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  1. #1
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    Help: Rolling Resistance 35mm tire on 15mm wheel?

    So I rode my commuter bike today to work. I just finished putting a new rack and panniers on it. Everything seems nice. I like not having the bag over the shoulder like I normally do.

    My usual commute is on a relatively light ti road bike with 120psi in 23mm tires.

    It felt today like I was riding with the brakes on. The commuter is a 70's lugged steel frame with flat bar and converted to 700c Vuelta Zerolite wheels that are brand new. I've also replaced the crankset with a mtb tripple and set up the rear with 7spd cassette and new DR. It's geared just like my 29er MTB with the exception of being a 7spd vs a 9spd rear.

    I have 35mm road tread tires for it. I have used them on my MTB (same ones) and they roll great. On the cruiser, it feels like they are dragging like crazy. I'm not sur what to make of it. My only suspicion is that possibly the narrow wheels combined with the fatter tires leads to some type of scrubbing of the tires as they compress on the road? Is that possible?

    When I'm off the bike, I can spin both wheels and they rotate freely. I don't think there is any interference from the brakes or other components. The bike just doesn't roll very well when I'm on it.

    What should I be looking for? I know my MTB weighs roughly the same, has a similar upright riding position, but rolls much easier. Is it the tire/rim combo that's giving me issues or what?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    If the wheels spin freely and there is no brake drag then you are feeling the weight of the entire bike. If you are used to a light road bike and suddenly try riding a bike with bigger tires, a rack and panniers that weighs probably twice as much, you will definitely notice it. You can't compare it to your MTB since you probably don't ride them on the same terrain and the MTB is probably still lighter than your commuter.

    i have a Surly Cross Check set up as a rain/errand bike with 700-32 "City" tires at 80 psi, a rack, rack trunk and fenders that weighs over 35 pounds. Compared to my road bikes at under 20 pounds on 700-23 tires, it feels like a boat anchor.
    Last edited by HillRider; 10-18-11 at 10:44 AM.

  3. #3
    Constant tinkerer FastJake's Avatar
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    The narrow rims/wide tires shouldn't matter. What pressure are you running in them? Maybe you're just too used to your nice road bike. My commuter is a piece of junk and feels like absolute ---- especially when going up hills.

    I'd check the whole system again for something dragging somewhere.
    Why "derailer" is the correct way to spell the gear-change mechanism: sheldonbrown.com/derailer.html

  4. #4
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    I guess I skipped the part I should have added. I have made the same commute a number of times on my MTB with the exact same tires - not similar ones, actually the same tires taken off one and put on the other-, but on the MTB 29er wheels. The 29er with slicks rolls pretty nicely. The commuter struggles. It's especially apparent on the downhill grades where I would be coasting at 35mph on the road bike, 25mph on the MTB, and probably only 15 or less on the road bike.

    Granted the MTB is set up with nicer components and better wheels, the vuelta zerolites are cheapo wheels, but they should roll reasonably well. That's why I started questioning the tires as I'm just not sure what else to look at for the resistance. I'll pump em up to 90psi for the ride home and see if it helps.

  5. #5
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    Put some high pressure 28's on the commuter and save the 35's for the Mtn Bike.

  6. #6
    Constant tinkerer FastJake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbtute View Post
    It's especially apparent on the downhill grades where I would be coasting at 35mph on the road bike, 25mph on the MTB, and probably only 15 or less on the road bike.
    Ok, something else is going on here. I go down the same hill every day. If I tuck on my road bike I can maybe hit 40. I can hit 30 on any other bike no problem. When coasting only the wheel bearings and freewheel mechanism will be holding you back (mechanically.) So unless you have a sail on your bike or something I'd guess your hubs are adjusted really wrong.

    35mm tires won't make that much difference.
    Why "derailer" is the correct way to spell the gear-change mechanism: sheldonbrown.com/derailer.html

  7. #7
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    smooth tires roll easier than knobby ones.. any effort to move tread knobs around
    is probably converted to heat, friction.

  8. #8
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    jbtute, I think the largest tire recommended for a 622X15 rim is 28 mm. I wouldn't have thought running a 35 mm tire would cause so much of an issue, but maybe so.

    Brad
    Last edited by bradtx; 10-18-11 at 03:20 PM. Reason: corr

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by FastJake View Post
    Ok, something else is going on here. I go down the same hill every day. If I tuck on my road bike I can maybe hit 40. I can hit 30 on any other bike no problem. When coasting only the wheel bearings and freewheel mechanism will be holding you back (mechanically.) So unless you have a sail on your bike or something I'd guess your hubs are adjusted really wrong.

    35mm tires won't make that much difference.
    It seems to me like something is way off, but I can't place it. It feels like the brakes are on, but nothing is rubbing. That's why I came here. Wheels spin freely with no weight. I do have a 130mm hub in the rear in place of the original 126mm or whatever the old 10spds had, but the wheel visually appears centered nicely on the center line of the bike. Could be some type of alignment issue? Not sure how I'd even measure that.

    At slow speed it seems to roll OK. It's when I get much over 10mph or so it seem like the resistance increases way too quickly.

    I can take a look at the wheel bearings, but I'm just going by feel. They are non-cartridge type, so they can be adjusted, but they feel OK when loose. Could there be some issue that causes increase in friction as speed increases? Maybe I need to tear em down and put lighter weight lube in? It was 45 degrees.

    edit: I went back and checked my ride profile (I use mapmyride) and over the same downhill mile at the end of my commute I'm averaging right around 27mph on my road bike. On an old MTB trip I was still going ~20mph. Today it was around 15mph. And I'm basically just coasting down a long hill.
    Last edited by jbtute; 10-18-11 at 02:58 PM.

  10. #10
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Perhaps there's a rub that doesn't manifest itself when the bike is unweighted. I've had that happen. Check for places where the clearance is really tight like the top of the fork, see if you can get one of the brake shoes to rub on something by spinning the wheel, holding the front of the bike up in the air and flopping the wheel one way or the other.

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  11. #11
    Constant tinkerer FastJake's Avatar
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    Are you familiar with adjusting the bearings? Sometimes wheels (especially the cheap ones) will come out of the box with the cones adjusted way too tight. It's a rather critical adjustment, and you'll ruin your hubs prematurely if you run them this way. Read this: http://sheldonbrown.com/cone-adjustment.html

    Quote Originally Posted by bradtx View Post
    jbtute, I think the largest tire recommended for a 622X15 rim is 28 mm. I wouldn't have thought running a 35 mm tire would cause so much of an issue, but maybe so.
    Unlikely, I think. Although tire/rim width mismatch may seem like something to pay attention to on a road bike, MTBs do it all the time. The current trend is to run very narrow rims (~17mm) with the wide knobby tires that are common on MTBs to save weight at the rims. I think I have a 50mm tire on a 17mm MTB rim and it's just fine. No unusual behavior on the pavement.
    Why "derailer" is the correct way to spell the gear-change mechanism: sheldonbrown.com/derailer.html

  12. #12
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    This is a reach but is there any chance the brake pads do rub the tire when your weight is on the bike and the extra load compresses the tire radially but expands it laterally?

    Anything on your rack or panniers that could cause rubbing/

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by FastJake View Post
    Are you familiar with adjusting the bearings? Sometimes wheels (especially the cheap ones) will come out of the box with the cones adjusted way too tight. It's a rather critical adjustment, and you'll ruin your hubs prematurely if you run them this way. Read this: http://sheldonbrown.com/cone-adjustment.html



    Unlikely, I think. Although tire/rim width mismatch may seem like something to pay attention to on a road bike, MTBs do it all the time. The current trend is to run very narrow rims (~17mm) with the wide knobby tires that are common on MTBs to save weight at the rims. I think I have a 50mm tire on a 17mm MTB rim and it's just fine. No unusual behavior on the pavement.
    I agree, but I would also suspect that the OP could hear anything rubbing the tires, unless he's wearing ear buds.

    jbtute, Ride down that hill again and at the bottom see if either of the hubs are hot.

    Brad

  14. #14
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    How upright do you sit on this commuter bike? Aerodynamics make a huge difference in drag. I realize that you are comparing it to a MTB too but perhaps that bike has a pretty aggressive position too. Adding a pannier hanging off the side of the bike will also increase drag quite a bit. Makes crosswinds more fun too.

  15. #15
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    Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm confident that nothing was rubbing the tire or the wheel. I couldn't hear anything while moving and the only thing close would be the brakes, but they have good clearance.

    I took the rear wheel off last night and re-adjusted the bearing tension. I'm not sure how to really do it right. I'm just going by feel here. Then I swapped on a set of 700x25 tires that I had sitting around, and put 110psi in them.

    The difference was night and day. It rolled excellent this morning. Still not as fast as the road bike, but the commuter is a tank. I'm sure it weighs over 30lbs without the panniers filled. I was easily able to glide on the slight downhill grades where I was having to pedal yesterday to keep moving.

    I'm not sure if it was the tire or the wheel bearings. I also noticed a very slight wobble in the hub as it rotates. It's almost as if the race on the hub is slightly off center. It's probably in the range of .2mm, so very slight, but it is visible when the bike is on the stand. I'm not sure there's anything I could do about that other than a new hub. Either way, it seemed to roll nicely this morning.

    The ride is a little rougher with the 25mm tires, but I'll take the lower rolling resistance for now.

    Also a funny mishap as a result of this; It's a horizontal drop out and has quick release skewers, so I align the wheel and close the cam lever on the QR last night. This morning I'm go to take off from a stoplight and there's a clunk and the whole works locks up. I didn't know what happened so I jumped off and walked the bike to the sidewalk. I hadn't gotten the QR tight enough and under hard pedal the wheel came right out of the dropouts. Oops. Better check that better next time.

  16. #16
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    jbtute: You should check your quick release skewer tightening technique. The lever should start to offer resistance when it is halfway closed and you should have to exert considerable force to get it closed; it should leave a mark on your palm. I set mine up so that I have to really lean into them to get them closed. If your skewer was loose enough to come undone you have a problem, they do not loosen themselves, they were not tightened properly in the first place. The "funny" mishap won't be so funny if it happens to your front wheel at speed.

    I wonder if due to loose skewers the wheel is moving and rubbing on the frame which is causing your rolling resistance problem.

    You also state that you are unsure of how to adjust the wheel bearings/cones. You had better do some research and figure out how to do it correctly or you will risk damaging your hubs. Check out the Sheldon Brown or Park Tool web sites, they have a wealth of information.

  17. #17
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    I usually keep the skewers reasonably tight. Wouldn't be fun to lose a wheel, either one. The rear is a lot more likely to jump out of place because on a horizontal dropout, the chain pull on the cassette is basically in line with the dropout.

    I'm pretty confident that there was no tire rub before. Once it moves, it would be pretty obvious.

    It would be nice to have a good way to measure bearing adjustment. It appears to be simply set to zero pre-load. Hard to tell where exactly zero pre-load is without being loose.

  18. #18
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    You can eliminate rub as a possibility (you keep saying "I'm confident..." ) by examining the underside of the fork and brake calipers for shiny spots.

    Repacking/adjusting bearings is one of my upcoming projects -- the middle ground between zero friction and zero play is tough to measure...

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    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
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  19. #19
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    The OP mentioned using different hub widths, so perhaps the dropouts aren't so parallel with one or the other wheel in place.
    In this case, the QR lever might need a tighter adjustment to first align the dropouts before really compressing them. In other words, it takes more QR travel to take up all the slack in the rear end.

    Tires measure smaller (width AND height) when mounted on narrower rims, so additional inflation pressure is appropriate.
    Not that this will make a huge difference as described, just sayin'.

    Wheel bearings should have a slight, but noticeable free-play before the wheel is installed.
    Securing the QR compresses the axle slightly, and the proper amount of free-play will then vanish.
    Cassette hubs should have the drive-side cone/locknut secured against each other firmly before assembling and adjusting the non-drive-side bearing. Usually the drive-side cone and locknut wrench flats are inaccessible (hidden) once the hub is fully assembled.

  20. #20
    Constant tinkerer FastJake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbtute View Post
    I took the rear wheel off last night and re-adjusted the bearing tension. I'm not sure how to really do it right. I'm just going by feel here. Then I swapped on a set of 700x25 tires that I had sitting around, and put 110psi in them.

    The difference was night and day. It rolled excellent this morning.
    Put the 35mm tire back on. You did two things at once, so you cannot know the true solution. I'm 99% sure the wider tires aren't the issue here. They will definitely not drop your speed from 35mph to 15mph down a hill.

    For hub bearing adjustment see the link I posted earlier.
    Why "derailer" is the correct way to spell the gear-change mechanism: sheldonbrown.com/derailer.html

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