Best Tubular Tires For The Money – Reviews and Newbie Guide 2018
Even though many bikers use clincher tires, tubular tires still have a devoted following of cycling traditionalists and high end racers.
This is mainly because they offer a dramatic advantage when it comes to rolling resistance and weight as compared to wire beaded clincher tires.
That said, note that there are hundreds of tubular tire options on the market today.
And that makes choosing the best tubular tires for your bike a tricky process.
In this post, we’ll review the 10 best models you can find on the market this year (plus we’ll show how you can easily choose the perfect tire for your bike).
What is a Tubular Tire?
A tubular tire is a bicycle tire that’s stitched closed around the inner tube, forming a torus.
The tire and inner tube are then glued together onto a specially designed rim. Tubular tires are popularly used for professional road racing, cyclo-cross racing, indoor track racing and road time trials.
The main advantage of these tires over their clincher counterparts has to do with weight. The total weight of tubular tires and rims is incredibly lighter than clincher tires. This makes it easier for one to carry a spare tire when racing. It also allows for rotational inertia, which comes handy when you need to accelerate.
Tubular tires also have reduced chance of pinch flats. This is the ability to operate with a wider range of tire pressures, hence increased safety in case a flat occurs at high speed. A tubular tube is basically a closed system and as such, air escapes far more slowly than a clincher in the event of a flat.
The main downside of a tubular tire is that it’s less safe for long or fast descents since the heat generated by braking can cause it to explode.
10 Best Tubular Tire Reviews:
1. Tufo 700 x 24 Tufo S33 Pro Tubular Tire Review:
Taking the crown for best tubular tires is the Tufo 700x24 S33. It comes with a fine tread pattern that ensures good riding quality and improves rolling resistance. This is a great tranning tubular tire that boasts carbon black tread compound that contributes to better riding quality.
It rides at a tire pressure of 90-115 psi and has a total weight of 310 grams. The puncture resistant ply allows for long term reliability and so does its 60 TPI construction. Tufo uses 90 TPI construction under the tread. The tire has a 24 mm width and is designed to fit on size 28 rims.
2. Continental Sprinter Tubular Road Tire Review:
The Continental Sprinter is an all round tubular road tire that is made with ASC Silica technology for reduced rolling resistance when all you want to do is speed up. This innovation also helps with excellent cornering.
What we love most are the four layers of polyamide casing as they deliver improved puncture resistance and ultimately allow for increased longevity. The tire is light enough for serious racing yet durable enough for training.
It incorporates the Safety System anti puncture breaker belt, which offers increased puncture resistance. The use of a wear optimized tread compound means that you don’t have to worry about replacing the tire too soon. Continental uses Duraskin side wall protection, allowing you to roll with the punches in the worst conditions.
3. Vittoria Rally Tubular Tire Review:
Despite being new to the tubular tire market, Vittoria has proved able to compete with the big leagues just fine. The Vittoria Rally Tubular Tire boasts is a perfect investment for anyone who demands high performance on the road.
Highlights include reduced rolling resistance and enhanced grip. It is made with Kevlar 3D compound, which is molded into a herringbone file pattern that rolls smoothly. This ensures optimal acceleration and stopping power.
The tire is reasonably priced and has been the benefactor of constant improvements over the course of three decades. It has a 220 TPI casing has a traditional appearance and you can opt for either an all-black or para finish.
You get a very durable and puncture resistant tread. This is made possible by the PRB breaker below the surface. While designed as an entry level tubular tire, the Vittoria Rally offers more value than one would expect at its price point.
4. Schwalbe One HT Black Tubular Tire Review:
The Schwalbe One HT Black Tubular Tire is known for its great performance and rolling resistance. It comes with a fine diamond tread pattern that lends exceptional grip, making it particularly useful in unpredictable weather or constant change in road surface. The tire rolls extremely fast and is worth considering for professional racing.
Another factor that makes the Schwalbe One HT popular is the OneStar Triple Compound. The carcass mixture made from cotton and polyester offers high pinch flat protection as well as low rolling resistance.
The One Star Triple compound is based on polymers that only became available recently. They allow for a smart trade off between wet grip, rolling resistance and durability. The fact that the compound is more cut resistant means that the tire is even more puncture resistant.
This tubular tire incorporates the RaceGuard, a belt that was specially developed with racing in mind. It is a synthesis of multiple layers of nylon fabric and special India rubber. The belt offers added puncture protection.
5. Tufo 700x21 S33 Pro Tubular Tire Review:
The Tufo 700x20 S33 Pro is a special tubular tire designed with puncture resistance and high mileage in mind. It is an excellent contender for the recreational rider. The tire boasts fine tread pattern that contributes to greater riding quality and low rolling resistance. This makes it one of the best tubular tires for triathlon and road races.
Installation is easy and you don’t have to worry about messy epoxy that needs several hours to dry. It allows for better maneuverability when it comes to cornering and accepts higher pressures for improved road conditions.
Its puncture resistant ply eliminates the worry of having to repair your bike during a race. The tire fits 28” 700C rims and accepts 115-175 psi of pressure. As for the TPI, it uses 90 under the tread and 60 in the sidewall area.
6. Tufo 700x21 C S33 Pro Tubular Clincher Tire Review:
If you are shopping for a tubular clincher tire, the Tufo 700x20 S33 Pro is a good contender. Designed as part of Tufo’s Tubular Clincher Tire Line, it offers great riding quality and low rolling resistance. This is achieved with a fine tread pattern that also ensures good traction.
What sets it apart from others is that it combines the best attributes of clincher and tubular tires in a single package. It also boasts puncture resistant ply and accepts higher pressures for improved conditions.
The tire uses carbon black tread compound, which is impervious to wear and tear. It mounts on regular clincher rims of 28” and has an excellent weight of 335 grams. While it is not the best choice for racing, it works great for training rides.
7. Continental Competition Tubular Road Tire Review:
The Continental Competition Tubular Road Tire is something we’d recommend anyone who is big on puncture protection. It is a popular tubular tire among professional teams and understandably so. It offers an excellent feature combination that includes a 3/180 casing with a maximum pressure of 175 psi.
The tire also comes with a Vectran puncture protection insert. The tread is made with the Continental Black Chilli compound , which is known for being among the fastest. At a weight of 280 grams, this tubular tire can mount onto 28 inch rims and has a 25 inch width.
It uses a thin butyl inner tube with a 0.4mm thickness and the tread part of the tire has a total thickness of 2.5mm. Its rolling resistance is quite low and you get pretty good riding quality for your money.
8. Vittoria Corsa G+ Tubular Road Tire Review:
The new Vittoria Corsa G+ is a nice step up from the Vittoria Rally Tubular Tire. It is made from graphene, a relatively new material used on tires. The Directa Plus Graphene utilized by Vittoria is 2-3 atoms thin and increases responsiveness to how the rider is riding. It becomes more subtle to allow cornering and hardens when rolling straight for added speed.
The puncture resistance is quite good and while it is a little heavier than the Rally, the rolling resistance still feels good. It is designed to mount on 700x23c, 25c or 28c rims. For all round puncture resistance, the Corsa G+ incorporates a Kevlar reinforced Corespun K casing. What’s even better is that you can get this tire in the clincher version.
9. Continental Podium TT Tubular Road Bicycle Tire Review:
The Continental Podium TT Tubular Road Bicycle Tire is designed to maximize speed and help you gain the last few seconds in a race against the clock. It uses Continent’s Black Chilli compound to roll faster, last longer and grip better. It is available in 19mm and 22mm versions to suit different needs.
With a total 180 TPI and three plies, the Continental Podium TT doesn’t feel as supple as other tubular tires. It is very well made and once it mounts onto the rim, it runs straight. You will be quite impressed by the lack of punctures after multiple rides.
10. Clement LAS Tubular Tire Review:
The Clement LAS Tubular Tire is named after the Las Vegas’ airport code in honor of CrossVegas, one of the biggest cyclo-cross events in the US. It excels on all kinds of surfaces thanks to the low rolling resistance and ability to conform to the terrain. It comes with a unique nail file tread that is fine at the center and progressively coarser and taller as it approaches the shoulder knobs.
The gradated construction offers predictable performance when cornering or riding off camber sections. We love the side knob construction and the fact that the tire gives one superior edge control in leans. It has a removable valve core, which makes for quick application of sealant.
What to Look for Before Buying a Tubular Tire
There are several factors you should take into account when shopping for the best tubular tire for road bike.
This is a real opportunity to unlock the bike’s real potential and unravel the mysteries of tire width, size, pressure, rubber components etc.
These factors include:
The first step in your search is determining the correct tire size for you. Tires for standard adult bikes including hybrids and mountain bikes are 26” or 29”, which is the dimension of the outside diameter of the wheel. Some bikes are equipped with 27/5 inch wheels. There is an increased trend for 27.5+, 29+ and Fat Bike wheels that allow use of specific high volume tires. If you are shopping for a kid bike tire, look for 24” model.
The size of the wheel and tire width is usually imprinted on the side of the existing tire.
In addition to the diameter, it’s important to consider the tire width. While wheel size is unique to the bike frame, the tire width is more flexible. There are plenty of tire sizes and the addition of +sizes have led to even more size options. You can also get fat tubular tires with larger air volumes than clincher tires.
Narrower tires are best suited to smoother and harder surfaces. While they offer increased speeds, they don’t have a lot of traction on loose terrain. Wider tubular tires offer increased traction on loose surfaces and have more rolling resistance.
Opt for tires that leave sufficient clearance between the tire and fork or bike frame. Keep in mind that not every width will fit on every bike size. Fat and +size tires can only fit on bikes they are specially designed for.
As with any kind of tire, tread pattern is an important factor to consider. Tread patterns used vary widely, with some designed to roll in one direction for added speed while others are unidirectional.
Be sure to check tread spacing. Wider spaced treads are good for spearing through mud and clearing quicker while tightly spaced knobs eek the grip from dry trails.
If you are shopping for the best tubular tire for triathlon, look for a model with chunky side knobs. They help boost cornering action when the tire on the side.
There are different rubber components used to make tubular tires. They all have varying degrees of softness, which is measured in durometer. A model with a durometer of 70 is fast rolling, cheap and long lasting.
Softer and sticker tubular tires have a durometer of less than 50. They offer improved grip, but compromise on speed and durability.
A rating of 60 offers the best balance of maximum performance and lasting reliability. Some manufacturers offer double or triple compound tires that offer even better performance.
The weight of tires doesn’t matter much unless you are competing at a high level and want to shed off a few pounds. The tires that will fit your bike will most likely fall within the same weight range and as such, it’s not something to worry much about.
Tubular tires are mostly used for racing purposes. But even if you want them for daily commutes, durability is of paramount importance.
You never know when you will need to ride on rough roads with nails, glass or junk that can cause punctures.
Don’t hesitate to shell out a few more bucks and get a model that’s puncture resistant and long lasting. Be on the lookout for tubular tires with features like Kevlar reinforcement that provide extra puncture resistance.
Being a niche product, not all manufacturers offer tubular tires. That said, there are a few that focus a lot of research and development on them.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I determine tire size?
If you don’t know the size wheels, you can always refer to the manufacturer’s manual. The manufacturer website should also have specs for all of their bikes. Another way of determing the tire size is to measure the rim of the bike yourself.
2. What are the advantages of tubular tires over clincher tires?
Tubular tires are lighter, and have a round profile that helps with cornering. Their higher inflation limit allows for better rolling resistance. This makes them a better choice for professional racers.
3. How do I install tubular tires?
This is a delicate procedure and if not done correctly, the tire may detach from the rim during a ride. Consider stretching the tire before installation. There are many options when it comes to gluing the tire to the rim including gluing tape, rim cement or a combination of the two, It’s best to consult an experienced rider or shop for help with the installation if it’s your first time doing it.
The best tubular tire should offer a perfect balance of low weight, low cost, puncture resistance and low rolling resistance.
If you’re not sure what to look for when shopping for your bike tubular tires, the factors discussed above will show you how to pick the right model easily and quickly.
And if you want to save yourself from the tiring selection process, then you can simply consider the 10 top-rated tubular tires reviewed in this post as your starting point.