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Everything you need to know about Bicycle Tires

  • Know your Bicycle

What tires you fit on your bicycle will make a real difference to the performance, comfort and safety of your ride. Tires are one of the most important components of a bicycle build. The type of bicycle can be identified mostly by looking at the kind of tires they have.  Read on to know more in detail about the features and funcionality of different bicycle tires.

Bicycle Tire Size

Mountain Bicycle Tires: On mountain bicycle tires you will see a number pairing that looks like 27.5x2.0. This is the approximate outer tire diameter (27.5") by the width (2").

Road Touring and Racing Tires: On road bicycle tires, you will see a number pairing such as 700x23. The first number (700) is a size that roughly corresponds to the outer diameter of the tire in millimetres. The second number (23) denotes the actual tire width in millimetres. Most racers run 700 tires in widths ranging from 18 to 23mm — the narrowest options. Those who ride mostly on pro tours are more likely to be riding tires in widths ranging from 25 to 28mm for a bit more stability and comfort.

Cyclocross Tires: These have small knobs but are designed in a narrow-width 700 size to fit the geometry of Cyclocross racing frames.

MTB Tires or 29ers: 29er mountain bicycles run a wider, knobbier variation of the 700 tires used for Cyclocross, but otherwise look like your typical mountain bicycle tire. 29ers are designed to roll more easily over technical trail sections and through mud and sand. Cornering and climbing traction may also be better due to their increased contact with the trail.

Bicycle Tire Tread

More tread typically means more grip—but also more rolling resistance. So you will need to balance your need for speed with your desire for grip.

Slick Bicycle Tires: Designed for road, city/commuter, touring and mountain bicycles, slicks appear almost smooth, with a barely perceptible tread pattern. Slicks are designed for smooth surfaces like asphalt, slick rock and groomed single-track (with the width of the tire determining the best use). V-shaped grooves on some improve cornering on rain-soaked roads.

Semi-slick Bicycle Tires: These tires are designed with a smooth center, for minimal rolling resistance and faster acceleration, and aggressive treads on the side to help with cornering. They are used for mostly smooth surfaces with some off-road applications.

 Inverted Tread Tires: Tires designed with an inverted tread have more grip and rolling resistance than slicks, but less rolling resistance than knobbies. Use these tires if you suspect you might venture off asphalt or ride on roads with lots of ruts and potholes.

Bicycle Tire Valves

Presta Valves are narrower and have built-in valve caps that you loosen to pump up the tire and tighten afterwards. Presta’s are more typically seen on higher-end bicycles, especially those designed for road riding. Do not use a Presta tube in a Schrader-size hole in your rim, as it will shift too much and possibly sever the valve.

Schrader Valves are wider than Presta’s, with a valve like those on car tires. These are most commonly found on inexpensive and mid-range bicycles. Schraders won't even fit in a Presta-size hole. If your wheel has a Schrader-size hole, it is possible to get an adapter so that you can safely run Presta valves.


Bicycle Tire Features

Foldable Bicycle Tires: Instead of a wire bead (the edge of the tire that holds the tire onto the rim), these tires often have an aramid-fibre bead. This makes them light and foldable for easy transport and storage. Foldable tires are available for both mountain bicycle and road riding.


Tubeless Bicycle Tires: These are gaining in popularity. Depending on your weight and the terrain, you can run lower tire pressures—down to 20 psi (pounds per square inch)—for better traction without pinch flats. Plus, the ride tends to be smoother.

To make the switch to a tubeless setup you will probably want to invest in tubeless-ready tires and rims. You can also buy conversion kits for standard tires and rims.

Puncture-resistant Bicycle Tires: These tires won't feel as speedy as standard bicycle tires, but commuters, in particular, are likely to experience fewer flats. How? Many tire makers employ a durable belt of aramid fibers to resist punctures; others simply increase the tread thickness.

Bicycle Tire Thread Count Casing (TPI): Thread counts have the most impact in road tires, where tire pressure is higher. Higher thread counts allow the use of lighter materials and designs and are found in tires that offer a more comfortable ride. Thread counts for a road bicycle tire start at 60 tpi (threads per inch) and go up to 320 tpi for higher-performance tires used in racing. Other tires have thread counts as low as 20 tpi.

Tires are considered to be an essential and important bicycle component which can drastically change the riding experience. We hope your knowledge of bicycle tires is now better than before and will help you in future while going shopping for tires.


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