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I recently replaced my hybrid road tires w tires a bit more knobby. Not gravel tires, but not smooth. Anyway, ordering online I got the suggested tubes that are super skinny. While they fit, they don't really fill the tire. Worse, the grip on the road is so poor. Questioning if I should buy wider tubes or are the tires crap??

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    Need more info on specifically which tires and tubes you have. Also, tubes can expand quite a bit, so I would doubt that bad grip would be the result of improperly sized tubes. at worse they would just flat easier or even just explode if you had the size completely wrong, but assuming they are inflated to the proper pressure, there should be no issues with grip.
    – Kibbee
    May 6, 2022 at 14:27
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    Hi, welcome to bicycles! Just to clarify, your concern is that you may have purchased innertubes that are too small? You should include in your question the details of exactly what tires (and size) you purchased and what size tubes you're using.
    – DavidW
    May 6, 2022 at 14:27
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    Can you provide brand and dimensions of bike rim and tire (it would also help if you provided a picture of tires, but you don't have to do this if you don't want to) please?
    – Jeff
    May 6, 2022 at 17:41
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    The grip on the road has little to do with the type of the tube. Either they hold the pressure or they do not. Your grip is determined by the tyre pressure and the tyre construction. There may be some effect on the rolling resistance, but hardly the grip. May 6, 2022 at 17:51

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If the tube doesn't explode inside the tyre, you can use it but it may naturally leak air fast and be more prone to punctures. Theoretically there might be a risk in boundary cases where the tube doesn't explode immediately but could rapidly explode and deflate while in use, but I suspect those cases are rare. Besides, a tube that explodes for example due to a tire sidewall cut that makes a very loud bang, won't cause you to crash, you can stop gradually and fix the issue. So the hazard isn't major.

I always purchase the largest tube I can fit inside the tire. On my 28mm Conti GP5000 tires, that's either Schwalbe 28/47 or Continental 32/47. The Continental is nominally a bit too large, but I have found I can straighten the wrinkles with little effort and it will eventually fit.

If your tubes are too small, the failure mode is that they puncture too easily and leak too fast. On my 28mm GP5000 tires, with large tubes I need to pump them up every 2 weeks. If you have too small tubes and use similar high-pressure tires, you may find you need to pump them every 1 week for example.

If I were you, I would purchase few much larger tubes, and then the next time I have to take the tire away from the rim, put a larger tube in. Carry a larger spare in your emergency tool kit too in case of on-the-road punctures. In the meantime, before replacing the tubes, pump the tires up to full pressure twice as often as you would otherwise do.

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    I really don’t think there is any benefit in running larger tubes. At the same time they make installation harder and have more mass.
    – Michael
    May 6, 2022 at 16:48

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