Why do tire producing companies still produce tubulars? Isn`t Tubeless the technology of the future?

  • 3
    SE is a place to ask questions and get authoritative answers. We try to base our answers in an understanding of the question and the principles involved. So you might improve this question by asking "what are the relative merits of tires with tubes, without tubes (tubeless), and tubulars?"
    – dlu
    Nov 14, 2015 at 18:51
  • I certainly hope not. Tubeless is a PITA to repair and maintain. Nov 14, 2015 at 19:25
  • Most of the professional peloton use tubs, did it cross your mind that there could be a reason for this? Could you not have thought of a form of words to make your question a bit more open-minded? e.g. "what are the perceived advantages of tubular tyres?" (which might well be a dup anyway - did you look?)
    – PeteH
    Nov 14, 2015 at 21:12
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    Answering literally, it's because future technology isn't here yet (by definition) and we need something so bikes can keep working in the meantime.
    – Móż
    Nov 15, 2015 at 5:29
  • Because when tubeless rims and tires were introduced, there was no magic that spontaneously converted every bicycle in the world to tubeless technology. There are a lot of bicycles in existence equipped with non-tubeless compatible rims and they still need tires. Jul 15, 2020 at 18:59

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure you know what tubular tires are (they are relatively rare), but I'll describe the 3 basic tire systems for bicycles:

The most common is the good old clincher tire.

enter image description here

(Image from Wikipedia: Bicycle Tire)

The tire (4=bead,6=casing,7=tread) hooks into the rim (1) via the bead (4). The air is held through an inner tube (5) which is protected from the spoke nipples by a rim strip (2).

Theres a lot of reasons for using this:

  • If you have a flat, you can easily swap the tube and/or tire, no mess required.
  • Tubes are repairable. Tires sometimes repairable.
  • Everyone knows how to deal with them and stocks them.
  • The rim doesn't have to be anything special.
  • Cheap, cause everyone's been using them forever.

However, there are some disadvantages:

  • Tubes do have some weight to them.
  • At low pressures, you can pinch the tube and get a flat.

A tubular tire is basically a tube wrapped in the casing and then glued onto the rim. A picture is given below: enter image description here (From this question)

According to Sheldon Brown:

  • Lighter tires and rims than similar clinchers
  • Less likely to pinch flat But on the other hand,

  • Hard to repair

  • Expensive
  • Can roll off the rim if you don't glue them properly
  • Higher rolling resistance
  • Not always as round/true as a clincher.
  • Rare -- pretty much only certain racers use them (road, cyclocross).

Finally, we come to tubeless. The mounting system is the same as whats given for the clincher tire, except you don't have an inner tube (5) or rim tape necessarily (2) [Depending on the rim, you may need some tape to make it airtight]. We can distinguish between tubeless rims+tires and tubeless-ready rims+tires (the latter requiring using a liquid sealant with the tire+rim in order to seal the tire, while the former it is optional).

The good things are:

  • You can run lower pressures since theres no tube to flat (better traction)
  • Lower rolling resistance
  • The sealant provides some puncture protection for sealing

The bad is:

  • Installing the tire is a lot longer than a tubed tire (Schwalbe notes that it may take up to 3 days for the sealant to seal the tire)
  • Messier to replace a tire since you have to clean out the sealant
  • You may need to carry around a spare tube anyway, if something happens to stick in the tire and keep moving.

One may argue that tubeless are lighter or heavier than clinchers, but that depends on the system of tubeless tire, so I've left that out.

These things are primarily advantageous for mountain bikers. For road bikers, not so much.

The big reason why I think a lot of people still ride clincher tires is cause they're easy to maintain, cheap, and everybody knows how to deal with them and has the parts. Mountain bikers see real advantages with tubeless, while road bikers don't really see advantages, so they do ride tubeless fairly often, but still, the tube is not leaving us any time soon.

  • 1
    Note that we have omitted "tubular clinchers" (tubulars that mount like clinchers, made by Tufo) and possibly other esoteric variants.
    – Batman
    Nov 14, 2015 at 15:33
  • Tubulars are used in cyclocross
    – paparazzo
    Nov 14, 2015 at 16:26
  • learned so many things
    – Heno M
    Nov 14, 2015 at 17:40

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