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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 07-07-11, 03:04 PM   #1
flipsta
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Tire Width; 32 v 37 - Is there a difference?

Hello Y'all

I am new to bike commuting, like 2 months, thanks to an awesome birthday gift.

I got an unmarked commuting frame with some older/worn tires (700x32). I am looking for new tires. Friends and bike shop employees have been steering me towards two sizes; 32 and 37.

I am slowly making my bike my first choice for commuting within 5 miles for errands and 9 miles for work. I read online that skinny tires are good for speed and wider tires are good for comfort. I ride on bike paths, city streets in downtown Denver and suburban streets.

Is there a difference? What else should I be considering before making a selection?

Thanks!!!

Last edited by flipsta; 07-07-11 at 03:14 PM.
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Old 07-07-11, 03:09 PM   #2
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There is a difference, but it's subtle. As you said, the wider tires are generally more comfortable to ride on, but the thinner tires are generally a little bit faster (on pavement).

If you intend to ride off-road fairly regularly, you might be better off with the 700x37 size tires. If you want to ride off-road only occasionally, in that case it might make more sense to go with the 700x32 size.

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Old 07-07-11, 03:17 PM   #3
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I'm never really off-road... though sometimes I find myself needing to ride briefly over gravel and grass.

Will 37s handle urban/city hazards better (pot holes, uneven concrete seams, etc)?

Thanks for the insight. I am super new to cycling and have no reference points for any of this stuff.
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Old 07-07-11, 03:28 PM   #4
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They will both handle those things, but the 37's will be a little bit more comfortable and of course they provide more traction (given the same tire) because they have more surface area in contact with the road.

The advantage to the 700x32 tires is that they will be a little bit faster, although it's more of a subtle difference. 28 vs 37 is a bigger difference, but 32 vs 37 is pretty subtle. You'd probably have to ride them back to back to notice the difference.

Edit: By off-road I didn't necessarily mean 'mountain bike' type terrain, I meant dirt or gravel trails.
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Old 07-07-11, 03:40 PM   #5
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Personally, I think your choice of tire make/model will matter more than 32 vs 37. Either of those sizes should be fine for your stated purpose, as long as you pick a good quality tire that meets your needs. I have 37s on my hybrid, and 32s on my Jake. They're both fine for me.
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Old 07-07-11, 03:53 PM   #6
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I'm skeptical as to how much difference the air volume between 32's and 37's would make, but tires that are available as 37's tend to be heavy. To some extent that's true of 32's also, but there are some speed-oriented tires that come that narrow. You really need to start by looking at other attributes.

In general, with tires you're always looking at trade-offs. You need to decide what your priorities are. Consider the following:

Price
Durability
Puncture protection
Ride feel
Weight
Traction

My favorite tires for any given ride are the Schwalbe Ultremo R.1. They're very light and have an amazing ride feel. On the other hand, they have poor puncture protection and after only 1500 miles they look like swiss cheese. An almost precisely opposite tire is the Schwalbe Marathon Plus. People on this forum routinely report getting 10,000+ flat free miles from them, but they're heavy like nobody's business and have a relatively harsh ride. That's the kind of trade off you're looking at. As you pay more for a tire, you can get more of the things you want, but there's always a limit.

A tire that feels soft will wear out quicker than a tire that feels hard. You can usually spot this in the technical specs by looking at thread counts. Just like with bed linens, higher thread count feels nicer but isn't as durable and is more prone to punctures. A simple way to make a tire puncture resistant is to put a thick piece of hard rubber in it. This works well, but the tire will be heavy and have a harsh ride. Many punctures can be prevented by a lightweight barrier such as a kevlar belt. This keeps the tire light, but the price goes up. The ride quality also drops a bit. Aside from ride feel, better quality rubber also improves traction.

Skinny tires let you run at a higher pressure, which is good for speed, but if you don't keep the pressure high they become more prone to flats. Wider tires are inherently more resistent to flats, and you can run them at a lower pressure, which is what makes them more comfortable on rough surfaces because the squish of the tire absorbs some of the bumps in the road. It also absorbs some of your energy every time you crank the pedals. Again, trade offs.
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Old 07-07-11, 03:54 PM   #7
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As long as the tire fits properly it's fine. I ride 32 on and off road, through light mud (thick mud, not sloshy slick stuff; need knobbies for that), gravel, etc. 37 won't save me if I hit something my 32 won't take. Of course, I have 14mm rims and so throwing say a 42mm wide tire on them would be extremely bad; a 37 might do fine.

For what it's worth, I've ridden my tires as low as 40 and as high as 90. I'm relatively annoyed by 40PSI pressures and in fact can notice when I'm down below 70 easy. I actually prefer my stiff frame with 90PSI in the tires; though I also prefer sports suspension in my car rather than crap like Cadillac shoves in their luxury vehicles (it's a car, not a living room couch!). I use a seat post suspension to take the edge off; full suspension and soft/wide tires are for mountain biking.

I recommend Schwalbe Marathon Supreme myself, btw. Fairly light (395g), roll nice and easy, very sticky, great wet traction, work well enough on gravel and mud and grass. Also, puncture resistant.
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Old 07-07-11, 03:56 PM   #8
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Thanks for the info and feedback... this forum rocks.

I am looking at the Conti Touring Plus for my next tire. I need good puncture protection since goatheads live on the bike paths here in Denver. I will also be rocking a thicker puncture resistant tube... the little I know about these are that they are thicker on the road side?

Thanks for helping get setup for success.
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Old 07-07-11, 03:58 PM   #9
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The thicker the tire, the cushier the ride and the better the traction but the higher the roll resistance. That is why road bikes have very thin tires and mountain bikes have thick ones. One is made for low roll resistance and speed, and the other is for high traction and taking bumps.
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Old 07-07-11, 04:45 PM   #10
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The question of dealing with goat heads may be a good one to post in the Regional Discussions, Great Plains -- includes Colorado. Otherwise, I'd be inclined to favor the lbs suggestions -- they should know your area well enough.
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Old 07-07-11, 04:48 PM   #11
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The Schwalbe Marathon Plus is the only tire I've heard people with goatheads say is acceptable, but the Conti Touring Plus looks like it uses a similar flat prevention strategy, so it might do OK. There's a pretty big weight difference between the 32 and the 37, but both are heavy so you might not notice a lot of difference in that regard. It is, at least, lighter than the Marathon Plus.
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Old 07-08-11, 12:22 AM   #12
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It seems as a newbie I probably cant tell the difference between 32 and 37. So I will probably go with the 37 for comfort and durability against road hazards.

What is considered a light weight for tires?

Thanks for all the input.
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Old 07-08-11, 01:14 AM   #13
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My experience is with 37s or 38s I'm more comfortable on gravel. The 32s are kind of spooky on gravel until you get used to them. I prefer the 32s overall myself.
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Old 07-08-11, 01:36 AM   #14
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If you decide to go 37s, make sure they will fit into your brakes so you can get the wheel off easily. Probably not an issue, depending on what kind of brakes you have; but always good to check when you decide to go wider than what you already know works.

KeS
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Old 07-08-11, 01:46 AM   #15
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As far as I know, wider tires don't have more rolling resistance at the same pressure as narrower tires. They do have more weight and are less aerodynamic however.

http://www.bikeradar.com/news/articl...he-myths-29245
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Old 07-08-11, 08:21 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flipsta View Post
What is considered a light weight for tires?
Lightweight clinchers typically weigh in around 200 grams. You don't get a lot of flat protection at that level. My 700x28 Continental Grand Prix 4 Seasons weigh 260 grams and have done pretty good against glass, but I don't know if I'd choose this tire in goat head territory.
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Old 07-08-11, 09:37 AM   #17
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Not much difference,the bigger the tire,the more forgiving about tire pressure.

Make sure the bigger tires will clear your brakes when inflated,not much fun to have to deflate/inflate to remove the wheels.
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Old 07-08-11, 10:13 AM   #18
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The answer is 5.
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Old 07-08-11, 10:16 AM   #19
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I've often found myself wishing for wider tyres, never for skinnier ones.
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Old 07-08-11, 11:00 AM   #20
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i have Continentals on my commuter - 47s. it is a Trek hybrid from 2001. They take care of the seams in the road, the poor transitions from road to MUP, crushed limestone, crushed rock transitions and more. I think they max at 60psi or something. The bulk is nice with my weight (210lb) and with a rack and bag they make for a nice ride. Response is way slower than the 32s on my road bike however, but at 210lbs a few grams here and there aren't an issue My preference is to put the biggest tire I can on my commuter bike since I also use it for running errands, pulling cargo trailer, and riding with the fam on neighborhood streets full of seams.
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Old 07-08-11, 11:03 AM   #21
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One thing I haven't seen mentioned here is whether or not 37s will fit between your chain stays or fork. Cyclocross and touring frames usually don't have a problem with this, but many other frames do. You may want to double check that first.

Of my two main commuters, one has 32s (Schwalbe Marathon Supreme) and the other has 35s (Schwalbe Marathon Racer) and sometimes 37s (Schwalbe Marathon XR). I prefer the 32s on tarmac and 35s/37s for dirt roads, but the speed and ride quality is really close. The 35s/37s are slightly softer and slower, but not enough to make a big difference.
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Old 07-09-11, 11:44 AM   #22
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I have 700x23 tires on my road bike, but greatly prefer the wider tires on my hybrid for commuter use. They are 26x1.75, which equates to 47mm tires. If you can fit the wider 37s on your bike, I would do so.
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Old 07-09-11, 03:29 PM   #23
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I live in goathead city, and have no flats with my specialized armadillo nimbus. Great tire, and cheaper than the Schwalbs.
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Old 07-10-11, 01:38 AM   #24
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It makes a big difference for me. I'm 225lbs though.
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Old 07-10-11, 08:12 AM   #25
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I live in goathead city, and have no flats with my specialized armadillo nimbus. Great tire, and cheaper than the Schwalbs.
LOVE my Nimbus'. The tread pattern cuts through water like no ones business too.
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