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I’m hoping someone can help me decide whether to go with the wire bead type or foldable Kevlar.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of each?

The bike is an old Fuji that originally came with 700x19c tires.

I’m not an avid biker just riding around on bike paths mostly on weekends. Maybe ride about 20 miles a weekend, but since I’m in the market for new tires I’m looking to purchase wisely. Thanks

  • If you tell us what your bike is and how far and fast you ride we can possibly make a recommendation about the quality of tire that suits your needs (although specific product recommendations are off topic here). – Argenti Apparatus Mar 7 '18 at 17:47
  • I will update with the bike info once I’m home later. I casually ride the bike on bike paths every now and then. Mostly on nice days. In terms of how far, probably 20 miles in a weekend. For now I found these, they’re used but curious if it’s a good deal? rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/… – ohmmy Mar 7 '18 at 18:03
  • In a way used folders are probably better, since someone else has gone to the trouble to force them into shape. – Daniel R Hicks Mar 7 '18 at 18:15
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    @ohmmy get the widest tyre your rims/brakes/chainstays will take. 19 is old-school narrow and the trend lately is toward wider. So 23 should be fine, 25 maybe possible and 28 could be a distant chance. – Criggie Mar 7 '18 at 19:27
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For most of us it makes little difference.

Kevlar beads are supposed to be harder to fit but the hardest job I've had fitting tyres has been with wire. Some tyres are available in both (there's normally a little difference in the compound as well). The kevlar version is nominally more expensive, but can be cheaper if it's stocked in more competitive places. I found this with my winter tyres. As the kevlar version folds it can be cheaper to ship as well.

The weight saving of kevlar is real but small enough that you're not going to notice unless you're racing at a high level.

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  • Thank you. Are you familiar with these? rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/… Or should I look for another brand/type – ohmmy Mar 7 '18 at 17:35
  • I don't know about that specific tyre. I go for more puncture protection than that,because of the rides I do. – Chris H Mar 7 '18 at 17:44
  • "For most of us" - if that includes installing the tire the first time, foldable beads are a bit more difficult to get seated. If you let your LBS do it, makes no difference. – qneill Aug 30 '18 at 21:36
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Advantages (Kevlar Bead)

  • Lighter construction weight
  • Packs down smaller so a spare tire can be easily transported
    • Great for touring off the beaten track where tire damage is possible.
  • Usually found on higher end tires (i.e., higher performance).
    • Manufacturers typically use Kevlar beads on higher quality tires, which should include higher quality casing and rubber.
    • The result is usually a tire that is that are more supple (i.e., comfortable) and less rolling resistance and higher traction (this is of course not universally true and has little to do with the material used in the tire bead)
    • On average wire beed tires tend to be found on the lower end tire models which often use cheaper rubber, casing materials.

Disadvantages (Kevlar Bead)

  • Cost (wire bead tires always cost less).
    • For applications where high performance is not required (e.g., commuting, casual riding), why spend extra?
  • Some claim kevlar bead are harder to fit, but I have never found this to be the case.
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  • Thanks for your answer. I’ve been reading conflicting information about whether Kevlar or wire bead is more puncture resistant. I’d mostly be more interested in that feature. Any thoughts/tips when tire shopping? – ohmmy Mar 8 '18 at 0:46
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    @ohmmy The kevlar or wire bead is how the tire interfaces with the rim, this has nothing to do with whether or not the tire contains a anti-puncture strip under the tread. Also anti-puncture strips are made from a variety of materials. – Rider_X Mar 8 '18 at 7:04
  • Oh ok thanks. Yeah everything I’ve been reading from varies forums has conflicting info. Some say just the fact that it’s a folding type is better for puncture and others claim the same for wire bead. Is there a spec to look for that informs you about the picture resistance as opposed to other factors? – ohmmy Mar 8 '18 at 13:21
  • @ohmmy tires with puncture protection will say so usually say something like “excellent puncture protection” then giving their technology a fancy name (e.g., PolyX breaker, Vectran, GreenGaurd, flackjacket, Black belt) which is intended to bestow confidence and make you part with $$. – Rider_X Mar 8 '18 at 23:20
  • A Kevlar bead has nothing to do with puncture protection it's just to make the tyre foldable. You'd rather need a Kevlar tape/band under rubber rolling surface to protect against piercing objects. – Carel Mar 10 '18 at 11:43
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Very easy. Kevlar beads are lighter and are used in higher end more expensive tires. Wire beads are heavier and used on less expensive tires.

If you are not looking for performance or weight saving, you can safely choose wire bead.

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  • How much weight difference is there generally? Are wire beads noticeably different in a “bad” way? I believe the original tires on my bike were bead but I could be wrong. I’m only making that guess because the bike is probably 20 years old and came with 700x19c tires – ohmmy Mar 7 '18 at 17:07
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    Hard to say what the weight difference is as there are other design elements that effect weight.There is nothing 'wrong' with wire bead tires. I'd say do not focus on bead material, instead look at overall quality and performance vs price. – Argenti Apparatus Mar 7 '18 at 17:45
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With the exception of treks across Australia or some such (where folding a stowed tire is useful), "folding" tires are mainly a convenience for the supplier.

They are a major inconvenience for the user, since when the tire is unpacked it's badly distorted, and it takes considerable effort to force it into shape. It's not just that the tire wavers in and out along the fold points, but also, since it was shipped flat, the diameter of the tread is almost equal the diameter of the bead, so it won't readily take a "tire shape" with a roughly circular cross-section.

There probably are "normal" tires with Kevlar beads, but they're in the minority.

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  • I found that the easy way to sort this out is to get it on the rim, not worry about seating it properly, and inflate lightly. Then leave for a couple of days before reseating and inflating properly. Obviously this only works if you don;t need the bike for that couple of days. You can even put a tube in the tyre (no rim) and pump it up until it just takes shape. – Chris H Mar 8 '18 at 9:44

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