If you’ve been searching for the correct inner tube for your bike, then I feel your pain.
It’s a job that should be so simple and yet it can feel incredibly complex and frustrating.
So, I’m going to give you two things today:
- A chart which shows my recommended bike inner tubes for all of the commonest tire sizes (with links to go direct to Amazon and get one straight away), and
- A simple guide to easily find out what your tire size is
Ready? Then let’s go take a look.
Bike Inner Tube Size Chart And My Recommendations
Below is the list of my recommended inner tubes.
Once you know your tire size (see the method at the bottom of this page), scroll down the list until you get to your tire diameter (e.g. 26” or 700). Click on this link and it will open up with a list of the most popular tire widths for each of those diameters (e.g. 26×2.1” or 700×23). Beside each of these is a link which will take you to the product page for my recommended inner tube. Simple!
What size inner tube do I need for my bike?
Get yourself a CO2 tire inflator and always be prepared. Simple and fast to use.
How do I know what size inner tube I need?
With most bicycles these days this is (thankfully!) a simple and straightforward task.
If you crouch down by the side of one of your bike wheels and take a look at the sidewall you’ll be able to get all the information you need – simple as that. The sidewall is the rubber tire section that is an ‘O’ shape and sits between the metal rim of the wheel and the (usually) black tread section of the tire. The sidewall is mostly smooth, sometimes (say with beach cruiser tires) it can be a different color to the rest of the tire.
If you follow the sidewall round with your finger you’ll notice that there will be words and numbers embossed. There’s often the name of the tire manufacturer (for example, Schwalbe). Plus, there should be the tire code. This will either be metric, imperial, or ISO/ETRTO.
Metric codes will look like “700 x 28c”
Imperial codes look like “27.5 x 2.1”
ISO/ETRTO have codes like “37-622”
This might seem confusing, but don’t fret. Whichever code you find, just make a note and then compare it to the chart above. Find the line with your tire code and you’ll see a link to the Amazon page with my recommended inner tube.
Inner tube dimensions explained
You would’ve thought that tire manufacturers could all just sit down together and come up with one simple system for classifying bike tires, wouldn’t you? Well, actually, they have and it’s the ISO system (which was previously known as ETRTO). It hasn’t been universally adopted though and you’ll see tires which have both ISO numbering and either metric or imperial.
Before the ISO/ETRTO system pretty much every country seemed to have their own system. That’s one of the reasons why you’ll see the “c” in some metric tire codes. It’s a hangover from the old French system which categorized tire widths from “a” narrowest to “d” widest. For some reason manufacturers still include this on the tires.
And don’t think that the imperial system is so simple either. You would expect that a tire listed as “29×2.5” would be a good replacement for a tire that said it was “29 x 2 ½”. Weirdly though these two are unlikely to be the same size of tire.
Whilst you need to use a replacement tire that is the exact same size as the existing one, you have a little more wiggle room when it comes to tubes. The diameter needs to be the same (e.g. 700 or 26”) but the tube’s width will vary depending on the amount you inflate them (like a kid’s balloon). This is the reason why you see inner tubes listed with one number for the diameter and a range for the width, e.g. “26 x 1.75-2.25”. So, this tube would be fine to use with tires of between 26×1.75” all the way to tires of 26×2.25”.
Inner tube valves
Quick point to note about valves before I let you go. Inner tube valves are the little metal bits sticking out the side of inner tubes which you fit the pump to in order to blow your tube up.
There are two main valve types: Schrader and Presta. Lots of bike tubes and virtually all car tires will use Schrader valves. Presta valves are slimmer and longer than Schrader. This means that, if your bike pump is designed for Schrader valves, you’ll need to buy a little adaptor to use it with Presta valve tubes.
These are inexpensive and super-simple to fit and use – you just screw them by hand and away you go. After that you’ll be able to use your pump with either Presta or Schrader tubes, so they’re very handy to have. You can get more details on the one I recommend here.
Fitting a new inner tube
Don’t worry if you haven’t done this before. It’s a real simple process and should take less than an hour. Have a watch of this video and you’ll see what you need and what steps you should follow.