We're counting down to the upcoming cyclocross season and we're now only 9 weeks away, with the season opener September 1 in the USA this year. With that in mind, now is a great time to zoom in on one of the most important decisions you'll make - tire selection.
Regardless of which you choose, make the choice and source the equipment now. Here's what you need to know:
Your choices are tubulars, tubeless, or traditional clincher. Let's take a look at each.
Tubular - traditionally called "sew-ups" because they have a tube literally stitched inside a treaded tire casing, then covered with a base tape. The base tape is attached to a special matching tubular rim with glue or special tape. While this adds complexity and requires some setup, the ride quality is the best, so this is what's used by elite cyclocross athletes worldwide as well as amateurs interested in maximizing their performance.
Tubeless - if you aren't ready to go with a tubular setup yet, tubeless is a great compromise. As the name implies, there is no inner tube. Tubeless tires are installed similarly to traditional clinchers, and are typically used in tandem with a liquid sealant, which adds puncture resistance. Tubeless tires are a great choice if you have only one wheelset, since you can easily change tires to suit different racing or training conditions.
- Traditional Clincher - this is the "common" tire type that comes on most bicycles, an outer tire with a separate inner tube. They are the least expensive and simple to repair in the event of a flat, but also have the worst ride quality. If you decide to use them, latex inner tubes make an inexpensive upgrade.
Still not sure? Check out our even more in-depth article on the pros and cons of each system. Whatever you decide, make your decision now, so you have plenty of time to test your new tires in advance of the season.