Bike tires keep you rolling. That’s why it’s important that you choose the right bike tire for your bike. Choosing the right bike tire depends on the type of biking you want to do.
Are you a bike commuter who mainly uses your bike for getting around the city? Are you a mountain biker who loves the thrill of dirt and hills? Or are you just a leisure biker who rides the bike only when you’re feeling it?
Below are some tips to help you get started. Read on!
Things to Consider When Choosing the Right Bike Tire
Sharp tread edges are a must, no matter what type of biker you are. Tread edges that are worn down are more prone to flats and can affect the handles of your bike. If your tread appears uneven or rounded, replace it — that’s the rule of the thumb. Not only does it give you a smoother ride, but it also keeps you safe.
Knowing the Right Bike Tire Size
Simply check the tire sidewall to know the current size of your bike tire.
For mountain bike tires, you’ll see a number pairing like 27.5×2.0. This means that the outer diameter of your bike tire is 27.5” and the width is 2”. Mountain bike tires depend on the type of riding you want to do. For cross-country bikes, tires usually come between 1.9” to 2.25” in width. Trail bikes are 2.25” to 2.4” in width. While downhill bikes can be as much as 2.5” wide to withstand drops and rocks.
Road bike tires come with a number pairing like 700×23. Like mountain bike tires, the outer number is the outer diameter of the bike tire while the inner number is the width. But this time, it’s in millimeters.
With the exception of some 650s road bike tires, which are used on front wheels to decrease stand-over clearance for smaller riders and to provide faster acceleration, most road bikes today sport 700 tires.
Bike tires for racing can be as narrow as 18mm. While those who go on tours and century rides use tires between 25mm to 28mm for comfort and better stability.
Knowing Your Bike Tire Treads
Treads are for grip. And the more grip (or treads) your bike tire has, the slower you go because of rolling resistance. So, it’s important to know your sweet spot between grip and speed when choosing bike tire treads.
There are four types:
Knobby tires have the most grip and rolling resistance. And they are designed based on specific trail conditions. For example, smooth singletracks work best with smaller knobs while taller knobs are better for technical terrains covered with roots and rocks. Knobby tires designed for mud usually come with spaced out knobbies to keep the mud off the tire.
Inverted Tread Tires
From the name itself, this type of bike tire comes with an inverted grip. It has a lesser grip and rolling resistance compared to knobby tires. Inverted tread tires are perfect for dirt roads with lots of potholes and ruts.
Sporting a smooth center, semi-slick tires are usually used for smooth roads. Although some also use it for off-road tracks, occasionally. The smooth center of semi-slick tires provides faster acceleration and minimal rolling resistance. The treaded sides, on the other hand, help with cornering.
If you want to go fast, go slick! Slick tires are best for road and commuter bikes. They are perfect for asphalt, groomed singletrack, and Slickrock. Slick bike tires appear smooth with light tread patterns on the surface.
Understanding Bike Tire Valves
It’s important that you know about bike tire valves in case you have to adjust your bike tire pressure. There are two:
Schrader valves look like car tire valves. They are wide and are commonly found on cheap to mid-range bikes.
Significantly narrower than Schrader valves, Presta valves are common on high-end bikes especially those designed for road biking. Presta valves come with built-in valve caps that you can loosen and tighten when adjusting your bike pressure.
When using a bike pump, don’t use a Presta valve for Schrader valve, and vice versa as this can damage your bike tire. Fortunately, there are bike pumps that can fit both tire valves without using an adaptor.
A Few More Important Bike Tire Features to Consider
Tubeless Bike Tires
Like cars, bike tires also have tubeless versions. And they are starting to gain popularity. Installing a tubeless bike tire can be quite complicated, so as fixing a tubeless tire flat. If you want to switch to this type of bike tire, you may want to invest in tubeless ready rims. You can also buy conversion kits if you want to.
Puncture-Resistant Bike Tires
Bike tires that are puncture-resistant are slower than standard bike tires. But hey, at least they save you a headache from fixing a flat! Most manufacturers make puncture-resistant bike tires by either increasing the tread thickness or using durable fibers like Kevlar®.
Foldable Bike Tires
This bike tire is starting to become a thing. Light and easy to store, foldable bike tires have a Kevlar® bead instead of wires. They’re great for road bikes and mountain bikes. The only con is that they’re more expensive compared to regular bike tires.
You’ll most likely encounter this when choosing road bike tires where high air pressure is needed. Bike tires with higher thread counts are usually made from materials that are light and more comfortable to roll on.
There you have it! We hope this post helped you understand your bike tires better. Remember, it’s all about the type of riding you want to do. Choose wisely!