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Everything about the tire size of your bike

Everything about the tire size of your bike
Photo by Clint McKoy / Unsplash

A few millennia have passed since the invention of the wheel. Much has changed, we find it now among other things on our beloved bikes. But not all bikes are the same... Our bike tires now have different profiles, materials and sizes. So that you at least from the latter a little smarter, we have prepared for you in this blog post everything you should know about the tire sizes, widths and types!

1. what are the types of bicycle tires?

The classic bicycle tire made of bicycle tube and bicycle casing is no longer the only model on the market. We have already talked about tubeless tires in detail in an older blog article, but the bottom line is that they are nothing more than tires without an inner tube, which can offer you so many advantages when riding. If you want to take a closer look at this particular type of tire and learn more about it, you can go here to the blog article about the Tubeless tires.

a tubeless tire filled with sealing milk

The so-called clincher tires are also very common. In this variant, there is a wire in the bead that connects the tire to the rim. Clincher tires are easy to mount on most bikes, but are almost never compatible with tubeless rims.

A folding tire you can, unlike the clincher tire and as the name already suggests, fold and thus also easier to transport. In addition, it is lighter and also tubeless available, but also costs more than a clincher tire.

2. how is the tire size indicated?

When buying a bicycle or an extra bicycle tire, two measurements are important: the tire size and the tire width. The tire size is given in inches or millimeters, distinguishing between tire outer diameter and tire inner diameter, and the width is given in millimeters. However, the way in which these measurements are given can vary to the point of absurdity, which is why we are shedding some light on tire designations here:

The size of bicycle tires usually follows the designations of the European Tire and Rim Technical Organization (ETRTO). In this size designation, a tire marked 28-622, for example, indicates the tire width (28) and the tire inner diameter (622) in millimeters.

Very often, however, the English unit, inch, is used and a tire designation can look like this: 28 x 1.40. 28 inches is now the approximate outside diameter and the tire width is 1.40 inches.

But now there is also, for the sake of completeness, the French variant. A 700 x 35C tire has an outer diameter of 700 mm and a tire width of 35 mm. The C stands for an inner diameter of 622 mm.

a 20x2.00 tire in English notation: So 20 inch diameter and 2 inch width

3. what are the tire sizes for bicycles?

There are not too many differences between the various tire sizes. 28 inch wheels are the classic for touring bikes in Europe. However, we will give you a small overview of other sizes:

  • 12 to 24 inches: Common for children's bikes, balance bikes or folding bikes.
  • 26 to 27.5 inches: Common tire size for mountain bikes.
  • 28 inch: Common tire size for road bikes, city, trekking and gravel bikes.
  • 29 inch: Mainly used in the marathon sector, but occasionally also for racing bikes and mountain bikes.

4. what are the tire widths for bicycles?

Each type of bicycle has different requirements for its tires, which must be adapted to the respective terrain. And this also applies to the ideal tire widths in each case.

The wheels of a road bike are usually 23 millimeters wide. However, tires with a width of 25 or even 28 millimeters are becoming increasingly popular, as they require less air pressure and thus allow more flexibility. The larger contact area and better traction also provide more riding safety and greater puncture protection. However, not all classic road bikes are designed for wide tires, since narrow tires are actually preferred for minimum air resistance in road cycling.

25 or 28 millimeter wide tires are ideal for off-road adventures on gravel and dirt due to the advantages we have just mentioned and are therefore often used on gravel bikes found on gravel bikes. However, you also have to accept more weight and higher air resistance.

At Mountain bike traction is more important than low rolling resistance, which is why mountain bike tires are particularly wide. As a rule, the tire width is 51 to 54 or even 58 millimeters, but particularly wide models up to 64 millimeters are also possible.

5. where can I find the tire size and width?

Now that you're real tire designation readers, all you need to know is where to find the corresponding strings. On your old tire, you can simply read them off the side, and when looking for new tires, you can find the dimensions on the manufacturer's website.

The ETRTO sizes are the most intuitive, but should you ever come across an English or French size, you can find tables online where you can find the corresponding measurements according to ETRTO for almost every size - for example here at Schwalbe.

6. which tire width fits?

If you want new tires with different dimensions than those of your current bicycle tires, you should make sure that they can really be mounted on your rims. The width of the tire depends on its relationship to the so-called rim width. The tire width should not exceed the rim width. In order to be on the safe side, it is also worthwhile to take a look at a table.

7. the selection of the appropriate tires

Tire size, width, height... But what exactly should you look for when choosing your next tires? Basically on your bike and on your driving style.

The tire size itself is important to know whether the tires fit your bike at all. The tire width influences the rolling resistance, traction, steering behavior, puncture protection and determines the driving behavior - but should also be adapted to the respective terrain. And then, of course, it also depends on the tire quality. Here you should pay particular attention to what puncture protection the bicycle tires offer.

Even if you have now acquired enough knowledge to find your perfect tire, we would still recommend you to just try a little bit. Try different brands and widths and find out what suits you and your riding style best! With this in mind... Roll on!

If you have further questions about tire sizes or the topic of bicycles in general, it is best to browse through the Blogthe buycycle-Team will be happy to help you. And a look at buycycle.com is always worthwhile, after all, nowhere else is it so easy, fast and safe to sell your old bike or find the new old bike of your dreams. Until then, we wish you, as always: Happy browsing, happy cycling!

All about the tire size of your bike | buycycle

The bike tires are probably the most important component of a bike, because they carry through the terrain and bring you to your destination. But not all tires are the same. In addition to different types of tires, there are also different tire sizes. You should know these in order to find the right tires for your road bike and to know what leeway you have when choosing tires. Here you will find all the important information about the construction, size and width of bicycle tires.

What are the types of bicycle tires?

There are differences not only in tire size, but also in the type of tires. In addition to the classic bicycle tire made of bicycle tube and bicycle casing, there are also tubeless tires. "Tubeless" means nothing other than "without inner tube". So there is no inner tube in the bicycle tires, instead the tires together with the rims form an air chamber, which is compressed by a rim tape at the bottom of the rim. This technology has been used for decades for car tires and motorcycle tires, but is still relatively new for bicycles.

Tubeless tires, unlike tubular tires, have less weight and lower rolling resistance. They can be ridden with less air pressure, which allows more traction. Small damages can be repaired quickly and easily with sealing milk. In addition, a breakdown due to a burst bicycle tube is excluded. Tubeless tires are a good choice for ambitious athletes and will probably be used more and more in the future. Tubeless tires are particularly suitable as MTB tires or for gravel bikes, as they offer better performance on uneven surfaces.

Unlike tubeless tires, however, tubeless tires are not suitable for every bike , because special rims and components compatible with the tubeless tires are required. Also, the installation of tubeless tires is much more complicated and difficult for non-professionals. While with a tubular tire you only have to worry about tire pressure, tubeless tires need to be regularly topped up with sealant to prevent punctures. In addition, a tubeless tire can not only lose air pressure due to damage, but can also slip off the rim. An air compressor is then often necessary.

Wired tires are very frequently used bicycle tires. In this variant, there is a wire in the bead that connects the tire to the rim. Clincher tires are easy to fit on most models. However, clincher tires are often not compatible with tubeless rims. A high-quality clincher tire is, for example, the Continental Ride Tour. Its rubber-reinforced sidewall offers additional puncture protection. Also the Schwalbe Marathon Plus is also reinforced with rubber and has particularly high puncture protection.

Unlike clincher tires, folding tires, as the name suggests, can be folded, making them easier to transport. They are also lighter and also available as tubeless tires, but usually more expensive than clincher tires. Instead of a wire in folding tires are installed plastic fibers that can be bent.

How is the tire size specified?

When buying a bicycle or extra bicycle tires, two measurements are important: the tire size and the tire width. The tire size is given in inches or millimeters, distinguishing between the outer diameter and inner diameter of the tire. The width of the tire is given in millimeters. There are different ways and orders to indicate the dimensions. With the multitude of specifications, confusion can arise, but we bring light into the darkness.

The size of bicycle tires follows the designations of the European Tire and Rim Technical Organization (ETRTO).

And this is how you decipher ETRTO: The size designation, for example 28-622 indicates the tire width in millimeters and the tire inner diameter in millimeters. By specifying the exact dimensions, a clear assignment to the rim size is possible.

However, one often encounters the English designation in inches. Let's take 28 x 1.40 as an example: This size designation stands for the approximate outside diameter of 28 inches and the tire width of 1.40 inches. So, in the inch designations, the outside diameters are always rounded. The approximate figures go back to times when the stamp brake was still used. The exact outside diameter was determined by the brake. Thus, different inner diameters applied to different tire widths.

In addition, there is also the French designation for some tire sizes. The example 700 x 35C stands for an approximate outer diameter of 700 mm and a tire width of 35 mm. The C stands for an inner diameter of 622 mm.

With ETRTO and the French size designation, the tire height is disregarded. For the inch designation, in addition to the above-mentioned variant, there is also the variant with fractions, which takes tire height into account, for example 28 x 1 5⁄8 x 1 3⁄8, where the numbers stand for the approximate outer diameter, tire height and tire width.

What are the tire sizes for bicycles?

The differences between bicycle tire sizes are not too great. The tire size classically used in Europe for touring bikes is 28 inches or a rim diameter of 622 mm. Outside of Europe, this tire size is rather less common.

The tire size of 29 inches was newly introduced in America a few years ago. The advantage of this new wheel size for mountain bikes is obvious: The 29-inch wheels roll better on uneven terrain and overcome obstacles more easily thanks to the larger contact surface and more grip. However, you should find out the exact outer diameter in mm in advance, because not all 29-inch bicycle tires fit on the rims of your mountain bike.

Below you will find an overview of some classic tire sizes:

  • 12 to 24 inches: This tire size is common for children's bikes, balance bikes and folding bikes.
  • 26 to 27.5 inches: This is a common tire size for mountain bikes.
  • 28 inch: As already mentioned, this is the common tire size for road bikes, city bikes, trekking bikes and gravel bikes.
  • 29 inch: These particularly large tires are found in the marathon sector, where endurance is important. Occasionally, however, this tire size is also available for racing bikes and mountain bikes.

Particularly in the mountain bike sector, tire sizes are predominantly specified in inches. The tires of mountain bikes usually have dimensions of 29 inches or 28 inches or 622 mm or also 27.5 inches or 584 mm. The latter are suitable if the frame size of the mountain bike are too small for tires with a width of 29 inches. Since these are always approximate, you should be careful when buying MTB tires. A 29 inch and 28 inch wide tire has the same inner diameter of 622 mm. Thus, you could theoretically mount both on your mountain bike, provided they fit the rims. However, you should be careful here, because it is only the approximate outer diameter.

The tire size of the City bike and Trekking bike is also given in inches, usually 28-inch tires.

What are the tire widths for bicycles?

For each type of bike there are also different requirements for the tires, the tires that must be adapted to the terrain. This also applies to the tire width.

Road bike: The wheels of a road bike are usually 23 millimetres wide. However, tires with a width of 25 or even 28 millimetres are becoming increasingly popular, as wider tires require less air pressure and therefore allow more flexibility. The larger contact surface offers more riding safety and the better traction provides greater puncture protection. If these points are important to you, you should therefore opt for road bike tires that are wider than 23 millimetres. However, not all classic road bikes are designed for wide tires. This is due to the fact that in road cycling, low air resistance is particularly important for high speeds, which is the case with narrower tires. A compromise is a combination of a 23 millimeter wide front wheel and a wider rear wheel. This allows you to combine agile steering behavior with more traction and puncture protection.

Gravel bike: The advantages mentioned above make 25 or 28 millimeter wide tires interesting for gravel bikes, as they are designed for off-road adventures. They provide a high level of riding comfort and puncture protection on gravel, dirt or other uneven terrain. However, you will have to accept a higher weight and greater air resistance.

Mountain bike: On a mountain bike, traction is more important than low rolling resistance, which is why mountain bike tires are particularly wide. As a rule, the tire width is 51 to 54 or even 58 millimetres, but particularly wide models up to 64 millimetres are also possible.

BMX: The tire size of BMX bikes offers a wide range from 25 millimeters to 60 millimeters. It all depends on your taste: As a BMX rider, is higher speed due to less air resistance or good grip more important to you?

Trekking bike and City bike: The tire width of trekking bikes and city bikes lies between that of a road bike and a mountain bike. While low rolling resistance is the main priority for a road bike and puncture protection and traction for a mountain bike, a balanced ratio is important for trekking bikes and city bikes. There should be sufficient traction for rides through the city park or along the river, but the width of the tires should not stand in the way of good rolling resistance on the asphalt when riding through the city. The spectrum of tire widths therefore ranges from around 37 millimetres to 52 millimetres. Which width you prefer is therefore entirely up to you and depends on the routes on which you want to ride your trekking bike or city bike .

E-bike: There is no specific recommended tire width for e-bikes. You can simply stick to the respective bike type. Depending on whether you are riding a motorized City-bike or an E-Gravel-bike , choose the appropriate tire width.

Where can I find the tire size and width?

The strings in the listing of tire size and tire width are no longer hieroglyphics for you and you can read all the important dimensions. If you need new bike tires for your road bike and were satisfied with the previous tire size and width, you can simply read the corresponding data on your old bike tires. When looking for new tires, you can find the dimensions on the manufacturer's website.

The ETRTO size specifications are exact and easy to understand. However, if you encounter an English or French size specification, you will find online tables in which you can find the corresponding ETRTO dimensions for almost every size - for example here at Swallow.

Alternatively, you can also ask the tire manufacturer directly. Well-known manufacturers of bicycle tires are, for example, Schwalbe, Continental, Michelin or Dunlop.

Which tire width fits?

If you want new tires with different dimensions than your current bike tires, you should make sure that they can actually be mounted on your rims. But how do you know which tire fits which rim? The tire width depends on its relationship to the so-called rim width. The tire width should not exceed the rim width. To be on the safe side, it is also worth taking a look at a table.

If you change to a different tire size or tire width, the tubes must of course also be replaced.

The choice of the right tires

If you want to change from normal bike tires to tubeless tires, there are many things to consider. First of all, not all rims and components are compatible with tubeless tires. Therefore, find out in advance whether your rims and other components are compatible with tubeless tires, i.e. whether your rims are tubeless-ready. If a conversion to tubeless tires is possible, you should rather leave this to a professional, because the installation of tubeless tires is anything but simple.

In addition to the right tire size, the tire quality is also important. Here you should pay attention to what puncture protection the bike tires offer. Some manufacturers such as Schwalbe divide their tires into different puncture protection classes for this purpose, which immediately show you which tires are particularly puncture resistant.

Thus, various factors play a role in the selection of the right tires. The tire size is simply important to know whether the tires fit your bike . The tire width, on the other hand, influences the rolling resistance, traction, steering behavior and puncture protection and determines the driving behavior. Not every tire width is suitable for asphalt or for gravel and forest trails. While the different types of bikes each tend to have either narrow or wide tires, there is usually a wide range. Exactly which tire width you choose is a matter of taste. A compromise between a narrower front wheel and a wider rear wheel is usually possible.

As a passionate cyclist, you should not save in the wrong place when investing in bicycle tires. In addition to selecting high-quality tires from established brands, this also includes simply trying out tires with different dimensions and finding out for yourself which tire width feels best for you. With your new knowledge about bicycle tires you are now well prepared for the tire purchase!