Clinchers: Everything old is new again

If you stick around long enough fashions will recycle. In the 80s I used to wear tye-dyed shirts that I’m sure my oldest brother sported in the late 60s, and the purples and oranges from my mid 70s look have already been through the fashion cycle a couple of times since then. So it goes with bike racing because it looks like both Bora-Hansgrohe and Deceuninck-QuickStep will be turning to clinchers for their entire 2021 race season! Yes, clinchers. Actually, now that I write this, I suppose this is not a case of trends returning. Did pros ever even ride clinchers?

I admit that I don’t keep up with the technology side of cycling very well, but am I the only one to think that this news comes out of left field? I always thought that tubulars were the exclusive preserve of professional racers, serious amateurs and MAMILS who ride them because the pros do. Then we started hearing about tubeless entering into the peloton because ‘rolling resistance’, ‘fewer flats’, ‘if cars do it, why can’t bikes?’, etc., and now we’re back to clinchers.

And these aren’t just any teams, mind you. Bora and QuickStep are two of the best and most popular out there, sporting everyone’s favorite rider, Peter Sagan, and everyone else’s favorite rider, Julian Alaphilippe, respectively. These two teams also ride the same Specialized bikes, and therefore the same tire/tube system. Specialized has two racing clincher tires that both team will use: Turbo Cotton, made for non-rainy days; and RapidAir for the rest. MAMILs, you now have something else to spend your government COVID aid on.

I’m just sad that I sold my old Maruishi Emperor because it’s only a matter of time before down-tube shifters make a comeback.

8 thoughts on “Clinchers: Everything old is new again

  1. I had used Turbo Cottons in the past but did not have much luck with them. I kept wearing a side wall against the rim and therefore would blow tubes. Problem went away when I changed back to a less nouveau tire. I don’t think the pros will have that problem as they don’t have to worry about wear so much. As for that tire? Superb feel on the road! I think I will always have clinchers as they are as reliable as you can get.

    • Didn’t the name ‘cotton’ give it away, Pierre? 😉 I’ve never actually had a race tire on the bike, but I’d like to feel what it’s like someday. Or maybe not because then I’d just want it all the time.

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