City Bike Tires | Recommendations
Few cyclists think about the tires on their city bikes – why should they? After all, they are already fitted when you buy them. In addition to their good and unobtrusive function, most tires also look really chic. But on city bikes in particular, the tires have a lot more tasks than just looking good: puncture protection, comfort, smooth running and grip are diverse requirements for city tires. The trend is once again towards wider tires, which are used on current city bikes with coordinated colors and a striking profile. We have summarized for you why this development makes sense and what advantages and disadvantages result from it.
Which City Bike Tire is right for me?
If you want or need to replace the tires on your city bike, it is of course easiest to read the tire size on the old tire. You can usually find this information on the sidewall of the tire.
In the city bike area, the specification of the tire size in inches is common, but can be specified there as a decimal number or fraction. In addition, the tire manufacturers also specify the tire dimensions according to ISO (ETRTO) and French standard (mm).
As a rule, city bikes for adults have 28 “tires, with smaller frame sizes 26” wheels can also be used. The tires from Citybikes have different profiles, sometimes with more, sometimes with less pronounced characteristics. Which profile you need now depends on the main routes you ride on your bike.
Fortunately, since aquaplaning, which is known from cars, does not exist on bicycles, tires that are only used on asphalt could theoretically do well without a profile. In practice, however, there are completely profile-free tires, so-called slicks, only on road bikes – city bikes always have profiled tires.
So that you can choose the tire with the right profile for you, we have compared the advantages and disadvantages of city bike tires with different treads and different widths.
City bike tires without tread
Classic city tires without a distinctive tread are, for example, the City Jet from Schwalbe and the Contact Speed from Continental, which are often installed on current city bikes.
As you can clearly see here, these tires have no profile in the real sense; They were designed for use on the road and are designed to create the greatest possible contact between the tire and the road. The tread serves here as a wear marker that shows you when the tire has worn off, and on the other hand the tread design gives the tire its own face and a certain dynamic.
Advantages of city bike tires without tread
- Greatest possible contact between tire and road surface
- Almost noiseless rolling through the tread without tread
- Good grip on asphalt and fine gravel roads
- Low rolling resistance
Disadvantages of city bike tires without tread
- Little grip on muddy and loose floors
- Hardly any grip on snow
A good compromise for cyclists who mostly use their city bike on the road, but in any weather, can be a tire with little negative tread, which provides more grip on wet gravel and nature trails. This has e.g. the Continental Topcontact.
These tires usually have better grip on wet roads than their treadless counterparts, have a similar amount of contact area, but can better claw into the road surface and better drain small stones or water thanks to the individual tread blocks. The contact area between the tire and the road increases with the tire width, which means that so-called balloon tires such as the Big Apple can offer even more grip while increasing comfort.
City bike tires with tread
The profile on these tires is more pronounced, but it still has a large contact area for the greatest possible contact between the tire and the road. The continuous tread in the middle serves for smooth straight running, but the higher proportion of the negative profile provides more grip on wet gravel and nature trails.
Advantages of city bike tires with tread
- Large contact area between tires and road surface
- With a continuous tread in the middle, almost noiseless rolling
- Good grip on asphalt and wet gravel and nature trails
- Larger range of use than treadless city tires
Disadvantages of city bike tires with tread
- Usually somewhat heavier than treadless city tires
- Little grip on snow
A recommendation for cyclists who sometimes go on tour with their city bike and want to cover a wider range of applications is a tire from the Schwalbe marathon family and the Contact Plus City from Continental.
These tires have better grip on wet gravel and natural roads than their profile-less or weakly profiled counterparts, but have similarly good driving properties on asphalt.
The same principles apply to driving on snow as on muddy surfaces: only a rough profile helps here. Those who travel a lot with snow and ice can also put on a special “winter tire”. These tires have aluminum spikes and therefore offer the necessary grip even on icy roads. Disadvantages are the higher weight, the poorer running properties on asphalt and the significantly louder rolling noise.
What is the proper tire pressure for a City bike?
The right air pressure ensures good grip, a safe driving experience and pleasant driving comfort, so you should check the air pressure regularly and adjust it if necessary.
The decisive factors for the selection of the correct tire pressure are the tire width, the weight of the bicycle and the rider’s weight. Using our table, you can set the tire pressure and vary it according to your preference in the specified range. Under no circumstances should you fall below or exceed the minimum pressure or the maximum pressure, these two pressures are also indicated on the tire sidewall.
When you change the tires on your city bike, in addition to the question of the model and the profile, there is also the question of the tire width. Our clear recommendation here is: As wide as possible!
In addition to a larger contact area, wide tires also have the advantage that they can be driven with less pressure. A low air pressure ensures increased driving comfort and more relaxed driving over bumps or poor distances. Especially on unsprung city bikes, a wide tire with the right air pressure can provide a significant comfort plus.
As you can see in the table above, in all weight classes e.g. changing from a 35 mm wide tire to a 42 mm wide tire lowers the pressure by as much as 2 bar. The difference is clearly noticeable, especially since it affects the front and rear equally – so a wider tire can be a cheap and easy tuning measure for comfort-seeking city cyclists.
When choosing a new tire width, pay attention to the space available on your city bike, not all bikes can accommodate tires of all widths. Limiting elements are often the brake body for rim brakes, the existing fenders, but also the continuity of the fork, seat and chain stays.
Safe city bike tires
A flat tire is annoying and takes time and nerves to fix. In the imaginary unpopularity scale, the puncture even beats the headwind and the rain by a long way. When fitting a new tire, you can ensure that you are spared from a flat tire. A puncture-proof tire is always the interaction of several components:
A rim tape should be put on the inside of the rim. Make sure that it is properly seated and undamaged. The rim tape sits correctly if it completely covers all spoke nipples or spoke holes – if it is incorrect, the tube can be damaged by friction.
The selection of the tube can significantly influence the susceptibility to breakdown: Since the weight plays a minor role on the city bike, it is better not to use so-called “light” tubes. They weigh a little less, but they get the weight advantage through thin-walled, and therefore unfortunately more prone to breakdown. Standard butyl tubes are the first choice for city bikes.
A tube is relatively cheap, so you should also pull in a new tube when changing tires. Tubes lose their elasticity over time, which is exacerbated by permanent friction and temperature differences.
Whether DuraSkin and SafetyPlus from Continental, or PunctureGuard and Greenguard from Schwalbe – the manufacturers are very creative when it comes to naming their puncture protection solutions. The principle of action is similar for all models: A rubber, rubber, fabric or a combination of these materials incorporated into the tires is intended to prevent foreign bodies from penetrating. This insert is usually 3 to 5 mm thick and reliably prevents punctures or cuts – if the tire pressure is correct!
The tire can only work optimally if the tire pressure is set correctly. Excessive pressures make the tire more sensitive to punctures and can cause tube bursts. Pressures that are too low allow the tire and inner tube to flex more, which creates more friction. You also run the risk of punctures when driving over milling edges, potholes or curbs, also known as snake bites.
Those who are a little bit technically savvy and are not afraid of the higher assembly costs can additionally increase the resistance to breakdowns with sealing milk as a precautionary measure or a tubeless system. This requires tubeless-ready rims and tires. The sealing milk in the tire seals small punctures and cuts while driving and thus prevents the air from escaping completely from the tire.