How to Select Bicycle Tires
You should change your bike tires when the time comes, just as you would replace worn-out running shoes. And just as you have options when buying new shoes, so too do you when buying new tires. Even if you want to make sure they fit properly, you may want to upgrade for increased speed, toughness, or overall performance.
This article will explain how to choose the proper bike tire size, when to replace your tires, and some crucial factors to take into account while looking for new tires.
It’s time for new bike tires if any of the following apply:
You’re getting a lot of flats and your tread edges are obviously worn down.
Your bike’s handling has significantly deteriorated.
The tread on your tires is rounded or irregular.
You see a hashtag-like pattern on the tire’s sidewall.
Rubber on the sides and knobs is starting to peel or fracture.
You see a tire deformation (caused by a damaged casing underneath the outer wall)
You see the siping, which are microscopic slots in tires that improve their traction on slippery conditions, is vanishing.
There are several tiny incisions that may or may not include glass slivers; they may go into the tire and result in flats.
Your wear signs, which are usually one or two little dimples, are vanishing (not all tires have wear indicators)
Finding the Correct Bike Tire Size
Although understanding tire measurements might be challenging, there is an easy technique to determine the size of your existing tire:
The numbers on the sidewall of your tire, which you can check, represent its size (roughly its outer diameter and its width, but not always in that order).
2.2 and 27.5″ refers to a tire that is typical for mountain bikes and has an outside diameter of 27.5″ and a width of 2.2″.
a close-up of the words “700 x 32c” inscribed on the side of a road bike tire.
Typical road bike tire measurements are 700 x 32c, which denotes a tire with a 32mm width and a 700 mm outside diameter. (Note that the letter “c” does not stand for millimeters; it is a relic from an earlier French system that used the letters a, b, and c to identify different tire sizes.)
A tire may have one, two, or even three sets of size numbers. Your new tire should fit your bike as long as its size falls between one of these ranges of numbers.
A mountain bike could have the following tire size:
2.3 x 29 denotes a tire having a 2.3″ width and a 29″ outer diameter.
A road bike tire size that you could see:
A tire having a 700mm outside diameter and a 25mm width is designated as 700x25c.
A road tire or a mountain tire may have a third kind of tire size:
The International Standardization Organization (ISO) uses the designation 25-622 to describe the 700x25c tire in the previous example. Because it’s important to make sure that the inner and outer tire diameters match up, this method reports the 622mm inner tire diameter rather than the 700mm exterior tire diameter.
The only time you need to pay heed to an ISO number is if it’s the only size number you have to work with. Although ISO numbers are beginning to appear on tires, they aren’t often indicated elsewhere.
You Have Options for Tire Widths
While the width and diameter of the tire should match exactly, you do have the option to use a different tire. For increased grip and a softer ride, some riders choose bigger tires, for instance. However, this is tough due to factors like rim size, fork size, and frame tolerances. Consult a bike shop before doing this.
Plus-sized tires and fat tires: The bikes with the obscenely large tires are those with fat tires. They provide a comfortable, grippy ride everywhere they go and are effective on both sand and snow. However, the same limitation on size applies: Match the diameter and breadth of your new tires to what is on the sidewall of your old ones, which may be 4 “or more on a bike with fat tires. Plus-size tires, which fall in between standard and fat, might cost 3 “and more.
Tire sizes that are often used: The examples below serve as a general reference for tire sizes used on various kinds of bikes nowadays. (However, you don’t need to worry about what kind of bike you could have as long as your new tires’ sizes match those of your originals.)
Outer tire diameters for mountain bike tires may reach 26 “, 27.5″ or 29″, with widths varying from almost 1.9″ to 5”. Some instances:
Bicycles for cross-country use: 1.9 to 2.3″ broad.
2.3″ to 2.5″ broad for all-mountain and trail bikes.
Bike downhill: up to 2.5 “wide.
Road bike tires: The majority of road bike tires have an exterior diameter of 700mm and a beginning width of 23mm. The majority of road tires have a width of less than 30mm, however bikes designed for gravel roads may have tires as wide as 45mm.
Typical tire diameters for children’s bikes are 20 “Wheel sizes typically range between 20″ and 24″, while extremely tiny children’s versions may have wheels as small as 20”.
If you’re unsure about your tire alternatives, consult your local bike shop: A competent bike store can not only respond to your inquiries on the size of your bike tires, but they can also give you advice on all of your upgrade choices and specifically order a tire to suit your precise requirements. When you take your bike in for a tune-up, it’s a good idea to inquire about the condition of your tires.
How to Choose the Correct Type of Bike Tire (Tread)
Choosing the proper tread pattern for your riding style is much the same as choosing the correct tires. The tread of mountain bike tires is made up of several different knob designs. Road bicycles have a variety of tread patterns, from none (slicks) to more delicate grooved patterns.
An overview of tread kinds is provided below. It is less simple to translate all of that into the kind of tire you need. The intended (optimal) usage of a tire is a useful indicator. Additionally, several tire manufacturers’ websites include detailed descriptions of their tread designs. Consult your local bike store if you’re unsure.
Types of knobby mountain bike tires:
Smooth, dry pathways are ideal for small, closely spaced bumps.
Knobs that are widely spaced enhance handling in muddy and loose ground situations.
Siping, a pattern of microscopic slots, improves grip on slippery surfaces like pebbles and roots.
On hardpack, small, regularly spaced knobs aid in negotiating corners.
Tires for road bicycles:
A scarcely perceptible tread pattern allows slick bike tires to glide at full speed across smooth surfaces like asphalt.
Semi-slick bike tires have an aggressive side tread pattern to aid in turning and a smooth center for rapid rolling. They are designed for riding on largely smooth ground and some off-road terrain.
A balance between rolling speed on smooth terrain and traction on less-than-smooth ones is provided by inverted tread tires, which are also made for some rough-surface riding.
The majority of tire tread patterns are directional, therefore mounting them sideways might affect performance. However, before mounting any tire, be sure to check the sidewall for any directional information.
Tire treads on the front and back wheels: Since many tires are front- or rear-wheel specific, make sure your replacement is as well.
How to Choose the Correct Bike Valve and Tube Size
With one difference, bike tube size is virtually identical to bike tire sizing: Due to their ability to stretch, tubes offer a variety of widths: 27.5 x 1.9-2.3 “for instance. Therefore, you must ensure that the size of any new bike tube has a width range that matches the sizing on your bike tires.
There are two different kinds of bike tube valves: Presta and Schrader. Since the hole in your bike rim matches your valve type, you should check sure the bike tube’s valve type fits your old tire.
Presta valves are small and often feature a little nut to seal and open them; road bikes are more frequently found with these. They may be used in any rim, but you should only use a Schrader rim if you install an adaptor to reduce the hole size since doing so increases the likelihood that the valve stem will be yanked away from the inner tube.
Schrader valves have a valve (and separate valve cap) similar to those on vehicle tires, and are broader than Prestas. Schrader valves are found on most mountain bikes. Schrader valves cannot fit in Presta rims because they are too broad.
Alternative Bicycle Tires
Tubeless tires are bicycle tires that inflate and seal on the rim without the need of tubes. If you currently have tubed tires, converting to tubeless will significantly improve performance. For superior grip and a smoother ride, tubeless tires allow you to use lower tire pressures—down to 20 psi (pounds per square inch). They help relieve you of flats, which may sometimes happen when a tube is constricted. To learn more about whether or not to switch, see Tubed or Tubeless: Should My Tires Be Upgraded?
Fixing a tubeless flat and the tubeless installation procedure may both be quite challenging. The conversion procedure necessitates the purchase of tubeless conversion kits or tires and rims that are equipped for the technology.
Puncture-resistant bike tires: Purchasing this more costly (and heavier) kind of tire makes sense if you commute or just hate replacing flats. Tougher materials (such as Kevlar®) and generally thicker tires provide puncture resistance.
Tires for folding bikes: These tires often contain a Kevlar® bead rather than the wire bead that is used on ordinary tires to secure the tire to the rim. Weight savings is a key factor in choosing a foldable tire. The tire can be folded up, which makes transporting and storing it simple. Foldable tires, which are available for both road and mountain bikes, are often more costly than standard-bead tires.
If you ride in the winter, you should think about getting tires with spikes. Bike tires with studs provide riders more grip on slippery or snowy areas. The studs may be made of steel or aluminum.
Bike tires with advanced rubber compounds: Most tires have only one main kind of rubber. Hard rubber is more durable whereas soft, sticky rubber is better for grip. Some tires use dual-compound rubber to combine such qualities and provide exceptional speed as well as enhanced cornering grip.
Bike tire thread count casing (TPI): TPI (thread counts per inch) in the tire casing—the structural layer that sits under the outside rubber layer on your tires—is comparable to thread counts in sheets in that more thread counts signify better quality (and expense). Road tires, which have greater tire pressures, are affected the most by this. In high-performance tires, thread counts might vary from 60 TPI to 320 TPI.