When looking at a new wheelset you come across different style rims but what should you buy, clincher or tubular? The differences between the two are quite simple.
A clincher is the most common tire around. Going by it’s name its easy to understand how they work, the tire pressure combined with a metal wire clinches into the rim. Combined with an inner tube, you can get clincher tires for almost all tasks. A flat is easily fixed by removing the inner tube and patching or replacing it. You can even do this on the side of the road quickly.
Almost everybody has changed a clincher tire, the system is the same as your kid’s bike and it’s a simple as can be. Before a race you can opt to put on a new or different tire to match conditions and reduce chances of a flat. They also come in at a low price as you can pick up a decent clincher tire for about $35. Even swapping your tire for when you’re on your turbo is an option.
When you get to the higher end rims you’ll run in to tubular tires. Tubulars are the tire of choice for the professionals and have a tube sewn into the tire itself. Downside is that you have to glue the tire to the rims, so when you get a puncture it’s not a simple swap and done if you’re new to these. You can get pretty good at this though and then time is less of an issue.
Tubular tires have a higher inflation limit and thus have less rolling resistance, making them faster compared to clinchers. Tubulars also have less punctures as a pinch puncture is out of the question. Tubular rims are also lighter as the structure doesn’t need to support the clincher’s pressure.