Having the right kind of tires for your road bike makes a huge difference to your cycling. Tubeless tires are becoming quite popular. Do you know what kind is better for road bikes? What tires do professional cyclists use? Read further to find out more about tires and tubeless tires.
Are Road Bike Tires Tubeless?
There is a growing trend in using tubeless tires, as there are certain advantages it has over tube tires.
Tubeless tires have been used for mountain bikes for quite some time and are now becoming popular for road bikes. So yes, you can get tubeless road bike tires.
There are 3 types of tires – tubular, tubeless, and clincher tires.
Tube tires have a tube that is inflated with air. Tubeless tires do not have a tube and air is pumped in the area between the rim and the tire. Clincher tires have a casing surrounding the tube, and the air is pumped into the tube.
Which Tires are Better for Road Bikes – Tube or Tubeless?
You want the best tire for your road bike. Highlighted below are the advantages and disadvantages of tubular and tubeless tires:
In tubular tires, the tube is sewn into the tire. These tires must be mounted on specific tubular rims using special glue.
1- These tires are lighter* because there is no beading on the tire.
2- There is also no risk of pinch flats. A pinch flat is when the tire hits a sharp edge that pinches the tube with a lot of force against the tire, causing a flat tire. For riding on the road, these tires are better as you do not have to worry about pinch flats.
1- Repairing a tubular tire is time-consuming as you need to remove the tire from the rim, find the puncture and then apply a patch. You need to then prepare the rim, apply glue, and reinstall the tire.
2- You may end up with more punctures.
3- The traction is lower as these tires cannot be used at lower pressure.
These have no tubes, and instead, have tight beads to hold onto the rim, making the tire airtight.
1- These are better at handling punctures as the sealant within the tire plugs in the holes before the air escapes. You do not need to stop to make any repairs.
2- These tires can be used at a lower pressure (around 10psi lower is ok), thus removing the risk of pinch flats.
3- The lower pressure gives you more traction as the contact of the tire to the ground is increased. This helps to maintain control on loose surfaces.
4- The lower pressure also improves shock absorption, making your ride smoother. A fully inflated tire bounces off objects, and the rider ends up feeling the impact.
1- Tubeless tires can be heavy due to the extra tire material and sealant.
2- Tubeless tires also cost more than tubular tires. Also, they may not be available in remote places or developing countries.
3- If the sealant cannot plug a hole, you will need to carry around an extra tube in case of a puncture.
4- The sealant can get messy, especially if it leaks and splatters. You also need to replace the sealant regularly as it dries up over time.
5- It is also tricky to mount the tires on the wheel. Make sure the beads sit properly on the rim to ensure the tire is airtight. With practice, this does get easier.
6- You also need to check the tire pressure frequently.
*Some argue that tubeless tires are lighter. Tubular tires contain the tube, whereas tubeless tires have the sealant, so this is debatable.
Tubeless tires are increasing in popularity due to their ability to self-repair punctures, and because they can be ridden at a lower pressure. It is up to the rider to choose which kind of tire they prefer.
You can convert your existing bike to tubeless as long as the rims are ‘tubeless compatible’ or ‘tubeless ready’. You will need a conversion kit consisting of sealant, valves, and rim tape.
How to Know If Your Road Bike Tires Are Tubeless?
If you want to know whether your road bike tires are tubeless or not, check the following:
Check the tire for a stamp stating whether it is a tube or a tubeless tire.
For a tubeless tire, the valve is on the rim. For a tubular tire, the valve is on the rubber.
3- Flat tires
With a tubeless tire, you will notice that you get fewer flats, as these tires repair are automatically repaired by the sealant.
4- Deflate the tire
If you deflate the tires and let the air out, you notice that the valve is attached to the tube and not the rim, it is a tubular tire.
You can also ask the seller about the type of tire the bike has or check the manual (if there is one).
Tires Used by Professional Cyclists!
The majority of professional cyclists still use tubular tires, though the trend is slowly changing to using tubeless tires or alternating the 2 different types.
Such bikers favor tubular tires since they are glued to the rim and will remain in place in the case of a puncture. The tubular tires are also lighter, an important factor when it comes to racing.
But tubeless tires are now favored because they are faster due to less rolling resistance, and less likely to be punctured. Small punctures are also sealed automatically.
The conservative approach to tubeless tires will change as technology evolves and improves around tubeless tires.
In major events such as the Tour De France, a mix of both tubular and tubes has been used, depending on the slopes and the stage the rider is at. The cyclist’s personal preference and the type of terrain will determine whether to use tubed or tubeless tires.
The Lifespan of Tubeless Road Tires!
How long tubeless tires last depends on the following factors:
- Road conditions
- Frequency of maintenance
You should maintain your tubeless tires by checking on the sealant and replacing it every 3-6 months.
Replace the tire when it shows signs of wear and can no longer hold air. Another important sign is the Tread Wear Indicator on the tire. Once this is reached, it is time to replace the tire.
It is difficult to tell as it depends on the rider and the average number of hours spent on the road.
Tubular tires and clincher tires are quite common, though the tubeless tire is gaining popularity due to the advantages it offers, especially for riders with road bikes. You can convert your bike to tubeless tires and see what difference it makes for you.
There are different ways to tell which type of tire your road bike has and most tires have this indicated on them. Replace the tires as soon as they show signs of wear and tear.
Whichever type of tires you opt for, you must maintain them regularly to avoid problems while cycling and to ensure longevity.