When it comes to cycling, choosing the right tires can make all the difference in performance and safety. While there are many options on the market, tubular tires have long been a favorite among professional and serious recreational riders. But with so many brands and models to choose from, it can be overwhelming to find the best tubular tires for your specific needs.
This guide will look closely at what makes tubular tires stand out from the competition, the different types available, and our top picks for the best ones on the market.
What are Tubular Tires?
Tubular tires, also known as “sew-ups” or “tubs,” are a type of tire specifically designed for road cycling. Unlike traditional clincher tires with an inner tube and an outer tire casing, tubular tires have a continuous inner tube sewn into the casing.
One of the main benefits of tubular tires is their lightweight design. Because they do not require an inner tube, they tend to be lighter than clincher tires. This makes them a popular choice for race situations where every gram counts.
Tubular tires also offer a smoother ride due to their rounder profile and ability to conform to the road surface. This can make them more comfortable for long rides and provide better traction and handling in certain conditions.
However, there are some downsides to tubular tires. They can be more expensive than clincher tires and require a specific rim design that is incompatible with most road bike wheels. They also take more time and effort to install and repair, as the tire must be sewn onto the rim.
Types of Tubular Tires
Tubular tires come in various sizes, tread patterns, and compounds to suit different riding styles and conditions. Here are some of the main types of tubular tires to consider:
- Racing tubular: These tires are designed for speed and efficiency on smooth roads. They typically have a low-profile tread pattern and a soft compound for better grip and rolling resistance.
- All-purpose tubular: As the name suggests, these tires suit many riding conditions. They usually have a more substantial tread pattern and a more complex compound for added durability and versatility.
- Cyclocross tubular: These tires are designed for off-road cycling, such as on grass or muddy trails. They have a knobbier tread pattern and a more rigid compound for better traction and protection against cuts and punctures.
- Winter tubular: These tires are designed for cold and wet conditions, with a tread pattern and compound that provides a better grip on slippery surfaces. They may also have additional features such as reinforced sidewalls or a puncture-resistant layer.
Best Tubular Tires: Our Top Picks
With so many tubular tires to choose from, it can be challenging to find the best ones for your needs. Here are our top picks for the best tubular tires on the market based on performance, value, and customer feedback.
- Continental Competition Tubular Tire
The Continental Competition Tubular Tire is a top racing and high-performance riding choice. It features a supple 210 TPI (threads per inch) casing and a Black Chili compound that provides low rolling resistance and excellent grip. The tire also has a Vectran puncture protection layer that helps prevent flats.
- Vittoria Corsa G+ Tubular Tire
The Vittoria Corsa G+ Tubular Tire is popular for road cycling and racing. It features a 4C compound that combines four different types of rubber for improved grip and durability. The tire also has a G+ graphene-enhanced tread that provides better cornering stability and puncture resistance.
- Specialized S-Works Turbo Tubular Tire
The Specialized S-Works Turbo Tubular Tire is designed for ultimate speed and efficiency. It features a 240 TPI casing and a BlackBelt puncture protection layer that helps prevent flats. The tire also has a Gripton compound that provides low rolling resistance and excellent grip.
- Challenge Elite Tubular Tire
The Challenge Elite Tubular Tire is a versatile option for all-purpose road cycling. It features a 330 TPI casing and a rubber compound that provides good grip and durability. The tire also has a file tread pattern that provides good traction in various conditions.
- Clement MXP Tubular Tire
The Clement MXP Tubular Tire is a top choice for cyclocross and off-road cycling. It features a knobbier tread pattern and a dual compound that provides good traction and durability. The tire also has a cross-shield layer that helps prevent cuts and punctures.
- Challenge Grifo Winter Tubular Tire
The Challenge Grifo Winter Tubular Tire is a specialized option for cold and wet conditions. It features a knobbier tread pattern and a rubber compound that provides a good grip on slippery surfaces. The tire also has a puncture-resistant layer that helps prevent flats.
Tubular tires offer a lightweight and smooth ride that is ideal for road cycling and racing. While they can be more expensive and require more maintenance than clincher tires, they offer excellent performance and handling in the right conditions. With the variety of types and models available, you can find the best tubular tires for your specific needs and preferences.