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I got a Merida Matts 20 D frame size 18. I want to use a hybrid bike tire. Can I? The current tire is 26*2.1

Do I also need to change the rim?

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So long as the tire diameter (rim size, as stamped on the side of the tire) is the same, and the width is no more than about 30% wider or narrower than the original, and so long as the tire doesn't create interference problems with the frame or brakes, it should be fine.

So in your case you need a tire labeled 26, with a width of roughly 1.3 to 2.8. But likely if you go much wider than your current tire you'll experience interference problems.

Whether the tire is labeled "hybrid" or "mountain" or even "road" makes no difference. (Though certain types tend to come in certain sizes -- you won't find many 26 inch racing tires, eg.)

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Very useful. Tires of various treads and widths come in all different diameters. you will most likely be able to find a tire with the tread pattern you want in the rim size you already have. I think the only exception is that you won't find knobby tires that fit on a narrow road bike tire. Well, someone probably makes them, but they might be difficult to find. – Kibbee Dec 16 '11 at 13:51
@Kibbee: Cyclocross bikes basically have knobby road tires... – freiheit Dec 16 '11 at 16:28
@freiheit: Yeah, but cyclocross tires are also kind of wide, usually around 34-38c. I was talking about something more narrow, like 25c. You probably won't find a knobby tire that is 25c, though you will find wide tires that have no tread at all. – Kibbee Dec 16 '11 at 21:32

There are three restrictions to use different tires:

  1. tire diameter: 24", 26", 28" - is not the same. Diameter always mention right on the tire
  2. width of frame's leaf. Tire should fit it this space
  3. the wheel base.

In general, if you are talking about the tires with the same diameter the 2) and 3) are fine (almost always. But it can be some issues with very wide tires).

Concerning your question. Hybrid has 28" and MTB has 26" wheels. Thus you can not use hybrid's tires.

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As long as the tyre diameters are the same, you will be fine. Most 26" tyres will work with most of 26" rims.

Most of hybrid tyres are 700mm diameter (28") and that will not work on 26" MTB wheels, so be aware of that.

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