Road Tyres Buyers Guide

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Getting the right tyre for your road bike can turn a good ride into a great one. Your tyres have the ability to make you faster, more efficient, and can provide a comfier ride. There's a pretty big range of tyres to choose from out there, and most of the time finding the right one for you is simply a matter of finding the perfect compromise between performance, durability, and price.

Types Of Road Bike Tyre

Clinchers

The most common type of tyre found on a road bike, clincher tyres get their name from the way they hook, or 'clinch', onto the inside of a wheel's rim using air pressure. They require an inner tube, are easy to repair and change, and come in two types - folding and rigid - which we'll take a look at shortly.

Tubeless

Tubeless tyres are a more recent development from the world of mountain biking, but they're fast gaining traction in the road cycling community. Whilst they're similar to clinchers, they don't use an inner tube. This means they need a specific rim to create an airtight seal, and they often use sealant inside the tyre to fill any holes. Tubeless tyres tend to be lighter, have more puncture resistance, and can be ran at lower pressures for increased grip.

Tubular

A more traditional kind of tyre, tubular tyres use an inner tube inside a sewn-up tyre, which is then glued to the rim. These are the lightest form of tyre which is why they're most often seen in racing. However, the downside to tubular tyres is that you'll need to replace the entire tyre if you get a puncture out on the road. Properly repairing the puncture involves unstitching the tyre, which is another reason why they aren't really seen outside of racing.

Bead Types

The edge of a clincher tyre is called a bead, and it comes in two types: folding and rigid. Rigid tyres have a bead made from steel, whereas folding tyres have a bead made from Kevlar. The advantage of folding tyres is that they're lighter, they can be easier to fit, and they're easier to carry. However, the trade-off is that they're more expensive than a tyre with a wire bead.

Width

Whilst nearly all road bike wheels have a diameter of 700c (622mm), the width of the tyres varies between 23mm and 28mm. Many road bikes come with 25mm wide tyres which are a good compromise between speed, grip and comfort. However, wider sizes such as 28mm are slowly starting to gain in popularity. Since these contain a larger volume of air you can use lower pressures, which leads to increased grip, a comfier ride, and less rolling resistance.

Deciding which width is right for you depends on a couple of things. The most important thing to consider is the width of your wheel's rim and your bike's frame size. You need to ensure your bike's frame has enough clearance for the tyres you want, and you'll need to get a tyre that's wider than the wheel's rim width. After that, it comes down to preference. 25mm tyres are a good compromise, but 28mm tyres are a good choice in the winter or when cycling on rougher roads. There's little difference in speed, and though you may think a wider tyre is slower, tests have shown that that's not the case!

Puncture Protection

Many tyres come with some kind of puncture protection to keep you rolling. This is normally a strip of puncture-resistant material underneath the tyre's tread. This does add a little bit of weight, but it's a small price to pay when you think about having to repair punctures in the pouring rain!

In Summary

When it comes to choosing road bike tyres, the decision ultimately comes down to choosing between performance, durability, and cost.

Performance can be further broken down into weight, grip, and speed. Do you want a super light, speedy tyre, or are you content with one that's marginally heavier? Durability usually comes down to puncture protection; tyres that use inner tubes run the risk of 'pinch flats', which tubeless tyres do away with. And then there's the cost; how much are you willing to fork out?

Once you've got a good idea of what kind of road tyre you're looking for, head over to our tyres category and take a look at what we have in stock. And if you need any help at all, simply pop into bike store near you where one of our in-store experts will be more than happy to lend a helping hand.

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