If Tubeless Tyres Are Better, Why Do Tube-Type Wheels Still Sell?

Tube-type tyres work better in certain applications like spoked rims or for heavy-duty off-road use.

Car and Bike
2 min read
If Tubeless Tyres Are Better, Why Do Tube-Type Wheels Still Sell?

Most vehicles have now shifted to tubeless tyres, but the tube-type variety continues to be sold. Why is that? If the advantages of tubeless tyres far outweigh those of tube-type tyres why is it that tubed tyres are specifically used on some vehicles?

A tubeless tyre is one where there is no inner tube between the tyre and the rim. Air is directly held in the space between the tyre and the rim. A tube-type tyre has an inflatable tube in it that holds the air in the tyre.

It turns out there are some advantages to tube-type tyres as well. But before that let’s just sum up why tubeless tyres are preferred these days compared to tube-type tyres.

Advantages of Tubeless Tyres

Alloy wheels can take tubeless tyres on motorcycles.
Photo: The Quint

Tubeless tyres are generally considered safer because they don’t lose air suddenly in case of a puncture. Air loss is gradual. In case of a puncture by a nail or so, one can simply fill air in the tyre and drive or ride to the nearest puncture repair centre.

Punctures can be repaired without having to remove the tyre from the rim, by simply plugging the leak. Also since there is no tube within the tyre, there is less friction and the tyre tends to stay cooler. It’s also easier to balance a tubeless tyre as there’s less uneven weight in the tyre.

Why Are Tube-Type Tyres Used?

Spoked wheels require tube-type tyres to prevent air-loss through the rim.
Photo: The Quint

Tube-type tyres are still used in many applications – from heavy duty tyres to motorcycle tyres. For motorcycles, specifically, most bikes that come with spoked wheel rims run tube-type tyres because it’s difficult to provide an airtight seal over spoke anchor points.

Why do motorcycles have spoked rims in the first place? Spoked wheels are more flexible and can take a beating especially over bad roads, without breaking. They can bend and be straightened out later.

Similar is the case with steel wheels used in heavy-duty vehicles. Even if the rim bends, the tyre will not face a loss of pressure due to the tube inside. That’s not the case with alloy rims (which can crack) or tubeless tyres, which will lose air if there’s a rim bend.

So while tubeless tyres are far more convenient, in certain applications, tube-type tyres will continue to prevail.

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