Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Southwestern Ontario
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Reducing the width of your tires will not, in and of itself, necessarily make you/your bike faster (unless you habitually ride at speeds on the road at which wheel aerodynamics become a significant factor). There's always trade-offs! Biggest single change would/will be getting rid of anything remotely resembling mtb 'knobbies' -- i.e. any significant externally-applied 'tread' -- and running a plain or 'grooved' slick. Otherwise, and generally, by changing (i.e. putting on higher quality) tires you could:
1. Lower rolling resistance (less effort for a given speed over the road);
2. Lower rotating mass (= quicker acceleration), and
3. Increase 'comfort'.
For example, if you replaced your existing (stock?) tires with, say, Schwalbe Marathon Supremes in a 2" width, i.e. pretty much the same 'size' as you have now, you'd almost certainly notice all of the above. The Schwalbes are very expensive, and an extreme example, but you get the idea.
On a 26" wheel, don't forget that by changing to, e.g., a 1.3 or 1.5" slick you have to run at higher pressures (for the same rolling resistance and puncture resistance as the same tire in, say, a 1.75 or 2" width); this will inevitably reduce 'comfort', but increase acceleration slightly. It would also effectively reduce your gearing, because overall wheel diameter becomes pretty small. It's all a matter of trade-offs!
In my own experience, I've found that really high quality 1.6 or 1.75" slicks work for me; YMMV