Know your bicycle wheels

Chris Willemse Cycles bicycle wheel guide


Choosing the right bicycle wheels for your needs comes down to their use. Be it for road cycling or mountain biking, every cyclist wants to enjoy the freedom of a smooth ride without having to compromise on terrain options. So, in order to effortlessly explore the terrain you plan to be peddling on, you need to know your bicycle wheel needs.

It’s easy to look beyond wheel sizing and make a decision based on the look and feel of a bike, and the price tag you see. But if you want to take your hobby to new heights, you need to choose wisely. The size and width of your tyres are two key contributing factors that will assist with your bike’s performance and, more importantly, your balance. The lighter the bicycle wheel components are, the easier it will be to peddle and increase your speed as opposed to other heavier wheels. So, whether you’re looking at wheels for road bikes or mountain bikes, a good rule of thumb is to weigh up your options. Knowing what you intend on achieving will speed up your decision-making process.

What wheel type do you need?

When buying wheels that match your cycling requirements, you need to ask yourself a few questions. For instance, “how will the bicycle wheel diameter affect my cycling ability?”, “what are the bicycle wheel accessories recommended for beginner cyclists?” and “where do I find the bike wheel rim types I need?”. With so many bicycle wheel parts, wheel rims, bike wheel hub types and rim sizes to choose from, it can be a challenging task when you don’t know where to start.

Luckily, every bike has similar wheel components: the hub, spokes, nipples, rim and the actual tyres. In short, the hub shell is what the wheel rotates around, allowing your bike to move forward. The spokes, also known as wires, are what press into the hub and the tyre’s rim. The spoke count is threaded into the nipple, which is then used to increase or decrease your wheel tension. Lastly, the rim of your tyre is connected to the above-mentioned parts and the tyre, of course, to help you brake. With this wheel knowledge and the below bike wheel size guide, you will be able to choose the correct tyres. Each with their own specifications, the right fit will add a new dimension to your ride. 


Clincher tyres contain air in separate tubes. These tyres are the standard option for many cyclists as they are easy to operate. Designed to cover many different types of road terrains, they offer cyclists an easy, smooth ride. The beauty of these tyres is that if you experience a puncture and need to repair your wheel, you can do so yourself, wherever you are. Many racers and recreational cyclists practise on these types of wheels as they offer fewer maintenance issues. 


These wheels are complex and require more assistance when assembling. While they do include air tubes such as clinchers, they are glued to the rim which means it’s not a quick fix when you experience a puncture. These wheels are a popular option for racing because of the higher pressure in the tubular tyre and the smooth cycling ability. However, this option is not effective if you choose to ride a tough terrain that might require you to repair a tyre along the way.


Mountain bikes often use tubeless tyres as the setup costs are affordable and easy for cyclists. The main difference with a tubeless tyre, when compared to tubular and clincher tyres, is the fact that you only make use of the tyre and its rim. There is no tube involved, therefore there is no need to purchase a separate inner tube. Most bicycles come with clinchers, so if you are interested in purchasing tubular or tubeless tyres, you will need to buy the correct rims. 


What wheel width do you need?

As far as tyre sizing and tyre diameter are concerned, the size you choose will influence the quality of your ride. The most popular tyre widths range between 23, 25 and 28mm with the fatter wheels coming in at 29mm and higher. These bikes are usually standard commuter bikes, endurance bikes or mountain bikes, whereas road racing bikes tend to have much skinnier wheels with widths of 19mm, depending on how you want to optimise for your performance.

If and when you decide to change your tyre width, you will also need to ensure that the tyre diameter matches your new width, as well as your tyre rim. Bear in mind that when looking at a bicycle wheel size chart for your bike, knowing how to measure a bicycle wheel size will help you to understand exactly what you are looking for. It is critical to be cycling with the correct wheels, not only for performance reasons but also for safety and to avoid accidents.

For help on choosing the best wheels for your cycling needs, you’ve come to the right place by visiting Chris Willemse Cycles. Our professional guidance and the above-mentioned tips will enable you to choose the best-suited wheels for your cycling needs. Browse our online store or visit any of our cycling stores in South Africa to view our bicycle wheels for sale.