26 inch Cruiser Tires
Older bicycles built prior to the 1990's use 26" tires that are not the same size as modern 26" mountain bike and hybrid bicycle tires. These older bicycle tires generally use a fractional width measurement, such as 26x1 3/8", instead of a decimal measurement, such as 26x1.9".
To make matters more confusing, there are four common 26" sizes that use this fractional width measurement which are not compatible with one another. This article will help you figure out which size is correct for your bicycle.
Measuring your Current Tire
If you have old tires from your bicycle, you can take a measurement to help you determine which size is correct. Tires are sized based on the bead-seat diameter. This is the diameter of the tire at the bead-seat (the point at which the tire contacts the wheel). Your tire will have a ridge along the edge where it contacts the wheel, called the tire bead. If you measure the diameter of the tire at this ridge, you will have the bead-seat diameter. If you don't have the tire, you can approximate this dimension by measuring the diameter of your wheel and subtracting 1/4".
These tires have a bead-seat diameter of 22 1/2" (571mm). They are typically marked with S7 or S-7, with typical sizes of 26x1 1/2" or 26x1 3/4". These tires were used on Schwinn middleweight bikes from the 50's, 60's and 70's. We have one tire available in this size; the Kenda K75 S-7 Schwinn 26 Inch Tire 26x1 3/4" (47-571).
These tires have a bead-seat diameter of 23" (584mm), and are typically marked with 650B. The 650B size was used on older Raleigh and Schwinn mountain bikes and French utility and touring bikes, among others. We have one tire available in this size, the Panaracer Col De La Vie 650b Road Tire.
EA3 or 650A
These tires have a bead-seat diameter of 23 1/4" (590mm), and are typically marked with 650A or EA3. The most common size is 26 x 1 3/8". These tires were used on department store 3 speed bikes, children's 10 speed bikes, and some Italian road bikes designed for smaller riders. We have several tires available in this size; EA3 Tires
These tires have a bead-seat diameter of 23 1/2" (597mm). They are often confused with the EA3 tire since the most common size for this tire is also 26 x 1 3/8". These tires will often be marked with S-6 or S6, but not always. They were used on older British bikes, and Schwinn lightweight bikes from the 60's and 70's, so they are less common than the EA3 size. We have one tire available in this size; the Kenda K23 S-6 Schwinn 26 Inch Tire 26x13/8x11/4(37-597).