Your choice of a bicycle tire matters a lot. If you hit the road frequently, you would wish to land a tire that guarantees safety, comfort, durability, and peak performance. Choosing the best bicycle tires make it easy to navigate curves flawlessly without tripping, even at a higher speed.
If you are starting, there is no doubt that you will confuse folding vs. wire bead. Which of the two types is better? Under what circumstances should you choose folding over wire beads or vice versa?
Folding tires and wire beads have been around for a few decades. Due to their popularity and significant scope of functions, the competition between the two types of tires is very stiff. Your being here is a justification that you would wish to know the qualities that set each variant apart. Well, congratulations! At the end of this piece, you shall have to know their similarities, differences, the type that suits your bike’s model, and the functionalities you are after.
What Makes a Folding Tire?
Have you ever thought of carrying with you a spare tire that you can easily fold and install onto your ream? If yes, folding tires may be what you are looking for.
These tires are made with compact bundles of Kevlar strands that overlap to create a durable rubber tube. They do not have the rigid wires that you are likely to see in some bicycle tires.
When going for a long ride, you may need an extra pair of bicycle tires for emergencies, such as when your tire heats up and gets punctured—folding tires “fold” multiple times to form a flat piece that can fit inside a backpack. They are malleable while at the same time functional.
It does not mean that the tubes will not last you long. Folding tires are equally durable and can take years when properly maintained.
What Makes a Wire Bead?
Traditional bicycle tires came with strands of wire beneath the tread. This was mainly to add strength and keep the strand stiff enough to withstand regular wear and tear. The cables were woven into a mesh or bundled together.
Like the traditional tires, wire beads are also made with woven steel cables and vulcanized with Kevlar strands. They are a bit stiffer and very stable. You may not fold them as much as you could with a folding tire.
What is the Difference between Folding and Wire Beads?
Not so many differences exist between folding and wire beads. The most distinct quality that sets each apart is that wire beads have wires inside the rubber body while folding tires do not. That brings us to other aspects such as:
Folding tires are a bit lighter. They only have strands of Kevlar conjoined together to form a floppy compact thread. In case you lack a place to put the tires, you can comfortably roll them on your shoulder as you ride. On average, these tires weigh 3.2 pounds, so they may not pin you down.
Conversely, wire beads are heavier since they come with additional strands of wires beneath the treads. If you are going for a long ride, they may not be your better choice to carry as a spare part. On average, these tires weigh around 5 pounds.
You will notice that some brands come with less weight compared to others. Also, depending on your bike’s ream, the size of the tubes may vary, hence affecting the weights.
Folding wires are durable and should last you more than a year, even when riding regularly. The Kevlar rubber can withstand wear and tear and can support a good load without blowing out. However, since the tire lacks the extra
reinforcement that comes with strands of wires, they may not last longer than the traditional variants.
Wire beads have web-like strands of steel wires that hold the strands of Kevlar together. They are more durable compared to folding wires.
Folding tires are pricier since they come with double Kevlar strands. High-end versions come with price tags of up to $70. Some brands use extra processing techniques when making their versions, so expect to pay even twice the traditional tire price.
Wire beads are a bit cheaper. On average, they come with a price tag of about $50. In case you want to navigate cost curves, they are your best choice.
The floppy folding tires are easy to mount over the ream, even hands-free. The beauty of these tires is that they hold up snugly without coming out once they fit into place. In case your tire flattens out, you can be sure to change them easily without lending an extra hand.
Wire beads are very rigid due to the wire mesh they have inside. In regards, they do not open easily, making them very difficult to mount. To get them over the ream, you need pliers or any mounting tool to make the process a success.
Folding Tubeless vs. Wire Beads
Since 1999, tubeless tires have grown far and wide to accommodate a wide range of functions. They have become even more reliable and lighter.
Unlike conventional clinchers, tubeless tires do not have the inflated inner tube often covered by rubberized tires. Instead, the tire casing is made large enough and attached to the ream using a special sealant.
Tubeless-ready folding is your best choice in case you want to get rid of the inflated strands. Currently, you will hardly find tubeless wire beads. You are more likely to land on UST or Tubeless Ready foldings.
Gatorskin folding vs. wire bead
Gatorskin is a staple brand, especially when choosing either wired or folding tires for your ride. Their releases are high-performance and durable and comfortable for use over different bikes available in the market.
When choosing between Gartorskin folding or wired tires, you need to consider meltdown to build and scope functions.
Well, Continental Gatorskin comes with overlapping polyester fibers that form dense skin. Additionally, it comes with sidewall protection to withstand the toughest environment. The tire also comes with a durable carbon black mixture that aids its comfortability and resistance to blowouts.
Gatorskin Continental makes an excellent choice for professional road racing if all these factors are to go by. Gartorskin wired, on the other hand, is made under the DuraSkin technology with durable carbon black and polyamide fabric for sidewall protection. The wire is formed into a mesh fiber for increased durability. The wired versions are made to tackle road trails and other flat paths you may wish to traverse.
Both folding and wired versions are durable. However, if you are short of budget, Gatorskin wired are a bit cheaper, hence may fall in your desired price range.
Folding vs. Wire Bead Mtb
If you are a folk that loves mountain riding, you may think that wire beads are a thing of the past. Well, for their durability and build, they still offer the edgy performance you may be looking for. However, they may not be suitable for use with specific models of mountain bikes for their weight.
Folding tires makes for an excellent ride at higher altitudes. They are the paradigm of modern bike tire technologies. Due to their build, they offer the greatest soil penetration. Whichever direction you chose to tread, they grasp like a pro, making your ride successful and memorable.
The generous rubber used for the tread also makes it easy to create styles that are synonymous with mountain riding. They can come with squared profiles with deeper treads that offer excellent grip and classic appeals. Some also come with reinforced sidewalls that prevent tripping even in the muddy walls.
The magic in using folding tires in mtb lies with the weight. Unlike wire beads, foldings are very lightweight hence reducing the drag force that might lower your speed. They make climbing hillocks easy and effortless.
Folding vs. Wire Bead Road Bike Tires
The tire you use for the mountain bike may not work perfectly for a road bike. Remember, the terrain of the flat tracks and roads differ significantly from those of the mountain regions. It is, therefore, necessary to consider several factors when you intend to buy the best tire for your road bike.
Arguably the most important, you need to consider the dimensions. A standard adult road bike should measure 650 to 700 mm. BMX riders should have 20-inch tires. High-speed racing vehicles should have tires with a width measuring 700 x 23 mm, while skinny vehicles should be about 23 mm wide.
Secondly, the tread type matters, especially since you are going to traverse different surfaces. Some places are muddy, while some are made of murram or tar. Unlike mountain bikes, most people prefer tires with smooth tread patterns to minimize rolling resistance.
The tire durability comes next. Since most road bikes are essential in carrying goods, it’s worth your dime if you choose a highly resistant tire to wear and tear. In case you plan to use your bike for long-distance traveling, it is even better to select a more compact tire.
Well, there are both folding and wired tires for road bikes. However, when you account for the factors mentioned above, wired variants stand a better chance for use with your bike. They will guarantee you the durability you require and the resistance to impact you need for a long-distance journey.
The wire mesh is an added advantage since it gives the rubber a reinforcement to support the weight when carrying goods. Plus, most wired tires are void of balloon shapes, so you can be sure of a smooth profile that does not compromise grip.
The tire is your only contact point with the road. It can keep you safe for a memorable journey or keep you vulnerable to accidents. Therefore, knowing about the best type of tire to choose is quintessential.
If you are looking for the best tire for your mountain bike, the folding variants are your best go-to options. On the other hand, wire beads are your ideal choice for road trips. However, this does not mean you cannot use a folding tire on roads or wire beads on mountains. Some manufacturers design their models in a way to suits any terrain.