Tandem Bike Tyre Buying Guide

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Tandem Bike Tyre Buying Guide

Tandem cycling is a fun team activity that requires good communication, trust and cooperation between the riders. The front rider is known as the ‘captain’ or ‘pilot’ while those riding behind are known as ‘stokers’. Because of the extra pedal power that the stokers provide, tandem bikes can reach high speeds, which means tandem cycling attracts serious competitive sportspeople. The sociability of tandem bike riding also appeals to leisure riders. As such, there is a wide selection of tyres for tandems available on eBay, suiting different levels and requirements.

Tandems are usually built to take the standard 700C bicycle wheel size. However, tandem tyres are different to normal road bike tyres because they must bear more weight and dissipate more heat from rim brakes (if they have rim brakes rather than hub-mounted brakes). They should also have a greater resistance to punctures as a result of the greater payload that the tyres will be carrying.

Matching the Tyres to the Tandem Team

If the tandem team is one that wants to tour long distances at an easy-going pace then durable, wide tyres are suitable.

However, if the team is interested in speed and performance and wants to travel both fast and hard, then super lightweight tyres will be more appropriate. These tyres will need to be checked and replaced more often, since they are worked harder.

Calculating Weight

When buying tyres for tandem bicycles it is important to calculate the weight they will have to carry. Because tandems carry two or more people there is more pressure exerted not only on the entire bicycle frame and wheels (of which there are only ever two, no matter how many riders there are) but also on the tyres.

For a team where the riders are of equal weight, the rear tyre should still be pumped up harder, since in holds greater weight than the front tyre.

Even for tandem teams that never venture off very smooth roads, if a team’s weight is over 300lbs they should not consider using a tyre smaller than a 25mm.

Team weighing under 300 pounds

23 or 25mm tyres

Teams up to 350 pounds

28mm tyres

Teams over 350 pounds

28mm or ideally 32mm if the forks will allow

Teams over 350 pounds in weight are recommended to remove the tyres every 700 miles to check the bead tape, since the rim can cut through the tape and result in a blowout.

Pumping up the Tyres

While quality and standards for all bicycle tyres are important, the guidelines that apply to tandem tyres are even more critical. As the tandem's maximum weight rises, the tyre size and required air pressure also increased proportionately. Tyres used on multi-seat tandems should be inflated 10 – 30psi more than for a similar sized tyre on a solo bike. This helps to compensate for the increased weight of the team. As a rule, a well-inflated tyre will have a slight bulge under load and be almost resistant to pinch flats. If a tyre does not bulge under the team's weight, it is over-inflated and the riders will experience a bumpy ride. On the other hand, if the tyre bulges too much, it is under-inflated and pinch flats could occur.

Impact of Different Road Conditions on Tyre Choice

  • Very smooth roads with few defects suit narrow, high-pressure tyres.
  • A larger diameter and volume tyre would be better for cyclists who ride on very demanding road surfaces.
  • Slightly damaged roads also suit a lower psi to soften the tyre.
  • Rough roads suit 28mm tyres at a psi of 100.
  • When planning long journeys it is a good idea to investigate the road conditions before buying tyres online.

Durability and Comfort in Different Sized Tyres

Racing tyres, which are 23 – 25mm, are light, supple and tend to be more expensive than general purpose tyres. For most middle weight tandem teams wider ‘sport’ tyres (25 – 28mm) are more suitable. The larger 28-32mm tyres are usually made from heavier and harder rubber compounds. Tyres that have an added puncture resistant layer in the construction can affect the performance of the tyre, slightly reducing comfort.

Frame and Rim Width Constraints

Many tandem frames accommodate tyres with large diameters, but frames that are fitted with short-reach caliper brakes are usually limited to a tyre size of 28mm at the widest. Also, some racing and performance tandems are limited to 25mm tyres. It is important to bear this in mind when buying tyres for a tandem online.

Rider Preferences

If a tandem bike feels unwieldy and difficult to handle, the choice of tyre can help to mitigate this, with narrower tyres at higher pressures creating better handling.

Clincher Tyres

Most tyres today are ‘clincher’ tyres and are used in conjunction with wheels that have clincher rims. These tyres feature beading that interlocks with the wheel rim. The tyre contains an inner-tube that is filled with air. When buying a clincher tyre for a wheel that has spoke holes, be sure to cover the spoke holes with specialised rim tape made from rubber, cloth or plastic, to protect the inner tube. The advantage of having an inner tube is that it can be accessed quickly to patch up a leak or replace it.

Tubular Tyres

Just as with single bicycles, it is possible to buy tubeless tyres for tandems on online auction sites like eBay. Unlike traditional pneumatic tyres which use a separate inner tube, tubeless tires feature ribs that are moulded into the tyre and forced by the pressure of the air inside to seal with the flanges of the metal rim of the wheel. These tyres require an airtight rim and spoke holes (if they go all the way through the rim). These tyres are light, have a lower road resistance than clinchers and they also wear well. The main benefit of tubeless tyres is the ability to use low air pressure for better traction. They get fewer pinch flats because there is no inner tube to pinch between the rim and an external obstacle. However if a flat occurs then changing the tyre is a much more difficult and lengthy process than with clincher tyres. For this reason many tandem cyclists prefer conventional clinchers.

For those who wish to buy conventional tyres but are concerned about pinch flats, it is useful to bear in mind that narrower tyres are better suited to wheels with narrow rims. The wide rims found on the wheels of many tandems tend to expose the sidewall of the tyres to road debris and increase the changes of getting a flat tyre through pinching.

Folding Versus Wire Bead Tyres

A Kevlar bead permits folding of the tyre, which makes it easier to carry spares in a panier while doing long journeys. However, a steel bead is better able to withstand more braking and resultant rim heat. This is a particular consideration with tandems, which are heavier and require harder braking.

How to Buy Tandem Bike Tyres on eBay

eBay offers a wide range of tandem tyres, both new and used, and from individuals or online stores. To track down the tyres you want, navigate to the Sporting Good section and select 'Cycling'. From here you can browse the bikes section, including tandem bikes, or use the search function to seek out a specific brand or tyre weight. You can also simply type in exactly what you are looking for in the search box, for example '28mm tandem tyre'. Using the search feature will help you find exactly what you want.

Be sure to review all available data when looking through the listings on eBay, and Ask the Seller a question if you require additional details. Look at the seller as well as the product, and ask:

  • What is the seller's feedback rating?
  • What is their sales history?
  • Is there any feedback from previous buyers?
  • Does the seller offer money-back guarantees?
  • What are the terms and conditions?

eBay's Buying Tips page contains more information on the best way to ensure a smoothe transaction. Buying with PayPalis the most secure way to pay on line, and eBay users are protected by the Buyer Protection Program.


Tandem tyres take a great deal more weight than conventional bike wheels. As with a conventional bicycle, there are only two wheels on a tandem. However, because tandems can take up to 10 people, the wheels – and tyres – have to be particularly strong. Because tandem bikes are often used for long journeys, it is a good idea to carry spare tubes and tyres. There are a variety of tyres suitable for tandems available to buy on eBay, including standard clincher tyre, tubeless and tubular. While many bike parts are suitable to buy second hand on eBay, cyclists tend to purchase tyres and inner tubes brand new, since they are relatively disposable parts that work hard. New tyres are also available from eBay sellers. 

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