The Tire Treatise: Clinchers

To help you in your quest for the perfect tire, we’ve broken down tube-type clincher tires into three categories and gathered five of our favorites from each of the above categories to share with you. We rode them, weighed them and even measured their true widths.

1) “Racing” tires range from 23mm to 25mm and are designed for performance, so they feature elements such as advanced aerodynamics, reduced rolling resistance and light weights, albeit at the expense of durability.

2) “Endurance” tires range from 23mm to 28mm, and their larger contact patches, more complex tread patterns and extra puncture protection make them great choices for logging training rides and all-day jaunts in the saddle.

3) “Adventure” tires measure 28mm and above, and they sport even more puncture-protection technology. Their ultra-wide profiles give them versatility for some truly rough roads and even well-groomed gravel paths—just be sure your frame has enough clearance.

RACING

KENDA KOUNTACH 23MM

          Kenda_IMG_6465

Price: $50
Weight: 205 grams
Width: 23mm (claimed); 23.2mm (actual)
Sizes: 23, 25mm
www.kendatire.com
The Kountach is Kenda’s most popular racing clincher, and it’s made from a dual-rubber compound with a 120-tpi casing to provide plenty of grip, along with a hearty amount of road feedback, which is something we look for in a racing tire. The Kountach also includes Kenda’s Iron Cloak Belt flat-protection technology used in the brand’s tubular models. Five different color combinations are available.

BONTRAGER AW3 HARD-CASE LITE

Bontrager_IMG_6433

Price: $49.99
Weight: 237 grams
Width: 23mm (claimed); 22.7mm (actual)
Sizes: 23, 25, 28, 32mm
www.bontrager.com
We particularly like Bontrager’s AW3 Hard-Case Lite, which is comprised of a 120-tpi casing for a supple feel and Bontrager’s signature Hard-Case Lite tread for a bit of wet-weather grip and puncture-resistance. Available in four sizes.

VITTORIA OPEN CORSA SC 25MM

Vittoria_IMG_6493

Price: $69.99
Weight: 228 grams
Width: 25mm (claimed); 25.9mm (actual)
Sizes: 23, 25mm
www.vittoria.com
Technically, the Open Corsa SC is an “open tubular,” which is a fancy term for a clincher that mirrors the performance of a sew-up tubular tire. It still utilizes bead hooks and an inner tube. We like Vittoria’s Open Corsa SC for its incredibly high 320-tpi rating, which gives it a sublimely supple ride quality and terrifiTires_IRC_AspitePro copyc traction, even in wet conditions. It’s a touch heavier than some other racing tires listed here, but also comes with the added aesthetic appeal of tan sidewalls.

ZIPP 2015 TANGENTE COURSE 23MM

Zipp_IMG_6474

Price: $55
Weight: 204 grams
Width: 23mm (claimed); 23.1mm (actual)
Sizes: 23, 25mm
www.zipp.com
Zipp’s two newest clincher tires, the Tangente Course and the Tangente Speed, were redesigned for 2015 to have lower rolling resistances than their predecessors. While the Speed version is a great choice thanks to its 220-tpi casing, we like the Tangente Course version thanks to its lower price ($55 compared to $65) and added puncture protection, making it a more versatile option for both racing and everyday training rides.

VEE APACHE 23MM

Vee_Apache_IMG_6445

Price: $50
Weight: 177 grams
Width: 23mm (claimed); 22.2mm (actual)
Sizes: 23, 25mm
www.veetireco.com
The Apache is Vee’s flagship model for road bikes. Available in two sizes, the Apache is crafted from Vee’s proprietary blend of materials designed to enhance sidewall durability to protect against flats. The Apache offers great traction, and the brand’s “Vee” logo is cut into the tire’s shoulders, which gives the tires a bit of extra grip in wet weather.

ENDURANCE

VREDESTEIN FORTEZZA SENSO

Vredestein_IMG_6447

ALL-WEATHER 25MM
Price: $75
Weight: 225 grams
Width: 25mm (claimed); 25.1mm (actual)
Sizes: 23, 25mm
www.vredestein.com
The Fortezza Senso All-Weather clincher from the Dutch manufacturer has been one of our favorite training tires we’ve ridden over the past year. It comes in four colors and two sizes, and serves up tons of grip in both wet and dry weather. Its 120-tpi casing helps give it a supple ride quality relative to others in its price range, and the brand’s unique rubber compound gives it exceptional durability. We’ve logged hundreds of miles without a single mishap or puncture, and the Fortezza has proved easy to install on most any wheel.

MICHELIN PRO4 ENDURANCE 25MM

Michelin_IMG_6414

Price: $60.99
Weight: 240 grams
Width: 25mm (claimed); 25.8mm (actual)
Sizes: 23, 25mm
bike.michelinman.com
Michelin’s line of Pro4 clinchers include some of the most popular tires on the road. For training purposes,
we like the Pro4 Endurance, which comes in two sizes and five colors. A 110-tpi casing provides a supple ride feel, a dual-compound tread offers plenty of traction, and Michelin’s signature Bead2Bead reinforcement technology gives these Pro4s 40 percent more puncture-resistance than the brand’s Pro4 Service Course clincher.

ARISUN ALLURE 23MM

Arisun_IMG_6452

Price: $29.95
Weight: 222 grams
Width: 23mm (claimed); 22.9mm (actual)
Sizes: 23, 25, 28mm
www.arisun-bicycletires.com
The size-23mm version of Arisun’s Allure clincher comes in four colors, while the size-25mm and -28mm varieties only come in black. Each of those size/color combos also comes in a 30-tpi and a 60-tpi version. While the Allure lacks the suppleness of most tires with higher tpi ratings, it does feature what Arisun calls “Nylon Defense,” which is extra material in the casing to help prevent puncture flats. The unique tread pattern offers a respectable amount of grip, and its 222-gram weight is a welcome trait.

IRC ASPITE PRO 26MM

IRC_IMG_6428

Price: $68
Weight: 235 grams
Width: 26mm (claimed); 26.1mm (actual)
Sizes: 24, 26mm
www.irc-tire.com
Made in Japan, IRC’s Aspite clincher comes in two unique sizes: 24 and 26mm. The 26mm version offers terrific comfort compared to size-23mm and -25mm comparable models, and the tread feels a bit thicker to the touch than similar clinchers, which we believe helps give it some extra puncture resistance. IRC also claims advanced aerodynamics for the Aspite Pro, thanks to its “grit” tread pattern and specific inflated profile.

SCHWALBE DURANO DD 25MM

Schwalbe_IMG_6438

Price: $66.89
Weight: 282 grams
Width: 25mm (claimed); 25.1mm (actual)
Sizes: 23, 25mm
www.schwalbetires.com
Schwalbe’s Durano line includes several varieties, but we especially like the Durano DD (Double Defense). Its casing is rated at 67 tpi (or what Schwalbe calls “EPI,” or “ends per inch”). Add to that an additional layer of synthetic fabric along the sidewalls to help protect them from punctures and the Durano DD isn’t the supplest tire we’ve come across. But, it’s designed for a long life of service with some truly tough fl at protection, which we feel makes it an ideal choice for long days in the saddle. And, the unique siping pattern in the tread helps give it some extra grip in wet conditions.

ADVENTURE

CLEMENT STRADA LGG 28MM

Clement_IMG_6459

Price: $35 (single-compound, 60 tpi);
$45 (double-compound, 120 tpi)
Weight: 251 grams
Width: 28mm (claimed); 27.6mm (actual)
Sizes: 23, 25, 28mm
www.clementcycling.com
Clement is one of the leaders in cyclocross tires, so it stands to reason that the brand’s lone road offering, the Strada LGG, offers plenty of durability and versatility for riding in all conditions. We prefer the size-28mm Strada due to its fine mix of relative suppleness, grip and durability, but there are 23mm and 25mm versions also available. And, there are plenty of unique variations to choose from, including a single-compound rubber with a 60-tpi casing and a dual-compound tread with 120 tpi. There’s also a version with tan sidewalls, too, but only in sizes 25mm and 28mm with a 60-tpi casing.

MAXXIS RE-FUSE 28MM

Maxxis_IMG_6455

Price: $44
Weight: 325 grams
Width: 28mm (claimed); 27.1mm (actual)
Sizes: 23, 25, 28mm
www.maxxis.com
The Re-Fuse from Maxxis is one of the best values in the adventure clincher category. At only $44, it features a 60-tpi casing with Maxxis’ MaxxShield puncture-resistance technology for durability. The simple “diamond knurled slick” tread pattern provides just the right amount of traction. It’s hard to pass up the 28mm version, but there are two other sizes on offer. But while the size-23mm version is available in six colors, the size-25mm and -28mm varieties only come in solid black.

CONTINENTAL GATORSKIN 32MM

Price: $54
Weight: 375 grams
Width: 32mm (claimed); 31.4mm (actual)
Sizes: 700c x 23, 25, 28, 32mm; 650 x 23mm; 27 x 1 1/4
www.conti-online.com
Available in a variety of sizes, the Gatorskin features Continental’s signature cut-resistant DuraSkin fabric, along with its PolyX Breaker, a polyester layer that’s also utilized on Continental car tires for added durability. And with a 180-tpi casing, the Gatorskin still offers a smooth ride quality. We particularly like the largest of the bunch, the 32mm version, because it provides all-day comfort over even the roughest gravel roads.

CHALLENGE PARIS-ROUBAIX

Challenge_IMG_6485

Price: $79
Weight: 301 grams
Width: 27mm (claimed); 28.9mm (actual)
Sizes: 27mm
www.challenge.it
Although the Italian tire manufacturer claims the Paris-Roubaix to have a 27mm width, we found that it actually measures close to 29mm, making it a great choice for training rides, rough rides and even light gravel riding. An open tubular tire, the handmade 260-tpi casing is one of the supplest you’ll find on a tire this big at this price level.

SPECIALIZED ALL CONDITION ARMADILLO ELITE 32MM

Specialized_IMG_6482

Price: $55
Weight: 415 grams
Width: 32mm (claimed);
31.9mm (actual)
Sizes: 23, 25, 28, 30, 32mm
www.specialized.com
Besides the array of bikes and components, Specialized also produces a wide range of tires for all types of road riding. On the adventure side, we recommend the All Condition Armadillo Elite, which comes in five different sizes. The 32mm version is our favorite due to its versatility, but all versions feature Specialized’s Armadillo fl at-protection system for incredible durability, although at the cost of a relatively heavy weight. Its 120-tpi casing makes for a more supple ride feel than one would expect, while Specialized’s signature Gripton rubber compound provides plenty of traction in all conditions.

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