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  1. #1
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    Thinnest tire on a mountain bike

    So I got myself a mountain bike and I would like to use it for commuting and general road use. The easiest way to make this more enjoyable is of course change the current (26 x 1.95") knobby tires to thinner slicks. The trouble is I don't know how thin I can go. And for what I thought would be a simple question after much searching I can't seem to find a definitive answer.

    The rims are marked 559x18 which I presumed 18 is the internal rim width in mm.

    According to the chart here http://www.sheldonbrown.com/tire_sizing.html the thinnest I can go with 18 mm rim is 28 mm or about 1.1 inch. Does this sound about right to people and does it agree with your experience? 1.1 inch is the thinnest I've seen advertised for 26" wheels. Obviously if I go that thin I'll have to change the tubes over as well.

    Other than that, can anyone suggest a good thin, slick and durable tire for commuting? (I hate flats).
    I want to live.

  2. #2
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    I commute on a Trek 720 Hybrid that originally had 700 by 1 1/2" wide tires. The last two sets of wheels built for this bike have been 20mm rims and now 18mm Sun CR18's.

    My tire of choice are Continental Gatorskins in 700 by 28. Never have flats at all, just tore one of my sidewalls up by getting it caught in a crack which meant replacing the tire. Still got home that day with lowered air pressure and a big bulge!

    This combination is much faster than the way the bike was set up new, works well for me. Not sure if Conti makes 26" Gatorskins and I am assuming that this is what you have because it is a mountain bike.

    Make sure that if you change rims sizes, make sure that the brakes clearthe wheel / pads have enough adjustment to reach the rims, etc

    Hope this helps,
    Chris - Baton Rouge, La - USA

  3. #3
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    PICT3581..jpgPICT3579..jpgIm on the bike today, will see if I can post you a few pics.

    ChrisPICT3580..jpg

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by kd5udb View Post
    Not sure if Conti makes 26" Gatorskins and I am assuming that this is what you have because it is a mountain bike.
    They do. http://www.amazon.com/Continental-Ul.../dp/B000NGT2VY

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    If you go too small, it can affect handling. Changing from 2.5" to 1" will alter the trail of the bike and may result in it being susceptible to shimmy at high speeds.

    I've been down the route of getting the narrowest slicks I could on my 26" bike. In the end I found tyre construction to be the most important factor in reducing rolling resistance (mostly light flexible sidewalls).

  6. #6
    born again cyclist Steely Dan's Avatar
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    i've got 26 x 1.0 (559 x 25) Ritchey Tom Slick's on my mountain commuter. i believe the inner dimension on my Vuelta Zerolite rims is 17mm, so i'm right at the very edge of sheldon brown's scale, but it works. however, as a caveat, i will say that a very narrow tire on a MTB rim set-up does seem to be more susceptible to pinch flats.
    The first rule: if you're riding a bike and not having fun, then you're doing it wrong.

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    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    If you want something light and quick-accelerating, you could try the Panaracer Pasela TG folding 26 x 1.25 with Continental Race 650 Light tubes. They're about 28-29mm inflated. Along with the caveats listed above, also be aware that the bike will ride a lot closer to the ground, reducing your pedal clearance when pedalling through corners.

    In the bigger picture, even big tires can be quite fast, if they're really good tires. Continental Race King Supersonic 2.2 comes to mind, they're a full 55mm width and still wicked-fast.

  8. #8
    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    While not as narrow as some examples given in response to this thread, my switch to 1.5" slicks made a world of difference in rolling resistance on my MTB, while still being wide enough to make the bike feel very stable.

    With 2.125" knobbies:



    With 1.5" slicks:

    Gettin' my Fred on.

  9. #9
    born again cyclist Steely Dan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mechBgon View Post
    Along with the caveats listed above, also be aware that the bike will ride a lot closer to the ground, reducing your pedal clearance when pedalling through corners.
    quoted for truth. having gone all the way down to a 559 x 25 tire, i have noticed that pedal strikes are now more common in tight turns. not necessarily the end of the world if you're conscious of it and remember to coast through tight turns, but another reason why going all the way down to the absolute skinniest tire you can use can cause other issues with your bike.
    The first rule: if you're riding a bike and not having fun, then you're doing it wrong.

  10. #10
    Senior Member southpawboston's Avatar
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    i swapped my wife's 26x2.0" knobbies for 26x1.4" continental city tires for general purpose city riding, and the bike rode perfectly stably with them (not to mention with far less rolling resistance!). the rider was a tad harsher, but that was to be expected. these are 1.4" contis:


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    Quote Originally Posted by mechBgon View Post
    Continental Race King Supersonic 2.2 comes to mind, they're a full 55mm width and still wicked-fast.
    They're bigger than most 2.4" tires. This time of the year they tend to jam a lot of leaves in my frame from the limited clearance. But I greatly enjoy the ride from massive air volume on a tire that lightweight.

    Typically they cost me three or four minutes (over 25 min total) vs the 700x28C wheelset on my way into work.

  12. #12
    Come here often? <wink> exile's Avatar
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    I have Specialized FatBoys (26*1.25 100psi) on my hardtail. I had a few flats when I first got them, but nothing for a while now. I am not sure how many flats can be contributed to rider error though. The rim width looks about right.

    I enjoy my tires. A lot faster than the knobbies that came with it and the Michelin TransWorld City's they replaced.
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    That sounds roughly right, but I don't know that I would go down to 28mm if it was me. That can lead to a pretty uncomfortable ride on a bike that was designed with big fat tires in mind. In my limited experience, 1.5" is a safe bet for being noticeably faster but comfy, 1.25" if you want to give up some noticeable comfort for perhaps a slight increase in speed (I think it's 32c in road tire terms). I wouldn't go below 1.25" myself, not unless the bike was designed to start with smaller tires - carbon fork, better vibration reducing design, etc.

    For cheap puncture resistant tires, my Panaracer TServ tires have been pretty good, and cost like $40/tire. I've heard good things about their slightly less expensive cousin - the Panaracer Paseal TG's as well (make sure you get the TG or the Tourguard version, there's another version that's cheaper but noticeably less puncture resistant that doesn't have TG or Tourguard in the name).

    For more expensive tires, I've also heard good things about the Schwalbe Marathon Supreme's. They're targetted at "fast but comfortable". Good puncture resistance. Not sure what they're smallest size is.

    I think the Specialized Armadillo's come in relatively less-wide sizes - I *think* the Specialized Armadillo Roubaix tire has a good ride and good puncture resistance. My dad has some version of the Armadillo's and likes them.

  14. #14
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Put 26x1.25 Panaracer Urban Max's on the wifes Specialized. To me I couldn't do it because it looks naked but she loves them for pavement.

  15. #15
    Senior Member nashvillwill's Avatar
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    I'm not saying this is the best setup, it's just what i have and love. MTB wheels, 559x20 which came with 26x1.95 knobbies on them. I switched to 26x1.25 Panaracer pasela's (although mine are not folding tires like an above poster said). Not true slicks, but very little tread. They have made a world of difference for me. MUCH less rolling resistance, and i have found more confidence in cornering. I stay on the streets, so i can't comment on how they would do on dirt, but i can tell you that i will never go back to the MTB tires.

  16. #16
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    All valid points. It's working out for me because:

    The Trek 720 was a hybrid/cross bike to start with so it had 700C wheels and going to narrower lower profile tires did loose a little height but not enough to have pedal strike problems. Also there is plenty of brake adjustement with the V brakes.

    I probably don't have pinch flat problems because I weigh in at 145 lbs and usually have at the most 20 lbs in the panniers. Heck, I run the back tire at about 100 pounds and the front at about 85 so they aren't as harsh.

    Chris, Baton Rouge

  17. #17
    Senior Member Kojak's Avatar
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    Pay attention to the width of your rim. You don't want to go so narrow so as to create an incompatibility issue with the rim.

    http://www.schwalbetires.com/tech_info/tire_dimensions

    "which tire fits which rim" heading.
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    I have a mountain bike that I use for commuting as well. It had 1.95 knobbies & I changed to a 1.5" semi-slick. Still using the same tubes.

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