- How to choose your bike?
- How to choose your cycling accessories?
- How to choose your cycling equipement?
How to choose the right tyres for my bike?
VOCABULARY AND THEORY
A tyre is the part of the wheel which makes contact with the ground. It sits on the wheel rim, and has an inner tube inside.
There is a type of wheel called the tubeless wheel. On tubeless wheels, the tyre and rim form a single, airtight unit, with no inner tube. Tyres are made for different types of bikes, riders, conditions and terrains, so your choice of tyre will depend on your size and cycling discipline. Each model of tyre has its pros and cons and is designed for a specific use.
SIZE OF MOUNTAIN, TOURING, CITY AND JUNIOR BIKES TYRES
Tyre diameter is measure in inches. A 14" tyre is a very small tyre, made for junior bikes or some foldable bikes. A 20" tyre is designed for BMX bikes. 26" is the standard size of tyre, and is used for almost all adult touring and mountain bikes.
In terms of width, a very thin tyre is 1" wide while a very wide one is 2.7" wide. These are the extremes of tyre size that you can find on the market. Most city bikes need 1.5" wide tyres. For mountain bikes, the most common width is 2.0". The tyre size is written on the tyre itself. For instance, on a tyre with a 26" diameter and 1.9"width, you will find: 26x1.9.
SIZE OF ROAD AND RACE BIKES TYRES
For road and race bikes, the wheel's diameter is measured in millimetres. The most common size is 700 (28"), but 650mm wheels are also sometimes used.
The width of the tyre is called the "section". Tyres on the market range from from 18mm, (very thin) to 25mm (wide). 35mm tyres, for cyclocross, are also available.
TOURING AND CITY BIKES TYRES
Slick tyres are the best choice for city use. These tyres are almost completely smooth. The pattern visible on the tyre is designed to evacuate water in case of rain or strong humidity. They need to be well inflated (accordingly to the manufacturer's instructions). Indeed, the more inflated a tyre is, the less friction there will be between the tyre and the ground, making it easier to cycle at higher speeds with less effort. On tarmac roads, slick tyres have good grip and are very efficient.
In the countryside, or if you plan to ride your bike equally inside and outside the city, relatively smooth tyres are also advisable, but patterning on the tyres is vital to prevent you slipping on mud or water. Side notches will also help prevent the bike from slipping when turning.
ROAD BIKES TYRES
Depending on how you use your road bike, some of the tyre's characteristics, such as weight, width or ideal pressure for efficiency, will be more important to you than others. On firm or very smooth surfaces, you can use tyres down to 18 width. The most common width is 22 or 23. If you are not used to thin tyres, or prioritise comfort over performance, 25-width tyres will be a good choice. If you do cyclocross, you will need specially designed tyres which are thin but serrated, and your choice of width will depend on the quality of the track: the wetter and rougher the terrain, the wider and more serrated the tyres must be.
Pressure is a key parameter, as thin tyres must have an optimum efficiency on the road. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions for further details.
MOUNTAIN BIKES TYRES
Mountain bikes tyres can be very different from one use to another and depending on the discipline. The choice you make when selecting your tyres is then crucial as using the wrong tyres might even be dangerous.
Mountain bikes tyres can be very different from one use to another, and depending on the discipline. The choice you make when selecting your tyres is crucial, as using the wrong tyres could even be dangerous. Tyres for recreational mountain biking, need not be overly knobbly, especially if you also use your bike in city and in the countryside. The tyres should have some texture, but nothing too deep. The thinner your tyres are (1.7" to 1.8"), the easier they will be to use on easy-access terrains like roads and paths.
If you are used to riding in the forest or in the rain, you will need wider tyres (1.9" to 2.2") with a deeper treads.
For freeride, downhill or enduro cycling, mountain rides or on very rough tracks, your tyres need to be even wider (2.3" to 2.7"). The tread should be deep and rough, with side notches to ensure good grip when turning.
BMX AND JUNIOR BIKES TYRES
It is important to choose a classic tyre (plastic is not advisable), as this will allow your child to keep maximum grip on the ground. Make sure you choose the right size, depending on the child's height.
Choose 20" tyres designed specifically for BMX as they will be stronger. Depending on your discipline (race, dirt or recreational), you should choose a different type of tyre: for concrete, you should select a smoother tyre than for dirt.
ASSEMBLE AND DISASSEMBLE A TYRE
Disassemble a tyre
- Remove the wheel from the bike by loosen the bolts on each side of the axis.
- Remove the valve cap (the valve is the hole that allows you to inflate the tyre).
- Deflate the tyre by pushing on the pin that is in the middle of the valve. You don't need your tyre to be completely deflated as long as it is very slack. B'Twin tip: you can easily deflate the tyre by using an end of the tyre changer!
2. Remove the tyre
- The hard work begins! To be able to remove your tyre, you must start by pushing on the tyre flanks towards the inside. The tyre should be separated from the sides of the rim and be able to move on the rim.
- That is when you need your tyre removers. Use it as levers to catch the inside of the tyre and push it outside the rim. Be careful not to pinch the inner tube! Usually, you can attach the tyre remover to a spoke to keep the tyre outside the rim. Do the same until one entire side of the tyre is outside the rim.
- Once one side of the tyre is out, you can remove the inner tube. Once it is done, remove the entire tyre by pulling it with your hands. It should be easy.
- If you also want to remove the rim tape, you can use a screwdriver through the hole where the valve usually is. The rim tape is elastic and should come out easily.
Assemble a tyre
- If the rim tape is already in place, jump to the next point! Otherwise, you will need to put one. This part helps to reduce the risk of punctures as the inner tube would puncture if it was directly touching the rim. Tip to put it on easily: place the hole of the rim tape one the valve hole of the rim and keep it in position by putting your screwdriver in the hole. Then pull the rim tape all over the rim, which should be easy as the rim tape is stretchy.
- Tyre's direction: yes, most of the tyres have a specific direction. You can usually find an arrow on the tyre to indicate its direction, or a mention front/rear.
2. Assemble the tyre
- Start with putting one side of the tyre on the rim. You can do it easily without any tool.
- Once one of the sides is in the rim, put the inner tube, which must be slightly inflated, inside the tyre. Make sure the valve goes through the hole before you finish putting the inner tube inside the tyre.
- You then just have to put the second side of the tyre in the rim! You can start by hand, but if it becomes to hard, use the tyre removers as levers to force the end of the tyre in. But be still careful not to pinch the inner tube!
- Last thing to do is to check that the tyre is in the right position and to inflate it. Once the valve is closed, you are done!