How to Set the Wheel Size in a Bike Computer

Written by rocco pendola
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How to Set the Wheel Size in a Bike Computer
Wheel revolutions provide data to bicycle computers. (ruota image by from

Generally, you can look to your tyre's sidewall to locate its size, match this number--usually something like 700 X 23 or 26 X 2.0--to a code in your bike computer's owner's manual and follow these instructions to enter the code into the computer. The computer needs to know the tire size so that it can accurately translate tire revolutions into ride statistics, such as mph or kph and distance travelled. In some cases, you might not have complete data or you desire near-perfect accuracy. Use the roll-out method for calibrating your computer in these situations.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Paint
  • Assistant
  • Tape measure

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  1. 1

    Place a small spot of paint on the centre of your bicycle's front tire.

  2. 2

    Move the bicycle forward so that the tire makes two paint marks on the pavement. As the late bicycling expert Sheldon Brown notes, for accuracy's sake, you must keep the wheel perfectly straight when moving forward. Use an assistant to steady and guide the bike, while you, sitting on the bike, hold the handlebar straight.

  3. 3

    Measure the distance between the two paint marks the tire makes on the road with a tape measure. For greater accuracy, Brown advises moving the bike three to four revolutions and using the average distance between all revolutions.

  4. 4

    Calculate your result by 2.54 to get centimetres and 25.4 to get millimetres if your tape measure uses inches. Some bike computers require you to input tire size in centimetres, while others use millimetres. If your computer asks for radius, divide your result by 6.2832 to obtain that value.

Tips and warnings

  • Brown contends it is important to ride aboard the bike when executing the roll-out method to simulate riding conditions. Use the proper tire pressure--listed on your tyre's sidewall--as well. This ensures that the revolution statistics you get when testing are as close as possible to what occurs when riding "for real."
  • The actual act of inputting values in bike computers varies by computer. The roll-out method is universal.

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