The best inner tubes of 2021

Bicycle inner tubes come in a variety of sizes and materials. How can you buy the right inner-tube for your ride? We've pulled together the best inner tubes available right now to help you decide.

What inner tube size do I need?

The most important thing to consider when you're buying new inner tubes is what size you need. There are two main measurements to consider:

  • Your wheel diameter. Most road bikes have 29" wheels, normally known as 700c, whilst mountain bikes can be 26" all the way up to 29"
  • Your tyre width. This is normally shown on the sidewall of your tyre. 

You'll also need to choose tubes that have the right valve. Most road bikes use Presta whilst Schrader are more common on mountain bikes. The main difference is that a Presta valve has a threaded outer ring that you need to unscrew before you can put air in and a Schrader doesn't. A Schrader valve is also generally shorter and wider.

Road bike inner tubes are often available with different valve lengths so make sure you buy one that is long enough for your wheel rims.

The best inner tubes for road bikes

Best everyday road bike inner tube

LifeLine Road Inner TubeLifeLine Road Inner Tube

Valve: Presta (48mm, 60mm or 80mm)

Wheel size: 700c 

Fits tyre width: 18-25c

This high-quality butyl tube has been air leakage tested to ensure reliability. Designed to fit 700c road wheels and tyre widths of 18-25c, the Lifeline road tubes are a perfect choice for most road bikes. Available in a choice of three valve lengths to suit different rim depths. 

See the full bike accessories range from Lifeline  

Best inner tube for road racing

Michelin Air Comp UltraLight Road Inner tube

Michelin Air Comp UltraLight Road Inner tube

Valve: Presta (40mm)

Wheel size: 700c 

Fits tyre width: 18-25c

Weighing only 70g, this Michelin inner tube is an easy way for road bike racers to shed unnecessary rotational weight in the search for those marginal gains.

The best inner tubes for mountain bikes

Best everyday MTB inner tube

LifeLine 29er MTB Inner TubeLifeLine 29er MTB Inner Tube

Valve: Presta 

Wheel size: 29" 

Width: 1.75" > 2.5"

Tested for air leakage and reliability, these tubes are available in a range of wheel sizes. The 0.9mm butyl walls are robust enough for most riders, but Lifeline also offers a downhill version with 1.2mm thick walls.

Best MTB inner tube for puncture protection

Slime Self Healing MTB (29er) Inner TubeSlime Self Healing MTB (29er) Inner Tube

Valve: Schraeder

Wheel size: 29" 

Width: 1.75" > 2.5"

Popular with trail riders, these clever tubes are pre-filled with a fast-acting tube sealant that takes care of punctures of up to 3mm in size so you can get on with enjoying your ride.

Best inner tube for MTB racing

Tubolito Tubo MTB Inner TubeTubolito Tubo MTB Inner Tube

Valve: Presta

Available sizes: 27.5" 1.8" - 2.5", 29" 1.8" - 2.5", 29" 2.5 - 3.0"

Save precious rotational weight when it matters with these super-light tubes. Constructed from TPU (Thermoplastic Elastomer), the 29" version saves more than 100g per wheel compared to standard butyl tubes. 

The best inner tubes for gravel bikes and adventure bikes

LifeLine Wide Road Inner TubeLifeLine 27.5"/650B MTB Inner Tube

Valve: Presta (48mm) or Schrader (33mm)

Available sizes: 700 x -28-35mm (Presta and Schrader)700 x -35-45mm (Presta only). 

Lifeline has made their popular 700c road inner tubes in a larger size to suit higher tyre volumes. Constructed from high-quality 1mm thick butyl and tested for reliability.  

Should you run tubeless tyres on your gravel bike?

If you're riding on dirt tracks and gravel, you might want to consider ditching the tubes altogether in favour of a tubeless setup for your gravel bike. Uneven terrain combined with lower tyre pressures can make pinch-flats a lot more likely. With no inner, you've got less to worry about. 

Punctures are more likely due to sharp stones and vegetation, but if you go tubeless you can often just keep rolling along and the rotation of your wheel will cause the sealant to repair any holes. 

Find out more about going tubeless 

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About the author

NChamanian's picture
Nassrin Chamanian
Published on: 27 May 2021

Pretty OK at bikes. Enthusiasm outstrips ability.