Photo downloaded here.
Just watched the finish of Paris-Nice stage two, where Peter Sagan, one of the stage favs, crashed by thelook of it, his tyre rolled off in the final bend. It could also be that there was contact between Sagan's bike and another rider's or that Sagan touched his brake in the bend. Anyway, this post is about tyres/tires
There are huge differences when it comes to what tires you should have on your bike. Now, the recreational weekend rider won't probably notice huge differences but those who ride a lot will. There are two kinds that stands out, tubulars and clinchers.
Clinchers - the common ones
Most tires are clinchers, consists of an inner tube, an outer tube and air pressure holds everything in place. Tubulars are made of at least three components; the bead, fabric and rubber. The bead is the edge of the tire and consists of steel wire, can also be kevlar, that holds the tire onto the rim. The fabric is woven between the two beads and can be made of nylon, polyamids or even silk. The fabric threads are organised in layers of parallel threads, some threads thick and heavy, some tiny. This will indicate the performance of a tire, where a thin threads give more threads per inch (TPI). Like on a car, thin walls of a tire will roll better, but make the tire vulnerable to road damage, especially sideways. Rubber is the third component and is there mainly to protect the other parts. The part of the rubber that makes contact with the surface is known as tread. I'm not saying that the rubber is not important, because you can mix many additives to get certain characteristics. A softer rubber will give better traction, same goes for winter tires on cars. Manufacturers also blend in some carbon or silicon to help road durability.
Tubulars - the not so common ones
These differs from the clinchers because they don't have beads. The two edges of the tire are sewn together around the inner tube, then glued on the rims. Much have been said about the glued tires, like that the glue melts on long downhill rides are truly worrying.
Tubulars are lighter than clinchers and is said to bring a more comfortable ride.
Who have not struggled when changing inner tube on a clincher? I know I have and that is because of the beads (own incompetence not included). Tubulars don't have beads so much easier to change. On the other hand, if you need to change a tubular, you need a complete spare tubular. Unless you've got a team car behind you on your weekend ride, forget it.
Also an important factor is that the glue need to be carefully applied and need to dry for several hours afterwards before use.
How much pressure?
People often argue about how much air pressure to keep in the tires. Most seem to believe that high pressure will give the smallest resistance. That is wrong. Remember, the tyre is made a special way and it need a certain air pressure level to do its job properly. A tyre is supposed to deflect a bit, and if your tyres don't bulge a bit while you're on the bike - you have overinflated your tires. To much pressure and the tyre can roll off easily, not the thing you want doing a quick bend or coming down a mountain.
What to choose? Depends on your wallet and your needs. I always have a mini pump and a spare inner tube with me while riding - works for me.