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Are wider road bike tires faster?

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Are wider road bike tires faster?

Old 11-06-16, 07:29 AM
  #51  
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Too bad none of that is true in regards to our application. From the Velonews CRR tests a few years back:

"Tire rolling resistance on the road is caused by (1) internal friction and hysteresis (deformation over time) within the tire’s materials, and (2) on rough roads, small bumps lifting the bike and rider slightly (uphill) on each little impact.

By definition, wider tires will have shorter contact patches and, hence, less tire deflection; if the tire pressure is the same, the area of the contact patch must be the same to support the same load. The shorter the contact patch, the lower the vertical depth of tire deflection; the internal friction and hysteresis within the tire’s materials is lower.

If a wider tire is made of the same materials in the same thickness as a narrower one, it will roll faster, because (1) the internal friction and hysteresis within the tire’s materials will be lower, and (2) because the surface imperfections in the road will be absorbed into the tire more easily (since it has more deflection available), thus lifting the bike and rider slightly less with each little impact."


A wider, heavier (even much heavier) tire would be slower only for the amount of time between standing still and cruising speed. Then, the wider tire would maintain a higher speed for the same wattage output compared to a narrower tire.

My personal favorite from this whole thread is feeling the difference in weight between 23s and 25s. That is simply remarkable BF-ness. Almost unparalleled. The weight difference between a typical 23 and 25 tire... about 20 grams.
The difference between wire bead and folding tends to be a bit more. You can ride a decent Bontrager Sport 25 with wirebead on our hills and when switching to Michelin Krylion 23 folding bead you really can feel the difference on hill rides.
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Old 11-06-16, 08:03 AM
  #52  
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
The shorter the contact patch, the lower the vertical depth of tire deflection; the internal friction and hysteresis within the tire’s materials is lower.
It IS less vertical deflection, because the radius of curvature is greater with the wider tire. You literally have to push the tire down more, vertically, to get the same area contact with a tire with a smaller radius. That's not due to the shape of the contact patch though; it just happens to be usually shorter in wider bike tires. My objection is not really important, and referring to the shape of the contact is very common, but this just bugs me somehow.

Possibly irrelevant objection on my part since everything you wrote is true IMO - it's just that when I see a common but seemingly wrong explanation I tend to get skeptical about the rest so I wanted to throw an alternative out there.
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Old 11-06-16, 11:06 AM
  #53  
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Originally Posted by OldsCOOL View Post
The difference between wire bead and folding tends to be a bit more. You can ride a decent Bontrager Sport 25 with wirebead on our hills and when switching to Michelin Krylion 23 folding bead you really can feel the difference on hill rides.
In related news, apples and oranges taste different. A $50+ carbon bead tire rides differently from a $20 wire bead?



You cannot in good conscience compare two tires on basis of width alone when they are of completely different construction. The 21st-century bottom line is that there's no reason to choose a 700x23 over a 700x25 of the same trim/manufacturer unless your bike won't fit the wider tire. It has been conclusively shown, again and again, that the wider tire will perform better overall while being more comfortable.
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Old 11-06-16, 05:01 PM
  #54  
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Originally Posted by OldsCOOL View Post
Nice sarcasm.
I apologise – on reflection I should have expressed myself differently.

I was trying to convey the following:
~ I am pretty confident I could not tell the difference in handling between two tires of the same model merely one size apart (20 grams per tire in my example – assuming the manufacturer’s specs are reasonably consistent between sizes).
~ During this past summer I replaced a pair of Grand Prix tires with 4000Sii. I liked riding on the 4000Sii, and consider them to be a better tire (albeit I did get my first puncture). However, I am not at all certain I could identify which tire was on the bike in a blind test.
~ I have no competitive / high speed cycling experience; and indeed relative to many on this forum do not even have a lot of cycling experience full stop. As such, I have to acknowledge that there are circumstances when an expert in a field can make valid judgments that are beyond my abilities.

I apologise in advance if all I have done is dig myself a deeper hole - I have no reason or desire to upset you (or anyone else on this forum).

And I go back to an earlier post – considering tire width in isolation may not be entirely appropriate. For example, it was suggested in some material I read that different width tires may require different width rims to achieve optimal performance / handling.

Lets hope we can continue to enjoy our cycling whatever width tires we use!
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Old 11-06-16, 07:22 PM
  #55  
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Originally Posted by FamilyMan007 View Post
I apologise – on reflection I should have expressed myself differently.

I was trying to convey the following:
~ I am pretty confident I could not tell the difference in handling between two tires of the same model merely one size apart (20 grams per tire in my example – assuming the manufacturer’s specs are reasonably consistent between sizes).
~ During this past summer I replaced a pair of Grand Prix tires with 4000Sii. I liked riding on the 4000Sii, and consider them to be a better tire (albeit I did get my first puncture). However, I am not at all certain I could identify which tire was on the bike in a blind test.
~ I have no competitive / high speed cycling experience; and indeed relative to many on this forum do not even have a lot of cycling experience full stop. As such, I have to acknowledge that there are circumstances when an expert in a field can make valid judgments that are beyond my abilities.

I apologise in advance if all I have done is dig myself a deeper hole - I have no reason or desire to upset you (or anyone else on this forum).

And I go back to an earlier post – considering tire width in isolation may not be entirely appropriate. For example, it was suggested in some material I read that different width tires may require different width rims to achieve optimal performance / handling.

Lets hope we can continue to enjoy our cycling whatever width tires we use!
Thank you for taking time to explain your earlier post. I seem to be ***ahem*** narrow minded on this issue and know better to not get involved in it. To me, it isnt width or pressure as much as the rolling resistance and (what was said earlier) unsprung weight in the wheelsets. The diff between one brand of 25's and Michelin 23's can mean up to 200gr the pair. To a modern CF rider of a bike that weighs 14-16 pounds you probably wont notice it but on my 20-22lb vintage racers I can.
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Old 11-06-16, 08:40 PM
  #56  
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I've found the additional hysteresis losses from pedaling large tires at low pressure can at times overpower the improved rolling resistance. This is especially obvious on extremely smooth flat roads/trails - the Silver Comet here in Atlanta is a good example. My average speed will be significantly lower at the same power level on the silver comet versus riding on the road right next to it that features mildly steep rolling hills.
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Old 11-06-16, 10:01 PM
  #57  
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Add into the equation the stiffness of the frame and the stiffness of the wheels... My first really nice road bike was a Scott CR1 with Ksyrium SSC SL wheels. At the time, the CR1 was the lightest non-custom frame ever made and super rigid. The Ksyriums with bladed spokes similarly rigid. Because I didn't know any better, I thought it was normal and got used to it. The bike was incredible - it climbed like a scalded cat. It was REALLY easy to discern the difference in tires. Anything thicker than a soap bubble felt like your were pedaling through mud.

Comfort is like acute pain - it's all relative.
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Old 11-07-16, 10:39 AM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
I came across an exceptionally smooth road while on tour in Northern Ireland ..

when I commented on how nice it was The local said they did that for its use as Part of a Motorcycle Race Circuit.

After all the Isle of Man is not very far with its incredible motor cycle race.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isle_of_Man_TT

I have to add: more rubber on the road with wider tires means more friction and therefor more power needed!

Last edited by VNA; 11-07-16 at 10:44 AM.
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Old 11-07-16, 11:09 AM
  #59  
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
I've found the additional hysteresis losses from pedaling large tires at low pressure can at times overpower the improved rolling resistance.
'rolling resistance' is another name for 'hysteresis losses'. Given two tires of identical construction, the wider one will generally have lower rolling resistance(less hysteresis losses) than the narrower one at a given pressure, and presumably could be run at a lower pressure than the narrower one and have the same rolling resistance (hysteresis losses), or at a much lower pressure and have greater rolling resistance (hysteresis losses).

In my experience, the difference in aerodynamic resistance of a wide tire compared to a narrow tire is greater than the difference in rolling resistance when riding fast, and the weight might slow you down more on hills than you would gain from the improved rolling resistance.
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Old 11-07-16, 11:15 AM
  #60  
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Originally Posted by VNA View Post
I have to add: more rubber on the road with wider tires means more friction and therefor more power needed!
Not correct. The friction gained with a wider tire is also called 'traction', and you only need to put 'traction' in your energy calculation if you are riding in such a way that your tires are sliding on the ground. In normal riding conditions, energy is needed to overcome aerodynamic resistance, bearing drag, and tire rolling resistance (internal energy hysteresis losses), as well as the mass of the bike/rider combo if you are going up hill.

More traction does not equal more drag. If you were riding in such a way that your tires are sliding (you are practicing your tandem drifting on a bicycle, for instance) then the added traction of the wider and softer tires would be an additional source of drag you need to overcome.
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Old 11-07-16, 11:29 AM
  #61  
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
You cannot in good conscience compare two tires on basis of width alone when they are of completely different construction. The 21st-century bottom line is that there's no reason to choose a 700x23 over a 700x25 of the same trim/manufacturer unless your bike won't fit the wider tire. It has been conclusively shown, again and again, that the wider tire will perform better overall while being more comfortable.
So... a Schwalbe Marathon 2.0" (50mm) 'performs' better than the same model tire in 25mm? Please define perform?! This thread is yet another example of the futility of comparing nearly identical entities. It isn't that the 25mm really "performs" better than the 23mm! It is that 2mm is an indiscernible difference in performance. But if you carry the extrapolation forward to the reductio ad absurdum, you will see that the 25mm cannot possibly perform better by the parameters that most cyclists use to define perform. 25mm lies along a continuum of diminishing "performance" and greater comfort. What can be said about that, is that the degradation of "performance" is not nearly as linear or as rapid as might be inferred. This notwithstanding, I do not expect to see 50mm Comfort clinchers on Tour de France racing bicycles anytime soon. "Comfort" is not normally a "performance" indicator. It is also why 19mm tires exist. Not many, but there are some.
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Old 11-07-16, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Wilfred Laurier View Post
Not correct. The friction gained with a wider tire is also called 'traction', and you only need to put 'traction' in your energy calculation if you are riding in such a way that your tires are sliding on the ground. In normal riding conditions, energy is needed to overcome aerodynamic resistance, bearing drag, and tire rolling resistance (internal energy hysteresis losses), as well as the mass of the bike/rider combo if you are going up hill.

More traction does not equal more drag. If you were riding in such a way that your tires are sliding (you are practicing your tandem drifting on a bicycle, for instance) then the added traction of the wider and softer tires would be an additional source of drag you need to overcome.
Oversimple and incorrect. More traction will have an effect on energy expenditure. There is no free lunch. This is an irrefutable maxim of physics.
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Old 11-07-16, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Wilfred Laurier View Post
'rolling resistance' is another name for 'hysteresis losses'. Given two tires of identical construction, the wider one will generally have lower rolling resistance(less hysteresis losses) than the narrower one at a given pressure, and presumably could be run at a lower pressure than the narrower one and have the same rolling resistance (hysteresis losses), or at a much lower pressure and have greater rolling resistance (hysteresis losses).

In my experience, the difference in aerodynamic resistance of a wide tire compared to a narrow tire is greater than the difference in rolling resistance when riding fast, and the weight might slow you down more on hills than you would gain from the improved rolling resistance.
Sorry I wasn't clear. I've found additional losses from the act of pedaling a large tire due to the increased flex that comes with lower pressures. Jan Heine tested for this but he only rode around a velodrome at a constant speed/cadence. Riding on the road and varied speed and terrain shows this more obviously.

A tire can roll in a certain way but it's also going to pedal a certain way and I'm not convinced this has been studied enough to have a definite conclusion. I should also clarify this is more for big changes in tire sizes and pressures like 23mm-35mm+. Probably not applicable to smaller increments.
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Old 11-07-16, 11:54 AM
  #64  
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Oversimple and incorrect. More traction will have an effect on energy expenditure. There is no free lunch. This is an irrefutable maxim of physics.
What mechanism do you suggest transfers energy from the bike to the ground or environment if the tire isn't slipping?
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Old 11-07-16, 03:07 PM
  #65  
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
So... a Schwalbe Marathon 2.0" (50mm) 'performs' better than the same model tire in 25mm? Please define perform?! This thread is yet another example of the futility of comparing nearly identical entities. It isn't that the 25mm really "performs" better than the 23mm! It is that 2mm is an indiscernible difference in performance. But if you carry the extrapolation forward to the reductio ad absurdum, you will see that the 25mm cannot possibly perform better by the parameters that most cyclists use to define perform. 25mm lies along a continuum of diminishing "performance" and greater comfort. What can be said about that, is that the degradation of "performance" is not nearly as linear or as rapid as might be inferred. This notwithstanding, I do not expect to see 50mm Comfort clinchers on Tour de France racing bicycles anytime soon. "Comfort" is not normally a "performance" indicator. It is also why 19mm tires exist. Not many, but there are some.


I must admit, I appreciate that the entire premise of your post maintains that high level of absurdity. The 50mm to 23mm comparison is as valid and relevant as comparing the TdF to the participants of this thread-- because you ignored the entire context of my post, where wider = 25 and narrower = 23, I never alluded to any other sizes whatsoever.) What next, a head-to-head comparison of a 2017 Honda Accord and a 2017 Williams FW40? I mean, they both have tires and travel on roads. Same thing. I think it is safe to state that the guy who finishes last in the TdF will still outride 99% of the folks here. This isn't apples and oranges, this is slingshots and rifles.

Notwithstanding... if a 25mm tire of the same make/model rolls as fast (which is, moving at the same speed over the same terrain at the same expenditure of energy) as its 23mm sibling (which it does) and provides the rider with any perceptible amount of increased comfort, does it not then render the 23mm tire obsolete?

Lastly, this is not about performance, really. Most folks on here seem to be interested in a free lunch-- if Tire A takes a couple less watts to maintain a given speed, then great, so long as Tire A isn't a complete wreck in all of the other performance categories. A good tire needs to check a lot of boxes. Yeah, speed and Crr is in there. But I would say that for most, it just isn't Box #1. Even in this thread. Hell, especially in this thread.
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Old 11-07-16, 03:46 PM
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The short answer is yes, a larger tire will run faster because of the deflection and rolling resistance and less bounce as has been previously stated. I will also add that not all larger tires run as fast as the other guy. The Challenge Paris Roubaix (28 mil) and Strada Bianca (30 mil) that I ride are very fast indeed. I weight around 205 lbs and run both at just below 90 psi. I could go lower on the pressure if the roads around where I live were generally smoother but they aren't.
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Old 11-07-16, 07:01 PM
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I don't think I could tell the difference in rolling resistance or ride quality between two tires that were rated at 2mm difference in width.
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Old 11-07-16, 11:06 PM
  #68  
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Do I care about the difference between 23mm and 25mm? Not really. I run 23mm Conti 4000 IIs tires on my 23mm wide black deep section aluminum rims with silver CX-Ray spokes. They look really cool, are faster than stink, are more than adequately comfortable on my carbon bike, and haven't even had a cut all summer and fall. Why would I do anything differently? For me on my single, it's silly.

Now then, on our tandem we run the 28mm version of that same tire on those same rims but with a higher spoke count. Why wider tires? Because at our team weight we have to run those tires at more pressure than I put in the 23mm on my single just not to pinch flat. That's the limiter: pinch flatting. You gotta have enough tire so that you can run a comfortable pressure and not pinch flat. Me, I'd run the narrowest tire that would give me that, whatever that would be, but then I'm interested in moving right up the road. On our tandem, I'd be even happier with 28mm wide rims with an even deeper section, but there aren't any. We roll right along with what we have.
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Old 11-08-16, 12:01 AM
  #69  
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Originally Posted by OldsCOOL View Post
I ride smooth roads so the wider/softer tire trend isnt for me. I can feel the difference on hills, which are many here.
+1 Same here. The old fashion skinny tires and light bike still feels faster to me.

But to be totally honest... my experience is antidotal as far as evidence. Even though I track my rides I haven't seen any big differences in average speed. But bigger heavier tires really do seem to require more energy.
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