This isn't your usual wire bead vs folding question, I realise whenever anyone asks folding always comes out better.

I've just renewed the rear tyre on my Specialized Tarmac from the factory S Works 700x24C for Gatorskin 700x25C (wire bead as it's all the shop had) and it's like putting Nike Air shoes on my bike.

I live in Cornwall, UK it's quite rural and the roads can be bad, and the good roads the council likes putting stone chippings down which destroys the surface, changing to the Gatorskin as make the road so much smoother.

I now want to replace the front as well which isn't so urgent, if I invest in a folding will the ride be more/less smooth or the same?

Many thanks and stay safe.


Folding bead alone will not affect your ride in a notable manner.

Here are some things which will affect the ride a lot more than whether it's folding or wire bead:

  • Tyre width (bigger = smoother)
  • Tyre pressure (lower = smoother)
  • Rim width (wider = smoother)

The difference between folding and wire beads are not really about comfort.

You could argue that the sides of a folding bead tyre are a bit softer than one with a wire bead, so if the tyres are the same or similar price, go for folding. Personally, I have not noticed the difference between my folding and wire Gatorskins.

  • 1
    That's awesome thank you so much Jul 2 '20 at 10:37

The main differences between folding bead and wire bead are

  1. Wire bead has a metal loop in each side where the folding bead has a kevlar belt
  2. The wire bead tyre weighs a little more than the folding tyre, compare the specs for exact numbers
  3. The folding tyre takes less room so you could pack a spare tyre with you in less space than a fullsize tyre.
    3b. Also, the folding tyre costs less to freight as well because of the smaller package, but costs slightly more for the tyre.

Effectively to you the rider, there is no noticeable difference. The weight difference is not noticeable.

Personally I go folding tyres on any bike I want to ride a lot, or up a lot of hills. For shopping bikes I'd use the cheaper wire tyre.

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