There are three types of bike tires that you can have installed on your bike. In order to choose the right type, it’s important that you know the difference between the three of them. As a result, we are going to be discussing the differences between clincher vs. tubular vs. tubeless tires on this page. There’s a lot to cover.
However, we are confident that by the end of this post, you’ll have a good idea of which option is the right one for you.
The Differences and Similarities Between Clincher, Tubular, and Tubeless Tires
As we go through each of the differences, we will try to highlight what the best option for each of the categories is.
Both clincher and tubular tires are formed of a tube and the outer tire piece. Tubeless tires don’t have a tube at all. It’s just the outer tire piece.
So, since two of the options both have a tube, what’s the main difference when it comes to tubular vs. clincher?
Well, with a clincher tire, the tube and the tire are two separate pieces. With a tubular tire, the tube forms part of the tire construction.
Clincher tires are the cheapest option here.
When it comes to tubeless vs tubular, the tubeless tires are the most expensive. In fact, they cost a lot more than tubular tires cost.
Although, as you will see shortly, there’s a reason for this. They are just better road tires.
Since your tires are going to be constantly in contact with rough surfaces, you need to know that your MTB tires are going to be able to cope.
You don’t want them bursting at the worst possible moment, right? Therefore, a major area of focus when comparing clincher vs. tubular vs. tubeless tires is the overall durability of the tire.
When comparing clincher vs. tubular tires, the tubular tires are going to be less prone to punctures and flats. Now, if you buy a decent set of clincher tires, they are still going to be durable.
You can’t expect them to fail on you at any given moment. However, we can assure you that tubular tires are going to be able to cope with far more intense environments than clincher tires.
When it comes to durability, tubeless tires are going to be the clear winner here. Since there’s no weak tube that can burst, these tires are going to last an absolute age. In fact, the tire treads are more likely to wear away long before you get a puncture or a flat, they are just that good.
Attachment to the Wheel
Another major difference between clincher and tubular tires is the way in which they attach to the wheel. With clincher tires, you don’t need to do anything too special. Just slide them into place.
However, tubular tires require taping or gluing into place. This can make the installation process a little bit different. However, in practice, it’s not going to have a huge impact on the way that the tires work.
Tubeless tires will fit directly to the wheel without too many issues.
Ease of Maintenance
You’re going to get punctures every so often. Therefore, a big sticking point between clincher vs. tubular vs. tubeless tires is just how easy they are to maintain.
Clincher tires are the trickiest tires to maintain. This is because the tire is in two separate parts. You have to remove one part to access the tube so that you can repair the puncture.
Tubular tires should be simple to repair. It can still take a couple of minutes to repair most punctures, but a good puncture repair kit should do. Just make sure that you follow the instructions for the kit and you’ll be back on the road before you know it.
Tubeless tires are the best tires if you want something that’s low maintenance, though. In the rare case that they do end up getting a puncture, all you need to do is apply a small amount of sealant to the outside of the tire, let it dry off, and you will be ready to roll again. There’s nothing to take apart.
This makes them fantastic for off-roading where your tires may come under a lot of pressure from rocky and hard surfaces.
Traction and Control
Clincher tires will offer a reasonable amount of control over your bike, and they will have good traction with the ground so you’re not slipping and sliding about everywhere.
Tubular tires are a little bit better than clincher tires. In fact, there are some that say tubular tires perform a little bit better than tubeless tires. Although, we suppose that’s down to personal preference.
The lack of a tube in tubeless tires means that they are able to operate at a slightly lower pressure than the other two options. When your tires are operating at a lower pressure, they have more traction.
This leads to a greater amount of control over your bike. It means that tubeless tires are going to be the best option if you are biking in a way that demands precise movements.
When it comes to clincher vs. tubeless tires, the tubeless option is the lightest option.
However, tubular tires are a bit lighter than tubeless tires.
If weight is a priority, which it often is if you are planning on riding a bike where speed is a priority, then tubular tires are the route to go down here.
However, do bear in mind that they are fractionally heavier than tubeless tires. Tubeless tires may have more benefits for you, and thus the weight may not necessarily be a huge issue.
As you can see, when it comes to clincher vs. tubular vs. tubeless tires. The tubeless tires are almost always going to be the best option. The only area where they really fall short is price and weight.
However, the fact that they are a bit more durable means that, over time, it may actually work out cheaper to stick a set of tubeless tires on your bike.