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Optimum tire width (700c) for commuting and light touring on paved trails.

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Optimum tire width (700c) for commuting and light touring on paved trails.

Old 01-18-22, 07:43 PM
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Optimum tire width (700c) for commuting and light touring on paved trails.

I'm building a bike (Handsome 'Devil") which I intend to use for commuting and some light touring. Any suggestions as to what tire width is a good balance between speed and comfort.
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Old 01-18-22, 07:46 PM
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It really depends on rider weight, but it’s probably 30c.
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Old 01-18-22, 07:49 PM
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My theory is as wide as you can go comfort and tire choice (not width but quality) I think is most important especially for speed.
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Old 01-18-22, 08:21 PM
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On paved trails, I don't really think tire width matters as much as orthodoxy suggests it should within reason, of course.

There is 2 schools of thought with commuting.

One school is: Indestructible flat proof tires like Gatorskin Hardshells or Marathon Supreme, or any other number of similar tires that air or not the sidewalls are stiff enough, you *could* ride to work even if you were fortunate enough to come across something that could make 'em flat.

The other school is: Decent rolling tires with supple sidewalls set up tubeless.

In either school, the proper width/pressure is usually a width that allows compression about 15% of the tire height when loaded & is somewhere near the middle/two-thirds/three-fourths of the tires pressure rating.

I commute on tubeless
Compass, 559x58's@35psi,
Gravelking, 700x38@50psi &
Grand Prix 5000 TL, 700x25@85psi, 19 miles one way, mostly road 30% bike trail. The lower pressure of tubeless also mitigates any puncture risk that would motivate a person to go to school one. Then the self-sealing nature seals the deal for reliability.

Any of the above rolls nicer & is faster than the tubed indestructible Gatorskin Hardshells 700x23@110psi or even decent Panaracer Gravelking SK 559x52@35-40psi, tubed.

My general recommendation based on my own personal experience & needs for an all-round nominal tire setup is 700x28-38 tubeless, Preferably a high quality tire made by Panaracer, regardless of what actual brand has their name printed on the side...but I have no idea what you weigh, where you ride, how far you commute, what your bike will accommodate, or what your local hazards are.

The absolute most miserable combinations I have come across all involved Mr. stuffy style liners &/or/in addition to thorn-proof tubes. Second to that, big low quality tires at high pressures.

Last edited by base2; 01-18-22 at 08:50 PM.
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Old 01-18-22, 08:36 PM
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Pavement may not be quite as variable as gravel (is that pea gravel, crushed gravel, 1" rocks, or a fire road that hasn't been repaired since that fire back in '53?). But it still isn't a single word descriptor.

My Fair City calls all of these paved:
- Fresh pavement in the last year
- Small potholes
- 9" wide potholes 6" deep (a killer on rims if you don't miss it!)
- Longitudinal cracks wide and deep enough to trap 25 mm wide bike tires
- Something allegedly paved that resembles the surface of the aforementioned fire road interrupted by patches of asphalt

Optimum tire width might vary from 20 mm wide (fresh pavement, 2 pounds of load on you back and you weigh 110 pounds when you get rained on) to a 60 mm wide 29er (that's still 700C!), the latter applying if you're riding the allegedly paved road and weight over 300 pounds.

TL/DR? It depends.
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Old 01-18-22, 08:37 PM
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I'm a big fan of wide slicks for paved riding. It looks like your new bike will handle 700c x 38, and that would be my recommendation. If you have concerns about punctures, maybe go with an armored offering, like the Soma Shikoro or Panaracer Gravelking+.
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Old 01-18-22, 09:01 PM
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31.639mm.
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Old 01-18-22, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by base2
On paved trails, I don't really think tire width matters as much as orthodoxy suggests it should within reason, of course.

There is 2 schools of thought with commuting.

One school is: Indestructible flat proof tires like Gatorskin Hardshells or Marathon Supreme, or any other number of similar tires that air or not the sidewalls are stiff enough, you *could* ride to work even if you were fortunate enough to come across something that could make 'em flat.

The other school is: Decent rolling tires with supple sidewalls set up tubeless.

In either school, the proper width/pressure is usually a width that allows compression about 15% of the tire height when loaded & is somewhere near the middle/two-thirds/three-fourths of the tires pressure rating.

I commute on tubeless
Compass, 559x58's@35psi,
Gravelking, 700x38@50psi &
Grand Prix 5000 TL, 700x25@85psi, 19 miles one way, mostly road 30% bike trail. The lower pressure of tubeless also mitigates any puncture risk that would motivate a person to go to school one. Then the self-sealing nature seals the deal for reliability.

Any of the above rolls nicer & is faster than the tubed indestructible Gatorskin Hardshells 700x23@110psi or even decent Panaracer Gravelking SK 559x52@35-40psi, tubed.

My general recommendation based on my own personal experience & needs for an all-round nominal tire setup is 700x28-38 tubeless, Preferably a high quality tire made by Panaracer, regardless of what actual brand has their name printed on the side...but I have no idea what you weigh, where you ride, how far you commute, what your bike will accommodate, or what your local hazards are.
I do have another bike I run on Gatorskin - 700x32, which is what I use for my regular commute. No flats, but not the most comfortable. I was considering the Panaracer T-serve protite 700x32 or the 35, because I was looking at having a tire with some tread for rainy days. I weigh 150 lbs.
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Old 01-18-22, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote
31.639mm.
Panaracer T-serve protite 700x32?
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Old 01-18-22, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb
Pavement may not be quite as variable as gravel (is that pea gravel, crushed gravel, 1" rocks, or a fire road that hasn't been repaired since that fire back in '53?). But it still isn't a single word descriptor.

My Fair City calls all of these paved:
- Fresh pavement in the last year
- Small potholes
- 9" wide potholes 6" deep (a killer on rims if you don't miss it!)
- Longitudinal cracks wide and deep enough to trap 25 mm wide bike tires
- Something allegedly paved that resembles the surface of the aforementioned fire road interrupted by patches of asphalt

Optimum tire width might vary from 20 mm wide (fresh pavement, 2 pounds of load on you back and you weigh 110 pounds when you get rained on) to a 60 mm wide 29er (that's still 700C!), the latter applying if you're riding the allegedly paved road and weight over 300 pounds.

TL/DR? It depends.
I weigh 150 pounds. By your standards you reckon the Panaracer T-serve protite 700x32 would work? Minneapolis trails are paved pretty well, even if I wanted to ride all the way up to Grand portage (320 miles) I'm guessing I would not have to encounter much gravel.
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Old 01-18-22, 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by blurcovenky
I weigh 150 pounds. By your standards you reckon the Panaracer T-serve protite 700x32 would work? Minneapolis trails are paved pretty well, even if I wanted to ride all the way up to Grand portage (320 miles) I'm guessing I would not have to encounter much gravel.
You're overthinking it. Put on some decent thirty-something millimeter wide tires and ride yer bike. Just make sure they fit in your frame and fork.
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Old 01-18-22, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote
You're overthinking it. Put on some decent thirty-something millimeter wide tires and ride yer bike. Just make sure they fit in your frame and fork.
True that I might be 'over thinking it'. I'm also working on a budget and hoping to get it as close to right the first time, hopefully, with inputs from other people who have had similar experiences. Thanks anyway.
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Old 01-18-22, 09:43 PM
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...I ride all over town here in Sacramento on 700x25 Vittoria Rubino Pro tyres. There is plenty of glass and crap in the bike lanes on public streets here. Youi do have to stay alert to it, and dodge around the worst of it. In wetter conditions, I usually end up on a bicycle set up with 700x28 Ruffy Tuffy tyres, or the more recent 700x33 Jack Brown's. I think the latest iteration of the Jack Brown tyre is 700x25, but they are rated at lower pressures than I prefer.

There's no one right answer to this that fits everyone, and the oly way you'll figure out your personal preference is by experimentation. But if you weigh 150 pounds, and itsounds like you will be riding mostly paved surfaces, 700x28 is plenty wide enough, and 700x25 in a decent tyre like the Vittoria's will probably work OK for you. I weigh considerably more than that.
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Old 01-18-22, 09:55 PM
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Originally Posted by blurcovenky
I'm building a bike (Handsome 'Devil") which I intend to use for commuting and some light touring. Any suggestions as to what tire width is a good balance between speed and comfort.
Whats the waist size of your pants (measured in inches)?
Your tires should be as wide (or wider) measured in millimeters.
Pay the money for quality tires.
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Old 01-19-22, 03:22 AM
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One bike has 42's, another 44's, and the last 55's
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Old 01-19-22, 04:50 AM
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28-32 mm is all good for me. But more important to choose a good tyre. Pirelli Cinturato Velos are a great all-round road tyre. Grippy in all conditions, very puncture resistant, comfortable and reasonably fast. Can run them tubed or tubeless too as you prefer. If your frame has clearance for 32 mm I would go for those. You give up very little, if any, speed for added comfort.
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Old 01-19-22, 07:03 AM
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30 or 32mm GP5000 tubeless. Fast and reasonably long lasting. I would easily expect 4-5,000 miles on a 32mm
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Old 01-19-22, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote
You're overthinking it. Put on some decent thirty-something millimeter wide tires and ride yer bike. Just make sure they fit in your frame and fork.
What he said.

If you ride enough, you'll wear out whatever you put on first and you'll have an opportunity to try a different tire.
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Old 01-19-22, 08:14 AM
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38 minimum for me.
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Old 01-19-22, 08:14 AM
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when I commuted a lot, it was mostly on 28mm tires, w/ some kind of puncture resistance / protection. now-a-days ... my road bike is more of a "joy-rider" so when I do bike to work, 22 miles ea. way, I'm on 25mm tires. only ride stopping incident has been a rear broken spoke
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Old 01-19-22, 08:48 AM
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For commuting I use my gravel bike with 33mm gravel tires set up tubeless but I've also used my road bike with 25mm GP5000, also tubeless. At a reasonable pressure both are comfortable.

Gravel bike has flat pedals which is more convenient than changing shoes when I get where I'm going. For light touring I'd just put stuff in my backpack and use the road bike though.
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Old 01-19-22, 08:53 AM
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It really depends on whether or not you'll be doing any CAT 6 racing. That's the most important factor.
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Old 01-19-22, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by blurcovenky
True that I might be 'over thinking it'. I'm also working on a budget and hoping to get it as close to right the first time, hopefully, with inputs from other people who have had similar experiences. Thanks anyway.
32 to 38mm will work fine and be a pretty good mix between wide for comfort and not too slow.
But more important than width for speed is tire construction. A 35mm wide tire that is quality can roll faster than a 25mm cheap tire, for example.

Personally I would buy a 35-38mm quality tire. Itll roll fast with tires pumped up and give you comfort if you drop the pressure a bit.
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Old 01-19-22, 09:05 AM
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I would want to run 38mm Reneherse Barlow Pass,but could be happy with 32's.
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Old 01-19-22, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by blurcovenky
True that I might be 'over thinking it'. I'm also working on a budget and hoping to get it as close to right the first time, hopefully, with inputs from other people who have had similar experiences. Thanks anyway.
Are you not planning on riding it very much?

Tires wear out if you ride often. You'll have all sorts of chances to get it right. However if you are happy with the suggested size of others and you to put that size on and never change them you'll never know whether there might be a better size that suits your preferences.
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