A bicycle is characterized by two bike tires, and, indeed, the bike tires contribute largely to the ability of these vehicles, and they show how the bikes have evolved through the ages. For cyclists, choosing the right bike tire size can make a huge difference to the performance and experience on the ride.
However, it is quite tricky to choose the bike tire size suitable for each person. You can see a lot of riders whose bikes have the same frame size, but different tire sizes entirely. So “what size bike tires do I need?” is a common question after all. Let’s keep up and explore the way to find out your most ideal bicycle tires!
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The History Of Bike Tires
The very first bike tire is made from wood and was attached to the primitive form of bicycle, the velocipede. However, the bumpy feeling of riding on wooden tires was not enjoyable, so bike tires got developed and changed into the pneumatic type.
Later, a lot of changes have been made to improve the quality and variety of bike tires. Nowadays, they can be seen in all kinds of sizes, materials, and shapes. Bike tires are now detachable, classified into standard sizes to fit all the frames.
The bike tire size also evolved. From the beginning, the tires looked big and heavy, so they needed a lot of manpower to roll. Nevertheless, the modern bicycle tires you see now are weightless, small, and dynamics.
What Kinds Of Bike Tires Out There?
Basically, there are three types of bike tires, each has its own characteristics. They can be tubular tires, clincher tires, or tubeless tires, giving distinctive performance and dynamic.
The most popular bike tires are clinchers, with an outer cross-section and inner tubes, making them easier to attach on and fix. However, they are more likely to get punctured and can not dampen the shock very well.
Tubular bike tires are the upgrade version and are usually used in bike racing. There is no outer section, only inner tubes attached to the wheel so they are more dynamic, lightweight, and less puncture-prone.
The hybrid choice of tubular and clincher is tubeless tires, also an expensive choice. It can be attached to a clincher wheel with a conversion kit, but has the same feature as tubeless tires.
When Do You Need To Change Your Bike Tires?
No bike tire can last forever, they should be changed regularly to make sure that your bike is in its best condition. Besides, if the bike tire size is not suitable for your height or your build, you should also replace them.
When the bike tires are won out, the most noticeable sign is the frequency of flat tires and air depletion, or the feeling of poor ride quality. You should not hesitate and get a new tire right away.
Another case is when the bike tire size is not suitable for you. The bike tires are small, but they have to withstand all the pressure and the force of the riders and the momentum of the pedal. Therefore choosing the right bike size will be essential.
Why Are Bike Tire Sizes Important?
A bicycle can not run without tires, it is a matter of fact. Apart from choosing a high-quality pair for the bike, it is of utmost importance that the bike size is correct.
The tires are the exposed part of the bike frame to the road, the contact area may not be very large, but it is under tremendous pressure and power. The right bike tire size selection will help the wheel unite as one solid part, and running on the road without any error.
Moreover, when you paddle the pedal, the power will be transferred to the wheel, and then to the tire. Correct bike tire size will help to utilize the power transfer to the maximum.
In addition, the tires also have to absorb all the impact and shock from the road too. Larger bike tires deal with hazardous and bumpy surfaces better than narrow ones.
Grip and rolling resistance are other factors that the size of bike tires can affect. Big tires have a greater grip on the road, but poor rolling resistance. Vice versa, narrow tires are more dynamic and good for rolling resistance.
The Numbers On The Tires
The bike tire sizes should be in accordance with the bike model, your riding style, and your height. First, let’s look through the figures a bit.
The majority of bike tires are engraved with numbers along with the outer layer or on the tube, which indicates the size and other information. There are often two numbers.
The tire diameter is usually the first number on the bike tire, and the measurement is often in inches. You have to pay attention to this number, because the bike frame is limited to a certain tire diameter, if the tire is too big or too small, it won’t fit.
The following number is the tire width. For this number, there are differences in the measure for a certain type of bike tire. For example, road bike tires will get the millimeter measurement, while inches are for mountain bike ones. Therefore, you have to check it carefully before buying.
You can check out this video to see how bike tires are numbered:
How To Pick The Right Bike Tire Sizes?
For all the bikes, the bike tire sizes must match the pre-provided diameter, but the width can be changed up to the preference. However, each line of bikes may require a different bike tire diameter.
Depending on the manufacturers, the sizing of bicycle tires can be different. Therefore, many riders get confused about the wide range of measurements, like “what size bike tire is 700x38c?”. The “c” is the French sizing, and to find its equivalent size, you can check out this chart:
|Etrto||English Size||French Size||German Size||Rim Circumference (Mm)|
|40-635||28 x 1½||700B standard||28 x 1½||1994|
|47-622||28 x 1,75||700 x 47C||28 x 1,75||1995|
|40-622||28 x 1-5/8 x 1-3/4||700 x 40C||28 x 1½ x 1,75||1995|
|38-622||28 x 1-5/8 x 1½||700 x 38C||28 x 1½ x 1,75||1995|
|37-622||28 x 1-5/8 x 1-3/8||700 x 35C||28 x 1-3/8 x 1-5/8||1995|
|32-622||28 x 1-5/8 x 1-1/4||700 x 32C||28 x 1-1/4 x 1-3/4||1995|
|32-622||28 x 1-5/8 x 1-1/4||700 x 32C|
|28 x 1-1/4 x 1-3/4||1995|
|28-622||28 x 1-5/8 x 1-1/8||700 x 28C|
|28 x 1-1/8 x 1-3/4||1995|
|25-622||28 x 1-5/8 x 1||700 x 25C||28 x 1 x 1-1/4||1995|
|23-622||700 x 23C||1995|
|32-630||27 x 1-1/4||27 x 1-1/4||1978|
|28-630||27 x 1-1/8||27 x 1-1/8||1978|
|25-630||27 x 1||1978|
|32-597||26 x 1-1/4||1876|
|37-590||26 x 1 3/8||650 x 35A|
|26 x 1 3/8||1854|
|25-571||26 x 1||1854|
|32-590||26 x 1-3/8 x 1-1/4||650 x 32A||1854|
|40-590||26 x 1-3/8 x 1½||1854|
|40-584||26 x 1½||650B|
|37-584||26 x 1½ x 1-3/8||1834|
|47-559||26 x 2 x 1-3/4||26 x 1,75 x 2||1755|
|32-541||24 x 1-3/8 x 1-1/4||600A|
600 x 32A
|40-540||24 x 1-3/8 x 1½||1695|
|37-540||24 x 1-3/8||24 x 1-3/8||1695|
|47-507||24-2 x 1-3/4||24 x 1,75 x 2||1594|
|37-501||22 x 1-3/8 B.S.R.||1575|
|37-498||22 x 1-3/8 x 1-1/4||1563|
|40-489||22 x 1-3/8 x 1½||1535|
|37-489||22 x 1-3/8||1535|
|37-451||20 x 1-3/8 B.S.R.||1416|
|40-438||20 x 1-3/8 x 1½||1375|
|37-438||20 x 1-3/8||20 x 1-3/8||1375|
|40-432||20 x 1½||1356|
|57-406||20 x 2,125||20 x 2,125||1274|
|47-406||20 x 2 x 1-3/4||20 x 1,75 x 2||1274|
|32-357||17 x 1-1/4||1122|
|47-355||18 x 2 x 1-3/4||18 x 1,75 x 2||1115|
|54-305||16 x 2||957|
|47-305||16 x 2 x 1-3/4||16 x 1,75 x 2||957|
|37-298||14 x 1-3/8||937|
|37-288||14 x 1-3/8||937|
|62-203||12½ x 2-1/4||12½ x 2-1/4||12½ x 2-1/4||638|
Quite overwhelming for the bike tire size chart, right? But don’t worry, you don’t need to remember all of these figures. For different types of bike riding, certain bike sizes are recommended.
This video may help you to familiarize with different measurement of bike tires:
For road bike size, normal riders can choose the 25mm, 23mm, and 28mm width, these sizing selections are the most common. 23mm was the old-fashion choice, nowadays the balance and grip of 25mm bike tires are widely loved. If you often go on the tough terrains and routes, 28mm will provide better shock filtering.
For mountain bike size, or BMX bike size too, the bike size range is quite tricky. The choice can follow your height, but it can opt for the riding surface. For relatively flat terrain, small and narrow bike size is preferred. However, mountain and trail riders would love the comfort of larger tires.
The size for cross-country and leisure bike riding is often in the range of 2 inches and 2.35 inches. Meanwhile, if you want to go hill-climbing, 2.25 inches to 2.4 inches in bike tire width is recommended.
In case you use the bike for commuting, paved riding, and short rides, the choice is entirely up to you. But the bike size of 32mm to 42mm is ideal. For dirt bike tire sizes, the most popular bike tire sizes are from 36mm to 48mm. This sizing allows better grip, comfort in steering and turning on gravel and dirt roads.
What Do You Need To Know When Buying Bike Tires?
Apart from bike tire size, to purchase good items for your vehicle, you also need to consider other factors. Good bike tires will make your ride more enjoyable and comfortable.
First thing first, decide the tread type of your bike tires. You can choose heavily tread bike tires for a tough surface to gain more power, or choose the smooth ones for a flat surface.
Smooth or treadless bike tires are more dynamic, easier to accelerate, and reach the top speed, so for pavement riding or racing, they will be the most suitable.
On the other hand, bike tires with huge treads have a good grip and hold the road better. So for mountain trails, muddy surface, and gravel roads, this is perfect.
One criterion for bike tires is durability. The tires must be strong enough to resist punctures and all the obstacles on the road.
Moreover, if your usual route exposes your bike to tricky terrain, you would want to invest more in the durability of the tires. Flimsy bike tires will not survive for a long time.
The weight of your bike tires can affect the performance of the ride. For professional adult racers, lightweight and dynamic bike tires are the most ideal choice.
However, for casual and leisure riders, the weight should not be a big problem. Unless you want to focus on top-notch performance and top speed, the weight of the bike tires makes small differences.
But if the weight of bike tires is too heavy, or feel uncomfortable on your bike, it may be a problem. Don’t let excess weight drag you down on your ride.
A short guide to how to purchase the best bike tires can be found right here:
How do I know which bike tire size is suitable for me?
You can check the size of your regular bike tires or check your tire size according to the height chart.
Can a different tire size work well on my bike?
Yes, different tire sizes can work well on the bike.
Is it safe if my bike has two different tire sizes?
Yes, it is safe to have different tire sizes on one bike.