Which tires are right for your electric bike?

No matter how advanced or expensive it is, your ebike relies on the small area of contact between tire and road or path to keep you upright and moving in the direction you want. Even the best electric bike can underperform with the wrong tires. In fact, when it comes to an electric bike tires are even more important than they are on a traditional bike.

This is because electric bikes tend to be heavier and travel faster than a normal pedal bike. That means that the tires have to perform under higher loads, both in acceleration, turning and braking. Not only that, while a puncture on a regular bike is annoying, with the extra complications of a motor in the drivetrain, it can even more frustrating to deal with even on the best electric bike. So, given that ebike tires are so important to your safety and riding enjoyment, here is everything you need to know about them, and how to choose the right ones for your big tire electric bike.

Look for dedicated electric bike tires

Not so long ago, even the best electric bike had to compromise with using tires designed for traditional pedal bikes, but today things are different. You can find tires designed specifically for fat tire electric bikes in every range. They are made from thicker rubber and have stronger sidewalls to deal with the extra loads.

So even if you don’t bother with anything else, always make sure your ebike tires are designed for the job. Choose tired that are ebike approved by the manufacturer.

Tube-Equipped Electric Bicycle Tires

Tube-Equipped Electric Bicycle Tires

Tubed or Tubeless?

The first thing to think about when choosing electric bike tires is whether to go for a traditional tire with an innertube, or a tubeless system. This will depend on your bike a little, tubeless requires wheel rims that are designed for it, but most bikes today have tubeless ready rims, so you probably do have the choice.

A tubeless system, as the name suggests, does away with an innertube. Instead, the tire forms an airtight seal against the rim, like a car tire does. The other upside of the tubeless system is that if you do get a minor puncture, they can be repaired without taking the tire off the rim in most cases using a rubber plug. This makes them a really good option, but there are downsides.

They are significantly more expensive than tubed tires, and are more difficult to fit. In general, getting them to seal at the rim requires high air pressure. This is fine if you have an air compressor, but can be an issue if all you have is a hand pump.

So, which is best? If you have the equipment to fit them, tubeless do benefit your riding, but for general use and convenience, traditional tires work fine.

Where do you ride?

happyrunsports G60 ebike

HappyRun Fat Tire E-bike Tank G60

While all dedicated ebike tires share some features, such as thicker rubber to support the additional weight, your choice really does depend on where you ride. A commuter bike used for a couple of miles along New York streets needs different tires to one you are taking to explore Moab for instance.

There are three general types of tread patterns to look for. The first are very low-profile tread patterns and designed for roads, hard pathways and other smooth surfaces. Next are the big off-road tires with tall lugs to generate grip in everything from a natural forest path to thick mud. The third are intermediate electric bike tires, that have a higher profile than pure road tires, but are still fast rolling to make the most of the battery range. These are ideal for bikes you use both on the road and on gravel paths and similar surfaces.

Choosing the right type means thinking about how you use your bike. If you do a bit of everything, those intermediary types are the best choice, while dedicated off road ebike tires come in various patterns to fit the type of off-road environment you use. The slippery rocks of Moab, or the downhill chaos of Whistler need a fairly aggressive tire to find grip, while an easy offroad route on man-made trails mean you can get away with a smoother, faster rolling tire and still have the grip you need. Even with road tires, there are differences. In New York, you will want tires with a little more trade depth to bite in when rain comes, but in California, the smoothest tire possible is ideal.

What do the numbers mean?

Finally, we need to think about the size of your ebike tires. Most of the best electric bikes will be on 27.5 inch or 29-inch wheels, and you choose the right sized tire to fit, but what about width? A big tire electric bike can have 2.4-inch-wide tires, and some fat bike tires are even wider, reaching 3 inches or more, but which is right?

Electric bike tire size is a balance between having a tire big enough to provide the grip you need and air capacity to manage the bike weight, while keeping it as thin as possible to minimize resistance, so you get the most range from your battery.

For most people, something between 2.2 and 2.4 inches is ideal. Use higher pressure to keep that rolling resistance low on the road or harder surfaces, and you have the perfect tire for your best electric bike.

Fat-tire Electric Bike Review - YouTube


So, when checking out ebike tires, first think about where you will ride, and find a tire suited to that style of riding. Choose a size that gives you plenty of air to cushion your ride and absorb that bike weight.

Importantly, always look for tires that manufacturers say are ebike ready. They are designed with additional strength where it matters. From Maxxis to Continental, Schwalbe and Vittoria, Specialized or Michelin, there are great tires in every range. Don’t forget to check out reviews to see what riders in your area recommend too, they can guide you to the best option for your electric bike tires. 

Continue reading