All About Mountain Bike Tires

By: Dorian Leston


There are materially two kinds of tyre for bicycles, well-known in many mountain bike tires reviews as 'clincher' and 'tubular'. We'll get the tubular ones out of the way first because materially you won't come across them very often . Tubular tires don't have beads around the edge but are instead sewn together around an interior part of tube. You shouldnt use a tubular tyre on just any old rim, you should use a special one and the tyre is held onto the edge using glue. Several riders suppose tubulars to have some advantage over clinchers, such as less weight, more comfort and better grasp but modern technology has seen the clincher tyre catch up.

The main drawbacks of tubular mtb tires are the fact that if you get a puncture you need to replace the whole tyre meaning you need to carry a spare. The biggest flaw though is the need to glue the tyre to the edge . The glue needs to dry for a few hours. The above also means that if you are racing and get a puncture using tubulars then you are effectively out of the race as you will not be able to corner at speed etc until the glue is dry. That is unless you have a support crew following you with a spare rim and tyre ready to go.

You can find clincher kind of tyres on almost all rims nowadays and they are the most familiar to you. Instead of wrapping completely around the interior of tube, the clincher is U-shaped when you cut it in half. The rims of the tire are held in place against the edge of the rim by the pressure of air inside it. This makes it easier to mend as you don't need any glue to keep it in place.

The clincher mountain bike tires are made up of essentially three components , the bead, the fabric and the rubber. The bead is usually a strong steel wire which makes up the tire's edge and holds it to the rim. Some beads use more modern lightweight materials like Kevlar which wipes out one of the advantages some riders consider that the tubular has. The fabric is what gives a tire its shape and makes up the tires profile, get the two beads together. It is often made of nylon cord and is put down in layers with each subsequent layer being placed perpendicular to the next rather than using a consistent interweaving process. Tires come with different performance capabilities some of which are defined by the tires TPI. This marks the number of Threads Per Inch. A higher quantity indicates a tire with a thinner and more flexible fabric. Thin walled tires tend to perform better due to less rolling resistance and a less weight but they are more easily damaged .

The rubber is the part of the tire that everyone sees but it is only a coating on top of the constructed fabric. The rubber gives no structural advantage to the tire and is only there to protect the fabric from injury . Different compounds of rubber give different performance. A soft compound will give you more grasp but it will wear out quicker. A harder compound will last much longer but it will slide around more when pushed to the limit.

When you analyze all the above together you can see that there are many various combinations that can be reached and so it is important to choose a tire which is suited to the job. So, if you are a road racer then you need to look for specific road racing tires that suit the rims you have chosen to ride on.

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When looking at mountain bike tires, it's important to get an idea of what sort of terrain the mountain bike will be used on for most of its life.

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