October 1, 2011
FLO Cycling - Clinchers vs. Tubulars / How to Install a Clincher Tire
Clinchers vs. Tubulars... the age old debate. This discussion has been discussed at great length many times before. My intention with this article is not to determine which is better, but instead to discuss the differences between the two systems and why we chose to start with clinchers at FLO Cycling. For those of you who are new to clinchers or cycling in general, this may serve as a great introductory guide. Let's start by describing how each system works.
Tubular Tires Overview
A tubular tire (aka a sew up) is a tire and casing that is sewn/bonded together with an inner tube placed inside. Hence the term, "sew up". Here is a picture of a tubular tire.
|Tubular Tire - Notice how the tire and casing surround the inner tube.|
Tubular tires are connected to a "U-Shaped" tubular rim through the use of glue. Here is a picture of a tubular rim and the gluing process.
|U-Shaped Tubular Rim|
|First glue is applied to the tire|
|Next glue is applied to the rim bed.|
|Finally the tire is stretched on the rim where it sits until the glue is dry|
Clincher Tires Overview
A clincher tire is simply the rubber tread and the sidewall of the tire with an open bottom. There is a metal bead at the bottom of the sidewall that is used to connect to the "clincher" section of the rim. Here is a picture of a clincher tire.
|Clincher Tire - Rubber tread, sidewall and metal bead|
Below is a cross section of a clincher rim, tire, and tube. I will define each numbered part.
- Rim Tape
- Rim Brake Track
- Metal Bead (notice how it hooks under the "lip" of the clincher rim)
- Tire Casing
- Tire Rubber
|Clincher Rim, Tire and Tube Cross Section|
Here is a video showing you how a clincher tire is installed on a clincher rim.
Pros and Cons
Let's review some of the more obvious pros and cons of both clinchers and tubulars.
- Easier to install/maintain for the average Joe
- Replacing a flat while riding is easier
- You only need to carry a tube while riding instead of a whole tire
- Flats are repaired with an affordable tube instead of an expensive tubular tire
- Rolling resistance of new clincher tires rivals that of tubular tires
- Possibility of pinch flatting
- Cannot ride on a flat
- Less Chance of Pinch Flat
- Can ride a flat for a short distance
- More time consuming/harder to install and maintain for the average Joe
- Tires are typically expensive
- If not glued properly it can roll off in a corner
- A flat on a tubular can mean the loss of a ~$100 tire (repairing the tube is time consuming and not easy to do. Many people end up throwing them away)
- You have to carry around an entire spare tire instead of only a tube.
Why did we choose Clinchers at FLO?
Here is the reason we chose to start with clinchers at FLO and in my opinion why the majority of cyclists use clincher wheels.
- Cost. We are a company that is selling high quality, well designed affordable wheels. As I mentioned above, flatting on a tubular tire can result in the loss of a tire that is worth $100 or more. Flatting on a clincher will cost you $5 for a spare tube or even less if you choose to use a patch. In our opinion, people searching for affordable wheels would much rather replace a $5 tube over a $100 tire.
- Some hardcore tubular riders would disagree but most people will tell you that clinchers are just easier to deal with. No gluey mess, no waiting for glue to dry, no carrying around a whole tire, and no herculean effort on the side of the road trying to pry your well glued (flat) tire from your wheel.
- Years ago tubulars provided a better ride. Today however, with the latest and greatest clincher tires on the market, and our FLO WIDE RIDE rims, the ride of a clincher tire is really no worse than that of a tubular.
In the end, clinchers simply made sense.
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All the best,