Choosing the right tyre - the guide from Bikeproracing
Thursday 13th October 2016
Choosing the right tyres for your bike is a pre-requisite for enjoyable riding. If it's road riding that you're doing then choosing between performance and comfort is key and very often you need a balance. We also need to weigh up tyre width and tread types to ensure that for what we're doing, we've got the right equipment.
Let's get into it
Choosing tyres for road cycling
Road riding tyre choice 1: Width
The most popular width for road bike tyres is 23mm. This is a narrow tyre and is well suited to fast riding on smooth surfaces (tarmac!)
The wider a tyre, the more comfortable the ride is likely to be so you're balancing your need for speed and your need to be comfortable. For commuters a wider tyre is suitable, if you're racing, go thin.Road riding tyre choice 2: Clincher vs. Tubular
The clincher tyre is the well-known and most used tyre. This is the standard setup of tyre and inner tube, with a 'wire-on' clip, to keep he tyre in place inside the rims.
Clincher tyres are popular because if something goes wrong we can replace the inner tube only allowing for a cheaper and quicker repair.
Clincher tyres come in a variety of treads which will come onto next.
Tubular tyres are more popular for the racing or performance road bike market. Tubular tyres are fitted to specific rims, and they are either glued or taped to the rims. This is a single unit and the inner tube is part of the tyre.
Tubular tyres are lighter than clincher tyres and therefore provide enhanced performance. On the downside when you do get a puncture, we've got a more significant repair!
Road riding tyre choice 3: Tread
With tread, we're effectively choosing between slick and all weather. Slick tyres are well suited to dry conditions and speed, where all weather tyres are well suited to water displacement, and also come with greater protection from punctures in the form of protection skins. Most tyres, even slick are fairly multi-purpose, but dependant on the riding you're doing you want to choose one which will last and suit you.
Choosing tyres for Mountain Bike riding
Mountain Bike riding tyre choice 1: Tyre width
While for road biking tyre width is more about speed vs. comfort, for mountain biking the width you choice is based on activity and terrain. A wider tyre will give you increased stability when cornering and moving fast, improving grip and traction; however this combination will affect your speed; so we're looking for a balance between the speed and type of terrain you're riding and your ability to corner and grip effectively.
Mountain Bike riding tyre choice 2: Standard vs. Tubeless
As with the road bike choice here, were are weighing up performance vs. ease of use. The standard tubed system is simple to use and change should something go wrong. The difference in mountain bikes is that a tubeless system tends to be a bit heavier than a standard tyre.
One of the key benefits of using a tubeless tyre for mountain biking is the ability to run at different tyre pressures. In addition, tubeless systems roll better - they have less moving parts and therefore less friction.
Finally, if you do have a tube set up, many people convert to tubeless with 'Stan's no tubes' and in fact, many people use this kind of product who have a tubeless system to further protect themselves from punctures
Mountain Bike riding tyre choice 3: Front and rear difference
Many manufacturers have front and rear specific tyres, this doesn't preclude using front on back and vice versa but the tread of the tyre has been optimised to give best performance if you use them thr right way round.
Normally, front tyres are designed to help maximise speed and cornering and can often feature a larger profile.
A rear tyre is usually built to avoiding the rear wheel spinning in wet or muddy conditions. Rear tyres are often narrower to improve mud clearance.
Mountain Bike riding tyre choice 4: Cross Country vs. Trail riding
In short, if you're riding cross country you're looking for greater speed and smooth rolling, so you're going to want a tyre with small knobs and one that's relatively narrow.
If you're trail riding you're looking for more durability, so we're looking for softer materials and a wider profile.