Will cycling's wheel and tyre brands ever learn to play nicely?

The days of sacrificing thumb skin at the altar of fitment are numbered

(Image credit: Future)

Imagine if you bought a new iPhone, and a matching, compatible case, only to find that the latter required an unreasonable number of phone case levers, some “technical soapy water”, a liberal dose of swearing and a sacrificial donation of the skin on both of your thumbs before the two would mate? It would be reasonable to suggest that either the phone, or the case, had failed to adhere to specified manufacturing standards. And yet, certain quarters of the cycling industry remain resolute in allowing this degree of incompatibility across wheels and tyres. 

The matching together of bicycle tyres and bicycle rims is something of a russian roulette, governed by either-side deviations from absolute measurements, batch variance, and - in some cases - the introduction of proprietary technology. The advent of tubeless road tyres has made the situation a whole lot worse by introducing a need to seal as well as a need to fit, but, it may also herald a need for improvement. 

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