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What's the best tire width for city commuting?

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What's the best tire width for city commuting?

Old 09-23-15, 06:06 PM
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vol
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What's the best tire width for city commuting?

For city commuting on hybrid/city bikes, asphalt surface with occasional potholes, what tire width are the most appropriate and best balance between speed, flat-risk, comfort, etc.? 700C size. Thanks.
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Old 09-23-15, 06:59 PM
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700x38
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Old 09-23-15, 07:11 PM
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I run 700x42 Schwalbe Marathon during spring, summer, and fall. Sometimes switch to 700x36? studded Marathon Winters.
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Old 09-23-15, 07:44 PM
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Depends on your riding style and what your rim width and bike frame will accommodate.

I commute 25 miles through Los Angeles on both a recumbent with 700x32 and a road bike with 700x25. I like the thinner tires on the road bike better. I like to ride fast and the 25's feel faster. They are Gatorskins and I have not had a flat on them yet. However, I do feel more secure on the 32's, just slower.

Next tires for both bikes will be 700x28 if they will fit. Seems like a nice compromise between security and speed.

Edit: Oops, missed the "hybrid/city bike" reference in the original post. Sorry, no experience with what size works on a city bike.

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Last edited by Paul W.; 09-23-15 at 07:50 PM.
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Old 09-23-15, 08:09 PM
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I don't know about "best," but I've been using 38mm Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires on my Dutch-style bike and 38mm Panaracer (somethings) on my 23-year-old steel hybrid. Both have puncture protection and reflective side walls. It works for me.

I've also used my Bianchi Volpe for an occasional commute using 28mm Vittoria Randonneurs. Those also work well, at least in nice weather.
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Old 09-23-15, 08:14 PM
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Thanks. What are the risks or cons if the tire is too narrow? FYI I am not heavy and rarely carry heavy load. I've ridden 700cx35 and 700cx38 (in fact the "38mm" one looks and measures narrower than the 35mm). My next hybrid will probably be 700x32.

Are narrower tires usually also thinner?
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Old 09-23-15, 10:03 PM
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700c x 38 feels like a good compromise between low rolling resistance and cushiony stability. Coming from old road bike 27 x 1-1/4" tires, the 700x38 Specialized Hemisphere tires that came with my Globe Carmel feel much more stable on patches of sand and loose gravel, narrow ruts that suddenly deflect the wheel and other traps. This stuff used to feel very sketchy on my Motobecane Mirage.

Even when I was experienced and riding daily I dumped the Motobecane a few times rounding corners and hitting patches of loose gravel or narrow ruts. I didn't dare ride on the very rough gravel roads around my grandparents' rural Texas home - I tried a couple of times and barely made 200 yards before I was constantly dabbing my toes down to keep balance.

Now that I've been riding again only 3 weeks after a long hiatus I'm not dreading the unavoidable patches of sand and loose gravel, ruts, etc. I've even felt confident riding the unpaved sorta grassy-gravelly roadsides that pass for "sidewalks" in some parts of Texas, in preference to narrow busy streets with no shoulders or safety buffer. This is stuff that would have flatted my older tires weekly, assuming I hadn't already fallen several times.
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Old 09-24-15, 07:24 AM
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In the past, fatter tyres were low grade ones used on cheap bikes. You can now get premium tyres using lightweight construction, in fatter sizes.
I have used 28 and 32mm, mostly Schwalbe Marathon for commuting, and in 26" wheel have used a fat 2" Big Apple.
They all work well.
Marathon Plus tyres have a very inflexible sidewall so perform better in wider sizes.
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Old 09-24-15, 08:15 AM
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I've had good results with anything from 28mm to 47mm.
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Old 09-24-15, 08:26 AM
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"best" is very subjective. I run 700x25 on my road bike commuter with 31 mile round trip commute, because that's the largest that will fit, and it works great for me.
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Old 09-24-15, 08:32 AM
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23 to 28mm works for me. Anything bigger is likely slower. I ride on relatively smooth roads ride and around or over the potholes
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Old 09-24-15, 08:42 AM
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I ride 28mm schwalbe marathon plus on my main commuter (touring e-bike.) I ride 23mm continental gator skins on my carbon fiber road bike - it sees a little bit of commuting time. Roads and MUP are in pretty good condition. I don't have complaints about either tire. I hate flats. Neither tire has had a flat since they were installed - 900 miles on the schwalbe, 300 miles on the conti's.
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Old 09-24-15, 09:20 AM
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It's either around 25c or 40c in my opinion. 25c is lighter and faster. 40c is heavier and a little slower, but can handle just rolling over numerous small objects on the road. It mostly depends on whether you need to roll over them (rather than just going around them), and how well your bike frame is built to handle vibrations, and comfort.

I'd never go above 40c (I mean 42c wouldn't matter), above that it starts to become much slower with much smaller gains in comfort / ability to roll over stuff.
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Old 09-24-15, 09:27 AM
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I have a wide variety, but have a strong preference for 28X1-1/2" (700B-38) as its a good compromise for all conditions.
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Old 09-24-15, 09:48 AM
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My 700x25 Conti Grand Prix 4 Seasons started out on the front, and is now on the rear, and has over 6,500 miles with no flats. *knocks on fake wood desk*

The other GP4S that I used originally on the back lasted far less than that (3500-4K miles maybe), had a flat on the road once, then spontaneously ruptured with the bike in the work stand, at which point I retired it.
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Old 09-24-15, 10:11 AM
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It's a matter of taste. For much of my life, my favorite all purpose width has been 28mm, which is narrow compared with most people's tastes. People have been raving about wide tires, so I'm trying them. 32's are nice, and I've been trying some 35's. I'm probably imagining that they are slower, but they do feel slower to me. Maybe I'm feeling the effect on handling, not on forward speed. My main commuter bike has 35's now, Vittoria Voyager Randos. They feel very tough but not slow. Today, I rode down a set of stairs, which I don't usually do. I didn't dent my rims, so I give some credit to the tires and also to the fact that they are probably overinflated today. I pump them to 80 psi to prolong the interval between refills. I refill them when they hit 30 or 40 psi.
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Old 09-24-15, 12:10 PM
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Are 32mm tires usually thinner than 35mm or 38mm?
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Old 09-24-15, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by vol View Post
Are 32mm tires usually thinner than 35mm or 38mm?
Good question. I'd like to know also. Do wider tires have thicker rubber sidewalls and tread? Seems like they would. Anyone ever cut open the cross sections of different tires?

Last edited by Paul W.; 09-24-15 at 06:33 PM.
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Old 09-24-15, 04:32 PM
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The least expensive tire is the one you already own... I'm schlubby and I like 32's on my road-ish bike.
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Old 09-24-15, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by vol View Post
Are 32mm tires usually thinner than 35mm or 38mm?
Originally Posted by Paul W. View Post
Good question. I'd like to know also. Do wider tires have thicker rubber sidewalls and tread? Seems like they would. Anyone ever cut open the cross sections of different tires?
Oh I get what's being asked now. At first I was thinking: "Of course 32mm is thinner than 38mm !"

But what it sounds like you're asking is about the sidewall/tread thickness. Between the various 32 and 38mm tires, sidewall thickness is going to depend on the exact model.
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Old 09-24-15, 08:41 PM
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In my experience, the fatter the better. Currently running 39 mm (actual measured width).
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Old 09-25-15, 10:34 AM
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Currently running 1.35/1.25 F/R on my commuter recumbent but planning to move on up to 1.5/1.4. Suburban/urban/suburban commute use but also used for suburban/rural riding.
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Old 09-25-15, 09:34 PM
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I like 700x28. I switch to knobby style tires in the winter and run wider 700x32. I would go wider, but I don't have the fender clearance.
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Old 09-25-15, 11:06 PM
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I commute over what I would generously term "a variety of road conditions and states of repair" that ranges from chip seal, loose gravel, to potholes everywhere. I switched to schwalbe big apples this last spring, and have no plans of going back except for winter riding. The balloon road tire isn't the best on the loose stuff, but is the best at everything else for me. On my 26" wheels I've been similarly pleased with the fat franks.

Comfort: A+
Flat protection: A (haven't had one yet, but at least in theory a bigger tire will have greater chance to encounter a puncturing object, so I guess the risk might be more).
potholes: A+, the 29" wheel plus some of the largest tires that arent a 29+ allow me to roll right over a lot of potholes I'd hate to hit on small tires.
speed: A+ without a doubt, and confirmed by my commute mates, the fastest tires I've had on this bike.
PSI versatility: A+ I'm a big guy, usually a tire losing even 10 psi turns it into a mush fest for me. This is literally the first set of tires I've ever used that I could drop the psi down to 30, and actually gain those greater footing and traction benefits, without feeling like I'm riding in mud. I'm pretty sure the large volume is a big reason for this.

Both the 29" big apple and the 26" fat frank are in 2.35, which I guess is like a 60 for width.

Last edited by Tailor; 09-25-15 at 11:07 PM. Reason: wierd formatting
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Old 09-26-15, 05:09 AM
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Best width is whatever's on the bike you're riding at that moment
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