Tire/Rim choice is a key component, well, most everything on the bike is key as bikes are so simple and yet ninja, it all matters. For tires, this will depend on a few different variables. Where you are going, what kind of ride you want to have and what kind of bike you are riding.
Depending on where you are going, and if you foresee a rough road ahead, you may want to get 26inch rim. This is the most common size available, and is therefore most easily found wherever you may find yourself.
Next up from that is the 700 which is highly popular, followed by the 29 inch which is more the Monster truck of bikes, you simply roll over everything, of course if it goes to dooky, well, there you are with a rim that is decidedly very 1st world so replacing it unless you are very lucky or in a big city, over 1 million people with advanced everything, may be difficult…
I’m rolling on 700’s and I have a opted for oversize tires, which is possible due to the Tri-cross aspect my bike which puts a slight U shape bend at the top of the forks and the lower mainstay where the tire passes to allow for such a tweak.
Now as for actual tires I will tell you what I know. I know that my Schwalbe Marathon Sports are virtually bullet proof. For instance, I often joke about fixing my flats, I pull out my Leatherman, open to the pliers and just pull out thorns and little bits of metal wire [metal wire is most common due to steel belted radials that shred and are left to rot on the roadside]. This is due to Schwalbe having a core of high density foam sandwiched between the layers of rubber making the tire. When I was using Kendas, I remember once hearing a click click sound. I stopped and there was a thumbtack in the tire, pulled it out and kept riding. At the very least, when it comes to these two companies, I speak from personal experience that they work very very very well.
I have been told that the Continental Armadillo is a very good tire and beyond that I don’t have much to say. There are so very many tires to choose from, tread patterns and designs that it truly depends on where you are going and what kind of riding you want to do.
The fatter the tire, the more “rolling resistance”, this means it will be slightly harder to pedal. Makes sense right, that’s why the Tour de France guys are riding on little rubber bands! Choose you tires well, Puncture Resistant, whether in tubes or tires is not a gimmick, it actually works and is well worth the extra money, just change 4 or 5 flats on the roadside and you’ll see. Of course, if you don’t have the cash, what’s our motto…? Just GO with what you have!
As for the Rims, the more spokes, the better, no I do not mean the low rider bikes with the 100 spoke rims. I’m referring to 34 to 38 with the overlap; this makes for a very strong rim. That being said there are exceptions, I am currently cruising on an Easton EA50 front racing rim that has 24 spokes with no overlap and it is super strong. As a tourist, you want to shoot for 34+, and if you can, rivets where the spoke enters the rim on the tire side, this makes it A LOT stronger. My rear wheel, again, compliments of Dirt Rag Mag/Bicycle Times, is a Velocity Hand Built. Very ninja with 34 spokes.
There are rims with flat blade spokes, stay away from those as they are hard to replace and offer no benefit that I can tell.
And then there are the puncture proof tubes, tire inserts that act as barriers against punctures and the green slime that can be put into a tube to instantly seal a flat. Further, there are tubeless tires and Im sure many other options that I do not know about, even one on kickstarter.com where the tire inflates itself! Search, try, and GO!