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How to Buy a Bike Tube

By Annette 7 months agoNo Comments

Inner tube - Bike partsSo you need to buy a bike tube?  But you don’t know what to buy…This simple story explains bike tube sizes.  It shows you where to find the information you need on your tyre.  Then it gives you a quick explanation of valves and pressure so you can use your bike tube properly.

Women Learning Bike Parts – The Bike Tube

What is it?  A rubber inner that sits inside the bike tyre. It is this inner that gets filled with air and gives you a comfortable, smooth ride on your bike wheels, if it is pumped up correctly.

Why do I need a spare one?  A lot of people choose to carry a spare bike tube with them as part of their bike tool kit.  This means if you happen to get a flat tyre you can simply replace the tube and get on your way rather than repairing the puncture with a puncture repair kit.  Having spare tubes at home, that match all the bike wheel sizes you have, makes any repair/replacement jobs quicker & less frustrating.

What size is your bike tube?  Embossed on the side wall of your tyre you will find all the information you need to know about your tube. This is represented in diameter x width e.g. 26 x 2.0 (see the photos below).  The diameter is the diameter of your wheel – this changes depending on the type of bike and size of the bike e.g. kids bikes come in a range of wheel sizes starting at 12inches…16 inches..20 inches…up to 24 inches.  This is where the adult sizes kick in 26inches, 27.5 and 29inches.

Road bikes are different again their diameter is 650 to 700C (this is not a cm measurement but millimetres, the C is an A to D system).


Side wall of tyre showing size of tyre


Width is the width of your tyre.  Remember that your tube sits inside your tyre and when it is full of air it is the tube that allows the tyre to hold it’s intended shape.  The width changes depending on the purpose of the bike – generally the wider the tyre the rougher the terrain it is used on.  Skinny tyres give you smooth fast riding so are great for the road – flat, smooth, even surfaces.

More about your Bike Tube

VALVES – PRESTA & SCHRADER.  The valve is attached to the tube and it sticks through the rim of your wheel.  The valve is where the air goes in to inflate your bike tube. You will either have a presta (skinny) or schrader (fat) valve.  Your bike pump needs to match your valve.  Most bike pumps can work with both valves the process is just slightly different – watch our Pumping Up a Bike Tyre video to learn more.  Also note that a presta valve has a nut on the tip that must be unscrewed to allow air to flow.


PSI – POUNDS PER SQUARE INCH. The pressure to inflate your tube up to is called PSI (pounds per square inch). You will generally find a range from a minimum to a maximum PSI, again, written on the sidewall of your tyre. Check out the photos below which show a minimum PSI to a maximum PSI on a range of different bikes.  Again if you want to know more about pumping up a bike tube, watch our video.

So that’s a bit about bike tubes.  I hope you picked up some useful information. When you choose to know what to do riding more places, more often is easier.

Thanks for reading. Used together our stories, resources & products support you to achieve and develop as a rider.

Related Resources:

Bike Parts explained

Bike Tools explained

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