Do Electric Bikes Need Special Inner Tubes? (Read Before Buying)


After getting my first flat tire on my electric bike right at the end of a 40-mile ride, I knew I had been lucky. After all, I couldn’ve gotten that flat halfway into my ride and been 20 miles out in the middle of nowhere! Instead, I was able to ride and walk the 1/2 mile back to my car.

But it was then that I decided to start planning better and find out how I could prevent flats in the first place. This led me to research inner tubes for e-bikes, hoping I could find ones with more puncture protection and durability.

What I discovered was that electric bike inner tubes are the same as regular bicycle tire tubes. What’s important is that you use high-quality, puncture-resistant tubes that’ll help prevent flat tires while also fitting your e-bike’s wheel size and tire width.

Surprisingly, there’s a lot to understand about inner tubes and I discovered numerous options based on brand, size, riding style, and type of electric bike tire.

As I’m sure you have the same questions as I did, I’m going to show you what I found so that you can find the best inner tubes for your e-bike and avoid getting stranded by a flat tire.

special inner tube
Rubber Inner Tube with Schraeder Valve

Do Electric Bikes Need Inner Tubes?

You may have heard of other cyclists using tubeless bike tires. So, you might be wondering whether you even need inner tubes at all for your e-bike tires. Find out here!

Do Most Electric Bikes Have Inner Tubes?

You can choose between tubed tires and tubeless tires, which are becoming more common in some riding conditions.

Most e-bike tires have inner tubes and there are several advantages to having tubed tires on your e-bike:

  1. They cheaper to maintain
  2. You can easily buy repair patches and tubes
  3. A small tire repair kit can be taken with you on your ride
  4. You can apply a patch and fix your flat tire in minutes
  5. It’s relatively easy to install new tubes with just a tire lever and air pump
  6. Tubes are generally better for riding on the road

Generally, if you’re riding on paved roads and trails, you’ll choose e-bike tires with inner tubes. The reason for this is that there are fewer thorns to pop your tires on concrete or asphalt and you can set your tires at a higher pressure to keep you moving faster.

And if the tires are rolling faster, then you’ll have less need to use your pedal assist and therefore preserve your battery capacity.

But there are some reasons you may prefer to use tubeless tires.

Are Tubeless Tires Good for E-Bikes?

You might’ve heard of tubeless tires because they’re trending among some electric bike riding populations. And, they certainly sound like they’d make riding an e-bike and dealing with flat tires easier since there’s no tube to pop.

However, the truth is that they are most often used on electric mountain bikes. This is because mountain bikers need increased tire grip for their lower pressure tires to get around sharp switchbacks and over bumps.

And because mountain bikers ride with lower tire pressure, tubed tires are more likely to get pinch flats. So, tubeless tires solve this problem for electric mountain bikes and regular ones.

There are also some long-distance cyclists who use the tubeless tire system on their touring road bikes and swear by them, even though they ride almost exclusively on the pavement.

In general, the advantages of tubeless tires include:

  1. Ability to ride them with lower tire pressure
  2. Increased traction on rough terrain and mountain trails
  3. Faster downhill rolling
  4. Easier hill climbing (so you can use less electric pedal assist)
  5. Better puncture resistance for electric mountain bike riders
  6. Not a huge hassle installing tubes

Are Self-Sealing Bike Tubes Worth It for E-Bikes?

Perhaps these are the special inner tubes you were hoping for?

Self-sealing tubes work just like they sound… they seal punctures automatically when one occurs. Essentially, it’s an inner tube that comes with a sealant inside it that flows through the bike as the wheel turns, covering a tear as it does so.

However, some punctures may be too big to self-seal (generally once they’re over 1/4″ large). If a hole is too large, then it would take too much time for the tire to rotate and eventually cover the hole, if it can cover it entirely at all.

Still, most tears can be quickly covered.

Self-sealing tubes may be worth using for electric bikes if:

  1. You don’t mind the extra weight of the sealant inside the tube, even though e-bikes are already heavier than normal bikes)
  2. You’re not at high risk of regular punctures that are too large to get sealed.
  3. You aren’t concerned about putting in a slight bit more pedaling effort or decreasing battery capacity by using the motor more
  4. You are still willing to bring along a patch kit on your ride for larger holes
Man riding e-bike with 20" X 3" wide tires
E-Bike with 20″ X 3″ wide tires would use tubes from around 20.6″-3.0″

What Are the Best Tire Tubes for Electric Bikes?

If you want to avoid as many flat tires as possible, you should decide what type of tube (butyl rubber or latex) and brand of inner tube will be best for you.

Types of Inner Tubes

Inner tubes are typically made of one of two materials:

  • Butyl rubber– This is the least expensive type of tube and by far the most common. They’re used in most e-bike tires and sold in most retail locations because they’re super strong and reliable. So, why pay more since these rubber tubes work well?

    Sorry, you’ll still get flats on occasion but they are easy to repair with standard tire repair kits and they’re cheaper to replace than latex.
  • Latex- These have an adavatage over butyl tubes when it comes to speed because they’re lighter. However, they tend to decompress faster and you’ll likely need to inflate latex tubes before every ride.

Best Inner Tube Brands for Electric Bikes

There are 3 high-quality, well-known brands of tires and inner tubes that you can easily find for your e-bike tire size right on Amazon.

  1. Kenda Tire Tubes– Made of thick butyl rubber, Kenda guarantees their tubes will work. They’re a bit heavier due to their thickness but perfect for e-bikes that are already heavy (so you probably won’t notice a difference). Kenda is a brand that’s been around for many decades, which is a true testament to its high standard and quality.

    Plus, these inner tubes are affordable, easy to install, and quite durable.
  2. Continental Bicycle Tubes– A favorite for road bike tires, they have a large selection of inner tubes with presta valves to satisfy cyclists with higher-end road bikes and electric bikes. But they also have plenty of tubes with Schraeder valves as well.

    You can easily compare prices on Amazon even though Continental tubes are made in Germany.
  3. Schwalbe Bike Tubes– Schwalbe is a worldwide brand with excellent ratings on Amazon for almost all of their large selection of tubes with both Schraeder and Presta valves. This isn’t surprising since it is known for high-quality bike tires as well.

How to Buy E-Bike Inner Tubes (what you need to know)

When purchasing the best tire inner tube for your electric bike, you’ll need to know the following:

  • E-bike wheel size
  • Tire width (size)
  • Range of sizes inner tube fits
  • Inner tube valve types

Wheel Size

Wheel sizes vary in diameter from 12″ to 29″. Generally, the wheel size has a lot to do with the type of e-bike. For instance, most folding e-bikes have 12″ to 20″ wheels, while non-folding ones have 26″-29″ diameter wheels. Road e-bikes typically have larger wheel sizes, as do electric mountain bikes.

Thus, you will need a special inner tube size to match your wheel diameter.

Tire Width

Electric bikes come in a huge range of tire widths, starting at around 2.0″ and getting as wide as 5.0″!

These variations can make it difficult to find the right inner tube size, especially at a moment’s notice. So if you always want to have the best tire tubes for your e-bike, then I strongly suggest you plan ahead. Don’t wait until you get a flat tire to shop for the right bike tube.

Inner Tube Size Range

Tubes typically cover one wheel size and a range of tire widths. So, as long as you know the width of your tire, you can look for a tube that fits within that width.

Check the sidewalls of your e-bike tire or your manufacturer’s instruction book or website for the correct tire size.

Tube Valve Types

There are two types of air pressure valves that you’ll find on your electric bike tires and on the inner tubes:

  • Schraeder Valve- Most e-bike tires have Schraeder valves, unless you have a high-end road bike or eMTB. These thick and heavy valves typically perform well even though they may come on less expensive e-bikes. They look like car tire valves.
  • Presta Valve- As expected, you’ll find these valves on higher-priced bicycles because they’re lighter and their length varies. These need to be unscrewed a bit before adding air.

Make sure you’re getting the right valve type with your inner tube. And make sure you have a tire pump that can work on your type of valve. The air pump I bought on Amazon actually works on both types of valves.

E-Bike Flat Tire
Flat tire needs repair or new inner tube

Tips for Avoiding Flat Tires on Your E-Bike

Watch the road– Avoid glass, debris, and areas of potentially thorny dry bushes.

Check your tire pressure before each ride– And check it again during a long ride. If the air pressure is too low, you can end up with pinch flats, which are 90% avoidable! This occurs when you ride over an object and it gets stuck between the tire and the tire rim, essentially “pinching” the tire.

Maintain your tires– Check your tires regularly for wear and tear. If your tires experience wearing on the sidewall, or the tread wears thin, then your e-bike tire is much more likely to get a flat since there is little to protect the inner tube.

Special Inner Tubes– From reading forums and researching tubes, I can tell you that using tubes that come with an internal sealant, or adding your own, works for many. But sealant can also get messy if you end up with a big puncture and some products can dry out over time.

It’s really something you’ll need to try out that can be affected by your riding style, e-bike, and type of inner tubes.

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Easy-to-Use Products to Help Avoid Flat Tires

Here are a few products that other cyclists are using to help protect their inner tubes and avoid flat tires:

Slime Bike Tube Sealant- Amazon
Slime Bike Tube Sealant- Amazon

Slime Tube Repair Sealant– This sealant is specifically for inner tubes and is the most talked-about brand on the internet. It’ll seal punctures up to 1/8″ and last up to two years. Slime is great to take with you and inject into your tube in an emergency.

If you have a fat tire e-bike, just keep in mind that you’ll need to use a lot more sealant than for other tires!

Stan’s NoTubes Tire Sealant – This has great reviews on Amazon, but do note that they mention it’s only for tubeless tires. However, some reviewers claimed it worked perfectly for their inner tubes as well.

This sealant claims to seal punctures up to 1/4″ and resists freezing. It’s natural and environmentally safe and lasts up to 7 months in liquid form.

KOM Tubeless Injector Syringe– Use this kit to help you inject your tubeless sealant easily and without a ton of mess!

Conclusion

Getting the right inner tube for your electric bike is more tricky than you’d probably hoped for.

But now that you’re up-to-speed, you can find the tube that fits your e-bike and performs well all while avoiding those disastrous flat tires.

Make sure you check out the brand list, stock up on a few inner tubes for emergencies, and read the last section on “products to help avoid flat tires”, as these work well whether you have an electric bike with tubed tires or tubeless ones.

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