How to buy bicycle tubes
A bicycle tube buying guide
When figuring out how to buy bicycle tubes, consider the size, materials, tube valve, air pressure and needed accessories. Bicycle tubes are classified according to the material they are made of, the bicycle tube size, the type of use and the tube valve.
>> Types of bicycle tubes
When learning how to buy bicycle tubes, consider the different types of bicycle tubes. Bicycle tube varieties are based on bicycle tube sizes and the size of the tire they will go in, the size that is needed for the type of performance that is desired, the materials that make up the bicycle tube and the tube valve. In general, the type of bicycle tubes will depend on the type of bike you are buying it for: mountain bike, racing bike or road bike.
>> Consider materials
When learning how to buy bicycle tubes, identify the type of material you prefer. Bicycle tubes are made of synthetic rubber, butyl or latex or a combination of these materials.
Butyl is a dense and durable type of rubber that is used in most standard bicycle tubes because of its leak-proof properties and its cost effectiveness. Butyl bicycle tubes are thicker and heavier than latex bicycle tubes.
Latex bicycle tubes are not as dense or durable as butyl ones, but they provide a smoother, faster ride and are recommended mostly for racing purposes. Latex bicycle tubes are slightly more expensive and less common than butyl bicycle tubes.
>> What size do you need?
As you figure out how to buy bicycle tubes, identify the size you need. To assess the size, look at the size of the tire in which the bicycle tube will be installed. Use the the bicycle tire itself to obtain the diameter and the width of the tube. Bicycle tubes range from 16 inches to 29 inches in diameter and 16 millimeters to 60 millimeters in width. Use a bicycle tube size chart to ensure that you have the correct size.
Next, consider the kind of bike you are buying the tube for: a mountain bike, a racing bike or a road bike. For a mountain bike, the bicycle tube should be sturdy and wide to provide maximum coverage on the ground, thus providing you with more control and comfort. Butyl bicycle tubes are the best bicycle tubes for mountain biking. In road touring, a basic butyl tube is sufficient. When buying bicycle tubes for a racing bicycle, look for ones that are light and thin in width to provide a faster ride. Most bicycle tubes that are used in racing bikes are made of latex.
The level of air pressure in a tire is dependent on the size of the bicycle tube and how much grip or bite on the road is necessary for your needs. Higher air pressure requires a slightly larger tube and gives a speedier ride. Lower air pressure provides more of a bite on the road or other surface. A lower air pressure could also increase the risk of a pinch flat, so take that into account when buying a larger tube than recommended by the manufacturer. Pressure information is usually included on bicycle tube size charts.
>> Consider the type of tube valve
When deciding on the best bicycle tubes for your needs, consider the type of tube valve. Bicycle tube valves come in two different types, a Presta valve and a Schraeder valve.
A Presta bicycle valve is commonly used on European bicycle tubes and is preferred when aerodynamics and speed are important. Presta bicycle valves are common on racing bicycle tubes.
A Schraeder valve is the same type of valve as those used in automobile tubes and is the standard bicycle tube valve in most common recreational bicycle tubes.
If a Schraeder valve needs to be replaced with a Presta bicycle valve, you can buy an adapter to install on top of the Presta valve to make it sit tightly in the rim.
>> What accessories do you need?
When learning how to buy bicycle tubes, you might want to consider certain accessories that will help you install and maintain the bicycle tube. Tire pumps are available as hand-operated pumps, floor pumps, CO2 air pumps with CO2 cartridges and also standard air compressors. You can buy rubber patches for flats, bicycle repair kits, bicycle tube sealants or other bicycle tools. For avid riders, purchasing bicycle tubes in bulk so you always have one on hand is a good idea. Especially consider this if you are buying specialized bicycle tubes.
>> Additional considerations
There are a few other items to take into consideration when deciding which bicycle tube to buy. The compatibility with the bike is important in regard to safety, comfort, ease of use and efficient use. To purchase the best bicycle tubes, ensure that they are durable, meet safety standards and are the right size.
For example, if you are deciding what type of bicycle tube to buy for a child's bike, safety and ease of use should be the first considerations. Bicycle tubes for children's bikes and riding toys should follow the bicycle manufacturer's instructions to ensure the safety of the child. Double-check a child's bike to ensure that the proper bicycle tube sizes are in place. Some children's bicycles may require specialized bicycle tubes due to their small size.
For a racing bicycle and bicycle tubes, the main considerations are performance and ease of use. The bicycle tube sizes are pertinent because using the wrong size for bicycle racing rims can result in injury. Racers should consider purchasing bulk bicycle tubes to have on hand during races and training.
When you are shopping for bicycle tubes, also consider bicycle accessories such as tape, bicycle pumps, bicycle replacement parts and safety equipment such as road flares. You can easily attach these accessories to the bike without affecting performance.