Tubular or clincher? Advantages and disadvantages

Tubular or clincher? Advantages and disadvantages

When it comes to choosing tyres for your bicycle, the eternal debate arises: tubular or clincher? This discussion about which is the best system and whether clinchers and wheels of one type or another are compatible with each other is a constant amongst amateur and professional cyclists.
Let’s clear up these doubts by analysing the pros and cons of each system and determining which is most suitable depending on the type of cyclist.

1. Tubulars

tubular tyre

The tubular is a type of tyre that has been used in cycling for decades, especially in competitive road cycling. It is characterised by being a cylinder that contains an air chamber entirely enclosed in its casing. On the outside, it has a tread, and on the inside, a surface that sticks to the rim using special glue or double-sided tape. Unlike conventional clinchers, the tubular is a single piece and does not need a separate internal air chamber. This unique construction gives it certain characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages that make it special.


Advantages and disadvantages of tubular tyres

Lightweight Higher cost
Ride quality Complex repair
Lower friction Greater wear
Gradual pressure loss Difficulty in replacement


  • Lightweight: They are lighter than clinchers due to their unique construction.
  • Ride quality: They offer better grip and withstand temperature changes in the tarmac well.
  • Lower friction: Thanks to higher pressure, they have less contact with the road, allowing for more efficient progress.
  • Gradual pressure loss: In the event of a puncture, the pressure drops more slowly, which can be handy for reaching a repair point.


  • Higher cost: The price of tubulars is usually higher than that of clinchers.
  • Complex repair: If punctured or damaged, its repair can be more challenging and, in many cases, it’s more feasible to replace it.
  • Greater wear: They are more sensitive to skidding or abrupt braking.
  • Difficulty in replacement: Changing a tubular might require a trip to the workshop due to the complexity of its assembly and sealing.

2. Clinchers (with inner tube)

clincher tyre

Clinchers with inner tubes, also known as “clinchers” in some contexts, represent the most common wheel system on bicycles of all types. In this system, the tyre and the inner tube are two separate components. The tyre acts as the outer protective element, providing traction and wear resistance, while the inner tube inside is inflated with air and maintains the shape and pressure of the assembly.


Advantages and disadvantages of clinchers with inner tubes

Affordable price Resistance to progress
Ease of repair Rapid pressure loss
Shock absorption Pressure limitation


  • Affordable price: Generally cheaper than tubulars.
  • Easy to repair: Their repair and assembly are simpler and quicker.
  • Shock absorption: Their lower inflation pressure allows them to better absorb vibrations and bumps.


  • Resistance to progress: Having a different inflation pressure, they might offer more resistance when moving forward.
  • Rapid pressure loss: In case of a puncture, the air loss is faster and complete.
  • Pressure limitation: They can’t be inflated to the same high pressure as tubulars.

What’s the difference between tubular and tubeless?

The tubeless system refers to tyres that don’t require an inner tube. They seal directly against the rim, often with the help of a sealing liquid, allowing for puncture resistance and the ability to roll at lower pressures to improve traction and comfort.

On the other hand, tubular tyres, as we mentioned earlier, are a unique combination of tyre and inner tube in one piece, designed to be glued directly onto rims specifically for tubulars. They are cherished for their smooth feel and performance under race conditions, although repairing them in case of a puncture can be more cumbersome.


There isn’t a definitive answer regarding which system is superior. Clinchers are ideal for those seeking practicality, ease of repair, and a tighter budget. They are excellent for training and for cyclists who don’t compete.

Tubulars, on the other hand, are the choice for those seeking maximum efficiency, such as competitive cyclists or those looking to optimise their performance. It all boils down to personal preference, type of usage, and budget.

But regardless of the choice, it’s vital to ensure compatibility between your wheels and the chosen tyre system. Remember, safety and the right fit are paramount.

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