Originally Posted by pcmike
What do you recommend? Want super thin but as tough as possible. I hate flats
Thia depends on a few things:
First of all how heavy is the "load" the bicycle has to carry?
Second how smooth a ride do you want?
Three what do you mean by thin?
Let me explain.
Questions one and two are based on determining the optimum tire width. Only a small part of a tire touches the ground, this contact patch ranges from under 1 square inch for a narrow racing tire to about 5 square inches for a fat mountain bike tire. 60% of the weight of the rider is on the back wheel. So if we take a rider that is 200lbs, then 120lbs is sitting on the rear wheel. This means with a narrow 23mm tire you need 120PSI, for a rock hard tire. Now if we have an Uber-clyde then 180lbs is on that tire, meaning for the same hardness you would need 180PSI. Alternatively you can go to a wider tire, with a 1½ square inch contact patch and end up in the same place, a 32mm tire would be about right.
One of the advantages of a pneumatic tire is that at slightly lower pressure you get a smoother ride as the air in the tire absorbs a lot of the vibration and small irregularities in the surface your riding on. The lower the pressure the more comfortable the ride, however there is an equalization at stake here, as you lower the pressure the size of the contact patch must increase to compensate, leading to the familiar bulge at the bottom of the tire. You also lower the rolling resistance of the tire, so it takes more energy to move the bicycle.
A wider tire design can mean less pressure is needed while retaining the same rolling resistance, for example our 200lb rider on a 32mm tire would require only 80PSI.
When I think of thin, I think of the amount of rubber on the tire, not the width of the tire, and puncture resistance is much better on a thicker tire, some tires have belts of Kevlar which is a very tough material under the tread which can help with puncture resistance. You also need to keep in mind though, the thinner the tire, the thinner the tread, and that can mean a shorter tire life.
Super narrow and super thin tires are good for racers where ride comfort and tire life can be sacrificed for a faster time. For everyday riding a nice thick, wide tire can make even an AL frame bike comfortable for distance riding.