Calvin Woods posed today’s coaches corner question. He wanted to know the difference between clincher & tubular wheels.
What are the different types of wheels?
There are four different types of wheel now on the market, they are clinchers (either carbon rim or traditional aluminium), then you have tubular wheels and a more recent addition in the tubeless clincher.
Aluminium clincher: these are the standard traditional wheels found on most bikes. The rim of the wheel is made out of aluminium with a hooked lip which then grips the tire. They have an inner tube which can be replaced easily. After some practice with tire levers these are easy to change.
Pros: super easy to change the inner tube if you get a flat and the brake pads are cheap to replace.
Cons: aluminium rims on wheels are heavier than carbon rimed wheels so weight weenies beware.
Carbon clincher: built the same as above but the rim / braking surface is carbon. You would need to purchase carbon specific brake pads which are slightly more expensive but are super easy to change.
Pros: carbon Is lighter than aluminium so you are therefore using less energy to move. Another bonus is that you get deeper section wheels which are a triathletes dream due to the aerodynamic benefit
Cons: braking in wet conditions require more lighter touches to reduce the speed but the difference between aluminium & carbon braking in the wet is nominal. Tire pressures are restricted to 120psi
Tubular wheels: these wheels are structurally different to clinchers the profile of the wheel is more like a U where as clinchers has the hooked lip to house the tire & inner tube. Tubulars wheels are a tire with a inner tube sown in making it one piece. This is then either taped or glued onto the wheel rim. Once the tire is pumped up it is held ridged onto the rim.
Pros: you can pump these up to max 200psi which then reduced rolling resistance and therefore increase speed. As they are all carbon, they are lighter than both types of clinchers for comparable wheels.
Cons: if you get a flat, they can be hard to change, so not ideal for quick changes but 9/10 if you get a flat in a race you are better to call it a day as not everyone carries spare. If you are however in a race which is key to finishes, you can change them but time will be taken from you. You can fill the inner tube with a product called tubeless which is like a watery glue which seals a small hole.
Tubeless clincher: these are new to the market & as a result not all wheel brands are selling them. Similar to clinchers but no inner tube. The tire is sealed onto the rim like a modern day car tire. If the seal goes, so does the tire pressure.
Coaches preference: train on clinchers race on tubulars