I have a Gary Fisher mountain bike. I was changing the tube in my rear tire. The rim strip (rubber lining around the wheel to protect the tube from the spokes) had moved a bit so I went to adjust it and it broke at the hole made for the valve. I've never shopped for this part before. How do I know what size to buy? Are there different types? My tube size is 26 inches.

7 Answers 7


There are a couple of types of rim tape available:

  • Cloth - This has a glue backing and is very long lasting. If you need to replace a spoke nipple, depending on the age of the tape, you will most probably have to also replace the tape since it will no longer stick to the rim.
  • Rubber - This is continuous loop of rubber (stretchy) and the stretch is what holds the tape in place. As it ages there is a tendency for the area around the valve stem hole to break. The rubber can also perish or become brittle with age.
  • Plastic - This is a slightly stretchy plastic in a continuous loop that can be slipped over the outer rim. I found that the tapes have issues as they age with cracking, particularly when you are using high pressure tyres. You can get little splits in the tape just above the holes of the rim.

My personal favourite is the cloth tape, over time they have been the most dependable.

It is very important to get the right width of rim tape. If the tape is too narrow you can get the tube being pinched into the rim hole, or cut by the hole. If the tape is too wide then you can get the tyre being lifted of the rim when at high pressure (not instantaneous and leads to a huge bang).

I know you can get both the cloth and rubber tapes in various widths for the various wheel sizes, so shop around to get the right one for your wheels.


I just use electrical tape. Been doing it for years and it's never let me down. Replacing a spoke means you have to replace the tape but I've broke 2 spokes in 10 years.

  • GluedHands' main concern shouldn't be breaking spokes, but preventing punctures from spokes and spoke holes. Electrical tape can work in a pinch, but it's a good idea to use a few layers, as it doesn't have the resilience or elasticity of proper rim strips. Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 2:55
  • I've been using it for years on both road and mountain bikes for about 250km a week and never had an issue with spokes getting through the tape. Maybe I've been lucky. Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 4:03

Rubber rim strip is pretty stretchy stuff--and you want it to fit snugly! Therefore, if buying rubber the diameter of your rim strip is not nearly as important as the width. It should cover all the spoke nipples and/or the large holes drilled for the spokes, and fit well along the rim. That said, your local shop should have some in a size that fits 26" rims best.

Alternatively, there are brands of rim strip which are not one continuous piece and are not rubber, but instead are similar to thick tape. It's important to note the thickness--electrical tape may work in a pinch (and after a couple layers) but it's not nearly as resilient. This type of rim strip is basically one-size-fits all and is generally considered higher quality that the rubber type.


For getting the size correct, I stick coins into the rim until I get a combination that barely fits in the slot of the rim. Then measure the that stack.


This image is the current recommendation.
Rim ID width +2mm (to allow for shape) Stick on variety. I use 2 laps of masking tape.

enter image description here

  • Welcome to SE - thank you for your answer. This image looks quite recent, because (I think) it shows a tubeless tyre rim. On a conventional hooked rim there is a "hook" to catch the bead on a regular tyre. Could you add a comment on how that affects the measurement? Use edit to do so.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jan 12, 2020 at 3:04

It depends more on the make/model of wheel you have I think. The 26in diameter is fairly standard (i.e. only small variation) but the width of the rim can vary depending on the type of wheel (i.e. trail, all mountain, race, etc).


From what I understand,a tape, such as Velox would be your best bet. This is a premium cloth tape that has a sticky backing to it, so as to hold it in place. If you've changed a few tubes and are using a plastic tape, you'll know what I mean when I say the tape has a tendency to move sideways on you. Like Dustin mentioned, you really only need a tape as wide as the "spoke trough". Any wider and your tape may impinge on the seating of the tire bead to the rim. Hope that helps....

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