Can I Put Skinny Tires On A Mountain Bike?

While I was browsing the internet for some replacement parts for my mountain bike, I came across an attractive pair of skinny tires. Curious to find out if I could put them to any use on my own bike, I did some research to find out if skinny tires can be put on a mountain bike.

Can I put skinny tires on a mountain bike? The factory tires on your mountain bike can be replaced with skinny tires instead. There are some limitations to this concept, however. Any skinny tires that you are using for your mountain bike should have a rim that matches the correct size exactly, or it will not work.

Even though it is possible to use skinny tires for your mountain bike, you will notice a variety of differences in the ride, from the height of the bike itself to the mobility, rolling resistance, and cushion while you are pedaling. Aside from the limits in functionality, your mountain bike will have a very unique aesthetic, to say the least.

When the topic of mountain biking comes up, the traditional silhouette of a bike with thick tires comes as the first thought to most people. While this is how most mountain bikes will be used, is it possible to replace the larger wheels with skinny tires instead?

If you had the same questions and concerns as I did about which types of tires are compatible with your own bike, the information in this article will help you to come to a conclusion. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about skinny tires and mountain bikes from A to Z.

Can I Put Skinny Tires On a Mountain Bike?

When it comes to building and riding mountain bikes, there is a distinct thrill in customizing your vehicle to make it your own. Some mountain bikers choose to build their own bikes completely from scratch, while others will simply make alterations to a bike that is ready to ride.

There are several components that can be added and replaced to suit the function that you are planning to carry out with your mountain bike, for example, to be able to climb faster or gain more stability during the ride.

In the event that something happens to the wheels on your mountain bike, in particular, you might think of replacing and repairing it yourself instead of taking it to a professional shop, which will require the purchase of new wheels.

Regardless of whether your mountain bike wheel replacement is necessary or a personal preference while you are adding a personal touch, you might have stumbled across the idea of installing a different pair of wheels to your mountain bike than what it originally came with.

So, the question still stands, are you able to put skinny tires on a mountain bike instead of the traditional thick and durable ones?

The answer to this question is absolutely. It is quite possible to replace your current mountain bike tires with smaller and thinner ones if you so desire. In this section, we will be going over the topic of guidelines to follow when you are installing skinny tires onto your mountain bike.

While it is true that this is possible to accomplish, you will need to follow the procedures outlined in the list below for the best possible results.

Skinny Tires And Mountain Bikes:

  • Use the same sized rim of the previous tires
  • Use a puncture protection belt
  • Low limit of 28mm for skinny tires

First and foremost, you will need to use the same sized rim for your skinny tires as the ones that are found on the original tires that you are looking to replace. This will ensure that you are using the correct sized wheels on your mountain bike.

Although you can use skinnier tires, they should still be able to fit into the proper location, for obvious reasons.

Next, you can use a puncture protection belt with your new skinny tires to ensure that they will not easily pop while you are out on the mountain biking trail.

As a general rule for skinny tires on mountain bikes in general, you should go along with a low limit of 28mm for the best and safest results.

How Skinny Tires Will Change The Ride Of a Mountain Bike

While it is true that you can replace your mountain bike’s tires with skinny ones instead and it will be able to work just fine, there will be some changes that you notice in the look and performance of the bike, which we will be discussing in this section.

Mountain Biking With Skinny Tires:

  • Bike will be lowered
  • Tires must run at a higher level of pressure
  • Less cushioning during the ride
  • Less control/quicker turns
  • Rolling resistance changes
  • Change in aesthetic

When you install skinny tires into your previously taller mountain bike, the entire thing will automatically sit lower than it did before. This is due to the decrease in size that will consequently cause the height of the bike to sink down and become shorter.

Since skinny tires are much smaller and generally less durable than the traditional mountain bike tire, they will need to run at a much higher level of pressure in order to withstand the terrains that it will be expected to climb through.

As a result, you will notice during your ride that there is much less cushioning on the tires. When you are behind the wheel of a mountain bike with full sized tires, you would barely notice a difference. However, when the skinny tires are putting in double the work underneath your seat, there will be a change in flow of your ride.

The larger mountain biking tires also come with a lot of stability, keeping the mountain bike moving in one direction for long periods of time. When you replace these tires with skinny ones instead, you will lose a lot of that stability.

With thin and less sturdy tires, your turns will be a lot quicker, and you might feel like you are experiencing a loss of control. Since skinny tires will not cover as much ground as their thicker counterparts, you might also notice a bit of wobbling while you are behind the wheel.

Another component of your mountain biking experience that will be affected by the replacement of your skinny tires will be the rolling resistance. Even though wider tires are generally supposed to have a lower rolling resistance, the high air pressure that is needed to operate the skinny tires will not make much of a difference.

Aside from all of the functional differences that you will see during the use of skinny tires on your mountain bike, you will also notice how the overall aesthetic has changed. Mountain bikes are traditionally perceived in a certain way, which will make the addition of a thin pair of tires look very strange.

This is especially due to the fact that mountain bikes are built around the shape of these thicker tires, meaning that the thin ones might not look like they belong on your bike. However, if you are able to get past the looks of it, skinny tires can still be in the cards for your mountain bike.

How To Put Skinny Tires On a Mountain Bike: Step-By-Step

Now that you have gotten the full scoop on the possibility of putting skinny tires on a mountain bike, as well as how this change might affect the functionality and looks of your vehicle, you might be wondering how you can achieve this.

If you are able to look past the strange look of a mountain bike with skinny tires, and the changes in the riding capabilities which might seem normal to you at this point, you can follow the step by step instructions in this section to get it done.

How To Put Skinny Tires On a Mountain Bike:

  • Turn the bike over on its back
  • Remove the old tires
  • Remove the tube from the rim
  • Clean the inside of tire
  • Place the tube into the new tire (skinny)
  • Securely seal the bike frame
  • Fill the new tires with air

To begin, you will need to turn the bike over on its back in the area where you will be performing the switch. Start by removing the old tires, which is done by loosening the nuts and bolts that secure them into place.

Remove the tube from the inside of the rims, and clean the inside of the tires briefly before you place them to the side for storage.

The final steps are as simple as placing the tube back into the new skinny tires, securely sealing the bike frame back into place, and filling the new tiers with air for the best results.

As you can see, it is very possible to replace your mountain bike tires with skinny ones if you so desire. With just a few simple steps, you can customize your bike to your liking within minutes.

Mike Rausa

I'm a 42 year old married father of 3 that fell in love with mountain biking late in life. Mountain biking quickly became my go to fitness activity. I created this blog to help beginners to advanced riders with tips and strategies to improve your riding experience. More About Me...

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