-type rims, or straight-side rims.

Furthermore, these tires are made up of steel fiber and a Kevlar fiber bead; clincher road bike tires have an inner tube surrounding the rim.

The standard valve stem for clincher tires is the Shrader valve, which is wider and more basic. If you’re looking for a thinner, more sleek option, then the Presta valve may be better.

Clincher tires are the most common and found on road bikes and triathlon bikes; all you need to remember is to get a good bike pump to accommodate your clincher tire.

Tubular tire: 

Tubular tires are very similar to clincher tires in terms of the outside look, but they serve a very different purpose. 

Tubular tires are completely round, and there’s no open part of the tire that needs to clinch onto the rim; there is also no tube needed as the tube is already sewn and part of the tire already. 

Tubular tires come in one piece, whereas clincher tires come in two pieces– the tube and the tire. Tubular tires are also more frequently glued onto the rim because they’re prone to moving without the glue. 

Tubular tires tend to be less common, but many road and triathlon cyclists still love them because they tend to be much lighter and durable. 

They can be slightly more complex to use and may take some practice if never used before, but they definitely have some benefits to consider, let’s break them down. 

Benefits of Clincher Tires: 

Let’s break down the benefits of each and decide which one is best.

Cheaper: 

Clincher tires tend to be much cheaper than tubular tires because they are much more common. There isn’t too much of a difference unless you look in the 20-30% range.

Clinchers tend to cost less because when a tubular goes flat, you have to change the whole tubular, whereas when a clincher goes flat, all you need to do is change the tube.

You only need to change a clincher tire every once in a while, so they are much cheaper overall in the long run.

Simple:  

Clinchers are much more straightforward than Tubular tires, but if you know what you’re doing, some say it’s just as easy to change a Tubular as a Clincher is.

Most beginners prefer clinchers as they are much simpler and easier to use; there’s no need to glue them to the rim (which can be a tedious job at the best of times).

You spend little time learning how to change a tire with clinchers over Tubular tires, but all in all, once you know what you’re doing, Tubular tires can be just as easy.

Easy road fixes:

Fixing a road flat can be a pain at the best of times, but they can be cone fairly quick;y with a clincher, especially if you know-how.

Fixing a Tubular, on the other hand, can take some time and patience. However, this differs from person to person as some people find that Tubular tires only take half as much time to fix as a clincher would.

Clincher tubes take up less space, though; instead of carrying a new tire as you would with a spare Tubular tire, you can carry a spare clincher tube.

More availability: 

You will find in most cases that clinchers are more available with any bike tire model. Clinchers are not just available for road bikes, but they’re also offered most commonly in mountain bikes.

Bike trainers are also more commonly found to be available in clinchers.

However, for both road bikes and triathlon bikes, you will find them just as common as each other, maybe sightly more common in clinchers.

Benefits of Tubular Tires: 

Here are the top benefits of using Tubular tires:

Lightweight: 

Tubular tires tend to be much more lightweight than clincher tires as they do not have the clincher bead.

While this may be important for professional cyclists, most of us may not even notice the difference as it may just be a pound or two lighter– it doesn’t make masses of difference!

Safer:

Tubular tires have major benefits when it comes down to safety; they can be ridden at very low pressures making it safer and easier to stop if you have a flat.

When a clincher tire goes flat, it goes flat quickly, so quickly that it can actually become a hazard to the rider. It can even cause some major handling issues.

Tubular tires tend to be much safer in the case of them going flat.

Durable:

This depends on the quality of tire you buy; some high-quality Clincher tires may be more durable than some low-quality Tubular tires.

For example, Gatorskin will be much stronger than Tubular slick. But as a general rule of thumb, Tubular tires will give you more mileage than a clincher tire would.

Tubular tires also tend to be much stronger as the tube is sewn to the tire rather than separate. This also eliminates the chance of getting pinch flats on uneven road surfaces.

Lower rolling resistance: 

Another major benefit of tubular over clinchers is that they have a lower rolling resistance. They have a lower rolling resistance because they have thicker sidewalls and bead than clincher wheels.

Tubulars feel more supple than clinchers; however, a higher rolling resistance often makes the tires as a whole slightly slower, but this isn’t a huge issue. 

 

So which one is better? Tubular or Clincher tire? 

Newer riders and the majority of cyclists in the cycling world would argue that clincher tires are a better option. 

This is because they’re much easier to use, they tend to be cheaper and they can be used on more bikes and have more variety. They also tend to be much easier to repair as you don’t need to carry a whole spare you will only need to replace the tube. 

Clincher tires are most commonly found on road bikes, triathlon mountain bikes, and even kids bikes.

Clinchers tend to be much more universal, so if you find yourself coming across a flat on the trails and don’t know how to repair it, chances are that a cyclist may be able to help. 

That being said, Tubular tires can be just as easy to change, if you know how. They also tend to last much longer than clincher tires if you get a good quality tubular tire. 

So if you’re asking me which one wins, it is still all down to preference as they both have some killer benefits on each. 

 

What are tubeless tires? 

You may have heard the word ‘tubeless tires’ being thrown around amongst your cycling friends but what even are tubeless tires?

Tubeless tires have become increasingly popular in recent years. It’s in the name really, they’re essentially road bike tires without the tubes in them. 

They’re similar to clinchers as they ‘clinch’ to the rim but they do not have a tube, nor do they need 360 degrees of surface area. 

So are tubeless tires of the future? 

Potentially! They’re much much more lightweight, require less maintenance, and tend to be more puncture resistant than both clincher and tubular tires. 

They tend to have a sealant inside that will reduce the chance of leaks– no more worrying about your tires getting a tear or pinch. 

Tubeless tires are becoming more and more available on new bikes, most of the rims on these newer bikes are still suitable for clincher tires too, so you can choose between the two. 

Summary: 

Tubular and Clincher tires are the two most common tires you’ll find on the market; they both have their pros and cons, but it all depends on the rider.

Whatever one you decide, make sure it suits you and your riding style as well as your budget. Tubular tires are brilliant but may require a little practice. 

You can even give tubeless a go, they may take over the cycling industry by storm in the coming years, and there’s no wonder why– they’re brilliant! 

Happy biking! 

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