This post was written by Matt Long, expert mechanic and Sales Manager at the Bike Shop at the Denver Bicycle Cafe.
This is one question we get asked almost every day by the countless people that come into the Denver Bicycle Cafe needing flat tires repaired. The answer to this seemingly simple question depends on a number of variables: wheel size, frame clearance, intended terrain, and ride quality, to name a few. We carry a large selection of the most common tire sizes at the Denver Bicycle Cafe and proudly carry Continental bike tires along with a few other brands We can also install your new tires for you.
What diameter wheel does your bike use? The two most common sizes are 26” (ISO 559) and 700c (ISO 622). Due to inconsistencies in tire naming standards, there are a lot of tire sizes that appear to be the same but are not. The most reliable way to get the appropriate tire size is to use the ISO number which is printed on the sidewall of the tire. Most ISO sizes look like this: 54-559 or like this: 23-622. The numbers and sizes vary, but it will typically be a two-digit first number followed by a hyphen, which is followed by a three-digit second number. The width (first number) is of less importance than the diameter (second number), which MUST be correct. There are at least 20 ISO sizes for diameters, including 26×1-⅜” (ISO 590), 26×1-⅜” S-6 (ISO 597), and 27” (ISO 630), none of which are interchangeable with each other.
How much room does your frame have to accommodate tire width before the tire starts to rub? This measurement depends not only on the width of the tire, but also on the width of the rim. You might want to upgrade to a wider tire for better traction, but you have to make sure it will fit on your frame properly. Take the time to talk with a bicycle mechanic or knowledgeable bike parts salesperson before you select a new tire.
Where do you want to ride your bike? Around the park? To the grocery store? Off-road terrain? If you’re going to be riding your bike exclusively off-road, a knobbier tire will provide better performance and grip. If you’re going to be riding your bike mostly on bike paths with occasional off-road adventures, you may like a tire with a recessed tread. If you’re going to be riding on the city streets, a fatter tire with a smoother tread and puncture protection will be best.
The materials with which a tire is constructed lends a lot to how it handles. A thinner sidewall and casing gives a softer, more supple ride. A thicker sidewall and casing gives more predictable performance in the corners and “snap” from the tires. The rolling resistance of a given tire effects the ride quality as well. Rolling resistance depends on air pressure, tire material quality and tire width. Rolling resistance effects how you work to spin the wheels.
A brief list of tires available at the bike shop at Denver Bicycle Cafe and suggested uses
-Schwalbe Marathon 27×1-14”~City and path riding where puncture protection is paramount. One of the finest 27” tires available. Recessed tread, reflective sidewalls. $42
-Continental Touring Plus 700~City and path riding where puncture protection is paramount. Available in 28, 32, 37, 42, 47. Recessed tread, reflective sidewalls. $30
-Continental Gatorskin 700~Road riding where light weight, outstanding ride quality, and puncture protection are necessary. Available in 23, 25, 28, 32. $55
-Continental SuperSport 700~Road riding where puncture protection and cost are important. An excellent choice for older road bikes or fixed-gear bikes. Available in 23, 25, 28. $30
-Continental Mountain King~Mountain riding. This tire’s aggressive tread is a great choice for your front wheel for better traction. Available in 26”, 27.5”, 29” and 2.2” or 2.4” width. $65
-Continental X-King~Mountain riding. This tire’s evenly-spaced tread is great for your rear wheel. Available in 26”, 27.5”, 29” and 2.2” or 2.4” width. $65
-Continental Touring Plus 26×1.75”~City riding on a mountain bike where puncture protection is paramount. Recessed tread, reflective sidewalls. $30
-Continental Gatorskin 26×1-⅛”~Road riding on a mountain bike where light weight, outstanding ride quality, and puncture protection are necessary. $50