Many factors play a role when choosing tires for your bicycle. Besides the type of bike you own and the terrain you will be riding on, one of the most important factors is puncture protection.
Whether you ride on asphalt or gravel; tour or race downhill; train professionally, cycle for leisure, or use your bike for commuting to school or work, there’s never a good time for a flat tire. So you want to invest in tires that give you a reasonable level of protection without adding too much weight and taking away road feel.
Are Kevlar tires it?
Kevlar tires are more expensive than regular tires. But they offer better puncture protection and need to be replaced less often. So, if you take good care of them, they can even save you money in the long run.
Of course, that doesn’t mean a Kevlar tire can never go flat. And, depending on what type of riding you do, the higher cost may or may not be worth it. (Let’s face it, who needs Kevlar tires when they use their bike for grocery shopping?)
We’ll discuss the factors that should influence your decision down below.
What Makes Kevlar Tires Different?
Kevlar is a synthetic fiber, invented by Wilmington, Delaware-based DuPont, that’s five times stronger than steel.
This strong material is used in bicycle tires in two different ways. (It’s also used on saddles and other components of the bike.)
Kevlar can be used to replace wire in a tire’s beads, making the tire lighter, more flexible, and much easier to mount on the rim.
It can also be used to reinforce the carcass. Placed under the tread and sidewalls, Kevlar gives bike tires better puncture protection compared to rubber. When added to the carcass and sidewalls, Kevlar makes the tire slightly heavier and more rigid, compromising on road feel.
However, many cyclists are happy to trade off added weight and reduced road feel for durability.
A Kevlar tire can last for years and roll for thousands of miles without punctures Where goat heads, rusty nails, and shards of broken glass are a real, frequent problem on the roads, Kevlar tires can save you from flats all of the time.
Manufacturers take this to the extreme and often market their Kevlar-reinforced tires as “flatless” or “puncture-proof.”
Needless to say, a tire with Kevlar incorporated into it has the potential to last far longer than your regular tire. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s guaranteed to, but there’s a much lower chance of a puncture when riding on Kevlar tires than on regular bike tires.
Only the sharpest nails, broken glass, and pebbles can penetrate a Kevlar-reinforced tire, and they must be at a certain angle to do so.
If you live in an area with bad roads—or ride on paths and trails that frequently give you flats—Kevlar tires are a real boon. If this isn’t the case, equipping your bike with Kevlar tires might just as well be overkill.
Just How Expensive Are Kevlar Tires?
Generally, Kevlar bike tires run for $15 to $30 more than regular bike tires do. The exact price (and price difference) depends on the type of bike and the purpose and size of the tire.
For Kevlar tires, the saying “buy it nice or buy it twice” applies. Knock-off brands that sell Kevlar tires on the cheap are easy to find, both in brick-and-mortar stores and on the Internet. However, their tires are nowhere near as good as those made by the best bicycle tire brands.
Related: Why Do Good Bike Tires Cost So Much?
At the end of the day, going cheap may end up costing you more in the long run. Yes, you can save fifteen to twenty bucks on every tire if you don’t go Kevlar, but it won’t matter when one of your tires blows out or gets punctured so many times that you’re left with no choice but to throw it away and replace it.
When Are Kevlar Bike Tires a Good Investment?
On a road bike, Kevlar tires may or may not be a good investment. Whether or not you need them comes down to how frequently your tires get punctured because of thorns and foreign objects on the road.
Kevlar tires can also prove beneficial for high-mileage cyclists. Whether you’re cycling in another state or touring abroad, a flat, punctured tire that you have to fix mid-ride is the last thing that you want to get. If you can’t be sure of the quality of the roads, Kevlar tires give you extra insurance.
On a mountain bike, Kevlar tires make a lot of sense. Whether we’re talking about wild trails, loose gravel, steep slopes, or deep mud, you want your tires to be able to withstand the impact of all kinds of thorns, sticks, rocks, and debris along the way.
City commuters and recreational cyclists should think twice before investing in Kevlar tires. Yes, they provide better puncture protection, but they may not need that kind of protection at all.
Yes, Kevlar tires are worth the money, but only if you need them. It is true that their carcasses and sidewalls are much better protected against punctures than regular tires. But if you ride on clean asphalt roads and don’t get flats often, they might as well be overkill.
If you want to buy Kevlar tires but they aren’t in your budget, you can install Kevlar tire liners instead. This is basically a tape that you put between the inside of the tire and the tube to get fewer flats on clinchers.