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Newbie, Considering Thinner Tires for Hybrids

Old 05-20-20, 05:55 PM
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coramdeo_10036
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Newbie, Considering Thinner Tires for Hybrids

I just bought the Motebecane Cafe Premio hybrid for me and the Windsor Dover 3.0 for the wife from bikeshopwarehouse.com. Very happy with the purchases.

Both of us wouldn't mind going a little faster. I think thinner tires ought to do the trick. I have 700x32c and the wife has 26x2.0. Any suggestions from this group on how to proceed? I'm not terribly mechanically inclined, and so given that we both have disc brakes- i'd be inclined to take it to LBS for installation.
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Old 05-20-20, 06:01 PM
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It's complicated.

When I first got into cycling, decades ago, there was a widespread view that "skinny tires are faster." That view has largely been overturned. Instead, it's complicated.

"All things being equal," wider tires could actually have less rolling resistance if inflated to the same pressure as a skinny tire. Whether that's possible depends on the tire. Wider tires should have more wind resistance, but that might not be a factor at low to moderate speeds. A lot of cyclists opt for wider tires but don't inflate them as much, so they still get decent enough rolling resistance but a more comfortable ride.

And then, tire construction matters too. Knobbly tread adds rolling resistance. Thinner, more supple sidewalls make for less rolling resistance, and also not surprisingly higher price.

Due to all of these considerations, yes it's possible to find faster tires, but might take a bit of digging to find ones that your spouse will be happy with on her bike.
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Old 05-20-20, 06:07 PM
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Just pressure up the ones you have on it now and see if you can tell a difference. I'll bet you can. The real way to ride faster though is to ride more. With time your speeds will gradually creep up, along with your acceleration from a stop. Just keep pushing yourself. Good luck,
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Old 05-21-20, 04:24 AM
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Assuming you are not riding at (or planning to ride at) 25 mph on your new bikes, it all really depends on what types of surfaces you are riding on. If you are always riding on pristine, super smooth pavement, going to skinnier tires might help you in speed. But, if you are riding on typical roads or on paved trails that aren't in perfect condition or on crushed limestone or pack dirt trails, narrower tires will not be faster - might be slower.

The first thing that will make you faster is to increase the power you are putting into your pedals. That may seem obvious but that is the biggest factor - get to the "comfortably uncomfortable" zone of pushing hard and see how long you can hold that. See if you can just go faster enough by that type of simple training.

You could put skinnier tires on your wife's 26" wheels, and maybe with a smoother profile than the knobby ones that probably came with the bike - go down to 1.25 or 1.5". That is, assuming your not riding on gravel/bumpy surfaces. Her smaller wheels and really fat tires with knobby tread are pretty high rolling resistance. I did that with my wife's first bike, which was my son's old mountain bike with 2# knobbies - helped her a lot.

Again, depending on the surfaces you ride on, you could try a new 32mm tire with smoother surface (less tread) that what came on your bike but a quick look at that bike from Bikewarehouse looks like it came with Kenda Kwest that aren't all that knobby.
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Old 05-21-20, 06:42 AM
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Thanks for all the help guys. I think i'll stay put on my bike, and get something thinner for my wife's bike.

BTW- do i need to purchase a new tube, or is just a tire sufficient?

Last edited by coramdeo_10036; 05-21-20 at 11:12 AM. Reason: forgot to add something
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Old 05-21-20, 07:33 AM
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How fast are you riding and how much faster do you want to go? Tires are a factor; however conditioning, fit of the bike, etc. are probably more important. The specs for your wife's bike list Kenda K-885 tires. Do they look like the ones in this picture? If so, they are a bit on the knobby side and you may benefit from switching to a smoother tread. Also, don't sell yourself short on being able to change tires yourself. I think it's an essential skill if you don't want a flat to strand you. There are plenty of online videos that you'll find helpful. Also if you feel that you're over your head you can always fall back on the bike shop, right? If you have a bike co-op near where you live, join it. You'll find a great resource for learning the basics.

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Old 05-21-20, 09:44 AM
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To echo a previous comment, the subject of how fast wide vs slow tires are in complicated.

But in your situation, its not: wide vs narrow will make almost no difference in speed.

What WILL make a difference is how knobbie the tire is and - often overlooked but every bit as important - the quality of the tire casing.

Obviously, smooth (less knobby) tires roll faster.

The other factor is the quality of the tire casing. Casings that are thinner and more supple roll much faster without having to pump the snot out of tire. This is NOT a subtle difference, it is huge.

I see your wifes bike came with Kenda Kwest tires. I had a pair on my 26Ē commuter. Even though they are basically smooth, they are slow. Not the worst out there, but still slow. I replaced them with a set of Bontrager H2 tires (1.75), and even though they weighed more, they roll noticeably smoother and faster. Those are around $25 each.

If you are willing to spend more there are even faster high volume tires than that.

For your bike, you might look at somethjng like the Panaracer Gravel King (slick version) in 32mm.... or even bigger if they will fit your bike.

IMO, high quality tires are the biggest bang for the buck in terms of both ride quality and speed. And they are the most often overlooked as well.
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Old 05-21-20, 10:08 AM
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Unfortunately 26Ē is a rather unpopular wheel size these days. Especially if youíre looking for something slick - which I assume you are, unless youíre going quite fast on hilly dirt trails.

https://www.biketiresdirect.com/prod...26-tire-hs-440

This seems like a popular option. Iím unsure how much faster this tire will be than what you have, but Iím sure it will be slightly faster. Unfortunately, this tire also seems to be priced quite high.
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Old 05-21-20, 10:15 AM
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take a utility knife and start cutting down those knobbies! cheap and purposely effective
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Old 05-21-20, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by coramdeo_10036 View Post
I just bought the Motebecane Cafe Premio hybrid for me and the Windsor Dover 3.0 for the wife from bikeshopwarehouse.com. Very happy with the purchases.

Both of us wouldn't mind going a little faster. I think thinner tires ought to do the trick. I have 700x32c and the wife has 26x2.0. Any suggestions from this group on how to proceed? I'm not terribly mechanically inclined, and so given that we both have disc brakes- i'd be inclined to take it to LBS for installation.
I have used 23mm, 25mm, and 28mm tires on my road bike. On hybrids I've owned, I've used 25mm, 32mm, 38mm, and 40mm.

Popular tire widths have gotten wider in recent years, because people have discovered that at the same tire pressure, wider tires have lower rolling resistance, all other things being equal. But people rarely run wider tires at the same pressures as narrower ones. Nevertheless, it's turning out that tire width isn't as critical to speed and efficiency as was once thought. Additionally, at the pressures people *do* run wider tires, the ride feels nicer. And while that reduction in road vibration may be perceived as less fast, it turns out that getting beat up less is just as important as the last fraction of a percent of rolling resistance efficiency.

If you have 32mm tires on your hybrid, you're already good to go. Keep them. If they have knobby treads, then consider changing to slicks at the same width.

I currently have 28mm tires on my road bike, and swap between 32mm slicks, and 40mm knobby on my hybrid. Sometimes my brother borrows my hybrid to ride with me when I'm on my road bike. So he with 32mm tires, and I with 28mm. And he manages to keep up just fine. The bigger challenge for him is the aerodynamics of the more upright riding position the hybrid puts him in. I've ridden 30 miles on the hybrid with 32mm tires and never felt the width was an issue. I like that they're more robust. If my road bike frame could accommodate 32mm, I might even consider them for that bike.

Tire quality does matter. I have GP4Season 32mm tires on the hybrid, and GP5000 tires on the road bike.

So yes, you can probably go narrower, assuming the inner width of your rims is not too wide for a narrower tire. There was one summer where I had 25mm tires on my old hybrid. Sure, they felt fast. But that was in comparison to the low-end knobby 38mm tires that were on there before. I just suggest 32mm as a minimum for a hybrid. And there are some good 32mm road tires out there.
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Old 05-21-20, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by smashndash View Post
Unfortunately 26Ē is a rather unpopular wheel size these days. Especially if youíre looking for something slick - which I assume you are, unless youíre going quite fast on hilly dirt trails.

https://www.biketiresdirect.com/prod...26-tire-hs-440

This seems like a popular option. Iím unsure how much faster this tire will be than what you have, but Iím sure it will be slightly faster. Unfortunately, this tire also seems to be priced quite high.
Probably not much faster at all. Tires designed for maximum toughness and puncture resistance generally slower rolling. That is a tire you buy for toughness, not for speed.
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Old 05-21-20, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by aclinjury View Post
take a utility knife and start cutting down those knobbies! cheap and purposely effective
Heh, I actually did that years ago. I bought some Kenda Kwick tires for my road bike, and decided the knobs weren't really helping me. They weren't wearing down fast enough on their own, so I trimmed them nearly flush with an exacto knife. Much nicer after that, and they still lasted a decent while longer.
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Old 05-21-20, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by smashndash View Post
Unfortunately 26Ē is a rather unpopular wheel size these days. Especially if youíre looking for something slick - which I assume you are, unless youíre going quite fast on hilly dirt trails.

https://www.biketiresdirect.com/prod...26-tire-hs-440

This seems like a popular option. Iím unsure how much faster this tire will be than what you have, but Iím sure it will be slightly faster. Unfortunately, this tire also seems to be priced quite high.
Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
Probably not much faster at all. Tires designed for maximum toughness and puncture resistance generally slower rolling. That is a tire you buy for toughness, not for speed.
+1, that tire weighs about as much as the studded tires I ride in the winter. Hard pass!
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Old 05-21-20, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by smashndash View Post
Unfortunately 26Ē is a rather unpopular wheel size these days. Especially if youíre looking for something slick - which I assume you are, unless youíre going quite fast on hilly dirt trails.

https://www.biketiresdirect.com/prod...26-tire-hs-440

This seems like a popular option. Iím unsure how much faster this tire will be than what you have, but Iím sure it will be slightly faster. Unfortunately, this tire also seems to be priced quite high.
I was going to suggest the Marathon Greenguard (the non plus version) which is a little lighter and @ $10 less expensive each.

Secondly, to the OP, I understand you aren't comfortable changing a tire. It is a basic skill you should have along with a flat repair kit. YouTube has videos on the process.

Good luck & welcome to the forum!
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Old 05-21-20, 11:32 AM
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Here are a couple of screen shots for the Continental GP 5000 of varying sizes from bicyclerollingresistance.com. 1st shows less rolling resistance for the 32 vs the more narrow versions.

Second shows rolling resistance at 15% drop / 4.5mm drop for similar comfort levels. At that point all are about the same rolling resistance, though he explains the narrower versions will be more susceptible to pinch flats and rim damage.


Bicyclerollingresistance.com
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Old 05-21-20, 12:57 PM
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I'm a believer that a good high-volume 26" tire (1.9-2.0") can still be fast on most surfaces. The extra volume gives you more ability to soak up irregular surfaces and transitions without loosing as much speed as a narrower tire at high pressure.
There's still some decent 26x2.0" tires out there that aren't Marathons.
The Kenda Kinniption and Maxxis DTH are intended for 26" BMX / Dirt Jump bikes, but make very good city / path tires, as they're designed for pavement and packed dirt. They have sort of a 'snake skin' tread that gives them good grip and handling without being overly stiff.

coramdeo_10036 One of the things that's working against you (the OP) is that the Windsor is a very upright 'comfort' style hybrid, and they don't lend themselves to fast riding. Crank up the preload on the front shocks and ditch the suspension seatpost, and you'll definitely pick up some speed. For sure it'll feel faster.
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Old 05-21-20, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by smashndash View Post
Unfortunately 26Ē is a rather unpopular wheel size these days. Especially if youíre looking for something slick - which I assume you are, unless youíre going quite fast on hilly dirt trails.

https://www.biketiresdirect.com/prod...26-tire-hs-440

This seems like a popular option. Iím unsure how much faster this tire will be than what you have, but Iím sure it will be slightly faster. Unfortunately, this tire also seems to be priced quite high.
Marathon Plus are an extremely beefy tire, designed to survive long expeditions through remote wilderness without any risk of anything happening. They have fairly thick tread rubber, an enormously thick (half-centimeter) protection layer below the tread, and the casing is very stiff and thick even down the sidewalls. Not only does this make them heavy, it gives them incredibly high rolling resistance. Probably not as much rolling resistance as some similarly-built lower-end tires, but the slowness compared with performance-oriented tires is very obvious on the road.

Originally Posted by coramdeo_10036 View Post
Both of us wouldn't mind going a little faster. I think thinner tires ought to do the trick. I have 700x32c and the wife has 26x2.0. Any suggestions from this group on how to proceed?
The construction of a tire has considerably more impact on its performance on the road than its width.

If your wife likes the plushness and versatility of the wide tires, I'd keep something fairly wide in there. That would also preserve the bike's handling.
Panaracer 26x1.75" Pasela are a decent option. If you've got a bit of spare room around the tires, the 26" Maxxis DTH would be good as well.

Lots of performance-oriented 700c tires are available out there. If you want speed, make sure to get something that's *not* aiming for high amounts of protection.

I'm not terribly mechanically inclined, and so given that we both have disc brakes- i'd be inclined to take it to LBS for installation.
I'd strongly recommend learning to deal with tubes and tires on your own. It's not difficult, and it means that if you flat out in the wild, you can just fix it and keep going rather than having to end your ride and then make a trip to a bike shop.
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Old 05-22-20, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by stevel610 View Post
Here are a couple of screen shots for the Continental GP 5000 of varying sizes from bicyclerollingresistance.com. 1st shows less rolling resistance for the 32 vs the more narrow versions.

Second shows rolling resistance at 15% drop / 4.5mm drop for similar comfort levels. At that point all are about the same rolling resistance, though he explains the narrower versions will be more susceptible to pinch flats and rim damage.


Bicyclerollingresistance.com
Comparing a 32mm tire at 120 PSI & a 23mm tire at 60 PSI?
Comparing different width tires at the SAME PRESSURE!
Rolling resistance tests on a 20" diameter roller instead of FLAT pavement, totally altering the shape of the contact patch. Ya think that might favor a more supple sidewall?

None of you would be allowed to work for me.

Last edited by Bill Kapaun; 05-22-20 at 08:13 PM.
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Old 05-23-20, 09:12 AM
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Really appreciate all the feedback guys. And yes, I watched a couple youtube clips on how to change a tire, and didn't realize how easy it is.
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