How to Measure Rim Width – Step by Step to Do

Do you own a bicycle? If you do, you will agree with me that it is very tricky to buy the right tire for your bike. One of the reasons why this is the case is because you do not know the exact size of your rim. Unfortunately, different rim manufacturers use different technologies thereby making it difficult to determine your rim size at a glance.

The situation is even worse when it comes to older bicycles. When getting a tire for a rim that you are unsure of, you should consider getting a tire that is similar in size to the older one. Therefore, it is very important to learn how to measure rim width. And as we look at how to measure rim width, we should also look at the other factors that relate to the topic. Below, we explore some of those factors.

How to Measure Rim Width - Step by Step to Do

Rim Measurement

1. Rim diameter and how to measure rim diameter

Rim diameter is a major factor to consider when learning how to measure rim width. If you want to measure rim diameter, you need to first lay the rim on a flat ground before using a tape to measure the length of its diameter. Remember to align the tape measure along the longest points on the wheel. This can be achieved by making sure that the tape passes over the hub. This will help you in identifying the longest points across the rim. In addition, you should slide the tape back and forth until you find the longest points.

If you want to determine the diameter of the rim in millimeters, you should multiply your reading by 25.4.

2. Rim circumference and how to measure rim circumference

You can measure the circumference of the rim by aligning a tape measure round the rim. However, it is advisable to use metal tape. The reason is that a fabric tape has a tendency to stretch thereby giving the wrong readings. The best tape should also be ¼ inch or 6mm wide so that it can fit on narrow well on the rim. Below is the procedure for measuring wheel circumference.

  • Hook up the tape measure on the valve hole before circling it all around the well of the rim
  • If you want to get the diameter, you should divide the circumference of the well by 3.142.
  • On the other hand, if you are using a tape measure that is calibrated in inches, you should multiply the reading by 25.4 to get the diameter of the well in millimeters.

For those who do not have a metallic tape measure, you can use a cable or wire to take measurement. Simply wrap the wire around the inner well of the rim before marking the two points that meet. You should then lay out the cable on a flat surface before taking measurement between the two points.

3. Rim width and how to measure rim width

In this section, we look at how to measure rim width. Rim width comes in two forms: the outer and the inner width. The outer width determines both the looks of the rim as well as the aerodynamics properties of the bike.

On the other hand, the inner width represents the inside part of the rim. The inner width not only influences tire shape by pinching the side walls but also, determining the amount of air that the tire can hold. The rim width is also the primary determinant of tire width.

Therefore, rim width is very important as it determines riding quality, efficiency, air volume as well as comfort.

The best way to measure rim width is using a ruler. You can place the ruler across the rim width before taking reading. In so doing, you should align the beginning of the measuring scale on one side of the rim while you take measurement on the other end.

How Rim Width Size Affects to Performance?

The performance of a tire is largely affected by the rim width. Bikes with smaller widths have been recorded as having better performance. However, if the rim width size is too small, the bike cannot be able to handle rough terrain. This is because; the narrow wheels could easily get lodged in between rocks and cracks on the road.

1. Wider rims have improved ride quality

Many riders prefer riding comfortable bicycles. This is because the bikes have easier movement over potholes and rocks as well as a desirable speed. On the other hand, it is important to have a bike that delivers good speed with little effort. When it comes to rim width, wider rims are seen to deliver better quality rides.

2. Wider rims comes with improved aerodynamic properties

For many years, many people have believed that narrow rims and tires are the best bet when it comes to bike aerodynamics. However, this is not the case as wider tires have been proven to offer the best compromise in aerodynamics. This is because, Contrary to many peoples belief, wind does not always flow in the same direction.

3. Safety

Safety is a determining factor when learning how to measure rim width. This is because wind will influence your ride experience. For a bike to be safe for normal rides, the tire width should correspond well with the rim width size. This will help a lot since the rim will offer the best support to the right fitting tire. A wider tire on a narrow rim will result in a flimsy ride. On the other hand, a narrow tire will appear flat-shaped on the road thereby affecting ride quality and therefore, increasing rolling resistance. The worst thing however is that, the edge of the rims would constantly come into contact with the road. This can result in increased rim damage.


All bike owners are advised to learn how to measure rim width. This is because; the knowledge will enable you to make the right decisions when buying bike rims. When you find the right tire, you will have a good riding experience.

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