Bike inner tubes for every bike type
When you’re buying a new bicycle, the possibility of getting a flat tyre is probably the furthest thing from your mind. But it’s better to be safe than sorry, and this is where the inner tube comes into play.
Of course, you can try to fix and patch a flat tyre yourself. But when the tyre is too damaged, you’ll have to replace it. Take a look at our selection of inner tubes to find the right replacement for your bike.
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Bike inner tube buying guide: What to look for
When you have a flat tyre, you can try to find and fix the hole. Often, the inner tube will probably need to be replaced. If your tyre is also worn out, you should consider to to look for a new bike tyre as well.
Here are a few things to consider when buying a new inner tube.
What are the differences between bicycle inner tubes?
Which inner tube to choose depends on the type of bicycle, the terrain, and the conditions you are riding in. To match the different rim diameters and rim widths your wheel might have, there are also differences in the inner tube sizes.
Ensuring the correct air pressure in the tyre provides good grip and adds to the overall riding experience. It also positively impacts rolling resistance and overall stability, for example when making turns.
Because in everyday cycling life, comfort, safety, and stability are key, bike tubes in everyday bikes are often thicker and wider. In road cycling and racing conditions, though, light and thin inner tubes are used to reduce weight and increase performance.
There are also differences in terms of valve type and material.
In general, bicycle inner tubes are available in 3 different materials:
Butyl inner tubes
The butyl bike tube is the classic among inner tubes. Most bicycles used in everyday life have this type of inner tube.
The advantages of butyl:
- Good value for money
- Available in most DIY and retail shops
- Retains air effectively
- Low maintenance, e.g. easy to reinflate your tyres
- Weather-resistant and elastic
The disadvantages of butyl:
- Poor puncture protection
- High weight compared to alternatives – not well suited for mountain bikes
Latex inner tubes
Bike inner tubes made of latex are generally much lighter and offer better puncture protection. Therefore, these tubes are often used in road cycling and competitive cycling. Because weight plays a crucial role in competitive road cycling, road cyclists prefer latex to other materials.
The advantages of latex:
- Elastic, positive influence on rolling resistance
- Good puncture protection thanks to coating of talcum powder
The disadvantages of latex:
- Price – more expensive than butyl
- Pressure loss – latex loses air faster
- High maintenance
- Tyre pressure must be checked before each ride
Thermoplastic inner tubes
Relatively unknown and new on the cycling market are thermoplastic inner tubes. They are made of polymer resins. Thermoplastic, as the name suggests, is a plastic. Road cyclists and mountain bikers are enthusiastic about this new material – it has many advantages and only a few downsides.
The advantages of thermoplastic:
- Very lightweight
- Elastic – positive influence on rolling resistance
- High level of puncture protection
- Pliable and mouldable
- Slow pressure loss
The disadvantage of thermoplastic:
Conclusion: Not all bike tubes are the same! Each material has its advantages and disadvantages. Your choice of inner tube always depends on conditions, terrain, and the type of bicycle you’re riding.
Which inner tube is suitable for each type of bike?
This is one of the most common questions about inner tubes. A huge range of inner tubes is available, and it’s often difficult to see the wood for the trees.
Classic bike inner tubes are made of butyl and are often used for everyday bicycles and children’s bicycles. The distribution changes when dealing with mountain bikes and road bikes. In these categories weight, speed and elasticity come into play – not to mention puncture protection.
With e-bikes, on the other hand, the load on the bicycle tube is particularly high, as much higher average speeds are reached and the e-bike itself has a much greater weight. E-bike inner tubes therefore have to be exceptionally durable and offer strong puncture protection.
Moreover, changing an e-bike’s tyre isn’t a straightforward job. Because disassembling an e-bike is complicated, it’s best to have it done by your local bike dealer. Be careful if you decide to give it a try yourself. E-bikes reach high speeds. If an e-bike is not properly assembled, it will negatively affect your road safety and, in the worst-case scenario, could even lead to a fatal accident.
Which bike inner tube sizes are there?
Bicycle tubes are available for different rim widths and sizes. The size of the tube is determined by diameter × minimum width ÷ maximum width. The size is indicated on every bicycle tube and its packaging.
Inner tubes are available in sizes ranging from 10 to 29 inches. The common tyre sizes are 26 and 28 inches. A diameter of 700 mm corresponds to a tyre size of 28 inches, 650 mm to 26 inches. For a child’s bike you need a much smaller tube, which is usually made of butyl and can also be selected based on rim size and width.
What are the different valve types?
Bike tubes use various types of valve. The valve is an important component to consider when buying new tubes.
Classic bikes and children’s bikes often use the Dunlop valve, which is designed to withstand a maximum air pressure of 6 bar.
The Schrader valve is also known as the car valve because it’s used in virtually every motorised vehicle. It’s often used on mountain bikes and can be easily inflated at a petrol station.
The road bike valve, also called the French valve or Presta valve, is designed for an air pressure of up to 15 bar. The road bike valve is also becoming increasingly popular among mountain bikers.
All of the tubes mentioned above also fit different rim holes. This is important because it’s the only way to choose a tube with the right valve. Otherwise, the valve won’t fit the rim, or there will be too much space between valve and rim. A valve that doesn’t fit your rim properly can have a negative effect on your cycling behaviour and on your safety.
Each valve can of course be inflated with a compatible bike pump.
What to consider when buying a new inner tube
When choosing a new inner tube, there are many things to consider to be able to make the right choice. Bear the following factors in mind:
- Bicycle type
- Rim width
- Rim size
- Road surface
- Valve type