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I think that, if you wrote out a list of ‘The Most Complicated Things In The World To Fathom Out’, bicycle tire inner tubes would be high up in the rankings. If not at the number one spot.
I’ll let you into a secret though. It’s actually really simple to do, but ONLY when you know the trick.
So, today, I’m going to pass on a couple of gifts to you:
- I’m going to tell you what the trick is for finding out your bike tube size
- A list of all the most common tube sizes, with my recommended tube for each (and a link to go buy each straight away)
If you’re ready? Then, let’s dive right in.
What size tube does my bike tire need?
Here is a list of all the inner tube sizes you’ll generally find.
I’ve included the tire sizing trick below this list. Once you know what your tire size is, run down through the list until you get to your tire nominal diameter (such as 700 or 27.5”). Click on the link for that tire and it will show you a list of all the available widths of bike tire (for example, 27.5×2.30 or 700c x 30). Next to your tire size will be a link that opens a page on Amazon with the tube I recommend for your bike.
Let’s go take a look.
How do I determine the tube size I need?
Here’s the trick: you’ll find the bicycle tire tube size amongst all those names and numbers printed or embossed on the sidewall of your bike tire. Simple as that!
If you squat down by one your bicycle tires and have a close look at the sidewall (the rubber strip just next to the metal rim of the wheel) you’ll various letters and digits. Often there will be the manufacturer, such as ‘Kenda’. There should also be the special code that is your tire size. This will either be in imperial measurements, metric, or a third system known as ISO or ETRTO.
The codes will look similar to these examples:
Imperial = “20×1.75”
Metric = “700x23c”
ISO or ETRTO = “53-559”
Next, take this code and go through the chart above until you find it on the list. Click on the link next to it and you’ll go straight to the inner tube that I recommend for your bike on Amazon.
Bicycle inner tube valves types
Just a quick heads-up about inner tube valves.
The valves are the metal tubes that you use to fill them with air. Modern tires will have either a Schrader valve or a Presta. Schrader are the most common and are the same ones that you get on car tires. They’re shorter and with a larger diameter than Presta.
Because the valves are a different shape and size, you’ll need to pick up a little valve adaptor if you have a Presta tube and a pump designed for Schrader valves.
Not to worry because the adaptors are simple to use and cheap to buy. This is one that I use and recommend.
Is it worth repairing inner tubes?
This is always a controversial topic, isn’t it?
You’ll find many people who swear by repairing their bike tubes no matter what’s damaged them. Thorns? Check? Broken glass? Check. Rhino horn? Probably.
They’ll spend a long time trying to repair the tube every time it happens and will probably be successful most of the time.
My view? For the cost of a new tube, I can’t really be bothered with the hassle of attempting to repair the old one. It won’t always work (so you’ll have to try and do it again) and it will take a lot longer than simply replacing the tube with a new one.
New tubes don’t take up much space either, so it’s easy to carry a new one with you.
That being said, I do always take a small tool kit with me (this one) that includes repair patches. Why? Two reasons. Firstly, it’s possible to damage a new tube when you’re fitting it. With a tire patch, I can do a quick fix and save me a long walk home.
Secondly, punctures can often happen more than once on a bike ride. With a fresh tube and a patch repair kit, I’m covering all the bases.
Do I need a new bike tire or just a tube?
Not necessarily, but it’s always worth checking to see if your tire is still in good condition.
If you’ve had a tube punctured as a result of a thorn poking through or a ‘pinch flat’ (which can happen when tubes are under-inflated), then the tire will probably still be perfectly usable.
If the tube was damaged as a result of being slashed by broken glass or a blade, then the tire may well need to be replaced as well.
When you’re replacing your tube it’s always good practice to check over the tire to see whether it is okay. Look for anything poking through the tire (nails, etc). Also, check the tire grips to see whether they have worn down.
If you do need a new tire, take a look at my article here with bike tire recommendations. This includes a similar easy-to-use tire guide.
How to fit a tube
If you haven’t tackled this before, don’t worry. It’s a simple job that will take you under 60 minutes to complete. Even faster once you’ve done a few.
Take a look at the YouTube video below which talks you through the process.
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