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Bike tubes are often the last bike accessory we give any thought to. We get that. Bike tubes are far from sexy. There are plenty of other things to get our attention.
However, getting the right bike tube can potentially make a difference to your bike’s performance and your pocket. The choice of bike tire sizes, widths, weights, valve types, and lengths is huge. Depending on what bike you’re riding and what kind of riding you’re doing, your choices are going to vary.
Durability, speed, and comfort…
The needs of a daily commuting cyclist compared to a time trialist, a mountain biker, or a gravel rider are very different. To meet these needs, some bike tubes will offer durability, speed, and comfort. Some may offer a mix of all three. And yet others will specialize in one particular aspect.
The ten bike tubes we are going to review will hopefully include the best bike tube for you. We understand that we haven’t included the very extremes of cycling. So, we apologize if we haven’t covered your specific needs.
For those of you wanting a few pointers to help with your choice of bike tube, you might first want to skip to the Buyer’s Guide at the end of the reviews. If not, then read on and take a look at some of the best bike tubes currently on sale…
- Top 10 Best Bike Tubes To Afford In 2021 Reviews
- 1 Bike A Mile Continental Gatorskin Bike Tires Folding Tire
- 2 Michelin A1 Airstop 700×18-25c Road Bike Tube Bundle 52mm Smooth Presta
- 3 Slime Smart Tube Schrader Valve Bicycle Tube
- 4 Street Fit 360 Tube
- 5 KENDA Road Bicycle Tube – 700 X 23/25 – Presta Valve
- 6 2 Pack Bike Tube
- 7 Continental 650c Bicycle Tube, 26 40mm Schrader Valve
- 8 Venzo 10x Road Bike Tire Inner Tubes 700c X 18/25 F/V
- 9 Bike Tubes – Select Your Size – 16 X 1.50, 16 X 1.75, 16 X 1.95, 16 X 2.125
- 10 Sunlite Standad Schrader Valve Tubes, Multiple Sizes
- Best Bike Tube Buying Guide
- So, What’s The Best Bike Tube?
Top 10 Best Bike Tubes To Afford In 2021 Reviews
1 Bike A Mile Continental Gatorskin Bike Tires Folding Tire
Continental are giants in the world of cycling and sells some of the most popular tires and inner tubes on the market. Their range of Gator Skin and GP 5000 tires are all-conquering. Their range of Conti Tube inner tubes are equally popular and equally well put together.
The Conti Tube Race use a Presta valve and come in valve lengths of 42mm, 60mm, and 80mm. Conti Tube Race only has a single width size option of 19mm to 25mm. It’s a bit disappointing in this day and age not to see a 28mm option covered. You’ll probably be fine putting a 19mm to 25mm into a 28mm tire. We’ve done it loads of times, but a 25mm to 32mm inner tube would be nice to see.
This is a relatively light inner tube weighing just 105gms. It’s a race inner tube, so you’d expect it to be light. But though it’s not exactly heavy, we would like to see it get below that all-important psychological 100gms mark. The fact is for a race tube we think it’s a little too heavy.
Sorry, Continental, we do love you, but there are plenty of inner tubes, and we mean racing inner tubes, below 100gms these days. Take the Welter Weight Maxxis with an 80mm valve as a perfect example. These weigh in at just 86gms.
Come on, Continental…
We do accept that the Continental inner tubes might be a tiny bit more durable. However, the margin is small. Furthermore, come on guys, this is a race tube. Make it lighter. If we were worried about the durability of a race inner-tubes, we’d all be riding around with 3mm thick tubes that weigh the same as our bikes.
The Conti Tube Race isn’t a bad tube; it’s just not quite what we’d define as an out and out race inner tube.
- Good value for money
- Excellent quality.
- Available in three different valve lengths.
- No 28mm width, or higher, available.
- A little heavy for a race tire.
2 Michelin A1 Airstop 700×18-25c Road Bike Tube Bundle 52mm Smooth Presta
Michelin is another big player in the cycling world. Another company you can rely on for high-quality products. Another product you can expect to see on a lot of bikes out on the road.
The Michelin A1 Airstop is a surprisingly light bike tube. The 40mm Presta valve length option weighs in at just 93gms, and the 52mm option weighs just 95gms. We’re down below that 100gm point, so have no song and dance about any race credentials.
Interestingly, the Airstop inner tubes are just 10gms heavier than their Latex out and out race tube. That’s not much of a weight difference for a significant increase in both durability and puncture protection. With a thickness of 0.9mm and made from Butyl rubber, you’d have to put more faith in the Airstop over a pair of Michelin Latex equivalents.
Now to the elephant in the room…
Does the Michelin Air Stop tube hold air better than standard bike inner tubes?
In our experience, no. There’s also nothing special in either the construction of the Butyl rubber tube or the valve, to suggest otherwise. If there’s a marginal difference, it’s not one we could see in any practical sense.
For us, this is just a standard, fair priced, well made, light, and durable inner tube…
The good news is that this inner tube does have a wide choice of widths. There are both 19mm to 25mm and 25mm to 32mm variants available. Also, good to see is a fine talcum powder kind of coating on the surface of the tube. It makes fitting them just that little bit easier.
- Good value.
- It has a powder coating on the surface.
- Good width options.
- No 60mm valve length option.
3 Slime Smart Tube Schrader Valve Bicycle Tube
The Slime Smart Tubes make inner tubes with both Schrader and Presta valves.
The inner tubes we’re reviewing here are ones fitted with Schrader valves. These are more typically fitted to bikes built more for off-road terrain or comfort riding. You usually find Schrader valves fitted to the bike tubes on Mountain Bikes, BMX, Fat Bikes, and Cruiser Bikes.
Shrader valves are more heavy-duty than the Presta valves you find on road bikes. And these valves are the same as you’ll find on your car or motorcycle.
Slime Smart Tubes are fitted with a sealant on the inside of the tube to help reseal punctures. They’re designed to almost instantaneously seal any puncture you might have and are advertised to last for up to 2 years.
So, do they work?
Yes and no.
There’s no doubt that they will potentially reseal punctures, but the emphasis has to be on the word ‘potentially.’ In the real world, the level of ability to reseal a puncture is variable. Sometimes it all works brilliantly and other times, not at all.
Whilst the system isn’t perfect, we can’t dispute that the Slime Smart Tubes will reduce the number of times you have to reach for your pump or gas canister. If you don’t mind paying the extra weight penalty and higher purchase price, they’re not a bad option.
You should note that the Slime Smart Tubes have no preventive puncture abilities over a standard inner tube. It’s all about the cure. To protect yourself for punctures in the first place is going to be down to good old-fashioned tire choice and the pressures you’re riding at.
- It will seal some punctures.
- Sealant can last up to 2 years
- Installs the same as a standard inner tube.
4 Street Fit 360 Tube
Street fit has a wide selection of inner tube sizes, widths, valve types, and lengths.
Whatever kind of bike and wheels you have, you can almost guarantee that Street Fit will have an inner tube to fit. They make a few different kinds of inner tubes, including a thorn resistant super thick inner tube, but the one we’re looking at here is their standard Butyl rubber 0.9 mm thick tube.
All-purpose inner tube…
The Street Fit inner tubes do a lot of things well and nothing badly. These are very much an all-purpose inner tube. These are the kind of tubes you’d throw on to your winter bike.
So, would you use them for racing or hill climbing?
Well, no, you wouldn’t. Would you use them for long-distance touring and extra thorn protection? Again, no, you wouldn’t. Both of these areas, and more besides, have inner tubes that will do the job better. These tubes are a good option for most circumstances though not all. If the price is right, we’d have no hesitation in putting them on our bikes, where extremes of specifications weren’t required.
In that respect, we think that the Street Fit inner tubes are somewhat price-sensitive. However, if they’re even slightly cheaper than a better-known brand, we’d give them a try. The quality is certainly good enough.
All in all, these are a decent made inner tube offering fair value.
- Excellent choice of width and sizes.
- Choice of either Shrader or Presta valves.
- Good quality.
- Good multipurpose inner tube.
5 KENDA Road Bicycle Tube – 700 X 23/25 – Presta Valve
Kenda is another huge name in the cycling world. They were founded way back in 1962 and are based out of Taiwan. These days they have production sites all around Asia. They make tires, and inner tubes, not only for bicycles but also for automobiles, motorcycles, ATVs, industrial equipment and trailers, and of course, bicycles.
Kenda is frequently the go-to choice for a range of cyclists looking for a reliable and affordable product…
The range of Kenda’s inner tubes and products is vast. If Kendra doesn’t make it, then probably no one will. The inner tube we’re reviewing here is the 48mm Presta valve 700mm, 23mm to 25mm wide.
We prefer these smaller width ranges as they ensure a better fit.
Kenda has a couple of selling points that we like…
Price is one on them, and it’s certainly on their side. Like for like inner tubes will frequently favor Kenda for cost. The other advantage with Kenda tubes is the excellent level of finishing around the valve. These are already well-made tubes, but the quality of ribbed rubber around the valve is outstanding.
Punctures you can’t fix or solve are frequently situated around the valves. If you get a tear, then there’s no fixing it. The joint between the valve and rubber is a common source of failure. The cool thing is that Kenda has done a great job of shoring up this area with thick reinforced ribbed rubber.
Good weight for a multipurpose inner tube…
Despite these inner tubes being well-made their also not particularly heavy. They’re not as light as a racing tube, but at 115gms, for the bike tube we’re reviewing, that not bad. It’s a competitive weight for a multipurpose inner tube.
- Excellent reinforced rubber around the valve.
- Good build quality.
- Competitive price.
- Available in an extensive range of sizes.
- No lightweight options.
- No heavyweight thorn resistant options.
6 2 Pack Bike Tube
These no-name bike inner tubes come with three free tire levers. However, in our opinion, if you don’t already have a set of tire levers, you need to hang your head in shame. Go stand in a corner now and chant, “I must love my bike more” for at least 10 minutes.
Then, if you genuinely don’t have any tire levers, buy these, and once you get them, throw one of the tire levers in the bin. You only need two.
The choice of inner tube sizes is limited…
There are sizes available for wheels between 20″ to 26″. Additionally, the tube widths are all the same at between 1.75″ to 2.125″. And what’s more, they all have a 32mm Shrader valve.
If you have a bike with wide rims, these won’t fit. If you have anything other than a Mountain Bike, BMX, Cruiser, or Fat Bike, these won’t fit. Quite honestly, it’s a rather thin range of bike tubes.
The quality of the Butyl rubber looks OK. Also, the weight looks fine too. These at not especially light, but then you’d not expect them to be for the type of bike they’re made for.
The only real problem with these tubes is the finishing between the valves and the rubber. It’s not up to the standard of most of the other bike tubes we’ve reviewed. It looks like it should be better.
After saying this, we didn’t have any problems with it, but it does seem to be a possible point of weakness and potential failure. Consequently, the long-term durability of these inner tubes is an unknown.
- Butyl rubber is of good quality.
- Free tire levers.
- Unknown durability.
- Poor selection of sizes.
7 Continental 650c Bicycle Tube, 26 40mm Schrader Valve
Here’s another inner tube from our friends at Continental. And as you expect from the company, this is another well-constructed, quality bike tube.
The Continental Unitube is designed to fit a wider range of sizes. The bike tube we’re reviewing will fit a 26″ tire with a width between 1.25″ to 1.75″. That’s a big range. The idea is that this tube will be compatible with a much greater number of bikes than a traditional tube.
It’s not a bad idea, but it’s not something we’re completely sold on…
Most of us try to tailor are bike tubes to get as close as possible to the size of our tires. Since there’s already a bit of latitude with sizes anyway, we can’t help but feel a larger width range is not that much of a selling point.
What we are more sold on is the fact that these are made equipped with both Shrader and Presta valves for 26″ sizes. Finding 26″, or 650mm, bike tubes with a Presta valve is not always easy, which is a shame.
But what about smaller wheels?
Road bikes have 700mm wheels as the de facto choice. But 650mm wheels have their place. Smaller size wheels are lighter, stronger, stiffer, more aero, and they are proportionally more in keeping with smaller frames.
There are plenty of good reasons to ride a bike with 650mm sized wheels. Additionally, there are plenty of good reasons for manufacturers to give us more quality options for quality tires and inner tubes to go with them.
The tube we’re reviewing is a vulcanized, seamless tube. Even better, they’re also mold cured to give better roundness and increased reliability against rupture at the valve stem.
Speaking of valves, these bike tubes are only available in a 40mm option. Frankly, that’s not good enough. These aren’t going to be suitable in regular use for wheels rims greater than 30mms. Anyone with a 42mm or a 50mm deep rim is out of luck.
The valves on these bike tubes do have removable cores. Removeable cores have the advantage that you can add sealant into them, which is always a useful feature.
Also, the removable valve core allows you to add an extender to use on a wider rim in an emergency. Perfect for a puncture at the roadside. Also, perfect to use on the rare occasions you’re rocking a huge 80mm rim. And how we all love to see a bike booted in some seriously deep rims.
But, there’s a catch…
However, one disadvantage to these particular removable cores is that they are not factory tightened. Be warned. If you don’t tighten them before pumping up your tires, as soon as you remove the pump, you’ll lose all the air. Very frustrating.
- Suitable for a wider range of sizes.
- Seamless tube.
- Removeable core.
- 26″ Preta valve option available.
- Only 40mm valve length is available.
- The inner core is not factory tightened into place.
8 Venzo 10x Road Bike Tire Inner Tubes 700c X 18/25 F/V
If you plan on having a lot of punctures or you have a lot of bikes, grab yourself a pack of these. The cost for a bulk purchase certainly makes sense.
Starting with basics, these are made with Butyl rubber and only come in 700mm size with a Presta valve. The widths are all 19/25 though you can choose between a 36mm, 48mm, or a 60mm length valve.
A good all-rounder…
These are a tube that will do everything reasonably well. They’re not the best nor the worst made inner tubes. They’re also not the lightest or indeed the heaviest. What they are is an inner tube offering fair quality for a fair price.
If you do get a pack of 10, the 60mm valve length will cover just about every rim size; it’s the most versatile length. Additionally, an 18/25 width is a sensible option. These are great valve lengths and widths that just about coverers every possible road bike scenario.
Versatile and practical…
It will cover everyone with a tire width of 19mm, 23mm, and 25mm. Though there honestly can’t be that many cyclists still riding around on 19mm tires. Maybe a few with vintage bikes, but that’s probably all. There’s no doubt that 19mm tires are a hard and painful experience. Best left to history.
23mm is increasingly giving way to 25mm tires on road bikes these days. Which brings us to 28mm tires. As 28mm tires gain popularity, for good reasons, such as better rolling resistance and comfort, can you put an 18/25 into a 28mm tire?
We believe it will go in with no problems…
At your own risk, of course. If you’re thinking of putting an 18/25 into a 32mm tire, it’s possibly a stretch (quite literally) too far. Though in an emergency, anything goes!
The bottom line is that 18/25 tubes with a 60mm valve length is the ideal choice for a value pack bundle.
- Good quality construction and materials.
- Good value.
- Ideal size and valve length choice.
- Not lightweight.
9 Bike Tubes – Select Your Size – 16 X 1.50, 16 X 1.75, 16 X 1.95, 16 X 2.125
These are made for smaller wheels. You might use them on a child’s bike, a BMX, a smaller cruiser bike, or even a smaller mountain bike. As the title suggests, they might also find a place in a recumbent bicycle.
They come into two tire width options. The one we’re reviewing is the 16″ 1.5″ to 1.95″ variant. This is easily the most popular width for a 16″ tire and should be fine for the majority of tires this wide. But, if you do have wider tires, there is a 2.25″ wide option available.
All the bike tubes come with a Shrader valve. The valve is 32mm long, which is long enough for a bike built with this kind of wheel. In our experience, you don’t find deep rims on these kinds of bikes.
Good to see is that the valve is reinforced at the join to avoid tearing or breaking. Along with the Kenda, this is possibly the best bike tube we’ve reviewed for its valve joint strength.
Good puncture protection…
The inner tubes are made from good quality Butyl rubber. It’s 0.9mm thick. This is a standard thickness for the majority of bike tubes and will offer you standard protection against punctures. If you’re looking for something a tougher, say for thorn protection, you’ll need to go up to at least 4mm thick.
However, if you want to increase the chance of getting a flat, the valves are removable. This means you always have the option of pumping some sealant into your bike tubes.
- Good quality Butyl rubber.
- Reinforced valve.
- Removable valve core.
- Limited choice of sizes.
10 Sunlite Standad Schrader Valve Tubes, Multiple Sizes
Here are some more options from the guys and girls at Sunlite. This time the company is offering a huge selection of their Shrader valve bike tubes. This has to be the best bike tube for the sheer range of sizes, widths, and valve lengths. If your looking for a bike tube with a Shrader valve, and Sunlite don’t have it, then probably no one will.
Sunlite even have inner tubes for wheelchairs…
The only option we can see that they don’t have is for fat bikes. The widest bike tube goes up to 3″. You might be tempted to put a 3″ bike tube into a fat bike’s 3.5″ tire, but we wouldn’t recommend it. When it comes to fat bikes, we strongly suggest that you get a purpose-made tube.
Sunlite bike tubes are all made with the same standard 0.9mm width Butyl rubber. This specific range doesn’t have thicker thorn resistant tubes. However, if you look at some of the other Sunlite ranges, you’ll find some.
Like all of their bike tubes, they’re all well-made, they all do a lot of things well and do nothing badly.
The price of this pair of bike tubes is competitive…
The needs of cyclists riding with the kind of bikes using a Shrader valve tend to be more general. Consequently, a good quality, well priced, all-round bike tube has a strong place in the market. In this respect, Sunlite has a strong card to play.
- Huge selection of sizes.
- Well made.
- Competitive price.
- No reinforcement at the valve.
Best Bike Tube Buying Guide
If you’re riding a bike, you’ll inevitably get a puncture. It’s the name of the game. If you’re new to cycling, it’s something you need to prepare for.
We’re not going to tell you how to change a bike tube. There are plenty of videos online for that. But we are going to recommend a few essentials that you’ll need to take out on your rides.
Before we do that, though, we should say that if you’re only riding within a couple of miles of your house, you can ignore the next few paragraphs. If you can easily walk back home with your bike, just make sure you have the right gear to repair or change your inner tube in your house or garage.
So, let’s get to it…
First of all, you’ll need a way to take off your wheel. If you have a quick-release wheel, you’re OK; if not, you’ll need a couple of the right sized bicycle spanners. Preferably lightweight. You’ll also need a couple of tire levers.
In the good old days, we used to use a pair of spoons, handle end, from our mum’s kitchen. That was in the days of thicker steel wheels. It’s not something we’d recommend using on high-quality alloy wheels, and certainly not with a pair of carbon wheels. However, in an emergency, a couple of spoons might just get you back on the road.
What’s In Your Repair Kit?
Other things you’ll need to carry are a spare inner tube, a puncture repair kit, and a pump. You can use either a mini pump or the more modern gas cartridges with nozzle attachment. However, we’d recommend taking a mini pump with you. If you use cartridges and have more than a couple of punctures, and it does happen, you’ll hit problems.
With a mini pump, you’ll always s be fine. Also, air is free!
Not related to changing your inner tube, but we’d also recommend that you take out a mobile phone, spare cash, a chain quick link, chain splitter, and a couple of hex keys on longer rides. They’re all available in lightweight and compact form. They’re easy to store in your pockets or bike bag and could save you a lot of time and trouble.
There are two types of valves on a bike tube.
- Presta Valves
These are usually used on thinner width tubes and are used for road bikes. Tubes with Presta valves are most commonly used with 700mm wheels. However, they can also be found on Mountain bikes, City bikes, and Cruiser bikes, most commonly with 26″, 27″ and 29″ wheels.
- Schrader Valves
Shrader valves are very popular with every type of bike that is not a road bike. The Schrader valve is much thicker than a Presta valve. Schrader are the same valves you’ll find on your car or motorcycle. It should be noted that these valves will not fit into a bike rim designed for a Presta valve because the hole in the rim will be too small.
Conversely, you can fit an inner tube with a Presta valve into a rim drilled out for a Shrader valve. However, the inner tube will likely move around, and the chances of a puncture surrounding the valve will be high. Putting Presta valve inner tubes into a Shrader specific wheel should be for emergencies only.
Valve length has more importance for Presta valve bike tubes than Schrader ones. This is because road bikes are increasingly fitted with deep rim aero wheels. These can be 50mm, 60mm, or even 80mm wide. If you have aero wheels, you need to make sure that the valve length is at least 10mm longer than the width of your rims.
Common Presta valve lengths are between 36mm to 100mm.
Schrader valves have less of a need to have such a wide width range. This is because bikes using Schrader valves don’t seek out an aero advantage and therefore have fairly standard wheel rim widths. Consequently, the range of Shrader valve lengths is commonly between 32mm to 40mm.
If you are unsure what length of valve to buy, always go for one size up as they’ll still fit. If they look a little too long, you can always get a shorter one at a later date.
If you check on the sidewall of your tire, it should be a simple process to decide on the width of your bike tube. Most bike tubes come in a range. It’s, therefore, best to try to get as close to the middle of that range as possible.
However, there is a bit of leeway, and the fact is that we regularly put in bike tubes that are slightly under or over the recommended width. It’s not ideal, but it will generally be OK.
The tube thickness of all the bike tubes we’ve reviewed have been close to 0.9mm. This is an industry-standard and will give you a reasonable amount of puncture protection. If you need more than this, for say thorn protection, there are thicker tubes available. These will be 3mm thick or over and will be a lot heavier.
You can buy thinner tubes than the standard 0.9mm, but the level of puncture protection afforded will be less. However, if you’re competing in a time trial or hill climb, that’s very probably a risk you’re prepared to take. Unless you’re using tubeless tires, which is a whole different story!
The most common bike tube material used is Butyl rubber. This is because it’s durable, cheap, and relatively light. Butyl rubber was the only material used in the bike tubes we reviewed. There are other materials used, such as Polyester and Latex, but these are the reserve of the extremists looking for the very smallest of margins in the pursuit of speed.
To any cycling extremists reading this, stick with it guys and girls, keep pushing those boundaries!
If you’re looking for more than just the best tubes for your bike, then check out our reviews of the Best Cruiser Bikes, the Best BMX Bikes, the Best Mini Bikes, the Best Bike Cup Holders, and the Best 3 Bike Car Racks currently available.