Tubed vs. Tubeless Tires – What’s the Difference?

If you’re just getting into doing your own motorcycle maintenance, you might be surprised to find out that bikes are made with both tubeless tires and tires that have inner tubes like bicycle tires tend to do. That’s a quirk that tends to set motorcycles apart from ATVs, cars, and other vehicles. If you’re looking for bike parts at the same place you get your OEM ATV parts, being aware of this difference and which type of tire your bike takes are both important. Rims designed for tires with tubes will usually not work with tubeless tires, so you’ve got to know the difference.

Why Use Tubes?

Motorcycle tires with tubes were the original motorcycle tires, believe it or not. The reason for the complex design that put an airtight tube inside the main tire were simple, and it mostly had to do with the spoked rims on the wheel. The threaded spokes made it almost impossible for the rim and tire to be airtight on their own. Today, designs that avoid that feature tend to also accommodate tubeless tires.

Are There Benefits To Adding Tires With Tubes?

If your bike has rims that were designed to use tubeless tires, you won’t get any added benefit from using an inner tube or a tire that requires one. In fact, you’ll lose performance. The best tubeless motorcycle tires and the cheapest both share features that give them distinct advantages over tires with tubes.

  • Better performance when compromised by punctures
  • Longer life
  • Better durability
  • Lower performance temperatures

Want To Switch to Tubeless?

You can’t just go online and find motorcycle tires for sale and switch between tubed and tubeless. First, check out your bike’s manual. At the very least, you will probably have to change the rims to get a wheel that is compatible with tubeless tire construction. You might also find the manufacturer recommends staying with old-fashioned tires if you’re looking for the bike’s original design performance. You might not want to alter that, or if you do, you’ll at least want to know what might change so you can buy the parts that even out your ride.

Why Design New Motorcycles With Tubed Tires?

A lot of new riders wonder why so many manufacturers continue to use designs that require tubed tires. The facts around it are simple, and they mostly come down to aesthetics. As long as riders are out there who prefer the traditional spoked wheel design that’s been around since the early days of the internal combustion engine, you’ll find bike designs that put a demand out there for tires with tubes. It’s mostly aesthetic, but the feel of the ride is distinct, and those with a flair for the historic often prefer it simply because of the value of learning how machine designs differed across times.

Whether you’re learning about motorcycle maintenance to get the best possible performance out of your bike or you’re just trying to understand how it works better, understanding the difference between tire types is important. So is understanding when you need to find a great selection and pick out new tires, so make sure you inspect your tires regularly for wear.