You have two contact points between you and the road or trail, so your tyres are one of the most important parts of your bike. The right tyre choice can revolutionise your ride – it’s also a cost-effective upgrade.

But with so many options, so many claims, and many looking very similar – it’s a hard choice to make. This short article will help you understand what you already have and consider what you should look for when upgrading or replacing your tyres. The common considerations are;
Tyre type, tyre volume, tyre size, tyre tread for terrain, rolling resistance, improved cornering or simply improved puncture protection.


The three main types of tyres sold today are clincher, tubeless and tubular.

Clincher tyres have an open casing and require an inner tube, these are the most common tyres in use today and are usually fitted as standard on most new bikes. Mounting on to standard hooked wheel rims – these tyres are available across all disciplines and range from a basic to a premium tyre.

Tubeless tyres use a similar open casing design as clincher tyres however, as the name suggests, can be used without inner tubes on tubeless compatible rims using a sealant.

Tubular tyres (road and cyclocross) have a tubular casing that is sewn shut around an inner tube. Fitted to a tubular-specific rim that doesn’t have sidewalls or bead hooks – glue or double-sided tape holds the tyre to the rim. Whilst popular with professional cyclists, offering improved safety, puncture resistance and lower pressure riding – they are rarely used by amateurs due to the complications in fitting.


You’ll see numbers such as 700 x 23 or 29 x 2.4 when shopping for tyres – this refers to the inflated tyre size.

The first number is the rim diameter. 700 tyres mount onto 700c rims, which is the most common size for road bikes. A very small road bike may have 650b wheels with a smaller diameter. On mountain bikes, it’s a little more complicated because there are several wheel sizes, most MTBs use either 27.5in (650b) or 29in (700c) wheels. However, some older mountain bikes and some junior bikes may still have a 26in wheel.

The second figure indicates the width of the tyre in millimetres or inches once inflated (although take this as a guide – the rim and tyre combination may make the inflated width larger or smaller). Older road bikes often come with a 23mm wide tyre and can take a 25mm – so check the clearance of the fork and frame if going wider. A newer road or gravel bike and those with discs will likely be able to fit a 28mm tyre or larger still. Mountain bikes tend to use inches to describe inflated width, so 1.75 or 2.4 is the width in inches. Much like road bikes – you need to check the fork and frame clearance before going wider.

Larger volume and width tyre offers better comfort, grip and even a lower rolling resistance. Consider the rim (tyre should be wider than the rim), the frame and fork clearance and ultimately the use. 25mm road tyres offer a great mix of performance, comfort and grip. Mountain bikes will vary hugely depending on terrain ridden and type of riding – often different tyres front and rear for grip and control.


TPI stands for ‘threads per inch’ and indicates how many individual threads of woven nylon or cotton cross through one square inch of a single ply of the tyre’s casing.
Tyres offering a lower TPI casing use thicker but fewer threads, whereas a higher TPI casing will use thinner threads, but more of them.
A higher TPI tyre casing will usually deliver a more supple and comfortable ride feel and also a reduced rolling resistance. The tyre will usually be lighter. However, the cost is a more delicate tyre more prone to punctures.
Road tyres are usually around 120TPI, Mountain bikes nearer 60TPI.
The fastest tyres will have supple casings, a higher TPI and low friction rubber compounds. The downsides to these tyres tend to be decreased puncture protection and durability.


Rolling resistance is the energy lost when a tyre rolls across a surface.
Losses can mainly be attributed to the deformation of the tyre and friction between the surface and the tyre. Lower rolling resistance equals more speed.

Understanding a tyre’s rolling resistance is quite complicated – but includes construction, the rubber compound, pressure, tyre width and tyre tread.

For a road cyclist, you generally want a slick tyre or minimal tread, with a flexible casing (higher TPI), inflated to a higher pressure. More supple means less energy lost in deformation, rubber compound and grip will reduce friction. Sadly, adding more rubber for durability, and layers for puncture protection also makes the tyre less flexible meaning more rolling resistance.


All manufacturers offer different tread patterns for different surfaces and conditions, different rubber compounds for grip, speed and durability, and different levels of puncture protection.

And they are all a trade off. More rubber, more weight, more rolling resistance, more puncture protection, more grip, more comfort and maybe more confidence? Less TPI, higher cost, better performance and grip, less rolling resistance, less durability, less puncture protection?


There is no wrong or right and for most cyclists is all a balance and compromise:
Budget ££.
The rider (weight/characteristics).
The bike (space available for width).
The intended use, for the majority of the time. Or choose a winter and summer tyre.
The objectives – racing through to commuting.
Tyre pressure – performance balanced against comfort and control.

Choose tyres that have the right balance of characteristics for your personal riding needs – or speak to us at Revolution Cycle Sport offering personalised advice, help fitting and MucOff Tubeless set up.

An easy way to upgrade your bike – and remember that nothing is slower than a puncture!




Puncture repair