This page covers sizes in common use as of its writing, and a number of older sizes.
The traditional sizing systems are based on a measurement of the outside diameter of a tire.
Here's how it works: Let's start with the 26 x 2.125 size that became popular on heavyweight "balloon tire" bikes in the late '30's and still remains common on "beach cruiser" bikes.
This size tire is very close to 26 inches in actual diameter.
"In addition to the tire's brand and line names (tire model), there is a lot of information provided by the manufacturer on the sidewalls of the tires they produce." While not all information is branded on every tire, the illustration includes the typical information found on many tires.
Rolling your mouse over any of the descriptions will highlight the appropriate branding on the tire sidewall illustration.
Tires on mountain bikes and hybrids can range between about 1.5 and 2 inches, but the specific size you'll want will vary depending on the type of riding you do. Road bike tire measurements also show diameter followed by width: 700 x 23 is common for high-speed racing tires, meaning the tire is 700 mm in diameter and a skinny 23 mm wide.
Here's the basic formula related to bike tire width: skinny equals fast, because there is less contact with the road.
The Chicago Schwinns were among the most bomb-resistant bikes ever built, and they were built with unique technology .
The materials of modern pneumatic tires are synthetic rubber, natural rubber, fabric and wire, along with carbon black and other chemical compounds. The tread provides traction while the body provides containment for a quantity of compressed air.
Before rubber was developed, the first versions of tires were simply bands of metal fitted around wooden wheels to prevent wear and tear. Today, the majority of tires are pneumatic inflatable structures, comprising a doughnut-shaped body of cords and wires encased in rubber and generally filled with compressed air to form an inflatable cushion.
The spelling tyre began to be commonly used in the 19th century for pneumatic tires in the UK.
The 1911 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica states that "[t]he spelling 'tyre' is not now accepted by the best English authorities, and is unrecognized in the US", while Fowler's Modern English Usage of 1926 says that "there is nothing to be said for 'tyre', which is etymologically wrong, as well as needlessly divergent from our own [sc. then iron, (later steel), placed on wooden wheels, used on carts and wagons.
Clicking on selected descriptions will link you to a page providing additional details (where applicable).