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Best Bike Tubes: Basic but Essential Parts for All Cyclists

Get the best out of your tires with these top three bike tubes

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BY Mike Knott , Nikola Petrovski , Trey Williams / LAST UPDATED ON July 17, 2021

Whether you’re commuting to work or getting your kicks from flying down a mountain, there’s one thing you shouldn’t go on a bike ride without. If you bring along a replacement inner tube, you can repair punctures at the side of the road and quickly get back on your way. The tube you choose will ultimately affect how your bike performs, so it’s important to be informed. We’ve gathered the three best bike tubes on the market.

Best Overall
Kenda Inner Tubes
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Summary
Summary

These tubes fit tires size 26 by 1.9 inches to 2.125 inches. The package comes with two tubes that feature Schrader valves.

Pros
Pros
  • These tubes are of good quality, and they work well
  • They're great replacement tubes, a good value, and hold a tire's maximum pressure without issue
Cons
Cons
  • They may stretch a little too thin on a 2.125 tire
  • Many complain that one of the tubes may be defective and fails quickly
Best Overall
Kenda Inner Tubes
Best Value
Bell Universal Inner Tube
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Summary
Summary

This is a 20-inch inner tube designed to fit kids' bikes, BMX, and mountain bike tires. It comes with a standard Schrader valve.

Pros
Pros
  • Offers a puncture-free ride on rough trails  
  • Quality construction that can withstand high pressure 
  • Tested for reliability
Cons
Cons
  • Stem can be clogged with the sealant during winter 
  • Flimsy seam welding
Best Value
Bell Universal Inner Tube
Honorable Mention
Continental Race 28” S42 Presta Valve Bike Tubes
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Summary
Summary

A 28-inch, all-purpose, accident-proof, butyl rubber inner tube with a 42mm Presta valve. Pack includes five tubes, two Continental tire levers,  and two Diamond Grade reflective stickers to ensure ease of use.

Pros
Pros
  • Each individual tube is subject to rigorous quality control tests before leaving the factory
  • Valves are removable to allow for repair and/or replacement without sacrificing an undamaged tube
Cons
Cons
  • Bonding structure at valve placement does not inflate at the same rate as the rest of the tire, making it more likely to get damaged
  • Not ideal for racing or performance riding
Honorable Mention
Continental Race 28” S42 Presta Valve Bike Tubes

Why Trust Us


Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Best Overall
Kenda Inner Tubes

Kenda doesn’t cut corners when it comes to the production of high-quality bike tubes. This is why you should replace both the front and rear inner tubes of your road bike with these inner tubes. Coming as a pack of two, these tubes are designed to fit 26-inch tires with a tire width ranging from 1.9 to 2.125 inches. They are made from butyl rubber so they can be used to cover long distances on road. They are also easy to install and unlikely to stick on the bead so replacing them will be just as easy. Each tube uses a standard or Schrader valve that is short and sturdy so it's easier to inflate or deflate the tube. 


Unfortunately, most Kenda inner tubes have thinner walls compared to other bike tubes. For this reason, you must be careful when maneuvering it to avoid puncturing it. 

Best Value
Bell Universal Inner Tube

If you only take short rides on your bike, then consider this affordable but robust tube from Bell. This tube sports a solid construction featuring mold-cured rubber that’s designed to provide sidewall consistency to prevent high-pressure blowouts. What’s more, it’s a self-sealing tube that automatically seals punctures up to 0.125 inches wide so you don’t have to worry about getting a flat tire when cycling on rough paths. You can fit it on any tire with a 20-inch wheel diameter and tire widths ranging from 1.75 to 2.25 inches. Since it comes with Schrader valves, it’s best used on bikes used for recreational riding. 


Unfortunately, the sealant in the tube does have its downsides. The valve stem may be clogged when the temperatures drop during winter and the sealant freezes. However, you can warm up the stem by blowing dry warm air on it to make inflation possible.

Honorable Mention
Continental Race 28” S42 Presta Valve Bike Tubes

If we could recommend a premium set of bike tubes for performance bikes, then it would be this offering from Continental. The pack comes with a bundle of five tubes so you can have enough for future bike tube replacement, a pair of 3M reflective stickers that go on your bike frame or wheel rim, and a pair of levers that will help you install or remove the tire. The tubes are made from butyl rubber, which creates a better interaction with your tires than latex tubes, and consequently, maintains a better grip on the tire. This can help you cycle at a consistent speed. Also, each tube comes with a Presta valve with a removable core that allows you to add a sealant or extenders. You can fit these tubes on tires with a 28-inch diameter.


The main complaint we noted was that the tube can be a bit challenging to install. You should carefully read the installation instructions to avoid damaging them. 

Honorable Mention
Mongoose Bike Tubes

If you have a fat tire bike, you may feel more confident with a heavy-duty tube that can take a great amount of stress as you ride through different types of terrain. This is why we have included this reliable inner tube for fat tire bicycles. Thanks to its heavy-duty rubber construction, you can rely on this tube to provide a smooth ride when riding on rough gravel roads or when covering long distances when touring. These tubes are available in multiple sizes ranging from 20 to 27.5 inches, and can fit most tires with a width ranging from 2.8 to four inches. It’s also fitted with a Schrader valve for easy inflation. 


If there’s any drawback, it would be the price that’s a bit on the high side for a single tube offering. Besides that, its durability offers peace of mind when riding on any kind of terrain. 

Honorable Mention
TAC 9 Bicycle Inner Tube

Our recommendation for a high-quality inner tube that can handle long commutes without wearing out easily is this TAC 9 Bicycle Inner Tube. It’s designed to provide a snug fit on 26-inch wheels and tire widths ranging from 1.95 to 2.125 inches. This tube is made from high-quality butyl rubber that’s made with thick walls so it can handle more pressure than most of its other competitors. It’s capable of handling up to 160 PSI of pressure. Moreover, it comes with a Schrader valve, and the valve stem features a reinforced base so it doesn’t come loose easily or even break when you are inflating the tube. 


However, you should note that you have to pay a bit more to get the rim strip and tire levers since they are not included in the standard package. 

Honorable Mention
Schwinn Bike Tube

Schwinn’s offering is a reliable replacement tube that lets you ride comfortably on rugged terrain. This is because it comes pre-filled with a liquid sealant that adds an extra layer of flat protection. When you get a puncture, the air inside the tube forces the sealant to slide over the hole to reseal it. Additionally, the tube is made from durable butyl rubber that’s designed to handle great loads and excessive stress. The tube is also designed to fit a range of tire diameters ranging from 16 to 27.5 inches, with a tire width ranging from 1.75 to 2.125 inches. Therefore, it's a great option for both kids and adult bikes. The valve on this tube is a traditional Schrader valve for easy inflation.  


However, just like any self-sealing tube, the liquid sealant may freeze up in cold weather. This can lead to a clogged valve stem, thereby making it hard to inflate the tube. 

Tips

  • Buy the right size inner tube for your bike. Measure the circumference of your wheel for the right length and then check how narrow or wide of an inner tube you need to properly fill your tire.
  • Always check your existing inner tube to determine the type of valve you need. There are two common types: Presta and Schrader. Presta valves are long and narrow with a built-in twist lock, while Schrader valves are typically short and squat.
  • If you’re looking for a smoother ride, choose latex over butyl rubber tubes. Latex tubes are lighter and more supple but are also more challenging to fit and need topping up more often than butyl tubes.

FAQs

Q: Do bicycle inner tubes have an expiration date?

A: The life of your bike tube depends on the quality of its construction. In general, they shouldn’t need to be replaced unless you get a flat tire.

Q: Are latex tubes more resistant to punctures than butyl tubes?

A: Latex is stretchier and more pliable, so latex tubes do tend to be more puncture resistant. However, this also means they need inflating on an almost daily basis, and this extra effort is likely to outweigh the advantages of fewer accidents.

Q: How do I store bike tubes?

A: It’s sensible to protect tubes from damage as much as possible while not in use. Keep the cap on the valve and store it in the original box, a ziplock bag with talcum powder, or wrapped in an old sock. 

Final Thoughts

Kenda Inner Tubes sits at the top of our review for a good reason. Kenda tubes are known for their reliability, and are a great choice for both seasoned cycling professionals or recreational riders. They can also offer years of reliable service when used on smooth roads.

However, if you are looking for a quick and affordable replacement for one of your damaged inner tubes, then consider the Bell Universal Inner Tube