The tyres of early bicycles were often little more than iron bands wrapped around wooden wheels, which did little to absorb shock or provide extra grip and stability. Modern tyres offer a wide range of options for many kinds of cycling, with some cyclists, particularly those who take part in sporting events, keeping a selection of tyres so that they can switch between them depending on weather and track conditions.
The tyres are the contact point between the bicycle and the surface, meaning they have a great deal of impact on the control a cyclist has over their bike, as well as the comfort of their ride. There are a number of different tyres available for different kinds of cycling, such as road cycling or mountain biking, and a wide variety is available on eBay.
Types of Bike Tyre
There are two ways for a bicycle tyre to be attached to the rim of the bicycle wheel.
- The ‘clincher’ tyre is the most common kind of tyre, and is widely available. The clincher tyre has a wire that slots into a lip on the rim of the bicycle wheel. Inside this tyre ‘carcass’ runs the airtight inner tube. Clincher tubes are often considered to be easier to patch or replace in the event of a leak or a flat tyre, and due to their wide availability they can often be less expensive than the tubular tyre.
- The tubular tyre is somewhat less commonly found on modern bicycle. With this type of tyre, the outer tyre is stitched or glued directly onto the wheel rim, covering the inner tube. While some cyclists feel this kind of tyre offers a smoother ride, it can be difficult to deal with any leaks that do occur.
Like many modern bicycle components, bicycle tyres are often designed differently depending on the kind of cycling they are intended to be used for. The tread of a tyre is an important element of this.
Type of Bike
Tread of Tyre
Tyres intended for riding on roads and smooth surfaces will often have a smooth, ‘slick’ tread. This means the bike will roll along the road surface more easily, and offer greater grip on smooth surfaces.
Tyres for mountain biking and riding across rough, uneven terrain will have thick, jagged treads. These maintain grip better on such terrain, and give the cyclist a greater degree of control over the bicycle.
These tyres are designed for social and commuter cycling, which may involve some deviation between smooth road surfaces and, for example, grassy terrain. The tread on this kind of tyre is generally smoother in the middle and jagged along the edges, making them suitable for most situations a day to day cyclist may face.
Tyre Size and Width
The width of a tyre is an important characteristic, defining how a tyre will handle on different surfaces. Therefore, like the tread, the appropriate width of a tyre depends on the kind of cycling it is intended for. While tyre widths vary, there is a general standardisation for different kinds of bike.
- Tyres for cycling on roads are generally around 23mm wide. This narrow profile allows for smooth riding of flat surfaces.
- Mountain bikes have varying tyre widths from 1.5 to 2.5 inches, with narrower tyres being more suited to smoother riding trails.
- The hybrid bicycle has tyre widths which can be similar to both mountain and road bicycles and the specific size will vary depending on the specific model of the bike.
Tyre diameter is also largely standardised depending on the kind of bicycle.
- Adult sized road bicycles will generally have tyres between 650mm and 700mm in diameter.
- The traditional tyre size for a mountain bike is around 26 inches in diameter, though some newer models of bike go up to 29 inches.
- A given hybrid or commuter bike model may use either 26 inch or 650-700mm bicycle wheels. Which they use will depend on whether the model is based on a road bike or a mountain bike.
Tyres will often have their sizes and widths clearly stamped upon the tyre itself. This means that it is often easy to determine what size a replacement tyre should be.
Removing an Old Tyre
Before fitting a new tyre, it is necessary to first remove the old one. A set of tyre levers makes this easier to do, though it is possible to remove a tyre without tools.
- Firstly, the tyre must be deflated. This is done by unscrewing the valve cap and pushing in the stem.
- Turn the bike over, balancing it on the seat and handlebars. Alternatively the bike can be held in a bike stand.
- Unscrew the axle nuts on each side of the wheel. Some bicycles have quick release nuts, which can be unscrewed by hand. Other bicycles, however, will require a wrench. Once this is done, it should be possible to lift the wheel up away from the frame.
- Starting at the opposite end of the tyre from the valve stem, use a tyre lever to pry apart part of the tyre from the wheel and push it over the rim. By hooking the lever onto the nearest spoke, it will be possible to keep this part of the tyre over the rim.
- Another tyre lever should be placed in the same way to spokes down from the first. When this is repeated again, the middle tyre lever should simply fall out of place.
- The continued process of inserting a tyre lever every two spokes should eventually leave an entire side of the tyre off the rim of the wheel. At this point, it should be possible to simply pull the tyre the rest of the way off by hand.
Fitting a New Tyre
The fitting of a new tyre is a fairly simple process, requiring only a bicycle pump. Tyre levers may also be useful during this process.
- Check the side of the tyre for any kind of directional arrow. Some, but not all, tyres are manufactured to be fitted onto a bicycle so that they face a particular direction.
- Slip one side of the tyre all the way around the rim of the wheel. It should not be too difficult to do this by hand.
- Ensuring that the valve lines up with the valve hole in the rim of the bicycle wheel, push the inner tube as far into the tyre as possible.
- By hand, place as much of the second side of the tyre onto the rim of the wheel as possible.
- Place a tyre lever between the wheel rim and the portion of tyre that has not yet been put into place.
- Slowly lever the tyre over the rim, using a second tool to push the tube into place if necessary.
- Slowly push the tyre into place over the rim. It is best to avoid snapping the tyre into place, as this can pinch the inner tube, leading to leaks.
- Inflate the tyre.
The amount of air pressure needed in a tyre varies depending on the kind of tyre. This can be as low as 30psi for some mountain bike tyres to as high as 220psi for track racing, and the ideal pressure can further vary depending on anything from the strength of the wheel to the weight of the rider. The manufacturer of an individual tyre will offer information on the correct pressure for a particular tyre, and in most cases the correct pressure is clearly displayed on the side of the tyre.
Finding a Bike Tyre on eBay
eBay offers a wide variety of bicycle components, including bike tyres to fit a range of bicycles. In order to access a general list of available bike tyres, navigate to the Sporting Goods portal, and then to the Cycling Section. Tyres can be found in Tyres and Wheels under the Bike Parts section, where it is possible to view the entire listing of bike tyres. It is possible to arrange the listing by price, distance to the seller, the length of time the listing has been listed or by item condition. It is also possible to further specify the listing shown by filtering by brand of tyre, and the type of bike the tyre is designed for.
Important information about the tyre, such as size, will often be displayed directly in the item’s listing. This makes it possible to quickly ascertain the specification of an item, making it quick and easy to decide whether the item meets the cyclist’s needs. Further information is made available by accessing the items page. Here, information about the seller including reviews and feedback is available, allowing a purchase to be made in confidence. From here, it is also possible to ask the seller any questions regarding a particular item.
The search function available at the top of every page makes it easy to search for a particular item. This can be the simplest and fastest way of finding a tyre with particular specifications. The Search Tips page offers further information on effectively using eBay’s search function.
As the main contact point between the bike and the surface, the tyres are of great importance to the safety and comfort of the rider. The right kind of tread and the correct size and width are all important to a smooth cycling experience, and finding the right tyre is easy on eBay.