How To Buy Bike Tires
Any beginning or avid cycler needs to know how to buy a bike tire. Factors to consider when you buy a bike tire include how often you ride, the surfaces you typically ride over, and your experience as a rider. While buying a bike tire is not difficult, buying the right tire will take a little bit of research.
To buy a bike tire you will need:
- The diameter of your current bike tires
- Familiarity with the type of riding you typically do
- Determine your current tire dimensions. A bike tire’s diameter and width are stamped on its side and can be read right off the tire. For example, a 26” diameter bike tire with a width of 1.5” will have 26 x 1.5 stamped on each tire. A 650mm tire that is 23mm wide has 650mm x 23mm stamped on the side.
- Determine the diameter of the tires you need to purchase. Standard adult mountain bikes and hybrids have tires that are 26” or 27” in diameter. Racing and road bikes are measured in millimeters; standard dimensions for adult racing/road bikes are 650mm or 750mm. Each bike frame is designed for only one tire diameter, so the diameter you read off your current tires is what you need to buy.
- Determine an appropriate tire width. Your bike frame is designed for only one tire diameter, but several different tire widths fit each diameter and frame. Generally, wider tires offer more stability but require more work to pedal because of more contact with the road. Thinner tires are fast but require higher air pressure resulting in a harder ride. Beginners and non-racers do best when sticking with a medium width or wide tire.
- Figure out the appropriate tread type. To buy a bike tire, each rider must recognize the conditions they will be riding under. Completely smooth tires provide minimal contact with the road and are best for racing on pavement. Well-treaded, or knobby, tires are the opposite of smooth tires. They are often found on mountain bikes because they provide maximum contact with the surface and maximum traction. They do, however, require more work to pedal because of the increased contact with the ground. Most riders, particularly those riding on pavement, prefer a smooth tread that holds a bit to the surface but does not significantly increase the work required to ride the bike.
- Consider how durable you need your bike tires to be. To buy a bike tire, consider the conditions your ride under and how durable your new bike tires should be. Consistently riding over broken glass and nails will require a more durable tire – maybe one with puncture resistance or Kevlar reinforcement. Alternatively, infrequent riders over smooth surfaces do not need to spend extra money for more durable tires.
When you buy a bike tire, you will ideally have the tire fitted at the time of purchase. Although most bike frames can accommodate a range of bike tire widths, wider tires may get hung up on the brakes or frame. The best way to buy a bike tire is to take it to a local bike shop where professionals analyze your riding requirements and recommend appropriate options for you.