The inner tube is an often overlooked and forgotten about part of the bicycle tyre - doing the hard work in the background. Bicycle inner tubes, whether that’s a road bike, gravel bike or mountain bike inner tube - are usually made from either rubber or latex - and they sit inside of your bike tyre. These inner tubes are then inflated by a pump with normal air.
One of the drawbacks of inner tubes, is that they can puncture - which sees a lot of cyclists choose to switch to tubeless tyres, which do not require an inner tube at all. In our opinion, inner tubes still have their advantages - with one advantage being that punctures to inner tubes are usually pretty easy to repair.
Choosing the right inner tube guide is incredibly important - it needs to fit within your tyre size and the material and specification on the inner tube needs to be able to meet the requirements of your cycling discipline, with a road bike inner tube being very different to a downhill mountain biking inner tube.
Inner Tube Size Guide
There are many different size inner tubes available - matching and suiting everything from mountain bikes, to road bikes, to kids bikes, to gravel bikes. Mountain bike tyre sizes vary depending on model - with 26 inch, 27.5 inch and 29 inch tyres all being available and in widespread use across the industry. Different road tyre widths are also available, with sizes such as 622 x nn or 700 x nn being written on the tyre sidewall.
To make life easier, inner tubes will state the size via width and diameter - which could look like the following: 26 x 1.95-2.125 which means that this inner tube would fit a bike tyre of 26 inches in diameter and a width of between 1.95 and 2.125 inches.
Carrying a spare inner tube, in the right size - is advised.
Inner Tube Valve Guide
Schrader Valves can be used on lower pressure tyres - such as those on mountain bikes. These valves are the same as you will see on cars - these valves are fitted on inner tubes designed to be used on downhill mountain bikes, where their reliability and strength is tested with the inner tube being ridden hard into obstacles.
Presta valves are incredibly slim, and are often threaded. These are most often used on high pressure inner tubes, such as those found on road bikes.
Dunlop Valves are rarely used now - but can be found on older inner tubes. They sit low and wide - and can be swapped over with more modern valves.
Inner Tube Valve Length
Different size valves are available - depending upon the depth of rim and the tyre. Valves need to be long enough to fit a pump on, and valve extenders are also sold. Although Schrader valves are one size, 40mm. 60mm and 80mm Presta Valves are available.
Inner Tube Materials
Butyl Rubber Inner Tubes VS Latex Inner Tubes
Butyl Rubber Inner Tubes are the most common types of inner tubes - cheap to buy and easy to source - they provide a strong performance, and there are also lightweight rubber inner tubes for those looking to save weight.
Latex inner tubes offer many advantages too - they are more flexible than rubber inner tubes, so mould to the tyre better and have been proven to provide less rolling resistance, helping gain every bit of speed.
Latex inner tubes do need more careful handling than rubber inner tubes - and latex can react badly to oil and grease. They also require more frequent inflation.
Inner Tube Sealant
Many customers choose to use sealant in their inner tubes - which effectively seals any small holes if they are made by drying. This is useful especially for commuters on rough roads and riding on the sides of roads, as well as those heading off road - where the risk of puncture from thorns, etc, is high.
Inner Tubes Online
At Westbrook Cycles, we stock and supply a fantastic range of inner tubes available to buy online. All are in stock and are shipped directly to you. If you have any questions about which inner tube is right for your bike - get in touch and we will be happy to help.