Road Bike Tires: Types and How to Enjoy Them

Modified at: Jun 10, 2022

Posted at: Dec 10, 2020

Changing tires can change the way you ride! We have compiled a list of different types of tires for road bikes, their respective characteristics, advantages and disadvantages, and how changing tires can make road biking more enjoyable.

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Types of road bike tires

Clincher tire

This is the most common tire used on city bikes as well as road bikes. The tire is hooked to the rim of the wheel and the tube is inflated inside the tire.

The advantages are the ease of changing the tube and the high cost of the tire and tire tube. Most middle grade and lower grade road bikes have clincher tires.

In the event of a flat tire, only the tube needs to be replaced, making it easy to deal with a sudden flat tire on the road, and the tube itself can be purchased for less than $10, making them highly affordable.

Tubular Tire

The tire and tire tube are in one piece, and instead of hooking onto the wheel like a clincher, the tire is placed on top of the wheel and pneumatically clamped to the wheel. Because of the different construction of the tire, a wheel specifically designed for tubular tires is required.

Since the tubular tire itself is sized close to the wheel’s rim diameter, it is difficult to fit the tire on the wheel, and it is more difficult to deal with a puncture than a clincher tire.

They are also more expensive to replace because they are tube-integrated.

Tubeless/tubeless ready tire

The basic construction is the same as that of a clincher tire, in that the tire is hooked onto the rim of the wheel, but the tire and tube are one piece.

Since the tire and tube are one piece, the tire tube and tire are in perfect contact with each other, which reduces the risk of rimming punctures, and in the event of a puncture, it is a slow puncture.

Even wheels designed for clincher tires can be equipped with tubeless tires if they are “tubeless ready.

Although tubeless tires have many advantages, they are more expensive, and in the event of a puncture, the entire tube and tire must be replaced because they are one unit, which increases maintenance costs.

Type Tube Wheel Puncture Risk Puncture Handling Maintenance Costs
Clincher tire separate clincher only high tube only cheap
Tubular tire integrated tubular only low per tire expensive
Tubeless tire integrated tubeless, clincher low per tire expensive

Tire sizes for road bikes

For racing (23C and 25C)

The slim 23C size has been the mainstream size for road bikes, but recently 25C tires are becoming the mainstream in consideration of grip performance and other factors.

Both 23C and 25C tires are much slimmer than standard bicycle tires, which has the advantage of making it easier to attain higher speeds, but also increases the risk of punctures caused by bumps or foreign objects on the road because of its slimness.

For everyday riding (28C/32C)

Although not common on road bikes, 28C and 32C tires are ideal for everyday riding because of their low risk of punctures and good grip.

The disadvantages are that the tires are larger, so they are heavier, and it is more difficult to ride at higher speeds. However, since speeds are not that high when riding in urban areas, they are a good choice when puncture resistance is considered.

Gravel (26C-38C)

Most tires for road bikes have a thin compound on the tire surface, but tires for gravel road bikes are designed to be able to ride on gravel roads (gravel), so they have large bumps like MTB tires.

This makes it possible to ride on rough roads on a road bike, and it is a popular tire in recent years because it increases the range of places that can be ridden, as it allows you to ride on roads that could not be ridden on a road bike before.

Panaracer, a Japanese bicycle parts manufacturer, even has a lineup of gravel-specific brands called “Gravel King.

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How to enjoy tires on a road bike

Changing tires depending on where you ride and how you feel makes riding more enjoyable.

You may think that tires are just tires, but the interesting thing about tires is that changing the type or size of tire can dramatically change the way you feel when riding.

For example, you can usually use 28C tires, 23C tires for races or gravel tires for camping and touring, depending on the situation.

Since road bikes have a click release that makes it easy for the wheels to come off, changing tires depending on your mood or where you are riding can be a fun part of riding.

Decorate your road bike with color and design!

There are many different types of road bike tires available, and you can decorate your road bike with a manufacturer’s logo or a color on the side.

Colored tires in particular can change the look and feel of a road bike, giving it a fresh, new look.

Always consider the life of the tire for a good ride.

The life of a bicycle tire depends on storage conditions and other factors, but generally speaking, the life of a tire is 3,000 to 5,000 km traveled.

Tires are surprisingly expensive, ranging from $30 to $100 for front and rear, but worn tires also have higher puncture risk, so be sure to replace them regularly.

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