What are the differences between “Clincher” and “Tubular” tires?


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Confused over Clincher and Tubular Tires? Which one is the top pick? It is a very common question which is frequently asked amongst cyclists by cyclists, specially among triathletes and recreational bikers.

When choosing bike tires, you have no more options than just two types, Clincher and Tubular. You might wonder why there are even two types of tires for bikes. Which tire you should go with?

Don’t worry, we are here to help you have all the answers and clear all your confusions. Just keep going through.

Clincher Bike Tire

Before going deep, just know that the clincher tire is the “normal tire” which we used from riding bikes ranging from kid’s bike to Gravel, BMX, Road bike, Mountain Bike or Typical Comfort Bike. It is a very common tire and takes as a standard tire for any kind of bike.

What is Cincher Tire?

As a kid, you of course rode a bike. The tires that come with that bike were clincher tires. These tires have an outer “carcass” made of rubber varied by different bikes type.

Clincher” the name comes from the fact that these tires clinch to the bike wheel rim with a hard rubber bead. Almost like a car tire, these tires have an open bottom and it stays on the rim by clinching to it. Thus, it is called a clincher tire.

A Clincher Tire always needs an inner tube to operate. The tube which works as a base for the Clincher tire. It holds air and creates solid pressure against the tire. The Clincher Tire just stays on the top of the tube.

Tubular Bike Tire

Looking alike Clincher Tire, Tubular tires mechanism is very different. These tires are completely round-shaped and don’t need to clinch to the rim. No tube is needed as it is sewn together with the tire. It is one piece of construction together.

These tires are usually attached to the outer rim surface by glue. But remember there are also hybrid open tubular tires and are not stitched to hold the tube inside.

The main advantage of these tires that they run effortlessly at low pressure while you don’t have to worry about a pinch flat.

The total weight of a Tubular Tire is very less than that of a Clincher Tire with the tube. Thus, it is better in the long run. Though it might take a little practice to become handy with tubular if you are not used to these.

Keep in mind that the wheelset between Clinchers and tubular are never interchangeable.

Difference between Clincher and Tubular Bike

MechanismThe Tire and Tube are the separated parts from each other.Tubular tires are one single piece of construction.Tubular
SimplicityThe Clincher is a bit complex as its parts are differentExcept for the glue part, tubular is a single part of the bikeTubular
WeightClinchers are slightly heavier. The tube also adds some more weight to it separatelyA tubular tire is lighter in total than Cincher and tube togetherTubular
Puncher-resistantMore prone to puncher from anythingThe puncher-resistance is better in Tubular TireTubular
Inserting MechanismDoesn’t require glue or anything to attach it to rimTubular is glued on the outer surface of the rimClincher
SafetyIt can’t be ridden in low pressure and got flat easilyAs Tubular tire can be ridden in low pressure it doesn’t get flat easily and can be ridden for a bit after puncherTubular
Emergency FixEasy to change is any situationA glued tire is difficult to change in a hurry short timeClincher
Handling and TactionClincher has moderate handling and tractionTubular has superior handling and traction than ClincherTubular
DurabilityThe Clincher is less durable than that of a TubularTubular has better durability in the long runTubular
CostLess expensive than a TubularMore expensive than ClincherClincher
AvailabilityClincher tire can be found in any bike shop for any type of bikeAs tubular are a bit expensive, it is hard at any bike shopClincher
Ride QualityClinchers are standard but not advanced as tubular tires.Tubulars are the advanced type of tire that usually provide more comfort and quality in the rideTubular

Now Pros and Cons of Clincher and Tubular

Pros of Clincher

  1. Comparatively cheaper.
  2. More common and standard type of tire.
  3. Wheels are more common for Clincher tires.
  4. Easy to change both tire and tube with a single simple tool.
  5. Easier to patch on the road, no need for gluing, stretching tire.
  6. Clincher tires are available at any shop.

Cons of Clincher

  1. If flatten, can’t really ride on it.
  2. It sometimes provides a lower quality ride.
  3. It is heavier as a tube, tire, clincher interface.

Pros of Tubular

  1. Tubular is one single piece of construction
  2. The lightest practical tubular is lighter than the lightest clincher tires.
  3. If flatten, can be ridden on it for a little longer.
  4. More puncher-resistant.
  5. if glued properly and the tire will stay on the rim even if it flats.
  6. Provide a better ride quality.
  7. Prove durability for long period of time.

Cons of Tubular

  1. Costs more (rims, tubular are expensive).
  2. More difficult to maintain and repatch as an individual.
  3. Tire and rim separation is not possible.
  4. Emergency fixes are hard to get by.
  5. Changing Tires needs the help of an expert if you are not used to it.
  6. Not available in all bike shops.

Final Suggestion

Each set has its pros and cons. Lighter, more efficient, and more puncture-resistant are the Tubular’s characteristics though it is expensive. On the other side, The Clincher tires are more common, conventional in design, cheap, easy to fix, and don’t require to be glued to the rim. Tubular is a great deal in cyclocross racing as it can run in very low pressure but very hard to maintain. Now the choice is yours, you know which is suitable and affordable for you.

But remember, you should always choose a tire for riding based on two important things. One, Riding quality and comfort, two, your finance.