Bicycle Tires 101
Tires are one of the most important components on your bicycle, but their construction is often a mystery. With differences in belts-beads-compounds and construction, we thought it would be great to break it down a bit to give a backgound on tires in general and to shed some light on what we were thinking when we designed the Session 700.
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Bicycle tires come in two basic designs, tubular (or sew-ups) and clinchers. Tubular tires do not contain a bead and are sewn together to make a complete tube. They do not hook on to your rim, but are mounted by adhesive to rims specifically designed for tubular tires. They are typically lighter than clinchers are used primarily for racing applications.
The bulk of tires ridden today are clinchers. Clinchers have a bead that runs the diameter of the outside edges of your tire and hooks under a lip on the inside of your rim. Typically an inner tube is used; however, tubeless clincher tire/rim combinations are available.
Clinchers are made of three main components; the bead, the carcass, and the outermost rubber skin.
The tire’s bead is the most important part of your tire. It is what holds your tire securely to the rim. Beads can be made from wire or poly-aramid fibers. The primary advantage of a poly-aramid bead is lighter weight, but an additional benefit is that the tires can be easily folded. This is why these tires are often referred to as foldable tires. The Session 700 are foldable tires.
The carcass is made up of fabric layers, or piles, that wrap from bead to bead. These layers form the foundation of your tire. The size of the fabric’s threads can vary in size and the density of the weave is called out in threads-per-inch, or TPI. Today’s tires have TPI can range from 30 to 300 or more. Typically, the greater the TPI of the carcass, the lighter the weight can be. The Session 700 is 120 TPI.
Rubber is the final layer and is placed on the carcass of the tire. This layer protects the carcass from damage and is responsible for the traction and wear characteristics of the tire. The rubber is formulated with special additives to change the performance, hardness and wear resistance of the tire. The primary constituent affecting hardness is carbon black. By varying the amount of carbon black, manufacturers can control the hardness—thereby balancing wear and traction—around the tire. Hardness is measured in Durometer (or Duro) and bicycle tires typically range in hardness from 50-65 Duro. The black rubber we use in our all Black Session 700 and our new Dual Compound tires has a Durometer similar to that of a long wearing wearing touring tire (Dual Compound Sessions). That is why people give our tires rave reviews as a long lasting tire and some people even use them as a skidding tire.
Colored tires are not new, but have been growing in popularity. Because colored tires do not contain carbon black, they are softer than black tires and therefore wear faster and can offer greater traction. Currently the Session 700 is made in black, white, green, pink and orange so you can pick your own flavor. However, because the colored versions of the Session 700 do not contain carbon black and are by nature a softer tire it is not recommended to use them as a skidding tire. For a longer lasting color tire we recommend the Dual Compound Sessions.
WHAT ABOUT SKIDDING?
Skidding wears tires and can cause uneven or premature wear. By the way, the black line left on the ground after any skid, that’s your tire. Because color tires are softer, full-color tires will wear faster than high-durometer black tires. So for those fixed gear riders out there who can’t resist the occasional skid, stick to black tires made from higher Duro rubber in the rear. As mentioned earlier, the black Session 700 is designed with high hardness and is a great long wearing or rear tire.
Tread patterns and theory are as varied as riders. On a flat surface, a slick tire theoretically has the greatest traction. But the road is less than perfect, so tire tread are tuned not only for traction, but also for particular styles of riding. With a tread more closely resembling a 20” flatland tire, rather than a slick, the Session 700 is the first tire to offer performance tuned for fixed gear and urban riders for all urban conditions.
High-end tires may contain an additional layer of rubber or Kevlar to resist puncture from road debris. Our Session 700 contains a Kevlar belt wrapped around the center of the tire to keep road debris at bay. Thick rubber strips can also be used, but Kevlar helps control the weight and provides excellent puncture resistance.
PINCH FLAT PROTECTION
Have you ever hopped a curb or hit a pothole only to have your tire start to hiss. Pinch flats occur when your tire compresses to your rim and pinches the tube. This typically leaves two distinct elongated holes that look reminiscent of the bite mark of a snake; giving way to the term snake bite. To fight off snake bite, the Session 700 uses a specially designed sidewall to lessen the likelihood of these types of flats.
We wanted to add this here to remind people that the price of a product is not a feature or a benefit. There are cheap/inexpensive tires on the market and the Session 700 is not one of them. We could have come out with a $20 tire and sold them by the tens of thousands but that is not our goal. Here at Fyxation we aim to manufacture products that we as riders would embrace. Products that are well designed and constructed, durable and offer a unique mix of style and performance. If you're looking for that $20 tire from Fyxation we're sorry, but it's not going to happen.
[…] one of our earlier posts (Bicycle Tires 101)we talked about tire wear, skidding and how color tires by nature are a softer compound than black […]
Great article. I feel like I know a bit more about bike tires now. Thanks!
I can attest to the quality of the fyxation dual compound tires, i use 700×23c on my fixie, they work and last, these fixations and victoria rubino III are the only tires that I use and can afford as far as highend tires go… love them both. also interested in trying gator skins… i hear good things about them… yo fyxation in plans on making a red/black dual compound so I don’t have to go buy gatorskins dual red/black… just a thought…
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