Bicycle Tyres Buyers Guide

Buyers Guide

Bicycle Tyres

Bicycle Tyres

Your choice of bicycle tyres depends on the kind of cycling you do...

Buy fast-rolling Slick or Semi-Slick tyres for road and commuting use.
Use knobbly treads for grip on softer off-road surfaces.

Slick tyres will cope with some dry off-road adventuring - and give a quicker ride for commuting or touring.

Knobbly tyres give better grip out on the trail - but will feel sluggish on the road...

Bicycle tyres roll faster as tyre-pressure increases. Keeping your tyres pumped up makes cycling easier!

Bicycle Tyre Sizes Explained...

The most common bicycle tyre sizes are
  • 26 inch - Mountain Bike Tyres
  • 700c Road Bike Tyres
    (A hybrid could have either - read on...)

    29 inch and 650b, 650c are used on some newer mountain bikes.
    12 inch, 16 inch, 18, 20 & 24 inch tyres are used on kids bikes, bmx's, folding bicycles and recumbent bikes or trikes.

    Bicycle tyre sizes are always stated using two numbers.
    e.g. 26 X 2.2 or 700 X 30.
    These will be written somewhere on the side of the tyre.

    The first number refers to the diameter of the wheel, the second number is the width of the bicycle tyre.

    As long as diameter is the same, you can fit a different width of tyre to what you have now.

    If you don't know what size you have - just have a look at the side of your tyre
    The tyre size is usually printed on there along with some other information e.g. Max Pressure.

    Mountain Bike Tyre Sizes

    Mountain bike tyres use inches for their measurements (due to their American origin).
    e.g. A 26" X 1.9" tyre is 26 inches in diameter & 1.9 inches wide.
    A 29" X 2.1" tyre is 29 inches in diameter & 2.1 inches wide.

    26 and 29 inch tyres range in width from about 1.25 inch to 3 inches - and are available in a huge range of tread patterns...

  • Choose slicks or semi-slicks for fast, efficient road and city cycling.
  • Choose super knobbly for extreme offroad adventures.
  • Something in-between for recreational offroad riding.

    Road Bike Tyre Sizes

    Road bike tyres use a European sizing system...

    700c bike tyre width is measured in mm.
    e.g. 700 X 25 - that's a 25mm wide road tyre.

    The 700 refers to the diameter. Most adult road bikes on sale now have 700c wheels (a 700 wheel is actually 622mm in diameter - Doh!).

    Everyone has personal preferences on tyre width, but as a very loose rule of thumb;

  • 700 X 20-23ish for fast riding on very good surfaces.
  • 700 X 23/25 or a little larger for general road use.
  • 700 X 28 or larger for touring / commuting.

    Hybrid Bicycle Tyre Sizes

    Hybrid Bikes are fitted with either 26 inch or 700c tyres...
    Look at the numbers on the side of your tyre if you are not sure what size your bike has.

    You can fit a different width of tyre to that which your bike was supplied with. Just make sure the diameter is the same.

  • Choose narrower slick or semi-slick tread for fast, efficient cycle commuting.
  • Choose fatter tyres with light tread for easy offroad e.g. towpaths and SusTrans type trails.

    Puncture Resistant Bicycle Tyres

    Some manufacturers offer bicycle tyres that are nearly puncture-proof - A Kevlar or tough nylon layer protects the inner tube from puncture.

    Specialized's Armadillo range of tyres seem particularly puncture resistant and are available for MTB & road bike in slick / semi-slick and treaded patterns in a variety of widths.

    The Schwalbe Marathon Plus range of tyres are also very resistant to punctures. Probably the toughest tyres available but limited on tread patterns and sizes.

    For more info, visit

    Kevlar Beaded Bicycle Tyres

    Also available are Kevlar beaded bicycle tyres (The bead is the part of the tyre that grips the rim). These are much lighter than steel beaded tyres and also allow the tyre to be folded, which is handy if you want to carry a spare on a cycling holiday or long bike trip.

  • Bicycle Tyres
    Buyers Guide