Today we seek to clarify one of the many aspects to purchasing high-performance race tires. In this article, we will showcase the difference between a Wired tire and a Foldable tire.
It’s All in the Bead
The primary difference between a Foldable tire and a Wired tire comes in the construction of the tire’s bead. The Tire Bead is a term used to describe the inner edge that sits against the Wheel / Rim upon installation.
Folding tires feature a bead produced from Kevlar. The Kevlar material is extremely lightweight and flexible. You can easily identify a foldable tire through it’s packing. Foldable tires are neatly folded up. The Kevlar material produces a more pliable tire allowing the tire to change shape like the image below.
In the image above, the yellow strands exiting the tire’s bead represent the Kevlar material. For now, you can ignore the TPI metric. That is a topic for another time and does not pertain to the Foldable vs. Wired tire conversation.
‘Steel is Real’
Wired tires features a steel wire bead. These tires offer more rigidity and are incapable of folding. Unlike Kevlar, Steel is a heavier and stiffer material causing Wire tires to weigh a bit more than folding tires. The difference in weight is considered the primary drawback of Wired tires.
Folding tires are considered to be the superior racing option because of their ‘premium’ Kevlar construction. The Kevlar bead produces a lighter tire, which assist in reducing Rotational weight. This is attractive to racers because lighter tires accelerate quicker. Similar to most things on a race bike, Lighter = Faster!
On the other hand, Wired tires provide more rigidity thanks to the stiffer steel bead. However, it’s hard for a wired tire to compete with a folding tire in terms of performance. As you’ll soon learn, Wired tires have their advantages outside of pure performance.
Wired tires are cheaper than Foldable tires. The simplicity of the steel tire bead cuts down on production cost producing a cheaper tire. As a result, you get a tire that is nearly identical to it’s more expensive Foldable sibling but at a cheaper price!
For some racers, the sheer difference in price may be the sole reason they choose Wired over Foldable.
The Low Down
Keep in mind that the performance benefits between the two tire beads is nearly negligible on track. there is a difference, but it’s pretty damn hard to notice a few 100 grams during the heat of battle. If you’re wondering on which to buy, that answer depends on your budget and the goal of your build.
Budget conscious riders will be more incline to pick up Wired tires. With the continually increasing cost of tires these days, it may be best to purchase quantity over quality. With the performance benefits being so marginal on track, some might seek value over performance.
On the other hand…
If your goal is to build the lightest race bike out there, then foldable is the clear choice. Toe-to-toe, foldable tires are the superior choice, hence the price hike. If you’ve already invested in an expensive lightweight wheel set and even have some tubolito tubes; you would counteract those other performance benefits by seeking out heavier Wired tires. So if the budget is the least of your concerns, then we suggest the foldable tires because your bike can never be too light!
It comes down to two options. You can save a few bucks by purchasing a slightly heavier tire. Or you can spend a little bit more and get the lightest tire possible! Regardless of which you choose, we have a full collection of the industry’s best tire models and manufactures. Click here to browse all the tires we have in stock right now!