This post compares the differences between 60TPI and 120TPI tires.
TPI stands for Threads Per Inch and indicates the fineness of the material used for a tire’s main body/skeleton/casing. Higher TPI indicates a finer, lighter material while lower TPI has the opposite properties but also greater resistance to external stress.
What’s tire casing?
The casing is essentially the skeleton/main body/carcass of the tire and determines the tire’s flexibility, shape, resistance to punctures, and overall performance.
The casing is in the middle of the tire and supports the tread as well as the puncture resistance layers and the beads that hook the tire onto the rim.
The casing is made of nylon cloth or other polyamides covered in an airtight rubber compound.
The Advantages of 60TPI Tires
- Stiffness and More Support
60TPI tires have casing with 60 threads per inch. This thread density is significantly lower than 120TPI and allows the manufacturing of much stiffer casings that offer more robustness and support.
For that reason, 60TPI tires tend to be better for heavier bikes and riders.
- Greater Resistance To Punctures, Abrasions, and Cuts
The strongest advantage of 60TPI tires is the increased defense against punctures and cuts. 60TPI tires are made of thicker casing making it more difficult to pierce the outer shell and sidewall. Hence why you see 60TPI tires on many bicycles designed for off-road terrain filled with various thorny bushes.
60TPI tires are less sophisticated and easier to produce. The price tag reflects that property.
The Disadvantages of 60TPI Tires
- Less compliant ride
The main disadvantage of low TPI tires is that they aren’t as compliant as high TPI versions. As a result, the ride isn’t as comfortable. Additionally, the reduced suppleness of the tire decreases traction because the tire cannot deform sufficiently when meeting an obstacle and bounces around.
That negative, however, can be countered by reducing the air pressure of the tire.
The thicker casing requires more material and is therefore heavier. The difference is negligible unless you’re trying to build the lightest possible bike.
The Advantages of 120TPI Tires
The strongest advantage of 120TPI tires is that they’re suppler and have an easier time deforming according to the road ahead. This property increases the tire’s traction and the rider’s comfort.
This is all possible thanks to the flexible and lighter casing consisting of 120 threads per inch.
The thinner casing requires less material and thus allows the tire to be ever so slightly lighter. This is one of the reasons why you see “speed bikes” equipped with high TPI tires reaching far above 120.
The Disadvantages of 120TPI Tires
- Susceptible to Punctures
The thinner carcass of 120TPI tires makes them more susceptible to external damage.
- More Expensive
120TPI tires are considered performance models and are therefore more expensive than 60TPI versions. It’s unlikely to find a high TPI tire on a budget bike.
FAQ: I want to run high TPI tires but can’t afford them. Any advice?
The difference between low and high TPI tends to be more noticeable on the front of the bike. If high TPI tires are too expensive, you can start by getting only one unit and installing it on the front wheel.
What about durability?
There’s a popular misconception that high TPI always equals greater quality. Sometimes that’s true, but the TPI of a tire does not have a strict influence on the tire’s durability.
A 60TPI tire can offer both decent performance and a long lifespan. The overall durability of a tire is determined by how it’s built and the used materials.
A low TPI tire with decent rubber composition could outlast a cheap high TPI tire.
When to choose 60TPI?
60TPI tires are a good choice in the following cases:
- You want to minimize the cost of the tire.
- You have a downhill or a freeride bike. Those types of bicycles use 60TPI tires for extra durability, toughness, and resistance to punctures.
- You want a tire with greater resistance to punctures and cuts.
When to choose 120TPI?
If you’re performance-oriented and want a tire that offers more compliance, 120TPI or higher is the way to go. 120TPI tires have become the norm for many disciplines such as Cross Country, Trail and Enduro.
A Word On Tire Width
Even though a tire’s TPI is a fairly important characteristic there are others that have a greater influence on performance. One of those properties is width.
For example, a 60TPI wide tire will be a lot more compliant than a narrow 120TPI model. A wider tire can operate at lower air pressure without experiencing punctures. The result is greater cushioning despite the low TPI.
That said, if two tires are of the same width, the one with a higher TPI will be more compliant.