Do you find yourself going to the bike shop in search of a new bike or a new set of tires? You will see a wide range of mountain bikes, as well as a countless selection of tire sizes as well. You wind up pondering which one will suit you. Having a wide choice of tires to choose from is good. However, the process of picking one might be quite complicated.
In the early days, mountain bikes used 26-inch tires. Many people saw a major benefit in using large tires and the 26-inch tire became the standard then. Fast-forward to 2016, and there are more options for off-road bikes. These include the 27.5-inch tires, the Plus Size tires, and even the 26-inch tire.
Here, we will run you through the various options available, what top brands say about tire sizes and how to find the correct tire for your bike.
Mountain Bike Tire Sizes
1. 29-Inch Tires
The 29-inch tire has been around for quite a while. Major industry players such as Gary Fisher spearheaded the use of 29-inch tires as they apparently brought more speed to mountain bikes. The tire used a bigger tire diameter to speed up and improve the bicycle’s stability over an unstable landscape while giving more friction to the tires in sharp corners.
The first 29-inch tires had sketchy steep geometry and long stems to help the steer. This brought about tires that were not stiff enough and ‘flexed’ excessively much. As time passed by, R&D groups have created strategies to refine frames to be more supportive of 29-inch tires. This prompts the development of some really beast-worthy bikes, such as the new Specialized StumpJumper and the Trek’s Slash.
The new type of 29 inches (0.74 meters) tires MTB offers a hugely capable, versatile, and efficient package to riders, particularly taller people who find the bigger bicycle size more relative to their measurements. However, with the enhancements in the calculation, frame layout, and stem size, 29-inch mountain bikes are certainly not confined to only those over 6 feet (1.83 m).
In 2019/20, the geometry of 29-inch bicycles made some amazing progress. From tall, unnatural inclination points to smooth root-hungry platforms – numerous 29-inch models currently feel more similar to 27.5-inch tires. The impression of the 29-inch tire is presently changing, with Enduro and DH experts completely accepting the advantages of the bigger tire diameter.
2. 27.5-Inch Tires
The 27.5-inch tires were introduced about 8 years ago. They redefined the market regarding geometry and the formation of a proper all-rounder capable of doing all tight specialized turns of a 26-inch tire while still offering the quick-rolling, ultra-traction characteristics of a 29-inch tire. The 27.5-inch tire offers the ideal center ground for some riders as it was agile, versatile, and fast. That is the reason why it has had a lot of success quickly.
The 27.5-inch tire has also quickly become the standard on the long-travel trail and DH bicycles, moving away from the 26-inch tire yet keeping up the strength and guiding precision while improving the frame’s rollover characteristics also.
A transition to a 27.5 tire size offers many advantages without any compromise. If you are rocking a 26-inch tire, a 27.5-inch tire is certainly the tire to go for on your next bike.
3. 27.5-Inch Tires (Plus Tires)
The 27.5 Plus Tires are an intriguing idea that is constantly growing in popularity as componentry and geometry are re-imagined to accommodate wider profiles (EG Boost Hubs). They do not lead to the formation of ‘fat bikes’ (huge tired bicycles for snow, sand, and aftermath zones ordinarily sat on 26″ edges). However, Plus Tires (30 – 40mm) are 27.5-inch tires with immense volume tires (2.7 – 3″) and offer various advantages to the rider.
The advantages of using plus tires include increased traction, stability, and suspension that comes from wider tire profiles. Plus Rims also add a ton of height to the tire, making it nearly as wide as a standard 29-inch. And in theory, creating a bicycle with the firmness and strength of a 27.5-inch tire, the rollover speed of a 29-inch tire, and the handling, traction, and stability of a fat bicycle. This mix has caused advances such as boost hubs and expert forks to employ bigger tires. There’s less space for errors here, so these tires go hand in hand with a rider keen to get their bike dialed.
These huge volume tires have less forceful track than your standard gravity tires and convey speed well – get them set up tubeless, ditching the 300g inward cylinders and decreasing rolling resistance.
However, there is a drawback. Plus Tires are not light, and the options are limited. Moreover, because of the continual need to change tire pressure, suspension, and tire profile, a Plus bike probably is not the ideal decision for those who simply enjoy casual rides because they will need to invest a fair amount of time and energy making adjustments to your parts. Ultimately, Plus tires can be a bad dream in bad weather, getting obstructed with tacky mud and debris from the path and slowing your progress.
4. 26-Inch Tires
The 26-inch tire has been dropped down the world of fond memories as it is barely used. However, it is still popular among DH and dirt jump riders. The 26-inch tire can also be a fair decision for riders that are too big for kid bikes but not ready for adult bikes either. Ultimately, riders between the ages of 10 -14 can utilize the 26-inch tire comfortably.
What Bike Brands Say About Tire Sizes
While a couple of brands follows strict charts/guidelines, others give looser principles. Industry Nine have proposed a range of tire width for their rims. They further explained how they came up with those figures. For every 1mm that is different from the design standard, the tire will change about 0.44mm in width in a similar corresponding direction. If the tire is too wide for its rim, you get more tire rolls in light of the greater casing size and higher aspect ratio of the tire. This creates more leverage on the tire, permitting the casing to fall and turn over the rim during hard cornering.
A couple of tires have tread wrap, which impacts this. A 2.25-inch tire with a huge load of tread wrap may function well on a 35mm rim, yet as shown by Industry Nine, you as a rider can actually be better off on a smaller rim for the above reasons. Also, wider rims are persistently going to weigh more – when considering all other factors. Mountain bicycle riders who are thinking about smaller (2.1 – 2.25) inch tires are consistently going to be more weight conscious, so they will be ideally serviced by a smaller/lighter rim.
Adopting the graphical strategy, Stan’s NoTubes is preparing new symbolism that lists suggested tire width ranges for specific rims. NoTubes’ “Wide Right” design helps you picture what an appropriate tire shape should look like. So, what if you are only upsizing your rims, hoping to get some additional width from your existing tire?
According to Kenda, there is a general time concerning the effect of rim width on the tire width. For every 1mm that is different from the design standard, the tire will change about 0.44mm in width in a similar corresponding direction.
For example, if a tire of 56 mm was meant to be used on a rim with an interior diameter of 24mm and you were to mount it on an extra-wide rim with a diameter of 29mm, this would pull the width of the tire closer to 58mm.
There are potential gains to making a tire more extensive this way as there is no extra weight. The only disadvantage to this is how the tire contacts the ground. This could lead to an increment in rolling resistance, or it could change the overall region of the cornering handles, bringing about a tire breaking loose earlier in a corner.
Basically, when you put a wider rim on your bike, your tire will develop about 0.4mm in width for each 1mm of interior rim growth.
How to Find the Right Tire
When it is time to replace your worn-out tires, it is a good chance to unlock the full potential of your tires by taking a stab at something new. This section will guide you on which tire sizes can match your inner rim width.
Unfit tire size could harm the rim and put you in harm’s way. If the tire is not wide enough, you are risking more pinch flats and blowouts; if it is excessively wide, tire burping and poor stability may occur.
In this part, we list the suggested tire size graphs for LB Mountain, road, or fat rims. Compare and contrast before you decide on which rim or tire to purchase.
MTB RIMS / TIRES
Internal rim width (mm) 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 40 45 50 Tire size 1.9″ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ Tire size 2.0″ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ Tire size 2.1″ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ Tire size 2.2″ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ Tire size 2.3″ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ Tire size 2.4″ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ Tire size 2.5 – 2.7″ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ Tire size 2.8 – 3.1″ (Plus) ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
The chart above applies to light bicycle rims with a unique rim-tire interface.
ROAD RIMS / TIRES
Internal Rim Width (mm) 17-19 20-21 22-23 24-25 Tire Size 23-25C ✔ Tire Size 25-28C ✔ ✔ ✔ Tire Size 28-30C ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ Tire Size 30-33C ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ Tire Size 33-35C ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ Tire Size 35-38C ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ Tire Size 38-40C ✔ ✔ ✔ Tire Size 40-43C ✔ ✔ ✔ Tire Size 43-45C ✔ ✔ Tire Size 45-48C ✔ ✔ Tire Size 48-50C ✔
The recommendations above are based on rim-tire compatibility tests with popular tires. The chart serves as a guide to the best rim-tire compatibility.
The Fat Bikes
A 4-inch (101mm) fat bike tire would require an inside rim width within the range of 34mm and 71mm. That puts it at the beginning stage for a few fat bike edges. The Hed Big Deal composite comes in at 71mm inside, and the Sun-Ringle MuleFut estimates 74.4 (for their greatest 80 rims; they offer a more modest 50). So, at that point, how would you pair fat bicycle rims and tires?
In light of everything, there are no particular rules, and it depends on how you need your tire profile.
As demonstrated by Tim Krueger, a fat bicycle enthusiast, there are basically no current standards.
While there are concerns about tire rolls with limited rims or crushing rims with limited tires, their huge tire volume somewhat eliminates those issues. It comes down to riding style and inclination. Need a more squared-off tire shape for drifting on snow? Go for wider rims. Need a proper round profile for dry single-track? Go for smaller rims.
FAT RIMS / TIRES
Internal Rim Width (mm) 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 Tire Size 3.8 – 4.2’’ ✔ ✔ ✔ Tire Size 4.3 – 5.0’’ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔
Use this chart as a general guide as bead design, inflation pressures, and other variables will affect the actual rim-tire compatibility. The chart data should be verified with the tire manufacturer.
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There is no ultimate guide to getting the best tire size. One sure way you can find the right tire is through trial and error. However, whether you are riding road, Enduro, trail, or cyclocross, you can start with using a rim with an interior width that is about 50 – 65% of your tire’s width. You can also try going to a good bike shop that will let you try several rims and try them out with several tires till you get that perfect rim for your ride.