If you’re reading this article then you want to find out more about Kevlar tires. Good news – that’s exactly what we’re discussing here.
Keep reading to find out what Kevlar bike tires are, what their benefits are, and whether or not you should be using them.
What are Kevlar bike tires?
Kevlar bike tires are tires with a layer of Kevlar beneath the tread. The Kevlar provides puncture protection, reducing the likelihood of getting a flat whilst out on the trail or road. Some tires also include a Kevlar bead instead of a traditional wire bead to reduce the weight of the tire.
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How do Kevlar bike tires work?
Kevlar is commonly used in bulletproof jackets, racing sails, and other applications requiring incredibly strong, light materials. We’ll take a closer look at Kevlar in a minute, first let’s look at how it’s utilized in tires.
The term ‘Kevlar tires’ actually refers to two distinct types of tire that use Kevlar in different ways.
The most common type of Kevlar tire is the ‘belted’ tire that uses Kevlar as a means of puncture prevention.
A belted tire has a layer, or belt, of Kevlar underneath the tire tread. This layer reduces the likelihood of glass, sharp rocks, thorns, or other nasty-edged debris puncturing your tire and ruining your ride.
The other type is the Kevlar bead tire which, as the name suggests, uses Kevlar for the bead of the tire instead of a more traditional steel wire bead.
Just in case you’re not aware, the bead of the tire is the inner section that grips onto the rim of the wheel, holding the tire into place once inflated.
Kevlar beads don’t protect a tire from punctures. Instead, they are used as a means of weight saving on high-performance bikes, and they’re also foldable since Kevlar is way more flexible than steel.
Most people are referring to the puncture-resistant Kevlar belt type of tire when discussing Kevlar tires, so for the remainder of this article we’ll be talking about the puncture-resistant type.
Now we’ve discussed what a Kevlar bike tire is, let’s look a bit deeper into what Kevlar is and why it’s great at preventing punctures.
What is Kevlar?
Kevlar is a strong synthetic fiber originally developed by the company DuPont. DuPont specializes in creating high-tech materials to meet the needs of a number of industries.
Kevlar was first used in the 1970s as a replacement for steel in race car tires due to its high puncture resistance.
Kevlar became the preferred material in race car tires quickly due to the significant weight reduction it afforded when compared to steel, in addition to the fact that it is significantly stronger than steel.
Other industries quickly adopted Kevlar, which was able to provide impressive puncture and cut resistance thanks to the materials’ densely woven fibers.
The exact science of how it prevents punctures is quite complicated and probably requires a materials science degree to understand. To illustrate how effective this bullet-stopping material is, here’s what the manufacturer, DuPont, has to say about it:
‘Kevlar fibers are so tightly spun that it is nearly impossible to separate them. Due to the fully extended and perfectly aligned molecular chains within Kevlar, it provides a strong protective barrier against slashes, cuts, and punctures.’
If you don’t fully understand that don’t worry, neither do I. The point is Kevlar is extremely strong stuff!
We don’t need to understand the exact science of how Kevlar works, we just need to know whether it works or not!
Why is Kevlar used in bike tires?
Kevlar is used in bike tires primarily to reduce the risk of punctures by providing a protective layer beneath the tire tread to prevent any sharp objects from being able to pierce the innertube.
As I’ve mentioned, there are also Kevlar beads but we’ll discuss those in more detail in another article.
Kevlar Bike Tires Pros and Cons
Here’s a list of the pros and cons of Kevlar tires. I admit, I’m a firm believer in Kevlar tires as the number of punctures I’ve had to deal with has plummeted since using them. That said, there are a couple of drawbacks I want to bring to your attention.
|– Reduces the likelihood of punctures
|– Higher initial cost compared to a regular tire
|– Reduces spending on replacement innertubes
|– Not completely failsafe, punctures still happen
|– Reduces the chance of side-wall cuts
|– Tires themselves can last longer
How much do Kevlar tires cost compared to normal tires?
You can pick up a standard mountain bike tire with no protective layer for around $20.
Kevlar tires offering puncture protection typically start at around $35, so there is a significant difference in price.
That said, with some cyclists reporting 5 times fewer punctures when switching to Kevlar tires, the additional cost can quickly be made back in savings as a result of using far fewer innertubes!
It’s also worth mentioning that tires with and without Kevlar can cost much more than this, but they’re the numbers you could expect to pay on the lower end for tires with and without the protective layer.
Are Kevlar tires puncture-proof?
No, Kevlar bike tires aren’t puncture-proof. That implies you’d NEVER get a puncture with a Kevlar tire, and that simply isn’t true. However, they are certainly far more resilient and less likely to puncture thanks to the protective barrier between the tread and the tube.
I know this from personal experience – when I used to ride my hardtail with standard tires I was going through at least a tube per month.
After making the switch to Kevlar I went at least a year before having to change a tube, and that was with multiple bikepacking trips with far too much weight on the bike, not to mention countless runs down my local trails!
Are Kevlar bike tires worth it?
All things considered, Kevlar bike tires are definitely worth the extra cost. Whilst they cost more upfront, the savings on replacement innertubes will quickly earn your money back, and even just the reduced likelihood of getting a puncture out on the road or the trail makes them worthwhile.
As I’m sure you can tell by now, I’m firmly in the ‘Kevlar tires for the win!’ camp.
No tire is completely puncture-proof. You could buy a set of Kevlar tires and get a puncture on your first day – luck plays a major factor in when and where you’ll get a puncture.
However in my experience Kevlar tires reduce the number of punctures you’ll get substantially, saving you money on tubes in the long run.
If you need more convincing, check out what other riders had to say on biking forums when asked if Kevlar tires are effective:
‘I’d liken it to a pair of work pants with double-knees … they last longer and protect your knees … if you kneel on a pile of thumbtacks (not recommended) they’ll do more to keep you unbloodied, but they’re not bulletproof. If you ride enough eventually you’ll get a flat with a kevlar belt, but it will be less frequent than with a thin racing slick.’
‘Definitely yes. Punctures are reduced at least 10x, probably 30-50x, in my experience.’