Your Guide to Bicycle Tyres for Vintage Bikes

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Your Guide to Bicycle Tyres for Vintage Bikes

Tyres tend to wear out, not matter your type of bicycle, so you have to repair or change them every once in a while. Finding tyres for a modern bike is relatively simple, but you could face difficulties when replacing the tyres on your vintage bike. To find the right replacements, learn about the sizes for vintage bicycle tyres.


Vintage Bicycle Tyre Sizes

The wheel sizes of vintage bikes differ significantly and this is the most important feature you should consider when trying to fit a modern tyre onto a vintage bike. You can find the tyre size on the wheel. The universal tyre sizing system, ISO, attempts to eliminate this confusion.


Tyre Size



29 inch

622 mm

Wide 622 mm tyres (700c)

28 x decimal

622 mm

Some German tyre companies use this standard for 700c tyres

26 x 1.00 through 2.3

559 mm

Most mountain bikes and cruisers

26 x 1.25

599 mm

Very old US lightweight bikes; rare

26 x 1.375

599 mm

Very old US lightweight bikes

24 x 1.5 through 24 x 2.125

507 mm

Juvenile cruisers and mountain bikes

22 x 1.75

22 x 2.125

457 mm

Juvenile bikes

20 x 1.5 through 22 x 2.125

406 mm

Most juvenile, BMX bikes, recumbents

18 x 1.5

355 mm

Birdy folding bikes

18 x 1.75 through 18 x 2.125

355 mm

Juvenile bikes

16 x 1.75 through 16 x 2.125

305 mm

Juvenile and folder bikes, recumbents


When trying to match a new tyre to a vintage bike, try to match the ISO number, so the tyre fits the old bike.


Tyre Width Considerations

Although the tyre diameter is the most important aspect to consider, you also need to pay attention to the width. Using a too narrow or too wide tyre may result in failures. You should

match the tyre and rim widths.


Interior Rim Width (mm)

Suitable Tyre Widths (mm)


18, 20, 23, 25


23, 25, 28, 32


25, 28, 32, 35, 37


28, 32, 35, 37, 40, 44


35, 37, 40, 44, 47, 50


40, 44, 47, 50


44, 47, 50, 54, 57


You may also try to get a bicycle tyre with the same width that the old bike previously had.


Tyre Tread

Besides sizing, you also need to pick the tread of the tyre, depending on your normal riding surface. Smooth tyres are best for pavements and racing, while knobby tyres work well on landscapes. A smooth tread pattern, however, is best for most riders. You could also pick the same pattern the vintage bike originally had, if possible.

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