You won't be going anywhere without them, they keep the air in your tires. An inner tube is not just an inner tube, they come in various different models for road bikes, trekking bikes and mountain bikes. When purchasing a new tube you should consider the valve type on the one hand and the rim and tire size on the other. The manufacturer Schwalbe has a very large tube range, something for everyone!
Sealing the deal: Which valve to choose?
Inner tubes are either fitted with a Dunlop valve (classic bike valve), the Sclaverand valve (French valve, racing valve) or with the Schrader valve (automatic valve). The Schrader valve is compatible with the air pumps at gas stations, so your tires can be pumped up and checked there. The Dunlop valve is easy to use, the Sclaverand valve is loved for its efficient closure and high airflow, which can save valuable seconds in a race. As most bike pumps are usually compatible with every type of valve, the selection of a valve ultimately comes down to personal preference. It is recommended to use the same valve on both tires.
The right size
The size of the tube is dependent on the size of the rims: 26, 27.5, 28 and 29 inch tubes are available, as well as 20 and 24 inches for kids bikes. The inner dimensions of the tire in which the tube needs to fit is also important. A 23 millimeter road bike tire requires a different tube to a 2.5 inch downhill tire.
A little extra: Special tubes
There are thicker and more robust tubes for Gravity MTBs which help overcome punctures unscathed. Ultra-light models save on materials to keep the weight as low as possible. Some manufacturers offer tubes made of alternative materials like latex to make them even lighter and give them optimum puncture protection.
Don't forget: Tools for your tours
An accident is very possible on tour but with the right tools, it doesn't need to be a problem. Every cyclist should carry a selection of tools, a replacement tube and/or patching tools as well as a mini pump with them at all times when biking in case the worst should happen. Small problems can then be quickly taken care of and the tour won't come to an early end. When it comes to bike care, it is worth replacing any used patching materials and to have enough replacement tubes for any given situation. Aside from that, tube material is not 100% solid and so lose air over time. In other words: It is best to pump up your tires before every tour!