BMX Tips

Does BMX Tire Width Matter? (Yes)

bmx tire width

Are you ready to learn all about BMX tire width?

Because the question is serious, “Does it matter?” Yes, IT DOES!

But when you start questioning if a fatter tire helps – well, it depends.

Fatter doesn’t always mean better; the same goes for thin tires.

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And this is what we’ll look into today.

I’ll help you pick the perfect tire width for your riding style through this guide, so it’ll be even more enjoyable.

This post covers:

I also sent out a simple survey to 100 riders asking whether dudes like fat or skinny tires.

Findings: 71% said FAT, and 29% said THIN.

Let’s GO!

Note: You may also be interested in my collection of the best BMX tires.

Does BMX Tire Width Matter?

First, you need to be aware that old-school frames are not built for modern, thick tires.

Unfortunately, you must stick to skinny tires if building an old BMX bike. That would normally be anything around 20 x 1.75″.

But when it comes to modern frames, they are specifically made for fat tires.

However, you might double-check your frame for a 2.5″ tire (still not that many BMX tires available in that thickness) because there’s a chance it might not be compatible. But it will be with a 2.4″.

You’ll also notice that a thick tire is much taller than a skinny one.

Luckily, the height won’t be an issue with a frame, but it can get a little TOO tight when it comes to forks, so it’s worth checking in advance if the fat (particularly a 2.5″) tire fits your forks.

Next, BMX rims!

Does BMX tire width matter when it comes to rims?

Not really.

Thanks to the tire bead, it allows it to fit slim or wide rims.

Modern BMX rims easily fit thin and fat tires. You can even put on a 1.35″ tire, which is the more common rim width – but it’ll look similar to a road bike’s tubulars, only thicker.

I don’t recommend doing this unless you have your BMX bike just for cruising around and like the look.

Please check below for BMX inner tubes, if their size is at all important.

Pros & Cons Of Thinner BMX Tires Vs Wider Tires?

Thick Tires

Interestingly, some say thick tires are better for rail rides, and some say skinny tires are better for rail rides.

If you like a fat tire, hey, you’ll still be able to do rail rides. Nathan Williams does them on his signature Cinema 2.5″ tires without a problem!

BMX tire width adds stability and softens landings, especially on large drops and gaps.

But remember, a thick tire is slower.

What you may notice with a fatter tire is that they might get in the way when you grid, especially with crooked grinds.

However, the pegs are becoming longer and longer, so that’s sorted. A 4″ compared to a 4.5″ peg makes a big difference.

Thankfully, you can get plastic BMX pegs or metal pegs in various sizes.

Thin Tires

Skinny tires also have many benefits.

If you want more precision when carving and even doing a manual, that’s what a skinny tire makes easier.

Some reported that spinning out of grinds is easier with a thinner tire. But I haven’t really seen any difference, both going the easy or the hard way out of grinds.

Jack and Doyle also reported that their bikes spin more flawlessly when doing a tailwhip with a slimmer tire in the back compared to a thicker one. (Jack rides a 2.1″ tire back and front and Doyle 2.1″ in the back and 2.3″ in the front.)

Moreover, a skinny tier will be faster, which is why many trails and park dudes prefer it. (For instance, Logan Martin has a 1.85″ tire in the back and a 2.1″ in the front.)

However, Corey Walsh likes to go EXTREMELY fast and his signature Fast and Loose tire by Cult is 2.4″. (But it has a smooth tread for less traction.)

Finally, if you care about weight, you’ll probably want to go with a thin tire because it’s lighter.

What BMX Tubes DO I Need For Fat/Skinny Tires?

It doesn’t matter!

Really, a 2.1″ tube will fit a 2.5″ tire. It will work even if you pick a 2.1″ tube and want to use it with a 1.75″ tire.

I once had a 1.75″ tube on my 2.1″ Animal GLH tire, and it worked just fine.

I also know of instances when dudes put an 18″ tube in a 20″ tire because they didn’t have any other – and it worked! (I haven’t personally tried it myself.)

Conclusion: What BMX Tire Width Do I Need?

I’ll say it again: It doesn’t matter! (-> for a modern rider)

Okay, it does, a little bit. But if you’re a beginner, tire width shouldn’t be your concern. Just ride and enjoy yourself.

It only matters when building an old-school bike because a modern fat tire won’t fit.

Most pros these days ride fat tires, and they ride everything, manuals on rails, whips, 180 crooked grinds, etc. It seems the width doesn’t bother them.

It doesn’t bother me, plus I really like the look of a fat tire. I’m riding 2.4″ tires but am very interested in trying 2.5″ ones.

I still believe tread is much more critical when it comes to riding because it’ll make you go faster or slower or give you more grip on dirty terrain.

Here’s a quick recap:

  • Best BMX tire width for going fast: A thin one.
  • Best BMX tire width is speed isn’t important: A fat one.

What Is The Standard BMX Tire Width?

The current standard tire width is anything between 2.1″ and 2.4″. But a 2.1″ version is becoming rarer and rarer.

However, I wonder if the BMX industry will go beyond the 2.5″ tire width.

Would that be too crazy? I think so.

But I’ll still give the 2.5″ tire a go. I just cannot decide whether to pick Nathan’s or Brandon Begin‘s.

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About Author

Rok has been riding BMX for 20+ years, and when he's not having a session, he binges on videos, new product drops and works on creating the best content (sharing tips, tricks & more to make riding bikes easier for you) for The BMX Dude.