Which bike tires are best?
If you’re a regular bike rider, it can be easy to forget about the tires that get you from point A to point B. Without a quality pair of tires, your bike will be more prone to flats and slipping on rough or uneven terrain.
Choosing the right tires for your bike can be more complicated than it sounds, however. First you need to look at your bike and consider which type of tire you’ll need. For a quality road bike tire that’s perfect for commuting, check out the Continental Grand Prix 4000s II Cycling Tire.
What to know before you buy a bike tire
Types of bike tires
- Road bike tires: Road bike tires are designed to be particularly thin and lightweight. They usually have a smooth surface and very little tread so they’ll move more efficiently on even pavement. These tires can vary from competition-level wheels that emphasize speed to commuter bikes with a small amount of tread so they can be taken on gravel or rough pavement.
- Mountain bike tires: These bike tires can be easily recognized by their width and aggressive tread pattern. These tires can tackle almost any surface, but aren’t as fast or as lightweight as their road-oriented counterparts. They also need more air to inflate, but their thickness provides shock absorption.
- Other types: You may see other bike tires that are designed specifically for gravel or bikepacking. These typically resemble a combination of the other two styles. There are also bicycles with fat and knobby tires that are designed specifically for handling packed snow and icy conditions.
Determining bike tire sizes
The easiest method for determining the right bike tire size is to look at your old bike tires. You’ll typically see a series of numbers printed on the side of the tire, an area known as the sidewall. For mountain bikes, you may see something like 2.2 or 2.4. This means that the width of the tire is 2.2 or 2.4 inches. A larger number like 26, 27.5 or 29 is going to signify the diameter of a mountain bike tire. Most road bikes have a diameter of around 25 to 29 inches with a width of around 1 inch, but be aware that road bike tire measurements could appear in millimeters or “C”, which is an archaic French measurement system.
What to look for in a quality bike tire
Tube vs. tubeless
Most modern bike tires are clinchers, meaning they’re constructed with an outer tire component and an inner tube that fit together. In recent years, however, tubeless bike tires have grown in popularity. Although they’re typically more expensive than traditional clincher tires, tubeless tires are more lightweight and better at preventing flats.
The knobs on a bike tire refer to the individual bumps that make up the texture and pattern of the tread. Knobs can appear in a wide variety of different shapes and sizes that are often specialized for specific terrains. Taller knobs result in better traction and control, but they can also reduce your speed.
Foldable bike tires
Just as their name suggests, folding bike tires can be removed and folded into a compact and portable size. This can be a great feature if you enjoy long-distance rides and you want to bring a spare tire or two, just in case. When folded, these tires are small enough to fit into a large coat pocket, purse or backpack.
How much you can expect to spend on a bike tire
The cost of a bike tire can vary dramatically, depending on the quality and the type of riding you do. Mountain bike tires typically cost around $20-$75, while road bike tires are usually $20-$100.
Bike tire FAQ
How do I know when it’s time to replace my bike tires?
A. You’ll know it’s time to replace your bike tires when it seems like they’re constantly losing air or the tread has worn away. Bike tires also need replacing when it seems like your stopping power has been affected.
Are bike tires sold in pairs?
A. Bike tires are almost always sold individually because many riders like to have two different tires on their bikes.
What are the best bike tires to buy?
Top bike tire
What you need to know: This versatile road bike tire is durable and suitable for both commuting and racing.
What you’ll love: Handmade in Germany, this lightweight bike tire features a puncture-resistant construction and comes with built-in wear indicators that will tell you when it’s time for a replacement. The company claims that these tires’ reinforced material is five times stronger than steel.
What you should consider: A few users had trouble fitting this tire onto their bike.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top bike tire for the money
What you need to know: Backed by an iconic road bike manufacturer, this tire has a smooth tread that’s suitable for a variety of terrains.
What you’ll love: This replacement bike tire is budget-friendly and appropriate for cruisers, hybrid bikes and commuters. The shallow knobs are great for pavement and light dirt or sand terrains. The steel-bead construction and puncture guard can also prevent flat tires.
What you should consider: Some people reported receiving tires that weren’t manufactured by Schwinn.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Bike tire worth checking out
What you need to know: This mountain bike tire is foldable and well-suited for all pavement surfaces and smooth trails.
What you’ll love: A solid mid-tier option, this mountain bike tire has an integrated layer of Kevlar that provides extra durability and puncture resistance. The tall knobs are also ideal for gripping groomed trails and gravel.
What you should consider: This bike tire probably couldn’t handle particularly rugged or serious mountain terrain.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Patrick Farmer writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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