It is important that you choose the tyres that are right for your bike, as well as for your riding style. There is a huge range of tyres on the market so you will need to understand the various types available.
Whether your tyres have worn out, or whether your current tyres do not match your riding style, you will need to decide:
* which type of tyres you want
* which ones will fit your bike.
Different tyres are needed for a daily commute on the road than for those who only ride occasionally for pleasure. Further factors should influence your decision making process such as the terrain ridden.
To avoid costly mistakes consider carefully the different factors of wheel size, width, tread, durability and weight. Find out what is available. This guide will give you the knowledge you need to buy tyres online with confidence.
Once you have all the facts, you will be ready and equipped to purchase the tyres you need within your budget.
Three Parts to a Road Tyre
Provides the tyre's support structure; it holds the tyre onto the rim. It fits into a small groove on the wheel which is kept in place by the air pressure when a tyre is fully inflated.
Most beads are made out of steel. Some road tyres' beads are made of Kevlar, the fabric used to make bullet-proof vests.
Makes up the main body of the tyre and is usually made of polyester, rayon or nylon. It creates the tyre's basic shape.
Fabric is coated with rubber to reinforce & protect it and provide grip.
Types of Road Tyres
The most common type of road tyres are 'clincher' tyres, also known as 'wire-on' tyres. These have an outer tyre and a separate inner tube which fits inside. The outer tyre fits over the rim and it is held in place by air pressure.
The alternative to clincher tyres is 'tubular' tyres. These require wheels with rims fitted specifically for tubular tyres as they are glued onto the rims. These tyres are used in high performance racing and are generally more expensive as when they are replaced the whole tyre is usually thrown away. This is different from clincher tyres where changing or repairing the inner tube is the usual way of dealing with wear and tear.
Why Tyres Need Replacing
All tyres wear down over time. If you ride very long distances of commute to work regularly on your bike, your tyres will wear down sooner.
Wear also depends on the cycling terrain. Gentle riding on dedicated cycle paths will wear tyres down a lot slower than roads which have a rough surface and a lot of debris.
Usually in the case of a puncture, the removal of the cause of the puncture and the replacement of the inner tube will be enough to get you back in the saddle. In the case of a severe puncture, the tyre may need to be replaced.
If a bike has been bought second-hand it may be that some of the parts are not quite 'as new' or not suited to the rider's preference.
Replacing the tyres is a quick and cost-effective upgrade that can significantly improve your bike's performance.
Five Factors when Deciding on Tyres for a Town Bike
Bicycle tyres come in many sizes and vary for different types of ride.
Before buying tyres it is important to know the size of the bike frame to ensure that they will fit. In addition it is necessary to consider what you use the bike for in order to buy tyres that suit the way you ride. This should make the ride easier and smoother for you.
1. Wheel Size
Check the wheel size. Most road bike wheels are normally 650mm or 700mm. It is essential that you know this measurement; double check it to be sure.
2. Wheel Width
Along with wheel size, the width of the tyre is important.
Although there is more flexibility in choosing the wheel width compared to the wheel size, you will need to ensure that the tyre will not be too wide for the frame or the brakes.
Measurements are shown on tyres with the diameter first followed by the width.
A common measurement for a road tyre would be 700mm x 23mm. Very slim tyres will generate more speed but they require higher air pressure. This will make cycling harder work for you. They will also wear out quicker and are more likely to sustain damage to the sidewall of the tyres. This can affect lateral stability. In some cases the tyre may need to be replaced.
Slightly wider tyres will give more stability. The greater contact with the road means they may be better across a range of surfaces.
You should choose a tread that fits with the terrain that you ride on.
Smooth tyres have very little contact with the road. This makes them suitable for road riding and racing. Having less contact with the road generates more speed but reduces stability.
Tyres with more tread give better contact with the road which is better on rougher surfaces and in bad weather. However, increased grip is slower and requires harder pedalling.
You will need to consider the types of surfaces that they ride on and whether speed or stability is your main priority. This will be different for all riders and should be a strong factor in decision-making when choosing between different treads.
For infrequent riders on relatively clear surfaces durability is not particularly important. For those commuting or putting in lots of miles in the saddle will find durability a strong factor.
When choosing tyres it may be worth considering spending a bit more on tyres that will last longer.
More durable tyres will withstand the miles and road debris better as well as being more puncture resistant. Nowadays many tyres have the synthetic fibre Kevlar woven in to provide added protection against punctures.
Apart from high level racers a few grams should not make much difference to either the feel of the ride nor the speed. Most tyres with similar dimensions will have similar weights and so this is not such an important factor as durability and tread. These will have a more significant effect on the performance and feel of the bike.
Though the weight of road tyres is generally similar, the weight that the tyres can take does vary.
Most tyres should have a pressure range marked on them with the minimum and maximum weight that the tyre can support. The maximum should not be exceeded, so consult the manufacturer's tyre pressure chart.
Checklist before Deciding
1. Find Out the Dimensions of the Bike
Do not start looking at tyres that will not fit the bike as this will waste a lot of your time.
With many variations of types of tyres, it is a good idea to narrow down the search immediately by knowing the dimensions of the bike.
There are several ways of finding this out if they cannot be found on either the frame of the bike or on an old tyre. Look in the bike manual or on the manufacturer's website; they usually have full specifications for all their bikes.
Alternatively measure the wheels from rim-to-rim to find the diameter.
2. Type of Ride
A rider should think carefully about what they use their bike for, how often and on which surfaces. This should help you to work out your priorities and to decide which type of tyre would be most suitable.
If riders know their town bike and what they need their tyres to do then buying tyres should be simple and stress-free. If you take the time to work out your tyres' purposes and priorities you will be equipped to buy the right tyres for you.
Good tyres will give a smooth and fast ride with minimum effort. For many it is worth compromising on speed for more grip and resistance against punctures. With lots of different specifications on the market, searching online on eBay can make finding bike tyres quicker and easier.