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Road Bike Tyres Explained

Like other bike components road bike tyres are not created equal. There are several manufacturers the market and there are three different types of road bike tyres to consider. As with many things road cycling, experimentation is required to find the best tyres suited to your riding style and terrain.

Tyres are very important as this is the part of the bike that has contact with the ground. It is important that you replace your tyres as they become worn.

With this in mind, we are going to take a closer look at tyres to help you make the right choice.

road bike tyres explained The right road bike tyre choice may make you faster and give you a more comfortable ride

Road Bike Tyre Types

There are three types of tyres to choose from. All have strengths and weaknesses so let's look at them in more depth.

Clincher Road Bicycle Tyre

This is the most common form of tyre on a road bike. They clinch the rim of the bike wheel. An innertube is used to inflate the tyre. One key advantage of clincher tyres is that repairing a puncher is straightforward as it is just a question of removing the innertube to repair or replace it which is accomplished using tyre levers to pop out one side of the tyre.

Tubeless Clincher Road Cycle Tyres

As the name suggests this kind of tyre has no innertube. They work by fitting over the wheel rim and a sealant is applied to create an airtight seal. The tyre is then inflated using a standard pump. As there is no innertube to speak of pinch punctures simply cannot happen. The tyre pressure needed tends to be less than their clincher counterparts too.

Another benefit is that the tyre is more malleable and can mould itself to the road more effectively. This creates a smoother, more comfortable ride. It is also believed that as the bike doesn't bounce as much as with clincher tyres, you actually travel faster and the tyres give better grip.

Tubular Road Tyre

Tubular road tyres have an innertube stitched into the tyre making the tube and the tyre one unit. They are mounted on special rims and are glued or taped into position. Most amateur cyclists use clincher tyres but some pro and high-end racing teams use tubular tyres.

Tyre Width

Another important consideration is the tyre width. There are four sizes to think about:

  • 23mm
  • 25mm
  • 28mm
  • 32mm

Generally, the wider tyre offers more comfort and traction control while the narrower width is more aerodynamic. The pros tend to use 25mm and so this size may be a good place to start on your tyre journey.

Some frame manufacturers recommend a specific tyre width. It is believed that this is a guide rather than a hard rule. Again, it is a case of experimentation to find the best tyre width for you.

Another factor to take into consideration is terrain. Are your tyres rolling over tarmac or gravel and what is the general surface condition of the road where you usually ride?

If you’re a gravel rider, then you’ll be choosing gravel bike tyres which are specifically designed for that kind of terrain.


Tire tread is another consideration to think about. Smooth treads roll well over tarmac and other smooth hard surfaces. If you ride long distances, or road surfaces tend to be poor and there are pockets of gravel, you may want to consider a more treaded road bike tyre.

Choosing Tyres

Choosing the right road bike tyre for you depends on your budget, how much riding you do, and how much time you have to research specific brands of tyres.

As with all things road cycling, experimentation is key to success.

Cycling Fun Holiday.

Submitted: 31/3/23

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