Folding tyres buying guide

Enter any bike shop in the world, and you’ll see two types of tyres for sale: rigid tyres and folding bike tyres

They’re both available in a similar range of sizes to fit all bike frames, and both do the same job of sticking you to the road. However, they are constructed in slightly different ways.

In this guide, we’ll explain:

What is a folding tyre?

Both rigid and folding tyres feature a bead that runs along the edge of a tyre. When the inner tube within a tyre is inflated, this bead clinches to the inside of the rim – making the wheel safe while earning these tyres the nickname ‘clinchers’.

Rigid bike tyres use a wire bead to clinch the rim. Folding bike tyres, however, use Kevlar beading to keep the tyre secure on the rim.

Kevlar is hardwearing and robust, but unlike the wire used in rigid tyres, can be folded. This development in tyre technology means that modern folding tyres are both lighter and easier to carry than their rigid counterparts.

Why choose a folding tyre?

Folding tyres have some benefits over rigid tyres that riders may prefer. Folding tyres are often lighter than rigid tyres, which can improve riding performance. Some riders find it easier to fit folding tyres, with the Kevlar bead proving more manoeuvrable than tyres fitted with a metal bead.

They’re also a lot easier to transport than rigid tyres, which means they can be carried while out riding, during a tour, for example.

The main trade-off for these benefits is that folding tyres are often more expensive than tyres with a wire bead.

What kind of bike are folding tyres suitable for?

Folding bike tyres come in all sizes – but obviously only one shape! Folding bike tyres and rigid bike tyres both work the same way, which means they’re interchangeable – as long as you select the correct size.

You can purchase folding bike tyres suitable for all types of bicycles, including:

  • Road bikes
  • Mountain bikes
  • Hybrid bikes
  • Folding bikes
  • E-bikes

How do I know what type of folding bike tyre I should buy?

Finding the correct tyre means knowing two measurements: the wheel size and the tyre width you need. Regardless of whether you were buying a folding tyre or rigid tyre, the measurements are the same.

Road bikes and hybrids typically come fitted with 700c wheels; mountain bikes 26”, 27.5” or 29” wheels; and folding bikes either 16” or 20” wheels.

The width of the tyre is your choice. Road cyclists usually prefer a narrow tyre (between 25). It would be listed as a 700x25c.

A mountain bike with 29” wheels and 2.1” width tyre would be listed as a 29x2.1”.

You can learn more about tyre sizing and choosing the right bike tyres in our in-depth advice guide.

What brands of folding bike tyres are available?

At Halfords, we’ve got folding bike tyres for all types of bike, including road bikes, hybrid bikes, mountain bikes and folding bikes.

We stock folding bike tyres from popular brands such as Continental and Schwalbe. One of our best-selling products is the ever-popular Continental Gatorskin folding bike tyre. Alongside its bigger brother the Continental Grand Prix, they’re the two best-performing folding bike tyres for the road, with superb puncture protection.

Off-road riders can choose from a selection of deep-tread folding tyres capable of coping with the harshest conditions. The Schwalbe Hans Dampf TL Folding Tyre Addix is a tubeless tyre that Schwalbe believes is the future of folding tyre technology – and who are we to argue?

How do I fit a folding bike tyre?

Fitting a folding bike tyre follows the same process as installing a rigid bike tyre.

Before fitting, you will need to unpack the tyre and unfold it. In the beginning, the tyre may seem a little floppy or loose, but once it’s unpacked, it should begin to take shape.

Laying the wheel gently on the floor, you can roll the bead of the tyre against the rim. As more of the tyre grips the edge, the more rigid it will become.

While you can use tyre levers at this stage, many riders find they can roll the tyre onto the rim using a bit of pressure from the hands. This can avoid accidentally nicking the tube with a tyre lever or trapping it between the bead and the rim – both of which can lead to punctures.

Once you have added the tube and fitted the tyre to both sides of the rim, you can inflate it. At this point, any wrinkles or sags in the tyre will disappear. Fit it to your bike, and you’re ready to go!

How to fold a folding tyre

When you’re looking to pack your folding tyres away to carry them around, don’t stress too much about how they’re folded. The Kevlar beading makes folding easy and there’s really no wrong way to fold them.

With rigid tyres you can risk damaging the wire beading by trying to fold them or pack them into a slightly-too-tight space for transport, but with folding tyres you can most likely get away with folding them in half, then in half again to pack them neatly away.

If you have any further questions around folding bike tyres, feel welcome to reach out to our friendly staff in your local Halfords, or browse our full range of bike tyres if you’re ready to grab yourself a pair.