How to Choose a Road Bike Tire

How to Choose a Road Bike Tire
There are a number of factors to consider when purchasing a road bike, including wheel size, riding surfaces, rubber type and budget. Choosing the wrong tire for your road bike, or purchasing a very low-quality model in order to save money, can result frustration or even a dangerous crash. Alternatively, some cyclists purchase fancy, expensive tires that simply aren't necessary for their riding habits.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Look at the sidewall of the tires currently on your bike. This is where you'll find the tire size that is compatible with your wheels. Most modern road bikes use a tire size of 700c. Some older wheels will use 650c or a measurement in inches. The number following the circumference measurement will indicate the width of the tire. This could be between and 18 and 28 mm. Only tires with the right circumference will fit your wheel.
Step 2
Decide what type of riding you'd like to do. If you plan to use your road bike for racing, you'll probably want to look at narrower tires, between 18 and 23 mm. Wider tires will provide a more comfortable ride, and are useful for long rides and bike tours. Racers will also want to be conscious of the weight of their tires. Lighter tires will provide for a faster ride, with the drawbacks of faster wear and higher prices.
Step 3
Consider the surfaces you'll be riding on. If you only plan to ride on smooth pavement, slick tires will provide the least amount of rolling resistance and lowest weight for the price. If your commuting route or workout loop includes gravel or uneven surfaces, consider trying a cyclocross tire or semi-slick. These tires provide short knobs, typically on the edges of the tire, to enhance cornering traction.
Step 4
Purchase the correct valve version of the tube you choose. Many tire tubes come in two versions: Presta and Schrader. Schrader valves are wider in diameter than Presta valves, and will not fit in Presta wheels. Although Presta valves are generally considered to be the superior valve type because of their built-in valve cap, Schrader valves have the advantage of being compatible with the air hoses you'll find at most gas stations.
Step 5
Stay within your budget. If you only plan to use your bike for commuting, it's wise to purchase durable, cheaper tires made of a hard rubber compound. If you plan to race, consider lighter tires made of a softer compound. You'll have to replace these tires more often than most hard rubber tires, so the actual expense per year is more than meets the eye at the checkout counter.

Tips & Warnings

Compare tire prices online at various sites like Jensen USA or Cambria Bike.
Be sure to replace tires that are significantly worn or ripped.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.