Your bike’s tyres are what keeps you connected with the road. This part of the bike has the greatest effect on your interaction with the outside environment and upgrading your tyres is the easiest and most reliable way to improve your bike rides.
Tubeless, puncture resistant, 700c, to name just a few – there are many different types you can chose from. This can be very confusing for an any cyclist, so let us try brake it down a bit.
The most common tyre size for a road bike is the 700c. This is a traditional and not very precise way of measuring the tyre size and shows the overall diameter of a wheel in millimeters. When the side wall of your tyre shows 700x25c, this means that it’s 700mm tall and 25mm wide. And a 700x23c tyre will be slightly thinner and a 700×28 slightly wider than the 25c. The overall diameter of the wheel changes depending on the width of the tyre, so calling them 700c is not very precise. This is why there is the ISO sizing, which gives you the inner diameter of the tyre, which always stays the same for most road tyres – 622mm.
So a 700x25c tyre in Metric measurement is the same as 25-622 in ISO. While the internal diameter of the tyre stays the same, with increased width, the overall tyre diameter will increase too. A 28c tyre will be a whole 10mm taller than a 23c and this may not seem a lot, but may cause clearance problems, especially with older racing frames. The taller tyre will also mean bigger circumference and volume, which will affect the handling and comfort.
Many cyclist choose a different tyre width, than the one their bike came with. Wider tyre will improve the ride comfort and reduce the rolling resistance. If you move up from 25c to 28c, the diameter will increase by 3mm or 12% and the volume will increase by nearly a quarter or 25%. The difference will not only be in the volume, but also in the overall height of the wheel. The extra volume and overall diameter will improve the rolling resistance, mostly because the roads we ride on are not at all perfectly smooth and the additional volume will make the wheel roll easier over the bumps.
Increasing the tyre size is not always possible as the frames, especially the older ones, do not have the necessary clearance. Additionally different manufacturers have different ideas on how to measure the tyre’s width and a 28c tyre from one manufacturer will be a few millimeters wider than the same size tyre from a different manufacturer. So do your research before you splash out on the next set of rubber.
Many new tyres now come with a build in puncture protection. This usually is an integrated insert in the tyre to make it stronger and less likely to be penetrated by a sharp object. The insert is usually a very tough fabric in the middle or in the side walls of the tyre.
The thicker and heavier the insert, the higher the lever of protection. This of course has a drawback – heavier tyre is slower on the road. So matching the tyre protection for the right application is important. Are you a commuter and don’t mind going a bit slower, but do not want to be delayed because of a puncture? Or are you are a racer and speed is all you’re looking for? Or maybe you’d like to cover the middle ground – some puncture protection and some speed? The choice is yours.
But even the best puncture protected tyre will not save you from pinch flats. If the tyre’s pressure has dropped under the recommended value and you hit a pothole, than you will most likely get a puncture. So pump up your tyres regularly and make sure you follow the recommended tyre pressures.
Tubeless wheels are becoming more and more popular these days. This trend started with mountain bikers and is slowly moving to the roadies too. The main advantage of tubeless is that the liquid inside the tyre will quickly seal small holes. Additional advantages are that wheels can be ridden at lower pressures to increase grip and comfort and the lack of inner tube reduces the rolling resistance.
So, no more flats, right? Not quite. The sealant will work on small holes, but won’t be able to effectively seal the big ones. Also, there is the “burping” when due to hard cornering the tyre un-seats and lets some air out. This will not happen if you had an inner tube. Some sealants also need to be replaced regularly as they harden with age. Also, tubular tyres are made from a much harder compound, which generally means that they can be as heavy or heavier than tubbed ones.
How often do you change your tyres? How often and how far do you ride? Is it worth spending £20 or even £30 more on a tyre to get the peace of mind that you are not going to get stranded in the middle of nowhere? These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself before reaching for your wallet or tapping on the “Buy It Now” button on your screen. A good quality tyre can improve the feel, the performance and the reliability of your bike. You may gain an extra gear and feel confident enough not to ride with a pump and a patch kit on hand.
And if you feel that you need help with choosing, than drop by at our workshop and we will be more than happy helping you with your choice.