Have you ever been a situation where your tire is just refusing to fit onto the rim of your wheel? Sometimes, tire replacements can become an unnecessarily frustrating experience. You might be wondering if there could be a possible alternative to your regular tires that could save you some time and effort. Well, it might be that folding tires are the very thing you are looking for.
Folding tires can make it easier to fit a new tire onto your bike, as you can contort and maneuverer the tire to a much higher degree than a conventional tire. There are some quirks that may lead you to prefer normal tires, however.
If folding bike tires happen to be something you would like to learn more about, continue reading and we will explain even more about them.
What are Folding Tires?
As you may have figured out already, folding tires and a special kind of tire that can be folded and compacted into a smaller profile. Where normal tires would have wires (to keep the shape of the tire), a foldable tire has Kevlar strands, and this is what gives the tire its foldability.
The small formfactor of folding tires will give you more options when it comes to carrying spare parts for your bike. Hauling around a spare tire would be a cumbersome activity if you were using regular tires, but with a folding tire, you can just fold it up and carry it around in your rucksack or bag with plenty of space to spare.
Traction is also something that is usually improved with folding tires. The rubber compound used to help make the tire malleable ends up having the added benefit of improved traction for the rider.
This, however, may also reduce the lifespan of your tire as the rubber compound may not be as robust as a regular tire.
As far as weight goes for tires, you should see an improvement in how much your tires weigh with folding tires on. You can sometimes shave off up to 100 grams in weight. Another benefit to folding tires is that they also possess a higher thread density than a lot of normal tires and that will prove how it feels to ride using them.
Fitting Folding Tires
So, how exactly would one go about fitting a folding tire? At first it may seem quite challenging, as it is so different to a regular tire. This may put you off folding tires, but once you get used to the procedure it should be a relatively painless experience.
The packaging of the tire can actually make quite a larger difference in how easier it is to fit the tire. Depending on which company it was that made your tire, it will most likely be packaged differently.
If it has been packaged well it should let you unfold it without issues, but if it has been done carelessly, then the unfolding process may give you a bit of a headache.
When unfolded, you are going to want to put a bit of air into the tires. Use whatever inflation tool you like best and be careful not to put too much air in as folding tires have a lower pressure than normal tires and overfilling them could cause them to burst.
With a bit of air, the tire should plump up and at this point you are going to want to wrap it round the rim of your bike wheel. Keep manoeuvring the tire into position and when you have almost got it completely on the rim you can make use of a tire lever to make it easier getting that last section on.
Using the bike lever on more time, you should make sure the sidewalls of the tire are in place. You may find that you need to let some air out to get this done, but as long as you do not lose too much you should be fine.
How expensive are folding tires?
By this point you are probably wondering just how much these folding tires will cost. As you might expect, it will most likely set you back a little more money than a usual tire.
Some folding tires can come as cheap as $8 (worth keeping in mind you get what you pay for) but some other folding tires can exceed $50, so it depends on personal preference for what the different tires can offer.
I am sure you can see why the price of folding tires may be more than a normal tire. Different materials are used that can be pricier and the storage capabilities make them a lucrative product.
You will have to way up the different aspects of folding tires and normal tires and see which one is more suitable for you. For example, is it worth it in your eyes to spend a bit more to allow for you to be able to carry a spare tire with you, or would you rather spend less for a tire that is less portable.
Folding tires or Wire Bead tires?
More usual tires are made using a wire bead. This has a steel wire that runs between the rim of the bike and the tires. This bead is like a cord wrapped in fabric that goes around the inner circumference of the tire and allows the tire to stay on the rim much easier.
Steel is not usually known for its flexibility and of course, this means that a wire bead tire has far less flexibility than a folding tire. Where you can squash down a folding tire, a wire beaded tire will remain mostly the same. So, if this flexibility is something that is very important to you then consider the folding tires.
The rubber compound that provides some of the malleability in the folding tires can also prove to be a downside from a certain perspective. Whilst the traction that the compound brings to the tire is great, the soft rubber will not last as long as the hard rubber of a wire bead tire.
Depending on which is a priority for you (traction or longevity) you need to think about your choice of tire.
When it comes to thread count and weight, the obvious winner will always be the folding tires. Due to the rubber compound the threads per inch will always be much higher and without the heavy steel of the bead the tires will always be lighter. Of course, it depends if this is important to you.
Finally, we have to think about money. If you want to keep costs low, you can most likely find a wire bead tire for a bit cheaper than a folding tire. But if you find yourself swayed by the benefits that a folding tire can offer, then maybe the extra money will be worth the investment.
To conclude, folding tires can be easier to fit although not necessarily. If you value saving space and a smoother ride, then go for a folding tire. If you want to save money and need longer lasting tires, then go for wire bead tires. It all depends on what you need from your tires.