Pros and Cons » Tube Vs Tubeless Bicycle Tires

Tubeless bicycle tires have been all the rage for a long time, so they’re something bike enthusiasts are quite familiar with. Since they’ve been a mass favorite for some time, people tend to believe that tube tires have lost their charm but is that even true?

In tubeless tires, There is no inner tube between the tire and the wheel rim. The area between the tire and the rim serves as a direct air reservoir. In the tube-type tire,  an inflated tube holds the air inside the tire.

When it comes to picking a good tire for your bike it’s really difficult to decide if tubes are a good option or not. Luckily for you, in this article, I’m gonna get right into whether tube tires are better than tubeless ones. 

Read on to learn more.

Difference Between Tube Tires and Tubeless Tires 

The first and most important thing to establish is the differences between the two types of tires. A few technical points distinguish tubed tires from tubeless tires. 

A tubeless tire is where there is no inner tube between the tire and the rim. This means the air enclosed is held directly in between the tire and the rim. On the other hand, a tube tire does have a tube between the rim and the tire. 

This is a major difference, which also gives them their names. Other than this, these tires do have differences in functionality, compatibility, and other similar factors. 

To summarize it neatly, here’s a table that compares tube tires with tubeless tires: 

FeatureTube tiresTubeless tires 
WeightHeavier than tubeless tires.Lightweight.
PriceCheaper than tubeless tires.Relatively expensive. 
Traction Bad traction due to heavyweight.Good traction due to lightweight. 
Application Only used as bicycle tires.Can be used for a range of vehicles.
ComfortNot very comfortable. Super comfortable when riding. 
Maintenance Easy and cheap maintenance. Expensive, but infrequent maintenance.

What Are the Pros of Tubeless Tires? 

So far tubeless tires seem to be winning the debate from tubed tires. They possess all the qualities needed for the perfect tire. On top of that, they’re cheap too! Sounds like an instant win. There are more than just 3 things that make tubeless tires the winner. 

Aside from the common advantages here are a few more added to the list:

Traction 

Tubeless tires have less weight, they perform better on the road and this point only enforces that! Fortunately, there is an option of tubeless tires that have superb traction with the ground. 

Unfortunately for tube tires, the traction is very bad. This is mainly due to the heavyweight which as you will see further in the article accounts for many cons in tubed tires. This tiny detail has caused a lot of difficulties for tubular tires.

Application

Tubeless tires have the leverage of being used for different vehicles such as formula one cars, regular cars, and even motorbikes. In a way, this increases tubeless tires’ popularity.

But when it comes down to just bicycles, then tubeless tires are a worthwhile investment.

Maintenance

Thanks to zero tubes, and fewer replacements, the maintenance cost for tubeless tires is minimal.  These tires also have relatively fewer punctures than tubed tires do. So that’s another factor that makes them a charm.

No Tubes 

Being tubeless is an advantage in itself that even if the tire punctures, you won’t need immediate assistance. You could probably go a few miles before needing a repair. 

Pressure

This is honestly a crazy concept only possible for tubeless tires. I know, ideally, tires should be high in air pressure but for your tubeless tire, even if the pressure is low, you can still ride your bike perfectly. 

Safety 

Tubeless tires are safe in a way that they don’t burst up as tubed tires do. In case of a puncture, the tires’ air will release slowly rather than all at once; saving you from unprompted danger. 

Friction 

Tubeless tires are a treat when it comes to friction. As there’s no tube between a tire and the bike, so there’s no friction, which doesn’t impact the tire bursts as much. Owing to this factor, the tires mostly seal themselves.

Weight

Tubed tires are heavier because of the added metal tube in their structure. To many, it may seem like no big difference, but to put it simply, the lighter your tires the better their resistance against the road. 

Since tubeless tires are lightweight, they’re preferred over tubed ones for having more speed and agility. It saves your energy and gives you the same amount of speed if not even more.

» I have also written this post, about: Here’s How Much a Bike Weighs

What Are the Cons of Tubeless Tires? 

To every pro, there is an evident con. It’s inevitable to have some downsides. After all, things are meant to have flaws. Although not as many, here are a few cons of tubeless tires. 

Price

When compared, tubeless tires do cost a bit more than tube tires. This is mainly because they’re still in the hype and not as commonly made as tube tires. 

Fit

Another disadvantage is that the tire needs to fit right against the alloy rim with no air leaking through. The process of making sure it’s airtight is difficult and takes time, too.

Other than this the process is also very fragile and you could damage the rim in the process. 

Sidewall Punctures 

If your tubeless tire gets a puncture at the sidewalls, it can be your worst nightmare.

In tubed tires, you only change the tube but for tubeless tires, you have to change the entire tire if the situation is nasty. Changing a tire can be difficult, if you’re not used to it, and is harder, too. 

» Read my blog post: How To Change a Bike Inner Tube

What Are the Pros of Tube Tires? 

Just like tubeless tires have their charm, tube tires have theirs, too. There’s no denying that since they’re still in demand, it must mean that they’re worth the effort despite having easier options. 

I think it’s safe to say that tube tires have their special place no matter how trendy tubeless tires get. Here are some advantages to prove that. 

Price 

The big question when comparing any product is how much it costs. In this case, tubed tires cost relatively less compared to high-end tubeless tires.

This is because tubeless tires have a different mechanism installed in them which raises their price. 

Tube tires have been in the market for a long time, which means they’re easily and widely manufactured. This plays a huge role in lowering the price. 

Comfort

Firstly, the reason people still love tube tires is that they’re preferred over tubeless ones when riding on roads. Since these are high-pressure tires, you don’t need to run your tires at low pressure. 

This makes punctures less likely also because roads usually don’t have many prickly objects. Therefore, tube tires serve best for riding your bike on the road.

Compatibility

A great thing about this tube is that they’re compatible with other sorts of tires as well. This way you don’t need extra adjustments and can easily pop the tube in your tubeless tire as and when you need.

Compact Repair Kit

When riding a bike, you don’t have space for carrying large and heavy objects. At most, you should have a water bottle and nothing else.

Thus, the good thing about tube tires is that their repair kits are small and lightweight. You don’t have to carry heavy tools but only a patch kit. 

Easily Available Spare Parts 

Probably one of the greatest benefits of tube tires is that they’re available everywhere. Their tubes and patch kits can be found in even the smallest repair shops. Granted, they may not be the best quality, but they sure will do the trick. 

Set-Up

Lastly, tube tires are as easy as pie to set up. With just a little practice you can start repairing your tubes in a jiffy. It’s got zero complications and takes little time. 

What Are the Cons of Tube Tires?

While that was a pretty convincing list, I still have a list of its downsides. The disadvantages of tube tires lean more towards riding issues and punctures. To put it more precisely, here’s the list of disadvantages.

Maintenance

If you remember how I mentioned the factor of maintenance in costs then you already know what’s about to go down.

We know that tubular tires do require more maintenance. This is mainly because the tube replacement costs a lot if the tire is punctured. 

» I have covered more on this subject in this blog post: (Average Cost): How Much Is a Bike Tune-Up? – Bicycle

Speed

The first disadvantage is that tube tires hold you back majorly. Due to their heavy weight, the tires aren’t as airy as one might want and you cannot speed through the track.

Also, you can’t climb in low traction areas, and doing either may result in a burst. 

Traction 

Because of the tube weight, the traction on these tires is painfully bad. This is where tubeless tires take over as tube tires do not have the privilege to do so.

Traction is important when climbing hills and because they have bad traction, your tires can slip between you and the ground; especially when it’s uneven. 

Weight 

By now it’s clear that tube weight is a major thing holding these tires down.

A good tube can easily add extra 200 grams to your tire.

This means your tires will take longer to accelerate and won’t be as good on the road. 

Frequent Punctures 

The biggest problem with tube tires is that they flat out way too quickly. Even a shard of glass can puncture your tire.

So if you ride in bumpy or desert regions, then your tire won’t even survive a day. Even in a general setting, flats can become a daily occurrence for you.  

» You can also read my post: How to Easily Change a Road Bike Tire

Are Tubeless Tires Better Than Tube Tires? 

Back to the million-dollar question: are tubeless tires better than tube ones? Looking at the cons of tube tires, it will be safe to conclude that going tubeless is a good option. The major benefit you’d be getting from this is lesser punctures and trust me, it’s a big feat.

Since there’s no inner tube to puncture from objects such as glass shards and similar items, your tire can last longer, winning over tube tires. 

Do Tour De France Ride Tube Or Tubeless? 

So far there’s a total of 3 teams on the Tour de France that ride tubeless. This is because only tube tire manufacturers sponsored the teams. These included companies like Mavic and Hutchinson.

Now that some tubeless tire manufacturers have started sponsoring the teams, there are teams that have switched to this option.

Conclusion 

Simply put, tubeless tires are the winner. They’re more efficient, have fewer punctures and their maintenance costs less too, so of course, they’re a winner! 

The tube tires on the other hand have their perks, as well. This is especially apparent if you’re planning on traveling with your bike. They’re common and therefore can easily be fixed. It sounds like no big deal but it is a major perk. 

So concluding is difficult and it’s only right to say that both tires are special in their way. Which ones are better than whom is dependent on personal opinion which I hope this article has helped clear up. 

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