A Quick Guide to Install Bicycle Folding Tires

A folding bike tire is a special type of the clincher tire wherein the wire bead is substituted by a roll of Kevlar filament. The Kevlar’s flexibility gives the folding tire its name. This guide will tell you the advantages of folding tires, the steps for installation, and how to fold the tire.

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Folding vs Non-Folding Tires

When shopping for new tires, you will encounter two different types. These are the folding tires and wire bead tires. What makes the both of them different and which one is more suitable for you? Here are some answers to that question:

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  • Regular, non-folding tires have steel wires as the bead, while foldable tires use flexible synthetic fibers like Kevlar.
  • The flexible folding bike tire can easily be folded into a compact bundle, unlike the rigid wire bead of a regular tire.
  • Foldable bike tires are easier to store that regular tires.
  • Bicycle folding tires are a bit more expensive than the non-folding tires.
  • Folding tires feature soft rubber compound for the tread of the tire, while non-folding tires are rarely manufactured with softer rubbers.
  • Tires with Kevlar bead are manufactured with a higher thread per inch (TPI). Regular bike tires are not commonly available with great TPIs. A higher TPI means a more flexible ride quality.
  • Tires with Kevlar beads are easier to install than the wire bead tires.

Advantages of Folding Tires

  • Folding bicycle tires are best for long distance touring cyclists because are easy to store and to carry as spares. They can be made into bundles that can fit in your bag or jersey pocket.
  • Foldable tires are much easier to remove and install. This is because of the Kevlar’s flexible nature.
  • Kevlar bead folding tires have reduced weight, which can be advantageous to cyclists to improve their performance such as acceleration and climbing.

How to Install a Kevlar Bead Folding Tire?

After purchasing your folding tires, installing it yourself is not so difficult. Here is a step-by-step guide on what to do to install:

  • Pump up the Tube: Inflate the bike tube with air just enough to make it into its circular shape and approximately equal to the size of the folding tire. 
  • Mount One Side: Fit one bead into the rim by pushing a section of the bead into the well of the rim. This is to create slack adequate to push the rest of the bead over the rim wall. At this moment, the folding tire should be half on. 
  • Fit the Tube into the Folding Tire: Insert the bike valve into the hole in the rim and push the tube inside, between the foldable tire and the bike rim.
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    Prepare for the Other Bead: Position the wheel on the floor with the bike valve at the bottom and the side of the free bead away from you. Place your hands on top of the tire with your thumbs pointing away from each other.
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    Fit the Tire: Thrust a section of the bead over the rim wall. Keep one hand steady and use the other hand to work, continuously rolling the tire bead over the wall of the rim. Once the working hand reaches halfway down, make a good grip and work the other hand in the opposite way until it is also halfway to the bottom.
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    Deflate: When you have reached the point where the foldable tire keeps its position on the bike’s rim, it’s time to deflate the tube. Hold the bike valve open while forcing the wheel against the floor to push out as much air as possible.
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    Control the Bead: Position your hands again back at the starting point. With thumbs pointing away from each other, squeeze the tire beads together and thrusting them down into the well of the rim. Keep the folding tire tight by sliding your hands apart. This makes the segments of tire above your hands follow the shortest distance. The folding tire does not necessarily need to be stretched to hold in its right position.
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    Roll the Rest of the Bead: Continue squeezing and thrusting the rest of the bead along the circumference of the bike wheel. If you find the Step 7 hard, you can get the bead secured right in its place by friction. Go back to the starting position and start working down to the crucial point. To achieve a good and tight connection of the tire to the rim might take a few reiterations.
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    Double Check the Valve: Push the bike valve up into the tire to test that the valve seat is inside the beads. If the valve seat is not placed properly and is trapped, the tire beads will move up the rim when you push the valve. The air entering the tube will lift the tire off the rim instead of securing the tire on. To avoid this, shake the valve to thrust the valve seat through the tire beads.
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    Double Check the Tube: Fill the tube with air to approximately 1.5 BAR or 25 psi. Work along both sides of the tire, pushing the tire bead a bit away from the rim to check the visibility of the tube. If you can see the tube, it is stuck under the bead. If the tube is trapped, wriggle the folding tire to get the tube from under the bead and into the tire.

How to Fold a Folding Bike Tire?

Place your hands on the tire at 10 and 2 o-clock and bring your hands together to form an uneven sized number 8. Grasp the larger loop of figure eight, twist and push it toward the mid part of the number 8.

You should now have three loops. Tie the loops together with an elastic band or a strap to have a neatly folded tire.

Final Words

Folded tires are a wonderful innovation that has definitely made our biking experience better. We can expect more innovations like this to come in the future and we can look forward to a more exciting bike ride.

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