Electric bike tires significantly affect how your electric bike performs and handles. With this in mind it is a good idea to know about the various aspects of electric bike tires to enhance your riding experience and be safe. In this article, we will unlock the secrets of electric bike tires so you can make the most out of your rides.
Are Electric Bike Tires The Same As Regular Bike Tires?
It is possible to fit regular tires on your electric bike. However, we wouldn't recommend you do this because electric bikes have specific characteristics that will make regular bike tires less effective.
For example, electric bikes are heavier than regular bikes; therefore, they work better when their tires have harder compounds to cope with the extra weight. Harder tires also last longer when fitted to an electric bike, as their higher speeds combined with additional weight would make regular tires wear out much more quickly.
The other advantage of fitting electric bike-specific tires is that they are more puncture-resistant. Therefore you can ride with less chance of getting a flat tire.
Electric Bike Tire Sizes
When you start looking at the details of electric bikes, you may notice that they are fitted with different sized wheels. Electric bikes will have wheels ranging from 12-inch diameters to huge 29-inch wheels.
Until you start getting into serious mountain bike territory, most electric bikes are fitted with 16, 20, or 26-inch diameter wheels. These different wheel sizes give electric bikes specific handling characteristics and provide advantages for the particular bike they are fitted to.
16-inch wheels are pretty small, and you often find them fitted to folding electric bikes to make them more compact when folded so you can easily stall or transport the bike. The small size also means that the wheels are lighter, adding to the bike's lightness, making it easy to pick up and carry.
You will also find 20-inch wheels on electric folding bikes. They are obviously less compact, but the larger size gives you a slightly smoother ride quality. This is becoming one of the most common wheel sizes on electric bikes as it blends agility and comfort while also being compact.
26-inch wheels are generally found on older-style electric mountain and road bikes. They are still large enough to give good ride quality and nimble handling.
The Effects Of Wheel Diameter
The wheel diameter makes a significant difference to the performance of an electric bike. Let's look at the advantages of larger and smaller wheel diameters.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Larger Wheels
The main advantage of riding with larger wheels is that your electric bike will have a smoother ride quality. The larger diameter means the tires will roll over bumps, potholes, rocks, etc., much more easily than small ones. This also means you have better control over your electric bike, especially on rough surfaces.
Larger wheels also make your electric bike more efficient, extending your range before you need to recharge your battery. This is because they require less effort to keep rolling once you are up to speed, meaning you can coast and maintain speed much more easily. Also, while riding at high speeds, large wheels are more stable and provide more grip.
However, the downside of riding with larger wheels is that your bike will be more challenging to turn and maneuver in tight spaces. This is because an electric bike with larger wheels has a longer wheelbase, increasing its turning circle.
Electric bikes with larger wheels require more effort to accelerate quickly. This is due to the effect it has on the gearing and the reduced downward force that comes from a longer wheelbase. Therefore, if you need to accelerate away from traffic lights and junctions often, you may find that smaller wheels would be more beneficial.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Smaller Wheels
Smaller diameter wheels are excellent for making a foldable electric bike more compact. But they also give your electric bike much more agile handling, making them lots of fun to ride, but also ideal for weaving through traffic and avoiding obstacles.
The other advantage of smaller diameter wheels is that they allow you to accelerate much faster than light wheels. This is again down to the gearing and the increased downforce on the ground from the short wheelbase.
The main downside of smaller diameter wheels is that they don't ride over bumps and potholes as smoothly, making your ride quality less smooth. They also require more energy to maintain speed, which makes them less efficient on long rides. They have to spin faster to match the speed of an electric bike fitted with larger diameter wheels. Therefore you will have to pedal more quickly and use more battery power to ride at a constant speed.
When considering buying an electric bike, it is a good idea to look at the advantages and disadvantages of wheel size, so you can choose one that will suit your needs best.
Electric Bike Tire Widths
Electric bikes have different width tires that make a difference in how they perform on various surfaces. Before buying an electric bike, think about the surfaces you usually ride on and typical weather conditions to make the right decision.
Fat tires are becoming more popular on electric bikes because they offer a few advantages over thinner tires. Generally, fat tires measure four or 5 inches wide and run at lower pressures than narrower tires.
These two characteristics make the electric bike more capable of riding on different types of terrain. This is why you will find wider tires on bikes designed for riding off-road, on gravel tracks, snow, sand, and soft mud. Their extra width gives them a larger contact patch with the ground, which spreads the weight of the rider and the bike, increasing traction.
The larger volume of air inside fat tires also benefits people who ride on paved roads, as it creates a more comfortable ride quality. You will notice that these tires are pretty squidgy, which acts like suspension, isolating you from vibrations caused by riding over bumps in the road.
The main downside of fat tires is that they have more rolling resistance and weight than narrower tires. Therefore they reduced the efficiency of an electric bike, which will ultimately affect its range.
Narrow electric bike tires are much lighter than fat tires. The result is that your electric bike will be more efficient and easier to handle. They benefit people who ride their electric bikes on smooth surfaces as their high pressure, and low rolling resistance allow you to ride at faster speeds for longer. They also make the electric bike more agile and responsive.
However, thinner tires don't have as much grip, which is noticeable when you ride in the wet or on loose surfaces. They also are more vulnerable to punctures as they are less robust than fat tires.
The Difference Between Spoked Wheels And Integrated Wheels
Two types of wheels are fitted to electric bikes; one has traditional spokes, and the other is a solid wheel with large spokes integrated into the rims. They both have advantages and disadvantages, but integrated wheels are becoming more popular on specific E-bikes.
Integrated wheels look cool but are also lightweight and strong while providing minor aerodynamic advantages. The extra strength allows them to handle high speeds and large amounts of torque produced by the electric motor. This, in turn, gives you predictable handling, especially when cornering at high speeds.
You will notice that many electric cargo bikes are fitted with integrated wheels as they can take the weight of the rider, the heavier bike, and whatever the rider wants to carry without the risk of the wheel being damaged, which could be potentially dangerous.
Electric bike wheels with spokes bend and flex, allowing you to take on rougher terrain. They are much better at dissipating impact energy around the wheel, which makes the ride more comfortable and will enable you to react to the inconsistencies of off-road riding.
The other advantage of a spoked wheel is that if it becomes damaged, there's a good chance that you will just need to replace a spoke. But if you have to replace the whole wheel, it is much cheaper than replacing an integrated wheel.
Now you know that the diameter and width of your electric bike wheels make a difference to how your bike will perform in certain situations. Therefore, before you buy an electric bike, you should pay close attention to the wheel sizes and the tires the wheels are fitted with.
If you ride off-road, carry lots of weight, or are a nervous rider, wider tires are best. However, if efficiency on long rides is important to you, large and thin wheels are the best choice.
If you want a bike with agile handling and faster acceleration, an electric bike with wheels of a smaller diameter is the best choice; however, you need to be aware that your comfort level will be reduced.