Tyres and Tubes

Tyres are available in wide range of sizes. These size vary by circumference, width and tread.

To make things a little more confusing some are measured in decimal widths and others are fractional widths. It is important to note that one will not fit the same as the other. For example, a 26" x 1 3/8 tyre is a different size to 26" x 1.5.

If you have a tyre that has worn out it is best to read the size from the sidewalk of that tyre to ensure you get the correct size.

There is also an ETRTO number (European Tire and Rim Technical Organization) on the side of the tyre. These numbers are normally in the following style 32-622. This indicates the width of 32mm and the tyre inner diameter of 622 mm.

Many people change the width and tread of their tyres. This can be fairly simple if you have a 26" decimal tyre or a 700c tyre. A 26" tyre can range anywhere between 26" x 1.00 to (commonly) 26" x 2.00. Some are slick and some have a grippy tread. Restrictions to size include rim width and frame width. You need to be sure the beading of the tyre is suitable for the rim and that the tread of the tyre won't rub on the frame. The same is true for the 700c tyres.

Once you have chosen which tyre there can often be a choice of compounds. This is the layup of the tyre itself. Many brands use different compounds of rubber. This is to get the best grip for the terrain the tyre is intended.

As the compounds become more complex you quite often jump to a folding bead. This means that instead of using a wire to help the tyre lock to the rim when inflated, strands of thread, often Kevlar are used. This allows the tyre to lock into the rim perfectly as the thread follows the exact form of the rim. Folding tyre command a higher price due to the quality and ride enhancement.

Carrying a spare tube is a must do if you cycle often or commute. There is nothing that frustrates more on a ride than getting a puncture, especially one that you cannot repair.

There are 2 main types of valves on tubes now, Schrader and Presta.

Schrader valves are the same size valve as your car. A circular valve with threads to the top. The inner core of this valve is removable however your rarely need to do so. This valve is often used on mountain bike tubes and hybrid tubes.

Presta valves are also called high pressure valves. They are thin and pointy. To pump these up you partially unscrew the valve itself. Then screw it back up after inflation. This valve is used mainly on road bike tubes as well as mountain and hybrid bikes. As some road bike use deep section wheels, Presta valve tubes come in a range of lengths starting with 33m and going up to 80mm with 42mm and 60mm length in between.

Cycle inner tubes are usually made from butyl rubber. The rubber stretches well so it fills the contours of a wide range of tyre widths. It is also repairable using patches and vulcanising glue.

Some brands have some tubes in their range made from latex. This produces a very light tube however latex as a material loses pressure quickly by compares in and so need pumping up more frequently. Due to the level of stretch that latex has you are unable to fix these tubes should you get a puncture and they are fairly expensive in comparative to the butyl tubes so few people use them.

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