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Bike Tire Buying Guide

You’ve likely landed here because you are considering buying new bike tires but you’re not sure what kind you need. Let us help! With so many bike tire options out there, we understand how confusing it can be to figure out which type will serve you best. In this Bike Tire Buying Guide we’ll walk you through, step-by-step, everything you need to know to purchase the perfect bike tires for you and your bike.

When to replace your bike tires?

Person looking reviewing their bike tires

First, let’s explore why you’re shopping for new bike tires in the first place. There are typically two reasons for why you want to replace your tires.

1. Your current tires are worn out.

Having good working tires is essential for riding safely and comfortably. And just like car tires, at some point bike tires will simply wear out. Here’s a few ways to determine if your current bike tires need to be replaced.

  • You’re getting lots of flats
  • Your bike just isn’t handling as well as it once did, the tires don’t seem to grip the ground very well anymore
  • The rubber of your tires has started to crack and flake off
  • The tires looks distorted with uneven tread and small cuts

2. You want to upgrade your ride experience.

Not all tires are created equal. If you’re looking to add more speed, smoothness, and control to your ride, tires are a relatively easy upgrade to increase your performance.

Now that you know whether or not you need (or want) new tires, it’s time to find out what kind you should purchase.

What tires do you need?

mountain bikes on a bike rack

If you are happy with your current ride but you’ve noticed your tires have reached their shelf life you can simply purchase the same tires your bike is currently equipped with.

To find this out look at your tire’s sidewall and jot down:

  • size of your tires
  • brand name
  • model

You’ll need this information to order up a new pair of the same tires. If you’re not seeing this, you can always bring your bike into your favorite ERIK’S shop and our friendly staff will help you determine which tires you need.

If you want to explore your options or you’re looking for an upgrade — keep reading to learn more about tires and how to select the best kind for you and your bike!

Hone your bike tire search.

As mentioned previously, there are a lot of tire options out there. To hone your search you’ll want to answer these questions:

  1. What kind of bike do you ride? (Hybrid, Comfort, Mountain, Road?)
  2. What kind of riding do you prefer (casual riding on pavement, gravel riding, performance road cycling, technical singletrack)?
  3. What size are your tires?
a mountain bike tire and road bike tire

There are a few ways to determine what size of tires you have:

  • Look at the tire sidewall where it is usually printed
  • Refer to your bike owner’s manual where it will be listed
  • Google your bike brand/model/year — your bike manufacturer’s site will list all the specs for your bike including it’s tire size
  • Measure from rim-to-rim to get the size yourself
  • Come into ERIK’S and our expert staff will help you

Additional tire features to consider.

Now that you know the basics: what kind of bike you ride, your preferred style of riding, and your tire size — you’ll be able to easily narrow down your search for available tires to choose from.

Women sitting by her bike drinking water

As you’re perusing your options you’ll want to consider these additional tire specs: Width, Tread and Durability.

Your style of riding and bike type will determine the tire widths available for you. In general wider tires support gravel riding (think mountain biking) and narrower tires support riding on pavement (think road biking).

The bike size listing on your current tire’s sidewall says what the tire width is. For instance if the size listed is “26 x 2.125” the 26 refers to inches in diameter and the 2.125 refers to its inches of width.

There will be a range of widths you can choose from for your particular tire size, bike type, and style of riding you plan to do. If you opt for wider tires than your bike currently has, be sure to check that they clear your fork, frame and brakes.

Tire tread is determined by the surface you ride on the most.

Tires that are super smooth will be best for riding on pavement and/or road racing. They have minimal contact with the road so the rider can bike faster.

Knobby tires with lots of tread is what you see on mountain bikes. The gritty tread helps riders navigate bumpy, gravel tracks safely by providing more grip.

Of course, when you’re considering tire tread, you’ll see a range available just like with tire widths. Do your research and keep going back to how you’ll be riding to find the tread right for you.

Do you bike to work everyday or just take your bike out on the weekend for a casual ride? Are you grinding away on dirt singletrack a fews times a week or once a month? Higher quality (and more expensive) tires will offer greater durability. If you ride a lot or ride hard often, spending a few extra dollars on your tires can be a worthwhile investment.

Your extra dollars may be paying for features that will give you extra puncture-resistance allowing you to ride, ride, ride with less issues in the long run.

What about Tubeless Tires?

As the name implies, a tubeless tire is a setup without inner tubes. This is done by using tubeless-ready tires, a liquid sealant that makes the tires airtight, and special rim strips and valves to make the rims airtight.

tubeless bike tires supplies

One of the most significant advantages, and most appealing to cyclists of all types, is that you’ll get far fewer flats. This is because of two traits of a tubeless system. First is the sealant. It seals punctures almost immediately while you’re riding. So small holes from things like thorns and glass can go unnoticed. Second, when you run a tube and hit a hard object, like a rock on a mountain bike trail or a pothole on the road, the tire and rim can actually pinch the tube, causing a flat (hence the name “pinch flat”). Without a tube, there’s no risk of a pinch flat!

We think tubeless tires are pretty awesome so we wrote an entire blog about them. You can view it here. We go in-depth on all the benefits of using tubeless tires and so you can do your research properly when determining which kind of tires will be best for you.

You can shop all of these items here.

Time to choose your tires!

Now that you know the basics on how to select the right tires for your bike and riding style it’s time to go shopping! You can view our huge tire selection online here or swing into your local ERIK’S and allow our staff to help you out.