Clinchers and Tubulars for Ironman and Triathlon

Clinchers and Tubulars.

Clincher tyres (also called wire-on) are made with an outer u-shape cross section. They have a separate inner tube. The tyre hooks over the edge of the cycle rim and once the tire is inflated it is held tight. This type of tyre is made of a bead along the edge this gives the tyre its strength to stay on the rim. Heavier rimed tyres usually have steel while lighter models have a more flexible cord called Kevlar. Also puncture proof tyres have a Kevlar bead under the tread to reduce the chances of a flat tyre. You can often tell as they are more flexible and fold easily.

Track tyres traditionally used cotton & silk. Tyres are made from either thick or thin thread and this will affect the performance of the tyre. The more threads per inch the lighter the tyre but damage much easier.

An important part of the tyre is the cloth (usually nylon) between the 2 beads this gives it its shape and affects its performance. Lastly rubber covers the main materials to protect it, thicker on the tread and thinner on the walls. An important choice of tyre should be the type of rubber, the softer the compound the better grip for cornering and braking.

Tubular tyres (also known as sew-ups) are either stuck or glued onto a wheel rim. These tyres therefore do not need beads to hook over the rim. The Cycle rims are semi oval and glue or special sided tape ticks the back of the tubular to the rim. Mostly now on the track. We estimate that less than 5% of the UK racing cyclists use Tubulars. For an expert head to head a tubular expert can change a tyre and get back on the road much quicker than a clincher puncture.

Comparison between Tubular and Clinchers.
Tubular Tyres
Tubulars are a fraction lighter than clinchers as they have no bead. Tubular rims are lighter because they have no clincher flange on the rim to secure tyre in place. Tubular do not suffer from pinch flats because there is no sharp edge rim. Our preference is that Tubulars are more comfortable than clinchers. Tublular much higher tyre pressures.

Although Clinchers have reduced their weight over the years Tubulars still have the edge by being lighter and the rims are stronger.

Negative about Tubulars
Tubulars are generally more expensive for similar performance. You need to carry a whole tubular tyre which is much heavier than an inner tube. If you puncture and change a tubular then you have to ride with caution as it may not be stuck on properly. Caution has to be taken after replacing a new tubular especially on decants and sharp corners.

Expensive if you puncture often compared to clinchers.
Especially on decants and sharp corners. Glue needs to set between tubular and rim for at least 6 hours to be safe. It takes practice to glue a tubular on so it rolls round smoothly. More expensive if you puncture can be repaired only by a specialist or can take 30 minutes to un-stitch and repair. Can roll of rim if not glued on properly.

Clincher Tyres.
With modern Kevlar beads they are nearly as light as tubulars now.

You can install a spare tubular much quicker than a tubular.

Light weight inners tubes can make a Clincher as light as a Tubular but can be more prone to punctures due to their thinner construction. Some are so thin they leak air ever so slowly so need pumping up every 7 days.