Clinchers Vs Tubulars Vs Tubeless – Which Tyres Should You Choose For Your Road Bike & Why?


– [Matt] For high performance riding,
there’s always been a debate between tubulars and clinchers.
Now, almost all pros use tubulars. Why?
Is there some sort of performance benefit? – [Si] Yeah. Now, before we go anywhere
else, let’s just clarify the situation. What actually is a tubular tire? Well,
it’s one where the tire gets sewn up, enclosing an inner tube, then the whole
lot gets glued onto a tubular specific rim. Now, it’s a very traditional method
and, dare I say it, slightly archaic. – Perhaps. Now, clinchers we’re far more
familiar with. It’s basically a tire that’s held in place on the rim by pushing
the hooked bead on the inside of the rim. – Yeah. Now, just to throw another
little twist into our equation, we’re also going to compare tubeless
tires. Now, a tubeless tire is very similar to a clincher except that it
doesn’t have a tube in. What it relies on instead is a slightly different tire with
a slightly thicker bead and a little bit of liquid sealant inside which
keeps the whole thing air tight. – When we were pros, we pretty
much exclusively ran tubular tires. But since we’ve retired, we’ve happily
run clinchers all the time, leading us to think why do we really need tubs?
So, let’s try and answer that question. – Yeah. So, our little experiment. We’ve
got three pairs of identical Reynolds Assault SLG wheels. Now, I say identical,
obviously one pair are tubular. So, they don’t have any hooks
on the rim to hold on to the tire. – Well, looking at this, quite clearly,
Si, this is a disk. So, they’re not the same at all. Why on
earth do we have a disk? – I wanted a shiny pair of wheels
to race Cyclocross on this winter. – So, you’re happily going to compromise
our experiment just because you want a shiny pair of wheels for the winter. And
of course, Dan’s the only one with a disk brake bike, so I’ve got
to sit on Dan’s bike. – I’m sorry, Matt. I feel
like I’ve let you down. – Well, you have, but have a little thing.
But we better move on with the experiment, hadn’t we? – Yeah. ♪ [music] ♪ – So, what are the parameters then that
affect tire choice? Let’s deal with weight first. So, in this instance, my
tubular wheel is 1,365 grams compared to a clincher, which is 1,515 grams. No less
impressive but significantly heavier. But remember that this is a disk specific
wheel and so this is 50 grams heavier just for the hub. So, if we compared identical
clincher tubular wheels in this instance, then the tubular would be 200 grams
lighter. But then what happens when we add tires in the mix? Well, a tubular tire
is about 50 grams normally heavier than a clincher. But remember again, it’s
already got the inner tube inside. So, it comes out lighter again. And
when you add tubeless in the mix, well, tubeless and clinchers tend to be
broadly similar at the moment. So, in that case, there’s no weight
penalty for running tubeless. – So, we can see that the tub or
tubular as a whole is far lighter. And a bit of a feather in my cap for
that really. And that’s the way that the pros use them. Now, tubeless give away
just a few grams over clinchers. – But arguably, what it feels like on the
road is probably the most important thing of all. So, let’s get on our bikes,
Matt, and see if we can test it out. Do you want to go for a tubeless first? – I’m in Dan’s bike, aren’t I? – Yeah, like a monkey on a
spoke. I’ll go for clinchers. ♪ [music] ♪ – I absolutely love a good tubular tire.
Although I expect you don’t actually need them to race, I think if you’re serious
about performance, then tubs really are the way to go. Yeah, first off, they
are a lot lighter, but to me it’s just the way they feel on the road
that makes the difference. I mean, on smooth tarmac, they almost sing
to you. And they’re so, so responsive. Although I must accept that the
advantage of pumping them up to 180 PSI is now actually thought of as a
disadvantage because tires roll better at a slightly low pressure. But
even with these pumped up to 100 PSI, they feel absolutely tremendous.
I feel like I’m flying. – Now, it’s all very well having a posh
set of tubular wheels for racing only. And don’t get me wrong, I think saving
200 grams in weight is important. But the reality is that gluing tires is
incredibly laborious. And if you do get a puncture, it’s also very expensive to
replace your tire. If you do try and fix it, then it’s even more laborious
than gluing it in the first place. There’s no wonder that pros love them
really. I mean they never have to glue tubular tires, so they probably
think of them very fondly indeed. The reality is that clinchers are
just so easy. But more than that, I think a really, really high performance
clincher tire with a latex tube on a really nice set of carbon wheels is every
bit as good. Honestly, I think I could tell the difference. – I guess I just… – I’m not entirely sure
this is a good idea, Matt. – Can you see? – No. – Good. That’s what matter here. – No. I’m completely sure. I don’t think I
could tell the difference except possibly if I’m accelerating really hard. No, even then I don’t
think I could tell the difference. ♪ [music] ♪ Now, there’s no denying, that when I made
a video for GCN before about tubeless tires, I was a little bit underwhelmed by
their performance. They felt a little bit unresponsive out on the road, a little bit
dead. But it’s got to be said, since putting a different pair of tires on
a posh pair of carbon wheels, I’m starting to feel a little bit
differently. There’s still no denying the amazing puncture resistance both from get
rid of an inner tube and therefore eliminating pinch flats, and also the
sealant filling small holes as well, but it’s the fact of the ride
quality is significantly better. I’m not entirely sure they’re on a par
with tubulars, still the gold standard, but I think these are great. Also, these
are a heck of a lot easier to put on than before. I could do without the tire
levers, no stress, no mess. – Does this mean the time for
tubulars is nigh? I don’t think so. They still feel fantastic despite the
rolling resistance result and they’re the only tire to choose if you’re doing
Cyclocross, without a shadow of a doubt. And, of course, if you’re racing on the
road, you’ve got the ability to ride on them before your team car get up to you.
And also, they’ll get you to that key final 3 kilometers. – Yeah. And what about tubeless then?
Well, if you suffering punctures a lot, then they’re an absolute no brainer, just
a brilliant idea. My personal stance on them is actually softening as well,
particularly with the new trend of wider tires. If you run something like a 27 mil
or bigger, then tubeless are brilliant. A bigger tire at less pressure rolls
really well and is also incredibly comfortable. But more than that, they also
open up new riding opportunities. So, whether you’ve got a gravel epic
all-road sportive endurance bike, or just a normal road bike, having a
bigger tubeless tire allows you to take the road less travelled,
whatever that might be for you. – Well, there you go. But tubs, I think
they’re here to stay, there’s no doubt about that. And tubeless are going to get
even more popular as people gravitate to wider tires and wider rims. But I think
still the tire of choice is going to be a solid clincher wheel and
a tube in a decent tire. – I think it is. So go on, Matt,
out of this selection of wheels, which are you going to take? – Well, let’s assume I was going to go
back into racing, and without a shadow of a doubt, I’d use tubs. I’ve used them
before, they feel fast, and for practical reasons that we’ve just described, they
help you in some difficult situations regarding mechanicals. – I think even if I was racing, I’d use a
clincher. I don’t think anyone’s going to glue my tires on for me anymore. And a
high performance clincher we’ve seen has the measure of a tub. Tubeless? I really,
really want to go there, but for me at the minute there just isn’t the quantity of
manufactures getting on board the tubeless bandwagon. I don’t have the choice that I
would want to have in order to select the tires I’d want to ride. But
eventually I will ride tubeless tires. Yeah. Now, if you want to know how to
fit tubeless tires, because it is slightly fiddly, or it can be, then we’ve got a
video showing you exactly how to do that up there. Or, if you want to know how to
glue tubular tires on like a pro, that one was like me I’m afraid, like a
pro, you can click and get through to it just down there. – And to subscribe to GCN how about
clicking on Dan’s disk brake bike? – With a saddle. – It’s bit low. – Are you going to leave that down. – And the wheels that you ordered
basically for yourself for the Cyclocross season. – Yeah. You know how much that’s going
to annoy him now that you’ve moved his seat and didn’t mark it. – I know, I didn’t mark it either, did I?
Don’t tell him, just leave it like that. – Oh, yeah. – It’ll be fine. – That’s quite brilliant. – Will he watch this? – Yeah, he will. – He probably will, won’t he? – But we’ll film his reaction
when he gets back on it. – Yeah, definitely. – That’s going to be genius. Gold.
It’ll be a whole video in itself. – I know. – Dan Lloyd throws his toys
out the pram, like a pro. – Now here we are on the tubeless
tires. Now, I’m going to let you in to a little bit of a secret, I’ve actually been
riding these for the last couple of months and the other little secret I’m going to
let you in on is the fact that, initially, I didn’t even realize I was riding on
them. I thought I was riding on traditional clinchers. It wasn’t until
I undid the locking ring because I thought it looked a bit useless and not very pro
and all the milk started to leak out that I realized something was amiss and the
fact that I was actually riding these and not clinchers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *