Bicycles guide: wheels, tire size, rims, spokes explained

Last updated: Aug, Sun, 2016

After the frame material and construction, the design, purpose and make-up of your wheels is probably the biggest factor in deciding the speed, efficiency and feel of your bike. Bicycle wheels are a group of components that are assembled. Including bike tire, rim and spokes etc.


Bike wheel size mainly has 700c(about 28in), 26-inch, 27.5-inch(650b) and 29in(29er).

In general, commuting bicycles will with the 700C wheels. But, on a hybrid you can just choose road or mountain bike wheels in the right size, with your ride style. Note, adult bicycle size refers to the frame.


Narrower tires give you less rolling resistance for the smooth asphalt. Wider tires allow for better handling in gravel or dirt and lessen the likelihood of getting a flat. Generally speaking, the wider the tire, the cushier the ride. The main disadvantage to wider tires is weight.

The most common width for road bike tires is 23mm. As a custom, race bikes have 23mm widths while training has 25mm widths and a mixture of hard and rough roads have 28mm widths.

A much wider tire between 2.0 to 2.5-inches is typically used for mountain biking. Hybrid bike tires are somewhere in the middle, typically runs between 28mm to 47mm– which is just under 2-inches.


Rims are typically made out of aluminum, carbon fiber, or a combination of aluminum and carbon fiber. All well built rims provide the structure necessary to allow a wheel to support the bicycle and rider weight over many miles.


Spokes provide support to the rim and distribute pressure evenly around the bike wheel structure. Low spoke counts to help decrease weight and make their wheels seem more exotic, but they are also making the wheel less efficient, especially for larger riders.

Heavier riders need more spokes, with means a stronger wheel, the load is distributed over more spokes, therefore the cyclic stress per spoke is lower. Also, for a wheel to be stable you need a certain amount of tension, this greatly increases the longevity of the rim.

Below is a general guideline for the ideal spoke counts. These are not set in stone and they may vary with part selection.

  • less than 100 lbs (<45 kg) -- 20/20 (front/rear)
  • 100 lbs-150lbs (45kg-68kg) — 20/24
  • 150lbs-185lbs (68kg-84kg) — 20/28 or 24/28
  • 185lbs-215lbs (84kg-98kg) — 24/28 or 24/32
  • more than 215lbs (>100kg) — 28/32 or 32/32