Which bicycle tube is best?
Just like cars, bicycles need air to keep their wheels functioning correctly. But unlike cars, that air is held in a separate tube which can be replaced without replacing the tire. Bicycle tubes also come in dozens of sizes with different air valves and various features, which can make picking your replacement a headache.
Considering Continental’s Bike Tubes is an excellent start. These low-cost bicycle tubes are available in almost every possible size and valve type and are quality enough to last long.
What to know before you buy a bicycle tube
Sizing a bicycle tube can be a little complex as there are a lot of numbers to decode. An example taken from one of the Continental Bike Tube options is 26 x 1.75-2.5, 42mm, meaning that bicycle tube will fit a bicycle with a wheel diameter of 26 inches, fit inside a tire with widths between 1.75 and 2.5 inches and have a valve which pokes out 42 millimeters.
A vast range of possible bicycle tube sizes are available, so make sure you have carefully measured your bicycle to avoid needing to return your bicycle tubes.
Schrader: The most common bicycle tube type, Schrader valves are small and stubby and are easy to use for inflation, especially with hand pumps. They are typically seen on lower-cost bicycles as well.
Presta: Presta valves are long and thin and commonly used on roads and racing bicycles. They’re especially good for high pressure and ultra-thin bicycle tubes.
Dunlop: Dunlop valves are on an older form of Schrader, which is rarely used today though older or foreign bicycles might still use them.
What to look for in a quality bicycle tube
Butyl rubber: Butyl rubber is the most common material used. It’s thick and durable as well as easy to patch when damaged. Unfortunately, it adds a fair amount of weight to your bicycle.
Latex: Latex is light and thin but more expensive. It also allows air to leak from the bicycle tube faster than a butyl rubber bicycle tube and cannot typically be patched or repaired when damaged.
Punctures constantly happen on bicycles, so some bicycle tubes include built-in puncture treatment methods. Usually, this is a thicker, though heavier, portion of their material on the upper edge of the bicycle tube, but some bicycle tubes fill their inside with a sealant instead.
How much you can expect to spend on a bicycle tube
Although bicycle tubes are one of the most affordable bicycle parts, they have a wide price range. Most bicycle tubes start around $5-$7, with certain features or rarer sizes increasing the cost to as much as $20-$30.
Bicycle tube FAQ
Do bicycle tubes need to match the tire size exactly?
A. No, they don’t need to match your tire size exactly, but it helps to be as close as possible. Most bicycle tubes give a range of tire sizes, around .5 to 1 inch in difference, that they’re compatible with. This variance can make it a little tricky to find a bicycle tube that fits as close to perfect as possible. Hence, be prepared to return a tube or two until you find the right one if you want a perfect fit.
What’s the best way to replace bicycle tubes?
A. The best way to replace your bicycle tubes is to start by lightly inflating your new tube before pushing it inside your bicycle tire. Next, you’ll want to push the valve through the valve opening in your wheel rim and align your wheel inside the wheel rim. Finally, slowly inflate your bicycle tube while ensuring there aren’t any pinches and that your tire stays inside the wheel rim until fully inflated.
What’s the best bicycle tube to buy?
Top bicycle tube
What you need to know: This is an excellent and affordable bicycle tube with plenty of fit options.
What you’ll love: This bicycle tube is available in 10 sizing options, including uncommon sizes, and is available in Schrader and Presta valve types. Large combo packages of several boxes are available at large per-bicycle tube discounts. Continental bicycle tubes can often be used in mountain and road bicycles.
What you should consider: Some consumers reported rare issues of these Continental bicycle tubes arriving damaged in various ways. Also, some of the less common sizes can be a little pricey.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top bicycle tube for the money
Bell Sports Standard Schrader Inner Tubes
What you need to know: This excellent budget bicycle tube doesn’t sacrifice quality to hit its low prices.
What you’ll love: These Bell Sports bicycle tubes are available in 13 sizing options, with most of them being available in either Schrader or Presta valve types. Most Bell Sports bicycle tubes can be used in both road and mountain bikes as well as hybrids.
What you should consider: These Bell Sports bicycle tubes don’t utilize much, if any, puncture management or wear protection leading to a more frequent need for replacement.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: These Slime Self-Sealing bicycle tubes are perfect options for bicyclists who go over rough ground.
What you’ll love: These Slime Self-Sealing bicycle tubes can prevent or slow the loss of air from common punctures to allow you to finish a ride or find a safe place to change the bicycle tube. This bicycle tube can also be found with a Presta valve instead of a Schrader.
What you should consider: The same internal sealant, which better prevents flats, also leads to a more complex and difficult replacement process. What’s more, these bicycle tubes are pricier than most of their competitors.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Jordan Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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