The Truth About Wide Tyres And Wide Rims On Road Bikes

Are fatter tyres faster?

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We’ve seen in recent years a trend of wider tyres on road bikes – the improved contact patch and ability to run lower air pressure can reduce the risk of punctures, improve grip and improve comfort.

But are they faster? To find out, we tested out some Schwalbe One tubeless tyres on the brand new ENVE SES 4.5 AR Disc wheels – designed specifically for disc brakes, with a super wide 25mm internal rim width to compliment a wider tyres.

Watch more on GCN…
A closer look at the ENVE SES 4.5s 🎥
Inside the wind tunnel with ENVE wheels 🎥

Photos: © Tim De Waele /

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kay poly says:

As the tire get wider, the contact patch get smaller. Am I the only one with brains here? because what this twat is saying doesn’t make a damn sense. How on hell could you get a smaller contact patch as the tire get wider and wider patch when the tires get narrower? I don’t make no damn sense.

Heavy Vibrations says:

Why are you lot so against R&D to advance technology directly relating to your hobby? Surely all the new tech and the speed at which it’s developed only shows the strength of the hobby and everyone here wants them to stop advancing? There’s nothing wrong with spending money to gain speed and nothing wrong with spending it to gain comfort… Hell, there’s nothing wrong with spending money on new stuff just because you want to… Maybe some of you guys need mud guards in the winter, stop all that salt going in your mouth…

D1N02 says:

I have to put at least 6,5 bars in my 28mm schwalbe marathon to stop it from squirming while accelerating out of a corner.

John Batty says:

The line between road and gravel bikes blurs further.

Juan0003 says:

Enve’s with Chris King hubs is spelled e.n.v.y.

飛騨zip says:

I changed from 25mm tire wide rim wheels to 23mm narrow rim wheels. And I am faster now.

Dr Chunky Biscuit says:

Croaky voice!

Marcus Micheaux says:

I recently switched to 28mm road tyres, on my Giant carbon fibre road bike. The advantages are C O M F O R T, less road S H O C K at speed on lumpy roads, faster downhills, greater survival when hitting holes at speed and less shimy effect when caught by winds on a downhill. Most importantly, I am able to be less skillful when braking heavily in emergency as the wheels don’t bounce. As for speed, I cant tell if they are slower. In essence I am enjoying my bike more.

smp156 says:

“… wider tires create less rolling resistance…”
then why isn’t everybody riding a “fat” tire bicycle, and breaking all sorts of records with them?

Aaron Garcia says:

I must say that a 30-32mm tire is pretty optimal. Very little negative effect on speed, very big improvement on comfort, safety and grip.

Spartaeus Cassinera says:

Biggest crock I’ve ever heard. Try racing a beach bike bike against a road bike. Wide tires always create more drag and rolling resistance and take more energy to turn. If fatter tires were easier to pedal then we would put truck tires on our bikes. And everyone knows that high mileage gasoline vehicles get better fuel economy with narrower tires because wider tires have more surface contact and require more horsepower to propel.

loendsti says:

if you are looking for comfort buy a bicycle with suspension and put on thin tires. not every person goes down the mountain on their bicycles

bassmandudge says:

Interesting point about the uneven road surface..I swapped my Schwalbe 25s for 23s about 2 years ago thinking they would be faster…there is a section of crappy tarmac on my route around Oxford and it absolutely saps my legs…my mate on his 25s puts yards and yards into me over the mile or so. I have some new 25mm Tubs coming…be really interesting to see if this section feels essier. But the 23s are just too hard and it really shows. Thanks for the vid…very interesting.

Jason King says:

40c is the minimum for comfort….

Justmyopinionlol says:

Lots of brains have been harvested to make the bike looks cooler and works better but the road cycling kit is one piece of equipment that I feel ashamed of putting on each day. Why can´t they make the kit looks less…you know.

Radoslaw Smolaga says:

why nobody rides wide ones on the track??? well, pretty simple………….

cheese sandwich123 says:

So I should dig out the ancient 27 inch wheels with the 1 1/4 tires ? And you said wider tires are a new development.

Drew Cama says:

I’ll have to re watch this video because it’s turning my head up side down. Small has more resistance than big & soft is faster than hard. Was that the conclusion?

Mr Marrow says:

Interesting video, well done

Zulu flor says:

Hi, Im searching the max. save internal rim with for my 42-622 tubeless tire.
ERTO recommends max 24mm internal width.
Sheldan Brown recommeds a ratio between 1.45 and 2 (29mm?)
When its possible to use a 28mm tire with a 25mm rim, shouldn´t it be possibe to use a 42mm tire wit a 35mm rim?

Marius MVS says:

I have a Merida Crossway and my rims are 622×18. At the moment I have 700x40c tyre.
My question is , can I put 32-622 or 28-622 tyre on this rims?
What is the minimum tyre can I put on this rims. Thank you.

PanzerIV says:

So pretty much 28mm is the new 25mm for 2018 you guys would say? I changed a few years ago from 23 to 25mm and seriously I would never ever go back to 23mm! I don’t live in Dubai with perfectly smooth roads, here in Quebec “Canada” we are known for our shitty roads. I even run my tubular Gatorskin Sprinter at 85psi front 90psi rear which some would say is too low but it never felt that confortable and I never had an issues or flat.

However I understand that to go to 28mm I would need to have a 28mm rim too, otherwise it would be worse than my 25mm tire on my 23mm rim? It’s like disc brakes… why can’t we just have that 1 thing without needing to change all the other components just for that, therefore increasing the price x10 for 1 upgrade (-_-)

loendsti says:

really? lol, i fell for this wider tire craze as well. i am from SE asia btw. we have decent to mediocre roads at where i am. fatter tires made me struggle for breath where as thinner tires were very easy to cycle

Aaron DC mediA says:

4:08 heheh hysteretic loss, not hysteric – hysterical!

D1N02 says:

So where is the sweet spot? Do 37mm tyres give you so much better rolling resistance than 28 ones it cancels out the extra weight (mainly uphill) and the extra wind resistance? Wider rims also weigh more.

burntrubberballs says:

more research for the old 50 mph motorized bike

Hudson Donnell says:

My road bike is a lazy man’s ebike. I could care less what width my tires are.

MJ crites says:

28mm tires are wide? I’m running 35mm tires and thinking they’re a bit on the narrow side… 

I big part of the change to wider tires is recognizing (finally!) that a big % of cyclists aren’t racing and don’t really care about going fast.

adriboff1 says:

You say wider tyres roll faster and they’re more aero too, but Canyon have put a 23mm tyre on the front of their Aeroad bikes! If you’re right why would Canyon make this move? I don’t think anyone really knows which is faster even so called experts.

Ben Adams says:

I’ll take comfort and puncture resistance over speed every time.

WintersSnow says:

31.5mm Rims, Haha. I got 41.2mm on my Road bike.

Clid says:

Or get a gravel bike.

Craciun Liviu says:

4:03 hysteric vs hysteresis…

eBikeaholic says:

Agreed. Love 40c for commuting. It’s a no brainer. Wider tire = lower psi = less vibration, more comfort, less roll resistance, less punctures. Same price and they look better.

Skyler King says:

I’ve always run fat tires and rims on all my bikes, even my custom road bike (ProLite prototype). I always told others bikers that there was less rolling resistance, that I maintained tire pressure better, that it was more stable, it handled unexpected road conditions better, etc. 
All the other bike guys, the “experts”, were quick to laugh me off and tell me how ridiculous and wrong I was. 
So, imagine how I feel, coming across this video, hearing you say “we are just discovering this”… uh huh… lol

ynotnilknarf39 says:

you haven’t looked at the data have you? the data clearly shows that the fastest tyres in rolling resistance are in fact narrow tyres, the fastest tyre at Bicyclerollingresistance is the Vitt Corsa Speed, it’s a 23mm tyre (25mm on a 17c wide rim), followed by the tubular version. I’ve got 22mm Continental Comp Pro Ltd and they are faster by a lot than the 28mm Corsa G+ which are no slouches themselves. Pros who are a LOT lighter than me don’t need 28mm tyres unless they are on the cobbled classics.
You also forgot to mention that disc braked bikes add a ton of aero loss (circa 8W) which along with the wider tyres is a significant disadvantage

Tim Rice says:

and most of these readers/commenters have average speeds of 15/16 or less………. they might as well keep buying the 23’s while they can get them on huge discounts/sales. Especially for the guys that can only fit 23’s which means they ride downtube friction shifters also?
This is also why I take the 700×40 x’plor MSO bike to the club rides….. Well that is until I show up on a 650×47 😀

Klaus Brinck says:

5:08 beautiful, how do you do that? you don´t have to answer, i just wanted to express my admiration!!!!

Rockinroomsrob says:

I like a 25 up front and 28 on the rear. I’ve found that to work well for me

Josh Viveros says:

Is it worth going to 25mm tires if my wheels are 23mm?

Somebody says:

That dual-speed shot looks amazing

ratoneJR says:

why the drive to wider tires and rims?
marketing BTW…there have always been wide tires. a fool and his money will be soon parted.

alexusdasia says:

Don’t forget the added aero drag of the disc rotors and calipers over a standard rim brake – quoted as anywhere from a couple watts to over 10 – which negates the 4-6 watts of reduced rolling resistance from the wider tires. You can also reduce the hysteresis/vibration losses by just using a cushy saddle vs a rock hard racing saddle.

天羽亮 says:

what frame is this?

timtak1 says:

That’s easy. The buying public is increasingly obese.
My weight is increasing since giving up tobacco but I keep my 23c tyres hard to avoid flats. I have padded my bars like a sofa though.

GCN is quite understandable at 1.5 speed. Add this to a bookmarklet and click it while the video is playing.
This gets it back to normal (the last 1.5 or 1.0 controls the speed)

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