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Old 08-14-09, 07:44 AM   #1
enfilade
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thin tyre efficiency

hey.
im wondering whether to convert to thinner tyres for my new bike. i've always rode mountrain bikes with wide tyres and lots of traction but i've changed my riding style recently and im now sticking mainly to country roads.

on a mountain bike i average 9.5 - 10 mph on a 3 hour ride. if i were to get a bike with thin hybrid type tyres would i be able to cover a greater difference or is there not a great difference?

thanks
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Old 08-14-09, 07:54 AM   #2
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There is, as someone correctly stated, no free lunch. The greater stability and traction of the wide, knobbly tyre must be paid for in greater rolling resistance. I have a bike I'm about to build, which has a pair of very narrow 27 X 1 1/4 tyres fitted to the wheels. Having ridden an MTB for several years since I sold my last road bike, I'm sure I'll notice a great difference. I expect to ride with far more caution than I've been accustomed to, though, especially on moist roads or where there are leaves, etc., and this is a factor which should not be ignored.
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Old 08-14-09, 08:01 AM   #3
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hmm not going to be an easy decision then.. i want safe and fast really, but if the thin tyres will only push my average up to 9.7 - 10.2 mph say, id stick with the mtb tyres definately, are there any charts or figures that show how much difference there is between different types of tyres. ta
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Old 08-14-09, 08:01 AM   #4
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I'm a fan of 33-40 mm tires. They roll well and are burly enough for fire roads.
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Old 08-14-09, 08:17 AM   #5
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I don't know if you've already looked at Sheldon Brown on this subject. If not, it may be worth a read, as he addresses several of the points you're interested in.
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Old 08-14-09, 08:23 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enfilade View Post
hey.
im wondering whether to convert to thinner tyres for my new bike. i've always rode mountrain bikes with wide tyres and lots of traction but i've changed my riding style recently and im now sticking mainly to country roads.

on a mountain bike i average 9.5 - 10 mph on a 3 hour ride. if i were to get a bike with thin hybrid type tyres would i be able to cover a greater difference or is there not a great difference?

thanks

It would be helpful to know what you are referring to as "thin tires" . . . as for a road rider . . .that may be 23mm tires. . . for a mtb rider . . .35mm is "thin".

I agree with kaseri though . . . 32-40mm tires are a sweet spot as they are wide enough for rough roads, but fast enough on smooth ones.

However . . . .rolling resistance and speed are not so easy to measure when selecting tires. I've got two different 35mm tires . . one weighs 450g and is slick. . .the other weighs 700g and is grooved with a thicker tread. Now . . on the flats you'd think it would not make a difference . . . but it does. I often ride on rollers to warm up . . . .and the difference between these two tires is very noticeable. On the road I can feel it too . . .I can climb a little easier . . . and roll a little faster. Does it really make a difference though . . as I ride by myself and time is of no concern? . . .No . . it doesn't. Everyone is different though . . . that's why there are so many tires to choose from.

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Old 08-14-09, 08:48 AM   #7
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Just guessing here, but "narrower" not thinner, right?
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Old 08-14-09, 09:09 AM   #8
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First, you need to get rid of the knobs. That will make most of the speed difference right there, I'd guesstimate it would give you 2-3 mph right there by switching to slicks, even if they're just as wide as your current tires.

Second, put more air in your tires. 30 psi (for example) puts a lot of rubber on the road, and that slows you down.

Third, if you want to run higher pressures than are safe with your current tires, then you need to get narrower tires. However, you'll need to check that the tires you want are compatible with your rims.

My bet is that if you got slick tires that are around 1.5-1.75", those should be able to run between 60 and 80 psi. I bet you can increase your speed maybe even up to 50% compared to 2.2", heavily knobbed tires running at 30psi.

Good luck! Whatever tire you do choose, check to see if it's OK to use with your current rim and ensure the pressures you want to use are safe for that tire.
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Old 08-14-09, 09:23 AM   #9
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Why do people think narrow tires require a lot of caution on the road? I suppose they require more than fat tires, and I suppose I might be more skilled than I'm aware of, but I typically ride 25 mm wide tires with 110 psi (7.6 bars) in them. I ride over potholes and everything. I don't bend my rims. I suppose the important thing is not to put much weight on the saddle. I keep a lot of weight on my feet, which turns my knees into a suspension system. It should go without saying that I ride bikes without a suspension system.
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Old 08-14-09, 10:02 AM   #10
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Suspension, as is well known, is the work of Beelzebub, and those bicycle manufacturers who are his representatives on earth. When I lived in Fishguard, I often used to ride down a very steep and winding hill to Lower Town (the old harbour where they filmed scenes from Moby Dick and Under Milk Wood, for the movie buffs). I still had my Sun road bike, with 27 inch World Tour tyres and dropped bars. One day, for no particular reason, I took my wife's MTB, which had thick, chunky tyres and flat bars. It was a revelation, in terms of the control it afforded and the confidence it inspired. Over the years (nay, decades), I've often fallen off bikes with narrow tyres, doubtless as a result of rider error, but never off the MTB. When my Dawes is ready, I need to remember that the tyres are very narrow (Dutch Perfect No-Flats with a raised central band), and all that stands between me and the emergency room is about a quarter inch of rubber. Interestingly, though, Sheldon contended that the presence or absence of tread on a bicycle tyre was neither here nor there. I'd always replaced my tyres when they were looking a bit bald.
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Old 08-14-09, 10:43 AM   #11
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I have 2 wheelsets that I currently use on my mtn bike. One is mounted with Panaracer Fire XC pro's that are knobby as hell and 2.1" wide. The other is mounted with Performance Bike's Forte City Slick ST's that are completely treadless and 1.25" wide. Obviously, when I'm in the mountains going through loose dirt, rocks, and sand i ride the Panaracer's, but when I'm in town commuting, or pulling my daughter in her trailer I use the Forte's. I've never had a problem with traction with the slicks, except for one time when I tried to ride through some wet grass and almost crashed. On asphalt skinny slicks are the only way to go.
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Old 08-14-09, 10:59 AM   #12
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I've never had a problem with traction with the slicks, except for one time when I tried to ride through some wet grass and almost crashed. On asphalt skinny slicks are the only way to go.
Ugh! That brings back a bad memory of what happened when I swapped out knobbies for semi-slicks on a bike,
then proceeded to crank a fast, hard turn on grass on the way home from work.
I slid across the grass, up over a sidewalk, then across more grass.
The scars on my shoulder lasted for years.
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Old 08-14-09, 11:20 AM   #13
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Ugh! That brings back a bad memory of what happened when I swapped out knobbies for semi-slicks on a bike,
then proceeded to crank a fast, hard turn on grass on the way home from work.
I slid across the grass, up over a sidewalk, then across more grass.
The scars on my shoulder lasted for years.
yeah I was pulling the kiddie trailer on the sidewalk (I always avoid the sidewalk, but there was no bike lane on the road, it was super busy, and I was towing my daughter) and I had to veer off the sidewalk onto the grass to avoid a lightpole. I couldn't veer the other way because I was pulling the trailer and one of the wheels would have dropped off the curb. Anyways, my front tire just completely gave out on me and I started to go down. I managed to get a foot down and probably ended up looking like I was make a hard turn in a motocross race, but I stayed upright. I'm sure my 2 year old was just sitting in her trailer laughing at me

by the way, your story is better
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Old 08-14-09, 11:29 AM   #14
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Grass is certainly slippery when wet. It's the only surface on which I've fallen off a motor bike, thankfully. Almost as bad were the granite setts (usually referred to, erroneously, as cobbles) which were used to surface roads in Britain for many years. It's certainly a long-lasting surface, but rather bad for the teeth when on a bike, and absolutely lethal when wet if you try to turn. Tram lines were also a hazard, especially when combined with the cobbles.
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Old 08-14-09, 04:23 PM   #15
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I feel a difference. Besides, you'll use them up even if they don't revolutionize your riding.

I tried some department store 26X1.5's which only went up to 50 psi and they didn't make a huge, huge difference but higher pressure 35s or 32s sure do.
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Old 08-15-09, 01:03 AM   #16
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if i were to get a bike with thin hybrid type tyres would i be able to cover a greater difference or is there not a great difference?
thanks
You will definitely notice a difference between wide knobby tires and narrower slick ones. During the winter, I use a knobby 35 on the streets and during the summer I use a slick 28. When I put the 35s back on my bike in the late fall, it feels like I'm riding through mud for the first few days until I get reacquainted with the feeling. When I put the 28s back on in the spring, it feels a little too fast and unstable for a few days, until I get used to them again.

I grew up in Maine, where everyone puts snow tires on their cars in the winter. Gas milage goes way down as a result. So they all switch back to regular tires when the snow melts (in April!)
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Old 08-16-09, 02:39 PM   #17
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i put Kenda Kwest tandems on my tandem mtb. The difference on the road was incredible, as we would run the tires about 100 psi that they are rated for.
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