Ultra Wide Tires vs Narrow Tires
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    Ultra Wide Tires vs Narrow Tires

    For those of you that read Bicycle Quarterly, you will know that its proprietor, Jan Heine, frequently talks about how a wider tire has lower rolling resistance than a skinny tire. Bicyclerollingresistance.com seems to support his claim, as the Schwalbe Big One 29x2.35 has a rolling resistance of 15.8 watts, lower than a Gatorskin or similar tire, and equal or close to all but the fastest road tires. Although some data supports his claims, I am still skeptical.

    Can I show up to my local race ride and hang with the pack with ultra wide tires? Why don't we see more pros and average riders hopping onto this trend?

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    The pros are using wider tires, especially in certain conditions. They aren’t using super wide tires... Not like these anyway...

    Ultra Wide Tires vs Narrow Tires-6d5ac505-2240-4b7d-9c6a-fc10fe8cfaa1.jpg
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Ultra Wide Tires vs Narrow Tires-efacb4b2-a130-42e5-a393-ccc4eea2005e.jpg  
    Last edited by PBL450; 02-28-2019 at 03:13 AM.
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    It's really hard if not impossible to get an Apples to Apples real world comparison.

    I switch back and forth from 40mm to 25mm on the same bike and on regular asphalt roads there is no question the 40mm are slower. No I haven't scientifically proven that but I show up for a regular group ride with the 40mm sometimes and the difference in my ability to keep up is very noticeable.

    But it's no where near Apples to Apples. The 40's are 120 TPI and made to handle gravel and the 25's are 320 tpi made for racing on roads with minimum flat protection. Thick butyl tubes in the 40s and latex or thin butyl in the 25s.

    If Vit Corsa made a 40mm version and I could find latex tubes that big the compare would matter. But I don't think there's anything on the market that would allow for all else to be equal except for size when the difference is that big.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    No I haven't scientifically proven that but I show up for a regular group ride with the 40mm sometimes and the difference in my ability to keep up is very noticeable.
    A regular ride has many accelerations involved, where a heavier tire will have an effect. That is not the same as a steady state rolling resistance measure. I am guessing that's where you are feeling impaired, on the small accelerations not the steady state pace part of the ride.
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuiQuaeQuod View Post
    A regular ride has many accelerations involved, where a heavier tire will have an effect. That is not the same as a steady state rolling resistance measure. I am guessing that's where you are feeling impaired, on the small accelerations not the steady state pace part of the ride.
    To elaborate on why I say it's a bad guess.

    First I just know it's different on flats without acceleration involved.

    But I've been riding the same routes with the same guys for years now and there are many hills long and steep enough where we just tuck.

    I'm light but very aero in a tuck so have no problem staying with heavier guys when we are both tucking if I have the 25mm latex set up. No way that is happening when I have the 40mm thick butyl set up.

    These are two tires I'm talking about: https://www.vittoria.com/us/corsa-co...om_store=us_en

    https://www.donnellycycling.com/coll...olding-120-tpi

    tread is probably a factor too.
    Last edited by Jay Strongbow; 02-28-2019 at 05:23 AM.

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    pro's have been using wider tires for some time in events like the roubaix. until recently disc brakes weren't permitted so you would never see ultra wide tires but some perspective is in order, tires have gone from 19 to 23 mm to now 25 mm on average. not sure if there are still any pro's riding 23's at this point

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    Quote Originally Posted by Honda Guy View Post
    Why don't we see more pros and average riders hopping onto this trend?
    Huh? Have you been living under a rock? This has been accepted and adopted by all the pros.
    Just about everyone I ride with is on 25s or 28s.

    four of the six road stages thus far in the 2017 Tour de France have been won on 26mm tubulars. While 23mm was the pro standard not so long ago, this year 20 teams are using 25mm tires for non-time trial stages, and the other two Specialized-sponsored teams are using 26mm rubber.

    Why the tires at the Tour de France keep getting wider and the pressure lower
    It's essentially faster and more comfortable in non-lab, real-world conditions. That's been backed by an increasing number of research studies, including a report by VeloNews. That flies in the face of conventional wisdom that said to go faster you needed narrower tires with higher pressure.

    For what it's worth, we didn't see any 23mm tires at the Tour this year — we did look at a lot of tires — though of course we may have just missed them. By far the most common widths were 25mm and 26mm. And while it's difficult to compare Tour speeds based on tire width and pressure, the growing research and the massive push across teams to wider tires and lower pressure speak volumes.

    "Things are moving along quite quickly here in our sport," Brown said. "The disc-brake thing has gained real momentum, so on those frames you can certainly run wider tires because there's the clearance for it. I could see it evolving to 26mm or 27 mm as the standard road-racing tire, sure. Why not."
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    Huh? Have you been living under a rock? This has been accepted and adopted by all the pros.
    Just about everyone I ride with is on 25s or 28s.

    four of the six road stages thus far in the 2017 Tour de France have been won on 26mm tubulars. While 23mm was the pro standard not so long ago, this year 20 teams are using 25mm tires for non-time trial stages, and the other two Specialized-sponsored teams are using 26mm rubber.

    Why the tires at the Tour de France keep getting wider and the pressure lower
    It's essentially faster and more comfortable in non-lab, real-world conditions. That's been backed by an increasing number of research studies, including a report by VeloNews. That flies in the face of conventional wisdom that said to go faster you needed narrower tires with higher pressure.

    For what it's worth, we didn't see any 23mm tires at the Tour this year — we did look at a lot of tires — though of course we may have just missed them. By far the most common widths were 25mm and 26mm. And while it's difficult to compare Tour speeds based on tire width and pressure, the growing research and the massive push across teams to wider tires and lower pressure speak volumes.

    "Things are moving along quite quickly here in our sport," Brown said. "The disc-brake thing has gained real momentum, so on those frames you can certainly run wider tires because there's the clearance for it. I could see it evolving to 26mm or 27 mm as the standard road-racing tire, sure. Why not."
    It is even more noticeable when you consider that in the TdF, you're dealing with featherweights (130-170lbs soaking wet typically)...riding on the most immaculate perfect roads in all of France, that are often just-refinished by the locals for the race. Most of us can and never will ride on roads that perfect. And even featherweights prefer the larger tire.


    Paris-Roubaix is kind of a strange one...because for as much noise as people make about the cobbles--it is a super-majority perfect-fresh-paved-road race. Last year, IIRC, out of 260km or so barely 20% of it was cobbles of any sort/tier.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    Huh? Have you been living under a rock? This has been accepted and adopted by all the pros.
    Just about everyone I ride with is on 25s or 28s.

    four of the six road stages thus far in the 2017 Tour de France have been won on 26mm tubulars. While 23mm was the pro standard not so long ago, this year 20 teams are using 25mm tires for non-time trial stages, and the other two Specialized-sponsored teams are using 26mm rubber.

    Why the tires at the Tour de France keep getting wider and the pressure lower
    It's essentially faster and more comfortable in non-lab, real-world conditions. That's been backed by an increasing number of research studies, including a report by VeloNews. That flies in the face of conventional wisdom that said to go faster you needed narrower tires with higher pressure.

    For what it's worth, we didn't see any 23mm tires at the Tour this year — we did look at a lot of tires — though of course we may have just missed them. By far the most common widths were 25mm and 26mm. And while it's difficult to compare Tour speeds based on tire width and pressure, the growing research and the massive push across teams to wider tires and lower pressure speak volumes.

    "Things are moving along quite quickly here in our sport," Brown said. "The disc-brake thing has gained real momentum, so on those frames you can certainly run wider tires because there's the clearance for it. I could see it evolving to 26mm or 27 mm as the standard road-racing tire, sure. Why not."
    I don't know how big Schwalbe Big One 29x2.35 is but I don't think anyone would refer to 26 and 27 as 'ultra wide' so I don't think your response had much to do with what he asked about.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    I don't know how big Schwalbe Big One 29x2.35 is but I don't think anyone would refer to 26 and 27 as 'ultra wide' so I don't think your response had much to do with what he asked about.
    Oh I misread his post. I thought he was talking about a 29mm tire.


    A 2.35" wide tire? Aero resistance is going to outweigh rolling resistance. And it still has way more rolling resistance (almost 2x) than a high end road tire.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Honda Guy View Post
    For those of you that read Bicycle Quarterly, you will know that its proprietor, Jan Heine, frequently talks about how a wider tire has lower rolling resistance than a skinny tire. Bicyclerollingresistance.com seems to support his claim, as the Schwalbe Big One 29x2.35 has a rolling resistance of 15.8 watts, lower than a Gatorskin or similar tire, and equal or close to all but the fastest road tires. Although some data supports his claims, I am still skeptical.

    Can I show up to my local race ride and hang with the pack with ultra wide tires? Why don't we see more pros and average riders hopping onto this trend?
    While increasing from 23mm to 25 or even 28mm is likely a beneficial change, wind resistance and weight have to be a consideration.

    It is unlikely that automobile tires will replace bike tires any time soon. Further, the wider tire trend on road bikes will probably not go much beyond 28mm for road racing during our lifetime.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SwiftSolo View Post
    While increasing from 23mm to 25 or even 28mm is likely a beneficial change, wind resistance and weight have to be a consideration.

    It is unlikely that automobile tires will replace bike tires any time soon. Further, the wider tire trend on road bikes will probably not go much beyond 28mm for road racing during our lifetime.
    It would be all but impossible to quantify but I think keeping the engine more isolated from jarring, thus fatigue, can have a big impact in favor of bigger to some extent being better.

    Maybe I just go in better shape but all else equal I feel so much better, thus faster, after miles 50 or so since ditching 23 mm tires.

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    Two totally different bikes with different tires, kinda apples to watermelons comparison, have me faster on the 25mm tires.

    700c\25mm Vredestein TriComps on my Della Santa compared to 650b\42mm Compass Baby Shoe Pass on my Boulder Bicycle Rando. The Della Santa is lighter, by a few lbs, than the Boulder but the Boulder is a fast handling bike that is no slouch and I would rate the Compass tires as the better tires. While I suspect that the Della Santa is the faster bike, I also think the tires come into play, but like I said, apples to watermelons.

    A truer test would be to strip the handlebar bag off the Boulder and compare, better yet would be to take off the bag while putting a set of 700c\26mm Compass Cayuse Pass tires on the Della Santa. That would be a more apples to apples comparison. The future does hold for Compass tires on the Della Santa, just as soon as the Vreds need replacing. When that happens I'll know more.

    And Jay, not to tell you what tires to run, but Compass has tires from 26mm up to 55mm, 26, 28, 32, 35, 38, 44 and 55, that are all of the same construction and tread pattern that would give you a truer apples to apples comparison. Match the tubes as close as possible and I think the comparison would be pretty fair.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    It would be all but impossible to quantify but I think keeping the engine more isolated from jarring, thus fatigue, can have a big impact in favor of bigger to some extent being better.

    Maybe I just go in better shape but all else equal I feel so much better, thus faster, after miles 50 or so since ditching 23 mm tires.
    This 100%.

    As far as not being able to quantify, Jan Heine has spoken to the Military testing seating in tanks and has found the there is a big difference when the seat isolates the operator from the jarring of the ride.

    I think that that translates over to tires and cycling in a pretty linear fashion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by velodog View Post
    And Jay, not to tell you what tires to run, but Compass has tires from 26mm up to 55mm, 26, 28, 32, 35, 38, 44 and 55, that are all of the same construction and tread pattern that would give you a truer apples to apples comparison. Match the tubes as close as possible and I think the comparison would be pretty fair.
    yeah I've been thinking of trying a pair of Compass 35mm or so but I don't think I'd really have a use for them currently.
    When it comes to asphalt I'm pretty sold on 28mm corsas being as good as it can get for my 145 pounds on asphalt around here.
    And when I get off asphalt I tend to get WAY off and on to hiking trails and stuff like that. So I want a bit more toughness than what would be apples to apples with racing road tires.

    I'd like to test my theory that 28 corsas are as good as it gets for me on asphalt roads around here though and try some Compass 35ish but their high price has held me back on that experiment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    yeah I've been thinking of trying a pair of Compass 35mm or so but I don't think I'd really have a use for them currently.
    When it comes to asphalt I'm pretty sold on 28mm corsas being as good as it can get for my 145 pounds on asphalt around here.
    And when I get off asphalt I tend to get WAY off and on to hiking trails and stuff like that. So I want a bit more toughness than what would be apples to apples with racing road tires.

    I'd like to test my theory that 28 corsas are as good as it gets for me on asphalt roads around here though and try some Compass 35ish but their high price has held me back on that experiment.
    I understand your shying away from the cost of the Compass tires, I had the same issue, but when I got my Rando bike a few years ago the cost of the tires kinda got swallowed up in the cost of the build and I gave them a try. I haven't bought a different brand since, have put the 32mm Snoqualmie Pass on my Wifes bike and will be going to the 26's on my Della Santa, as that's probably as big as will fit, when it needs tires. I've drunk the Kool Aid.

    I haven't tried the extralights because I'm afraid that I'll like them, and they're $20 more than the standard casing. Yikes!
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    Drum test comparing 23,25,28 and 32mm Continental GP 5000. I don't know how drum tests compare to real world and haven't read this yet, but here it is.

    https://www.bicyclerollingresistance...000-comparison
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    I think the evidence is fairly conclusive that wider tires offer the lower rolling resistance... at the same pressure. Not sure about results when lowering pressure on the wider tire. Arguably the entire point of wider tires is being able to run lower pressures without pinch flatting.

    I run a variety of very wide tires on a drop bar bike I own that can fit 29x2.3s. For mixed singletrack / gravel rides, I've used up to 50mm wide knobby tires at ~28 psi. I've also run 44mm Compass Sonqualmie Pass tires at about 30 psi on this bike and they certainly felt fast and offered an extremely comfortable ride. In fact, I'd say they're the single best feeling tires I've ever ridden, including the cotton tubs I used to race on decades ago. I did some fast group rides on the Compass tires (as an experiment) and was able to keep up easily. I think the skinwalls also look awesome at that width, always an important factor. Faster than a similar narrower tire? Who knows.

    After a couple of months, my rear Compass tire did have a catastrophic 3/4" cut for some reason. This was with perhaps 400 miles on that particular bike/tires combo. I booted the tire with a dollar bill and crawled home for 20+ miles. I'm an experienced cyclist and I don't think I've ever had a cut quite like that happen. I went back on the road in question and was unable to determine what had sheared my sidewall. Regardless, the ~$65 tire was toast. Nice riding tires, but I'm not sure they're for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
    I think the evidence is fairly conclusive that wider tires offer the lower rolling resistance... at the same pressure. Not sure about results when lowering pressure on the wider tire. Arguably the entire point of wider tires is being able to run lower pressures without pinch flatting.

    I run a variety of very wide tires on a drop bar bike I own that can fit 29x2.3s. For mixed singletrack / gravel rides, I've used up to 50mm wide knobby tires at ~28 psi. I've also run 44mm Compass Sonqualmie Pass tires at about 30 psi on this bike and they certainly felt fast and offered an extremely comfortable ride. In fact, I'd say they're the single best feeling tires I've ever ridden, including the cotton tubs I used to race on decades ago. I did some fast group rides on the Compass tires (as an experiment) and was able to keep up easily. I think the skinwalls also look awesome at that width, always an important factor. Faster than a similar narrower tire? Who knows.

    After a couple of months, my rear Compass tire did have a catastrophic 3/4" cut for some reason. This was with perhaps 400 miles on that particular bike/tires combo. I booted the tire with a dollar bill and crawled home for 20+ miles. I'm an experienced cyclist and I don't think I've ever had a cut quite like that happen. I went back on the road in question and was unable to determine what had sheared my sidewall. Regardless, the ~$65 tire was toast. Nice riding tires, but I'm not sure they're for me.
    I've only had one flat in 18,000 miles on my Compass standard BSP's. I don't know how many tires that has been, but I did stretch one to 8,000 miles(4000rear, 3980rear) just to see; rear wears out, front to rear new tire on front. Almost all road miles, maybe a couple hundred gravel so I can't talk to gravel longevity. The sidewalls look to be fragile and I have read of others having sidewall cut issues but I haven't had any issues in my riding of them.
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    Well dang. It's been shown and proven that for a given road bike tire brand and model that when both are properly inflated the larger size up rides softer and faster. That's it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by velodog View Post
    Drum test comparing 23,25,28 and 32mm Continental GP 5000. I don't know how drum tests compare to real world and haven't read this yet, but here it is.

    https://www.bicyclerollingresistance...000-comparison
    Chart says the rolling resistance of a 32mm GP 5000 is 0.8 watts LESS than the same tire in 23mm--at 120 psi, rock hard max. pressure that nobody rides outside of time trialing. The reason would be the wider contract patch.

    Some years ago, Wheelsmith [?] did a study of 23 and 25, and discovered the 25s had slightly less rolling resistance at 90-100 psi, numbers consistent with those above, attributed to the wider, "rounder" contact patch. The 25 wouldn't distort or "flatten" as much as the 23, therefore rolled faster. I hardly get any flats since giving up 23s and staying on 25s or 28s, so deduce the rounder contact patch has less chance to pick up glass particles that eat their way into the tire and poke a hole in the tube.

    OTOH, can't believe rider won't feel the heavier weights on 28mm or 32mm. Heck, I put 28s on the "fast" bike once and immediately went back to 25s. The 28s rode clunkier at the same 90 psi [probably because I should have run them at lower pressure ], and noticeably heavier on the climbs. Not a great idea for racing or club hammerfests. Now running 28mm Gatorskins on the commuter, and yes, they run best on the shy side of 90psi for my 165# weight and the smooth pavements around DC. At lower pressures, like 75-80psi, the bike clearly doesn't respond as well on climbs.

    I'd say tire size and pressure are dependent on load, terrain, and road surfaces.

    Also from the first link above:

    "There seems to be a lot more real science behind cycling now," Brown explained. "A lower tire pressure with more [that is, wider--ed.] surface contact translates to lower rolling resistance, which is one of the main factors. And the bikes are much stiffer these days, with the carbon-fiber frames, especially the aero frames, and the aero rims — like when you're running like a 50mm-section rim, which is quite deep — all that stuff is stiff, so the lower pressure helps provide more comfort for the rider."

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    The most interesting part of the rolling resistance test on the 5000 was the statement in the conclusion that when inflated to comparable comfort levels, rolling resistance was almost the same regardless of tire size.

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    Quote Originally Posted by steelbikerider View Post
    The most interesting part of the rolling resistance test on the 5000 was the statement in the conclusion that when inflated to comparable comfort levels, rolling resistance was almost the same regardless of tire size.
    As in tire pressure trumps all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    Oh I misread his post. I thought he was talking about a 29mm tire.


    A 2.35" wide tire? Aero resistance is going to outweigh rolling resistance. And it still has way more rolling resistance (almost 2x) than a high end road tire.
    Kind of wondering how deep you could corner with that wide of a slick tire, even if you'd lose ground on the straights.

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