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Most adult bike tires come in different styles. There are mountain bike tires and road bike tires. Within these two styles there are types, the two most common being folding and "regular," or wire bead tires.
The difference between folding and regular bike tires is the bead. The bead is the inside edge of the tire that contacts the wheel.
Kevlar or wire
A folding bike tire has a bead made of Kevlar---the same material used in bulletproof vests. A regular bike tire has a bead made of wire.
Folding bike tires are more expensive than wire bead tires. Folding bike tires are easier to change and can be changed without the aid of tire levers. Wire bead tires require tire levers to change.
Folding bike tires are lighter and more often used for racing and high-end bikes. Folding bike tires make better spare tires because they can be easily tucked inside a pack or jersey.
Mountain or road
Wire bead, or "regular," bike tires are more often used on mountain bikes. Folding tires are more often used on road bikes.
- bicycle wheel image by jimcox40 from Fotolia.com