The Science of Flat Tyres

Are you sick and tired of getting punctures? Maybe you have prejudices for and against certain types, and brands, of tyre. If you want to understand what makes a bike tyre more likely to puncture, then have a good read of Bike Radar's Bicycle tires – puncturing the myths. James Huang visits a test centre in Finland, where tyres of various construction are put through their paces.

These tests bust a bunch of cycling myths:

  • All puncture-resistant belts are the same
  • Narrow tyres roll faster
  • Inner tubes are all the same
  • Larger wheels are no more efficient than smaller wheels
  • Tread patterns have no effect on road riding efficiency
  • More tyre threads means a stronger, lighter tyre

Unfortunately the article doesn't shed any light on what makes a 'good compromise' between weight, rolling resistance and puncture resistance. For the vast majority of cyclists, puncture resistance is the 'fundamental' concern, but the price paid of the other two mustn't be too high.

There are also the practicalities to consider: which tyre designs and brands are easier to get on and off the wheel, for example? All inflated tyres have the potential to puncture, and when that happens there is nothing worse than struggling aimlessly as the tyre levers bend more than the tyre.


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About the author

My name is John Swindells and I'm a keen recreational cyclist with a preference for long one-day rides. I've also previously dabbled in time trialling and cyclo-cross. See more of what I get up to on Strava!

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