HOW TO CHOOSE HYBRID BIKE TIRES – BUYERS GUIDE

Shaun George BOTS Guides, Commute, E-commerce, Tips & Tricks

Hey there! If you’ve landed here then you’re probably looking at a new set of tires for your hybrid bike. Maybe they’ve worn out or maybe you simply want something with better life, comfort, puncture protection or performance. It could be any one of those reasons, or all of them. Either way, we’re here to help you choose the right kind of tires for your riding requirements.

performance hybrids

WHAT ARE HYBRID TIRES?

A hybrid/commuter bike tire is one that is specifically designed for tough urban conditions; with a higher volume than normal road tires – to provide grip and more importantly comfort, as well as puncture prevention under the tread, to help ward off any punctures.

Hybrid tires usually still have a slick, or semi-slick tread pattern; this is because you still want to be efficient and fast through the urban jungle without compromising grip and comfort.

One of the best examples of a hybrid tire is the Schwalbe Marathon GreenGuard City Tyre.

ANATOMY OF A HYBRID BIKE TIRE

A road bike tire is more complex and intricate than most people would think. Tires consist of multiple different layers – each has its own function. The differences in how tires are constructed determine ride quality and the price range of the tire as the more features it has, the more complex it is to manufacture. Here are some features to look out for:

hybrid bike tire anatomy
Credits – Bike Exchange

BEADS – The beads are the parts of the tire that clinch (the reason why these tires are called clinchers) the rim when the tire is inflated to keep the tire in place. At lower price points, tires come with wire beads made of steel. As you spend more, tires feature flexible beads made of synthetic materials, such as Kevlar. Tires with flexible beads are called “folding tires” because the beads allow the tire to be folded. Besides saving weight, foldable beads usually make tires a bit easier to install and remove, too. 

If you want the best, get folding tires because they’re lighter, which makes your bike easier to ride. If you want a good tire at a sweet price, you can usually get top tire models for less by simply buying the version with wire beads.

CASING – The casing is the fabric that forms the basic structure of the tire. The material, the number of threads per inch (TPI), and the design affect how a tire feels and handles.

TPI (Threads Per Inch) defines the number of threads contained in one inch of the tire casing. The lower the number of TPI, the larger the gauge cords in the casing. Thus, the more durable the tire becomes. The higher the TPI, the more lightweight the tire becomes and the more supple the ride of the tire.

As a general rule, the higher the thread count, the more flexible and supple a tire will feel, which improves ride quality, handling, and control. It also increases manufacturing costs. If you’re looking for protection from flat tires, some tires have reinforced casing designed to help prevent punctures.

Commuter tires

SUB-TREAD – Not all tires have sub-treads. They’re a common feature on tires designed with additional puncture protection. For example, an additional Kevlar or nylon layer will be placed in the tire beneath the tread to stop sharp objects from being able to puncture the tube. Usually found in higher-end commuter/performance hybrid tires.

If you suffer lots of flats due to the roads or conditions you ride in, getting tires with protective sub treads makes a lot of sense.

SIDEWALL – Rubber is applied to the side of the casing between the tread and the bead to form the sidewall. Each tire will have different rubber compounds and thickness depending on its intended purpose.

The sidewall provides the entire tire with rigidity and lateral support. Hybrid tire sidewalls are usually their weakest points as there isn’t much chance of contact there – they’re thinner here in order to save weight.

TREAD – The tread is the part of the rubber that makes contact with the road. Hybrid bike tire tread is usually not too aggressive nor too slick, it lies somewhere in between.

A closely spaced area of small tread blocks is what is usually seen on hybrid tires. This ensures that riders have sufficient levels of grips whilst also keeping rolling resistance on the low.

HYBRID TIRE SIZING

Most hybrid bikes feature 700c wheels; this is the same diameter as road bicycle wheels – a size that is known to roll fast and handle well.

Hybrid slicks

Hybrid tires are also wider than road tires but narrower than MTB tires. You can fit the standard 25c tires that most road bikes these days come with. It will not be the most comfortable option but will certainly give you high efficiency and speed. It is advisable to stick to the wider more comfortable tires that come with the bike unless you’re in search of speed.

Read our BICYCLE TIRE BUYERS GUIDE to know more on how to choose the right tire for your bike

WHAT’S THE IDEAL TIRE PRESSURE TO MAINTAIN?

All bike tires, not only hybrid tires are marked with a tire pressure range on the sidewall of the tire: from the minimum that will support a rider of average weight, to the absolute maximum the tire can hold. Ideally, keep the pressure somewhere inbetween these two extremes.

In the rare case that your tires don’t have a pressure range printed on their sidewalls, then around 50-60 PSI is a good choice for most conditions.

WHAT TIRE IS BEST FOR ME?

When it comes to hybrid tires, you’ll find that riders are usually only using their bikes for commuting or weekend fitness rides. In the market there are both slick and semi-slick tires; slick tires will be ideal for when your commute is solely a tarmac affair, whilst semi-slick tires provide added grip on light trails and gravel cycle paths – a good choice for our Indian road conditions.


Hybrid tires provide a great blend between traction and unmatched riding comfort. Before you make an investment decision, you should consider your personal needs and application.

If you’re looking for a little more speed out of your hybrid you can go slick and narrow but you will have to sacrifice some comfort. On the other hand if comfort is your priority you can go for slightly wider (28c-38c) tires. These will also provide great levels of grip.

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