A Short Guide to Mountain Bike Tyres

By | 21/11/2017


We have had a few problems with mountain bike tyres on are Saturday sessions. So here is a short guide on mountain bike tyre maintenance. A little bit of care and attention will reduce problems and ensure children spend more time riding rather than waiting around in the cold whilst coaches sort out tyre problems.

Firstly they need to be at the right tyre pressure. Not too worn and at this time of the year have a good tread pattern.

What’s the right tyre pressure? There are many opinions on this but let’s just start with some basics. First look on the tyre wall (side) somewhere it will say what the recommended maximum and minimum tyre pressure is. In the muddy and wet conditions at this time of the year its best to start at the lowest pressure. This will give better grip and improve cornering. In dry conditions slightly more pressure is needed (we don’t so dry till the spring in Hainault Forest or the cycle centre). Riding on stony or rocky terrain often needs higher pressure, but this is an unlikely to occur around where we ride. One problem of riding low tyre pressures is that tyres can literally roll of the wheel, this is unlikely if you don’t go below the minimum recommended pressure. Another is that punctures happen because the tyre is pinched by the wheel’s rims (often called a snake bike).  If this starts to occur try increasing the tyre pressure by say 5psi.

Weekly tyre checks – before you get to club on Saturday – Do check that there are no sharp objects in the tyre, such as stones – if there are any carefully dig them out. A small flat headed screwdriver that is blunt is good for this.

Look to see if the tyre is worn, check both tread and side wall. As the tread wears performance and grip will diminishes, at the extreme you will start to get a lot of punctures.

What’s the right tyre? Hopefully the tyre on your child’s mountain bike will be a general purpose with a good tread, and this should be OK. Makes such as Islabikes, Frog, Hoy and Decathlon normally come with good tyres. If the tyre has minimal tread or is described as a road tyre it’s going to be problematic in the winter, with limited grip or cornering ability, quite simple don’t use them. Anything described as mud, wet or winter will be good. If you are unsure look around to see what tyres the coaches are riding on this will give you an idea on what sort of tread to look for. Don’t necessarily go for the brand the coach is riding as some of us have expensive taste, and quite frankly you don’t have to spend a fortune on tyres. Look what Decathlon are selling, but not IKEA!!!!

You can buy inserts for tyres to help puncture proof the tyres, these do effect the performance of the tyres, particular cornering and should not be used at our Saturday sessions. Some tyres can be bought that are self-sealing. To achieve this then have liquid latex in the inner tube. This effects the tyres performance and until the tyre ‘warms up’ it can feel and behave strangely so don’t use them at our sessions.

Don’t worry about tuneless tyres these are for seriously serious riders, and not right for children, stick with traditional inner tube and tyres. If you have no idea what I have just written don’t worry, you can ask a coach at club about it if you are curious. Do make sure that the inner tube is the right size for the tyre, and use the correct valve, that will be the one already on your child’s bike, different valves require a different size hole in the wheel’s rim.

Finally please make sure your child has a least one spare good inner tube with them, a pump and a set of tyre levers (nylon not metal, Park tools and Pedro’s are 2 good brands of levers ). It‘s much easier to replace an inner tube then fiddle around with puncture repairs on a cold day.

Don’t forget if you have any questions ask one of the coaches, ideally at the end of the session, as we are rather busy at the start

Drew Jones – Nov 2017