Will clincher and tubular be replaced? Road bikes enter the age of tubeless tires?
In recent years, major brands have continued to develop and develop tubeless tires for road bikes. Tubeless tires have gradually appeared on the wheels of major racing teams and many riders. So, are tubeless tires suitable for road bikes? Will road tubeless tires really become mainstream? This issue has always been controversial, with divergent opinions. The following will compare and analyze from five aspects.
1. What is a tubeless tire and what is its principle?
Early tubeless tires meant no inner tubes. Mavic, Michelin, and Hutchinson jointly launched the "Universal Tubeless System" which is the UST specification tubeless tire we are familiar with around 2000. This technology was first applied to the mountain bike field and received a good response. Subsequently, many manufacturers began its application in the field of road vehicles.
Most mountain bikes run on non-paved roads, and tubeless tires can increase the grip on gravel and tree roots. And what gain will it bring to road vehicles?
2. The benefits of using tubeless tires on road bikes
The first is the improvement in responsiveness, from handling to acceleration. Tubeless tires have lost their weight compared with clinchers, but they are still different from clinchers in terms of handling and road feel. Faced with the ups and downs of the paved road, there is no original lag when riding (this is also due to the use of the current hookless wheel set), which is more brisk and comfortable, so that every stepping can be clearly felt. Secondly, tubeless tires are also better than clinchers in terms of lateral support, which will give you more confidence when going uphill and cornering at high speeds.
When a clincher tire bursts, due to the high tire pressure, the tire leaks instantly, which poses a greater safety hazard for the rider. In the same situation, the tubeless tyre will be replenished with tyre repair fluid in a short time, and then it can be inflated with a gas cylinder, and it can drive normally. Because of this, you can save a lot of tire changing equipment, such as spare tires, pumps, etc., for daily riding. You can bring more energy bars to supplement your energy.
3. The team's use in the competition
In the 2019 Tour de France, all drivers of the AG2R team used 25mm-wide Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL vacuum tires in the second stage of the team time trial. Their team manager said that tubeless tyres are better than tubular tyres in terms of rolling resistance and can increase the overall speed of the team. However, for most teams, tube tires are still the main configuration for road racing. It can be seen that tubeless tires have not replaced clinchers and tubular.
4. The shortcomings of tubeless tires
As far as the current situation is concerned, the selection of tubeless tires and vacuum wheels has been relatively complete, but the matching with the corresponding unhooked wheels has to wait for a while, and its price is still high. In addition, the pressure of tubeless tires is lower than that of open tires, not because of safety but because of performance. Zipp's newly released 303-S has an inner width of 23mm, and the tires will stay open. The manufacturer believes that low tire pressure can have better performance. Compared with the Giant SLR1 wheel set, it uses an inner width of 17mm, and the tire pressure can reach 120psi. It can be seen that the vacuum wheel set can use high pressure, but it is not necessary, because low pressure is more advantageous.
Finally, to sum up, the current tubeless tire technology is quite mature, in fact, you can wait for it to be fully compatible with the unhooked wheel set before using it (only representing the author's personal opinion). Of course, you also need to combine your daily riding habits and riding roads to choose whether to use tubeless tyres. If you have been pursuing road feeling "high pressure patients", then you have to consider tubeless tyres. In addition, the price of tubeless tires is not low right now. If your wheels already support vacuum, you might as well buy a pair and try it out.