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Tires, tubes, wheels and hubs

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A simple guide to bike wheels, bike tires and bike tubes

A standard bicycle wheel is composed of several essential parts:

When buying bike wheels, try to keep a mental checklist that will help you see if a wheel is compatible with your bike. The questions to ask yourself are:

  • Does my bike have rim brakes or disc brakes?
  • Is it a front or rear wheel that I need?
  • Do I want a standard wheel or a tubeless compatible wheel?
  • How many spokes do I want on my wheel?
  • What size wheel is my bike compatible with?
  • What quality of wheel do I want?

Tires act as your translator for the terrain. Matching the tire to terrain is important for your safety, speed, and comfort. Tires come in several situational styles; The skinnier slicker tires roll faster on smooth surfaces. A thicker knobbier tire will grip the surface a lot better, but the tire won’t roll as fast. Knowing the type of riding you will be doing on a consistent basis will help you with your tire choice.

For your tires to roll, you need tubes. Tubes help hold the air in your tire to keep you going, they either come with a Presta valve or a Schraeder valve. Tubes are not one size fits all, to find out the type of tube you would need. You can read the sidewalls of your tire and it will supply the dimensions needed for the right tube size.

Dealing with bike wheels is a task that requires accuracy and technical knowledge, if you have any difficulties answering the questions yourself, visiting your local MEC bike shop can help you with all your questions.