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What is a clincher tire?

By Micah Ling


Road bike clincher tire
Clincher tires

Clincher tires have traditionally been the most common type of road bike tire. True to their name, clincher tires “clinch” to the inside of the wheel rim with a bead of steel wire or kevlar. Unlike tubeless tires and most tubular tires, they also require an inner tube. 


Clincher tire pros

Clincher road tires are the easiest tires to mount and generally cheaper than their tubular and tubeless counterparts. It’s also easy to fix flats on clincher tires by patching or replacing the inner tube, making them a popular choice for many cyclists.

Clincher tire cons

But there are also downsides to clincher tires. While flats are easier to fix, they are also more common. Perhaps most importantly for competitive cyclists (and weight weenies), they’re also heavier — a crucial consideration for professional cyclists, as well as those seeking a vaunted KOM or QOM on Strava.

Popular clincher tires

We offer a wide variety of clincher tires at The Pro’s Closet. These are some of our most popular options: 

Performance: Continental Grand Prix 5000 - $79.95
The Grand Prix 5000 is a versatile, high-performance tire. It's a top choice for competitive roadies who want to ride faster, more comfortably and with better puncture protection 

Multi-surface: Vittoria Corsa Control - $69.99
The Corsa Control tackles greasy cobbles and rough roads with all the confidence of the Vittoria’s classic Corsa.

Puncture resistent: Continental Gatorskin - $64.95
Continental Gatorskin tires feature puncture resistant casing and wear optimized tread. While they may be heavier, they're reliable for long rides on poor roads.


Clincher vs. tubeless vs. tubular

Tubular tires

Tubular tires are completely round, with the tube essentially part of the tire itself. Tubular tires are popular among pros and high-level racers because they’re lighter, have lower rolling resistance and offer better ride quality. Because they need to be glued to the rim, they’re more of a hassle for recreational riding, especially if you get a flat. Plus, there are fewer rim and wheel options for tubulars.


Tubeless tires

While tubeless tires have been popular with mountain bikers for years, more recently they’ve come into their own on the road. Tubeless tires create an airtight seal using a small amount of liquid sealant inside the tires. When the tire is punctured, the internal pressure pushes the sealant out and seals the puncture almost instantly with natural or synthetic latex that mimics the tire itself.

Tubeless tires are usually lighter than clincher tires, plus pinch flats (and flats more generally) are rarely an issue. Like tubular tires, they also offer less rolling resistance than clinchers.


Clincher tires Tubeless tires Tubular tires
Ease of installation 1 2 3
Low rolling resistance 3 2 1
Flat prevention 3 1 2
Ease of repair 1 2 3
Cost 1 2 3

(1-3 ranking goes from best to worst in this comparison table, assuming equivalent tire quality on same road conditions.)

Are tubeless tires better than clincher tires?

The short answer is “it depends.” Clincher tires might be right for some, while tubeless or tubular are best for others. Whether they’re the best choice for you depends on a combination of factors, from riding style to terrain to personal preference to cost.  

Cyclists who are mechanically inclined or those with experience setting up tubeless gravel or mountain bike tires should at least consider tubeless road tires. The improved performance may be worth the extra shop time.

Those who want to minimize maintenance and cost will likely be happy with clinchers. This is especially true for those who don't obsess about speed and performance.

On the other hand, pure road racers will always have a hard time resisting the classic tubular set-up. Most roadies in the pro peloton still opt for this setup. However, it must be said that they have an army of mechanics at their disposal to get the dang things mounted up.

Whatever your tire setup, learn its nuances and carry the right tools to make a repair on the road. After all, no matter the technology, flat tires still haven't become obsolete.

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