Question about Bike InnerTubes

I am trying to get an old bike back on the road for exercise and I have not worked on one since I was a kid so forgive me for asking a basic question. The bike is a standard old fashioned “Ten Speed” (if they still use that 70s term) type with 26" wheels. What size inner tube do I need? The 26" or 27" since the tire with tube sticks out about an inch from the rim. So does it go by the size of the wheel rim?

if the tires are marked “26” by 1 3/8" then you need a 26" by 1 3/8tube. The diameter and the width of the tube have to be identical to the diam and width of the tire.
Back in the 70’s many bikes switched from 26" 1.3/8 inch tubes to 27 by 1.25 inch.

But changing the tires is not easy for a total novice… and you’ll need tools (a set of tire irons.)
Take the bike to a shop…it’ll save you a lot of work.

if you want to try DIY then get a library book on how to take care of your bike. it will give the things to look for and how to do it. with an out-of-service old bike you will want to do lubrication (grease and oil in the proper locations) and spokes as well as tires and tubes.

you could use ordinary household tools if done with care for most needs. like you could substitute for a tire iron with two of your fattest screwdrivers with two layers of electrical tape on the tips.

if you took to a shop, don’t just take the tire and tube, take the bike and have them do an annual maintenance routine on it.

Actually, it’s pretty easy. Here is a site that shows how to do it (here’s another). In fact, you can generally do it without a tire lever.

It’s easy to patch tires. Some people claim they can “feel” the patch affecting their speed, and I think they are nuts, just like those who insist they need extra shiny pants and precious green and purple sweat bracelets. If you patch a tire you don’t need to know the size, but it’s probably printed on it.

Some tubes are extra sturdy. While heavier, they are good for those of us who climb curbs by just ramming over them.

At most, I need a single straight-blade screwdriver, and usually not even that. Changing a tire and re-looping a chain that’s come off the gears are two tasks any bike rider should be able to do for themselves. If you really don’t know how, then find a friend who does, and learn.

Concur on those except:

Tire levers are cheap, and they have rounded edges that are less likely to nick the tube than a screwdriver.

You may also need a wrench to take the wheel off. With practice you can patch a tube with the wheel still on the bike, but it is better to learn how with the wheel off at first. Also you can’t change a tube or a tire without taking the wheel off.

If the bike is a Schwinn, beware that they used some funky, non-standard wheel/tire/tube sizes. IIRC, a Schwinn 26" was significantly larger than the current mountain bike 26" wheels. The English did some similar things, so if it is a Raleigh watch out for that.

I agree. I would buy a plastic set and keep it with the bike along with a patch kit in case you’re 5 miles from nowhere.

I hate the plastic levers that I have. I much prefer the metal ones and I’ve tossed the plastic ones. I suppose there are better ones out there, but some of them suck.

Quik Stik

I’ve used these for years. They flat out work and I have yet to break one.

I have plastic ones that came with a puncture repair kit, so dirt cheap. They work well. And I’d recommend carrying a spare tube (maybe two), rather than mucking about with patches on the road.

I also highly recommend the QuikStik.

Actually, that’s what I do. If I have a flat then I swap them out and patch the tube at home. Haven’t blown both tires yet so the patch kit is insurance.

This is a little strong. You should probably make sure the diameter is the same, but there’s a fair of wiggle with the width; you can be off by easily 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch. Ideally, you’ve got a bike shop nearby with competent employees who can take your tire info and give you a tube that will work (and sell you tire irons or anything else you need. For the record, I still usually need all three irons to remove a tire).

There’s more than you want to know about tires and sizing here:

Thanks for the input, I checked the markings on the tire 26 X 1.75. This thread really takes me back to when I was a kid, fixing my own flat tires. Pumping up the tire and placing it in a sink filled with water to find out where the leak was located on the tube. Scrapping to tube with the grater thingy and the patch with the epoxy glue. Once I had four patches on one tube! I was surprised at the stuff they have now for bikes: sealant, fix-a-flat, steel belted tubes and tires. I have been away for a long time.

In principle, I suppose, but it’s been ages since I’ve seen bikes without quick-release wheels, which need no tools. And for the tire irons, I usually find that just my bare hands are enough.

It depends on the rim/tire combo. On my old road bike, the first tires were removable by hand, the second set of tires were almost impossible to get on/off even with irons. My handcycle just needs irons to start and finish, the rest is hand-doable.

Easiest way? Take the wheel off and take it to the bike shop and ask what type of inner tube you need. They’ll get you the tube and not insist that you allow them to change the tire. That way, if the tube doesn’t fit, you can return it because it was their fault for giving you the wrong tube.

If you can read the side of the tire, it should have a size on it. You can write that down and take it to the bike shop. Most tubes have on them the range of bike tire sizes they fit for.

Look at the tires. If they’re cracked or the tread is worn, you probably want to replace them too. Heck, if the bike has been sitting around in the garage for a while, get the whole thing serviced – maybe once you really start riding all over. The bike probably needs to be cleaned, brakes tightened, tuned, and lubercated.

Patches are good if you are on the road and have a flat, but I would get a new inner tube right after you return home anyway. Patches can leak or fall off, and tubes are fairly cheap, so you might as well do it right. In fact, many cyclist I know don’t even bother with patching, They bring a spare tube when they ride. After all, if you are going to take off the wheel and tube to patch it, you might as well put on a new tube while you’re at it. Why bother doing it all again when you get home?

Never use a screw driver. Get a set of tire irons (which are cheap). Tire irons lock to the spokes and come in a set of three because you might have to pry off a bit larger section of the tube before it comes off.

I was going to say the same thing as qazwart - if you aren’t positive, take the front wheel off (check that the rear is the same size tire!) and bring it to a bike shop. Tires are inexpensive ($20-$40 each and they’ll last a long time) so if they’re old replace them and tubes are very cheap (couple of dollars).

I would recommend getting a patch kit and a set of tire levers. The patch kit is about $6 and a set of plastic tire levers is about $3. And a little portable pump, the kind that straps to the frame. It won’t get your tires rock hard but you just need enough to get you home (or to a bike shop or gas station with a pump). Have the bike shop show you how to change a tire/tube, it’s not hard but it’s better to learn in a shop and then practice it at home as opposed to figuring it out by the side of the road in the middle of nowhere when it’s raining.

Really simple to do, just have to go through it once or twice to get the hang. Unlike others I’ve never had a problem with a patch failing and the kit is incredibly tiny (compared to hauling around a spare tube). Plus you can help that cute guy/gal you spot walking their flatted bike to the shop…