Are the tyres on your road bike looking a bit tired? Maybe you’ve suffered a few too many flats or you’re just looking to try something new?
Tyres are the cheapest upgrade you can make to your bike and they’ll make a surprising difference. A good set of tyres can help you go faster and be more comfortable in the process. They might even help you corner better too.
There are so many different tyres out there that it can be a little overwhelming when it comes to picking one. So if you’re confused by terms such as TPI (threads per inch), tubeless or tubular, then read on for a quick primer…
Article last update Jan 2019
What should I look for in a tyre?
A buyer’s guide to road bike tyres
The ultimate bike tyre would be super light, totally resistant to punctures and insanely fast. Unfortunately that tyre doesn’t exist and so you generally have to make do with two of these three attributes.
The type of riding is ultimately what should dictate your tyre choice. For example, if most of your time is spent heading out on gravel backroads or commuting on rough inner-city roads, you’ll be better off with a tyre that’s geared towards puncture protection over speed and weight. On the other hand, if you often ride on good roads that are smooth, debris-free and dry, then some lightweight, racy tyres can be a great choice.
You can find out where most tyres sit in the weight / puncture protection / rolling resistance triangle by checking their packaging or the manufacturer’s website.
Types of tyre
Tyres for road bikes come in three styles: clincher, tubular and tubeless.
Your road bike is probably rolling on clincher tyres BikeRadar
Clinchers are the most common type of tyres found on road bikes. They have an open casing that houses a separate inner tube and then hooks on to the wheel rim.
The main advantage of clinchers is that they make fixing a flat easy, because all you have to do to get at the punctured tube is pry off one side of the tyre. This usually requires a tyre lever or two but with some tyres you can do it with just your thumbs.
There are two types of clinchers: folding and non-folding. The difference is in the material used to make the bead (the part that hooks onto the rim).
Folding clinchers generally use Kevlar, a durable material that — as the name suggests — allows the tyres to be folded. Non-folding clinchers use a bead made from steel wire bead and can’t be folded.
Folding clinchers are more expensive but they’re also lighter and are easier to get on and off a rim. The fact that they fold isn’t really important as far as riding is concerned but it means they take up less space when being stored or transported.