Bike Inner Tubes Buyers Guide

Buyers Guide

Bike Inner Tubes

Bike Inner Tubes

On a bike, your inner tubes are usually ignored - safely hidden under your tyres.

In the sad event that you suffer a puncture, you'll either have to repair or replace the inner tube.

Carry a spare inner tube with you and you can repair the punctured one at the cafe stop or when you get home.
Better still, fit some puncture-resistant tyres!

Bike Inner Tube Sizes

Bike inner tubes have two measurements - diameter and width.

Have a look at the side of your tyre - you'll find it marked with the diameter and width (and maximum pressure) of the tyre.

Bike Inner Tube Diameter
The most common sizes of inner tube diameter for adult bikes are

  • 700C (road/racing bike inner tubes)
  • 26 inch (MTB inner tubes).

    20 inch inner tubes are used on BMX bikes, 18" tubes on some kids BMX.

    16 inch inner tubes are used on Moulton and Brompton folding bikes.

    12 and 14 inch tubes are used on kids bikes.

    Bike Inner Tube Width
    The numbers on an inner tube box will show the minimum and maximum tyre width that the tube will fit.

    An inner tube marked 26 X 1.5/2.2 will fit a MTB tyre which is between 1.5" and 2.2" wide.
    An inner tube marked 700 X 20/28 will fit a road bike with a tyre width between 20 - 28mm.

    Hybrid bike inner tubes are usually 700C or 26 inch i.e road bike or MTB - check the writing on the side of your bicycle tyre.

    Bike Inner Tube Valve Types

    Modern bicycle inner tubes use two types of valves...

  • Presta Valve Inner Tubes
  • Presta valves are the most suitable valve for high pressure bike tyres. Use a long stem presta valve if you have deep "aero" rims.

  • Schrader Valve Inner Tubes
  • Schrader valves (same as a car valve) are usually found on low to mid end MTB and hybrid bikes. The larger hole needed for a Schrader valve can slightly weaken the wheel rim.

    Self-Sealing Bike Inner Tubes

    Also known as 'Slime' tubes (Slime is a brand of puncture sealant), self sealing inner tubes contain a liquid which fills the puncture and then sets on contact with air. They'll work for pinprick punctures but if your tyre is badly gashed - you'll have a gooey mess on your hands.

    Lightweight Inner Tubes

    Lightweight inner tubes are probably the cheapest performance upgrade for your bike.
    Lightweight tubes are usually made of latex or very thin butyl rubber. Latex inner tubes do not hold air as well as normal inner tubes so you will have to do a bit more pumping to keep your tyres up to pressure.

    Bike Inner Tubes

    Buyers Guide