What is a tyre made of?

cycle tech



There are three basic parts to a bicycle tyre, the carcass, the bead core and the rubber tyre tread.  Furthermore, almost all Schwalbe and Continental tyres have a puncture protection belt.

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The carcass is a rubberised textile fabric, which is laid around the bead cores. The carcass is then coated with a rubber compound. The tyre tread is applied and the whole assembly is vulcanised.

Tube Protection: what is it/what does it do?

Dr Sludge / Slime:  This is generally put in when a new tyre is fitted and sits in the inner tube and is forgotten about. It works without you even being aware that it is working.  The disadvantages are that quite a number of ‘Presta’ valves do not have removable cores and therefore cannot be used, in which case you need to buy a ready filled Dr Sludge or Slime inner tube, and that they do add a small amount of weight which might affect some racing bikes.


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Protection Tapes:  These give good protections but the tyres must be kept fully inflated, otherwise they will slip and can cause punctures. Again the racing fraternity  might notice the weight.

The bead core of the tyre determines its diameter and ensures a secure fit on the rim.  Generally the bead core of a tyre is made of steel wire.

In folding tyres, the steel wire is replaced with a hoop of Kevlar fiber.  The advantage is that the tyre can be folded and that, depending on the size, its weight can be reduced by 50 to 90g.

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What is Clincher Tyre?

These days clincher tyres are the standard for bicycle tyres (see tyre construction). The wire tyre bead prevents the tyre from expanding with the pressure and thus from rolling off the rim.

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What is a Folding Tyre?

A folding tyre is, in a way, a special version of the clincher tyre (see tyre construction, bead core). In this tyre, the wire is replaced with a bundle of Kevlar fibres that allows it to fold easily and also makes the tyre lighter by about 50-90g.

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Why ride a Slick Tyre?

Even in wet conditions, on a normal, smooth road, a slick tyre actually provides better grip than a tyre with a tread, because the contact area is larger.

The situation is much different on a rough road and even worse on a dirt trail as in these cases the degree of control provided by a slick tyre is extremely limited.

A slightly serrated surface on the tyre tread can have a positive effect on tyre grip, as it creates micro interlocking with rough asphalt.

What do the direction arrows mean?

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Most Schwalbe tyre sidewalls are marked with a ‘Drive’ arrow, which indicates the recommended rolling direction.  When in use, the tyre should run in the direction of the arrow.

Many MTB tyres are marked with a ‘Front’ and a ‘Rear’ arrow. The ‘Front’ arrow indicates the recommended rolling direction for the front wheel and respectively the ‘Rear’ arrow is the direction for the rear wheel.


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