Which folding bike tires are best?
Whether you plan to purchase a bike to conquer the mountains, casually ride throughout the city or go touring, folding bike tires are there to help if you run into a sudden flat.
Unlike a car, bikers can’t exactly ride around with a couple of spare tires strapped to their back. Luckily, you can with a folding bike tire.
Quality folding bike tires, like the Continental GatorSkin DuraSkin Bike Tire, fold down into a compact size that fits into a backpack.
What to know before you buy a folding bike tire
Packing and installation
The manufacturer and retailer play a vital role in determining how easy it will be to install your new tire. The tires unfold with relative ease when the manufacturer puts care into how they’re folded and packaged.
When lazily done, you’ll run into a tangled mess that’ll likely require some time and weights to un-crease before it remotely resembles something you can install.
Folding bike tires have a lower pressure than their standard counterparts. This means they can easily pop when overfilled. It’s recommended to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, but the rule of thumb is to keep them at 40-60 psi for most 20-inch tires.
Folding bike tires come with a softer rubber compound, giving them better traction on the majority of surfaces. While softer material typically means it’ll wear out quickly, some folding bike tires add polyester strands to increase the thread density.
They may also have synthetic woven polymers as an additional layer of protection for the tire’s side walls without giving up the required flexibility. Unlike the steel wire manufacturers use to construct the bead in regular tires, folding tires commonly use Kevlar or other synthetic fibers to maintain durable flexibility.
What to look for in a quality folding bike tire
The most basic of features, regardless of how you plan to ride, is wheel size. Smaller bikes with 20-inch wheels require 20-inch tires. Where it gets convoluted is when adult bikes come into the picture.
Larger wheel sizes may have varying measurements that can get confusing if you’re not prepared. For example, a 27.5-inch wheel may be presented as 650b, while a wheel at 29 inches might show as 700c.
There are varying reasons why a biker might go with a 650b wheel over a 700c and vice versa. The 650b wheels, while smaller, allow the biker to run higher-volume tires, which creates an increased contact patch.
This means there’s more grip when accelerating, cornering and improved bump absorption, making it an excellent choice for unpaved surfaces. The 700c wheels, on the other hand, are the wheels of choice when it comes to riding on paved streets or gravel. These wheels offering better rollover capability and less rolling resistance.
Threads per inch
One of the reasons folding bike tires sell at a premium is the higher threads-per-inch count. Manufacturers create the tires you see today by tightly winding threads together. When the tires they produce have a higher density or higher TPI, they offer a smoother ride quality to the user than their cheaper, lower TPI counterparts.
You can identify high-quality folding bike tires if they have TPI counts of 60 or higher. Lower TPI counts mean thicker threads and ultimately a heavier, sturdier tire.
When the TPI counts reach 120 or greater, the threads get thinner, making it much more lightweight, but also that much more delicate and susceptible to faster wear.
Folding bike tires use a softer rubber compound that provides better traction but wears out sooner than regular tires. High-quality folding tires utilize dual-compound treads to reduce rapid wear. These tires have a regular tread rubber compound along the center with the softer compound on the sides to offer support when cornering.
How much you can expect to spend on folding bike tires
Ranging from inexpensive to high-quality, you can expect to pay anywhere between $20-$115 per tire. Numerous considerations factor into the final price point, like whether they’re tubed or full tubeless and the overall weight.
Folding bike tires FAQ
Can I get a folding bike tire for any type of bike?
A. Like regular tires, retailers and manufacturers provide varying sizes and threads of folding bike tires for different surfaces. So whether you plan on touring, casual city biking, mountain biking or tearing up gravel, you can find folding tires for any occasion.
Are folding bike tires more difficult to fit?
A. Some steps in the fitting process may need extra focus, but it’s not necessarily more difficult to fit than standard tires. Take extra care not to pinch the tube and don’t overfill with air. After the first fitting, it becomes a relatively quick process the next time it needs replacing.
What are the best folding bike tires to buy?
Continental GatorSkin DuraSkin Bike Tire
What you need to know: Continental hit it out of the park with high-quality tires made to last for any passionate road rider.
What you’ll love: The polyamide and carbon blend offers superior durability and puncture protection without increasing rolling resistance. Available in various sizes, it’s the perfect tire for city riding and long-distance touring.
What you should consider: The puncture protection may not live up to some people’s expectations.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top folding bike tire for the money
Continental Ultra Sport III PureGrip Road Bike Folding Tires
What you need to know: These are a super budget-friendly option for commuting and off-road biking.
What you’ll love: The Ultra Sport III is highly durable and offers excellent performance for any biking activity. Budget-conscious bikers will be happy to hear that you can purchase two tires at a very affordable price.
What you should consider: While most foldable bike tires are easy to fit, these require a little more concentration.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
WTB Raddler 700c TCS Gravel Tire
What you need to know: This is a reasonably priced tire manufactured to help bikers take control of gravel and rugged landscapes.
What you’ll love: WTB created these tires to combat quick wear with a dual-compound build, and they’re available for both tubed and tubeless use. They have a straight-line design to reduce rolling resistance with soft compound walls to maintain grip around corners.
What you should consider: There’s potential for leaks when used tubeless.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Christopher Lee writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2023 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.