When the time comes to replace your bike’s tyres you’ll be faced with a bewildering choice in the popular 26in and 700c market. Bikes that see only occasional use in the summer months don’t need state-of-the-art, Kevlar-beaded, race-proven exotic tires. Tyres on these bikes will require replacement mostly because they’ve perished. A tire from the budget end of the market will be suitable here.
For riders with bikes that have moderate to extreme use, it’s always worth purchasing a quality tyre. These will often have some puncture resistance in the form of a Kevlar (or similar) cloth woven into their fabric. They may even have different rubber compounds for different road or trail conditions.
For road riding, most tires will be smooth with little or no visible tread pattern. Tyres for commuter bikes often feature a central smooth section and a distinct tread pattern at the edges. This gives a lower rolling resistance when travelling in a straight line and additional grip when cornering.
The choice for mountain bikes is vast, from smooth, ‘slick’ road-style tires right through to mud tires with large, wide-spaced rubber spikes, and all points in between.
When fitting a new tire it’s always a good idea to fit a new inner tube. Inner tubes are often sized to fit the tyre, so check that you buy one that’s compatible with the tyre.
Where possible, try to fit the new tyre without the use of tire levers. On some rim and tyre combinations this is very easy, on others you may struggle. Some combinations will always require a tire lever to flip the last section of bead over the rim.
Occasionally you’ll encounter a rim and tyre combination that just won’t fit. This is often due to variations in the manufacturing process of both the rim and the tyre. Remember, if it’s a major struggle to fit the tyre at home in a warm garage, how are you going to cope in the wind and rain of a winter’s day?
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With the tyre deflated, push the tyre bead into the centre of the rim. Do this on both sides of the tyre. Next use a tyre lever to hook the bead over the rim. If you have a loose-fitting tyre it may now be possible to slide the lever all the way around the rim, lifting the tyre bead over as you proceed. If not, hook the lever over a spoke and insert another tyre lever about 100mm from the first. This should be enough to get the bead over the rim, but if not insert yet another lever a little further along.