We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are the Different Types of Bicycle Tires?

By D. Monda Dill
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A cyclist’s choice of tires is one of the most significant ways to improve or hinder the performance of a bicycle. There are different types of bicycle tires, which are designed for different biking applications. They fall into one of two main categories: clincher tires and tubular tires.

The clincher tire is one of the most widely used types of bicycle tires. Also referred to as a wire-on tire, it is most commonly used on recreational models for road and mountain cycling. Most of the street bicycle tires are clincher tires.

This tire is designed with a woven fabric casing that is coated with rubber. It has a structure that consists of a u-shaped outer tire that contains a separate inner tube. The edge of the outer tire, which is referred to as the "bead," is made from strong steel wire that hooks onto the tire rim, ensuring a secure fit. The inner tube is inflated with air, which keeps the tire from collapsing.

One special version of clincher tires is the folding tire. The folding tire can be folded up compactly for transportation or storage, while providing the same functional properties as a regular bicycle tire. This type of tire owes its capacity to fold to its unique construction, which substitutes Kevlar® fibers for steel wire. The use of Kevlar® also provides weight savings of about 2 ounces (50 grams), making it much lighter than the regular clincher tire, while increasing puncture resistance.

Tubular bicycle tires, also referred to as "sew-ups" or "sprints," are specially engineered for aggressive, high-speed race riding. They are popular among cycling professionals, who usually favor them over clincher tires. Tubular tires offer the cyclist significant weight savings as well as superior performance on challenging terrain.

A principal difference between tubular and clincher tires is the bead-free construction of the tubular tire. Tubular tires are engineered to combine the tire and the tube, which are stitched together into one unit. Special cement is used to secure it to the bicycle's tire rim. Since this tire does not have a bead, it can be folded up for storage and transportation.

A key advantage that tubular tires offer is the superior puncture stability. In case of a catastrophic puncture, the cyclist can continue pedaling on the bicycle and can retain control of the bicycle. On the other hand, this type of bicycle tire is harder to repair in the event of a puncture; since it is glued onto the rim, the entire tire needs to be removed for repair.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon221780 — On Oct 13, 2011

This article is somewhat accurate at a high level, but misses a few things:

1. There is another segment of the bicycle population called "tubeless." Tubeless bicycle tires work on the same concept as auto or truck tires.

2. Clincher tires have made significant improvements over the past few years and now are ridden by many pro cycling teams. You can find clincher tires on many high-end racing bicycles.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.