Best Bicycle Tire Width? Commuting Home Bike Blogger

So what is the best tire width to run a bike tire for road racing, commuting, and mountain biking?

Race tires used to be very narrow but in recent years the popular width has become 25mm. I run 25mm on my “race bike” and actually find it pretty comfortable for commuting too.

Commuter or hybrid tires are most often regarded as wide tires that provide lots of volume and cushioning because they can be ridden at lower air pressures than racing tires. Commuter tires also usually have a more slick tread than mountain biking tires and that provides for less rolling resistance and more speed similar to cyclocross tires.

Mountain biking tires are always wide (greater than 2 inches width) but the narrower versions are also very capable on dirt track. My knowledge on mountain biking is limited so if someone wants to share their experiences, please do.

Generally more tire width means more rolling resistance when inflated to the recommended pressure. More tire width also generally means more weight and more air resistance, but when you are feeling fatigued from riding too narrow a tire you will come to realize that a fatter tire actually increases your average time because you can just roll over some obstacles without losing a lot of energy.

Some people also ride different tire widths and treads on the front tire and the rear tire. For instance, a narrower tire on the front wheel would decrease air resistance.

It is hard to compare tire width without discussing tire tread because most wider tires have some sort of tread and are not completely slick.

My opinion – I ride 25mm width tires on a bicycle during dry conditions, 28mm width tires on a bicycle during wet conditions, and 32mm width on a bicycle during rainy or snowy conditions. I also have 35mm width tires with spikes/studs for icy conditions.

7:30 Looks like a fence got knocked down by a car smashing through it?

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Comments

Al Duarte says:

On a race/endurance carbon or steel bike 25 or 28cc, winter-puncture resistance and higher tire wear are more important than width of a tire, I say!

mohammad azad says:

hiya,

really like your blog, well enjoyed the commute. im a cyclist and love it.

trexmobile1 says:

So I’m looking at two bikes The Specialized AWOL and The Trek 520 both steel bikes.The Specialized has 42mm tires and Trek has 32mm. I have a commuter bike right now with 32mm tires and not sure on 42mm. I’m thinking 42mm its a bit much. So….. Why 42mm?

Kevin Gary says:

I just changed my commuter bike to 32c x 700 Marathon Plus tires last month. I ride with more confidence now due to their puncture resistance. The nice thing about 32c tires is that they are in-between – good on gravel but not to wide to create additional rolling resistance. The roads in the Baltimore Metro area tend to eat skinny tires!

SUV Tropics says:

I run 35,I’m thinking about going 40

James McClellan says:

25mm in fact have lower rolling Resistance than 23mm given the same tire and the same pressure. it has to do with the shape of the contact patch. 28mm is about the same as a 25mm and at lower tire pressure to boot, but obviously is much more comfortable. not only that the 28mm at the same pressure is often faster than the 25mm albiet is offset by drag because of the larger size, but is still quicker than a 23mm at much much higher pressure. It doesn’t seem like it should be so, but man, when you see the contact patches and their shape and size you’d understand right away.

Guy Aldrich says:

I find the most comfortable ride is with my fat bike with 100 mm tires @20lbs pressure ! Have you EVER tried commuting with a fat bike ?

easternbushytail says:

25.4 mm is equal to 1 in.

Senapspiser says:

On my sports hybrid (Diamant Photon 10) I ride 28mm road tires. Simply for speed and comfort.
On my all purpose hybrid (Scott Sportster 40) I ride 40mm reinforced city tires. That size gives good comfort when I’m weekend touring and enough speed for shopping, commuting and just waddling around in the evening.

Rick Couture says:

These guys seem to disagree with you about rolling resistance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrHxQg1OW0A

tean tan says:

Looks like American midwest the roads are breaking up..US gov spent money on the military hardware and bases and going to wars overseas and no money to fix the roads…

Zadius895 says:

wider for me. i commute on 32’s and have gone from 23 to 28 on the road bike. it lets me ride more confidently and aggressively. the speed is around the same from my perception and i feel more confident with extra grip.

Rheyan Sharpe says:

I’m new to the while bike transit scene. I’m hoping you’ll be able to point me in the right direction as I search for a bike of my own. personally I’d like a mountain bike that could be used for daily commutes as well as a bit of fun on the weekend. what would you suggest I look at, should I be looking at hard tails or full suspension and what brands. cheers

Fervent Dissent says:

with the same design, wider has less rolling resistance. I use 28 for everything, and it measures more like 30, but I want try the 32 4season for everything.

Frank Malloy says:

That’s 20mi/hr? Man it looks like you’re absolutely flying! I know that wide angle lenses make things look faster…

I just started bike commuting and right now 15 is what I do. I can only hit 20 on short bursts…then again I am 53 and just started out…

Misan tropo says:

I like 28c with over 100psi, 23c was too harsh and actually slower, 25c felt almost the same as 23c.
And btw, helmets are made from poliestireno which takes centuries to degrade naturally.

trevorduvall says:

I ride 32mm at 85psi on my vintage Peugeot 10 speed for cruising around town and just general joyriding around the lakeshore. 

https://flic.kr/p/tb6vhz

Steven Bird says:

I use 36mm continental contact travel. Great all rounder with slick centre for road and knobbly shoulders for a little off-road. Good puncture protection too, so I don’t mind them slightly heavier.

McDennis1984 says:

I like wide tires on my bicycle 40 mm or more fore better balance. My bike haves 46 mm tires.

Total Control 871 says:

Schwalble Marathon Plus 700 x 35. Im a big guy who logs hundreds of miles each month inner city commuting. New Jersey’s road are in the worse shape EVERRRRR!!!! Shattered asphalt and pot holes every damn where. Our Governor is to busy heading up a failed Presidential campaign to realize he has lost before beginning.

John Purple says:

Jan Heine has done some tests recently that show rolling resistance isn’t much different with 32mm than with narrower ones. Sidewall flexibility seems to have more effect than anything.

Head The Ball, says:

What a load of pure horse poo

Frank Malloy says:

My tires say 700x38C, but it also says (40-622) so is it 40mm or 38mm?

Greg Helton says:

Misinformation

Mr.ActionGal101 says:

wider tires actually have less rolling resistance

Tomek R says:

this video has non information inside. You should focus on topic itself only. sorry it is pointless

Joe Scheller says:

can you put wider tires on 1.75 rim

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