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Lots of Hot Air: 27+ mm Tires for Speed on Crappy Roads

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Lots of Hot Air: 27+ mm Tires for Speed on Crappy Roads

Old 08-03-15, 05:23 PM
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Lots of Hot Air: 27+ mm Tires for Speed on Crappy Roads

I'm somewhat spoiled in the pavement department since most of the roads I ride frequently are really smooth even asphalt. (Though they are liberally sprinkled with goatheads for months .) However, when I want to go on a reasonable long ride it invariable leads me through stretches of really rough or broken or unpaved road. I seem to have "HTFU" to the point that riding those stretches does not hurt, but, being a big fat ****er (6'3", 215lbs), I stress about pinch flats in these areas.

That got me to thinking about changing to higher volume tires. I stumbled across [link=https://www.bikequarterly.com/images/BQ64TireTest.pdf]this[/link] article, as well as articles from Rivendell and those regarding the professional "spring classic" races. My interpretation is that, for riding on anything except nice, smooth pavement, using higher volume -- therefore wider -- tires is not only more comfortable but also faster and less prone to pinch flats.

Now, in a perfect world, I'd probably just buy the Challenge Parigi-Roubaix; but at somewhere around 150.00 USD for a set, I'm not whipping out my card just yet.

One concern I have with running wider tires is the importance of matching them with wider rims. Again, assuming that I have understood correctly, the ideal rim width is within a few millimeters of the tire width so as to improve airflow at the rim/tire interface and to prevent excessive outwards stress on the rim. So, running a 28mm tire suggests something like a 25mm outside width rim. The HED Ardennes Plus rims are, of course, exactly that. They are also, combined with the above mentioned tires, somewhere around 1000 USD for a set.

The problem then becomes figuring out what rims are a good match at a good price. Given that some rim vendors, like Alex, only specify the ISO spec inside width; and others like H Plus Son only specify the outside width; and many fail to list width at all; this seems challenging.

To boil it all down, here are the questions:

- On any surfaces between perfect asphalt and that encountered in the spring classics, is there a speed or reliability advantage to going with ~32mm vs ~28mm tires?

- For non-professional purposes, how great a difference between tire width and rim width is ideal? Acceptable?

- I'm riding Continental Gatorskins (23mm F / 25mm R) now to minimize goathead induced punctures. Even so, I still seem to get a thorn flat about every 350-500 miles. Are 28+mm tires more or less susceptible to punctures than the same make-and-model at 23mm?
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Old 08-03-15, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by justinzane
Are 28+mm tires more or less susceptible to punctures than the same make-and-model at 23mm?
Nope. Wider tire contact just increases the number of goatheads your tires will find.

I ride 28mm tires on 20mm (outside) rims no problemo.

I use Mr. Tuffy in 'em to keep punctures down. Good tire + Mr. Tuffy = better feel than Gatorskins, IMO.

As to price per tire, as long as these are $35 apiece, they'll be my go-to.

https://www.westernbikeworks.com/pro...g-120-tpi-tire
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Old 08-03-15, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets
Nope. Wider tire contact just increases the number of goatheads your tires will find.
I had hoped that the lower pressures and consequent lower force exerted by the tread on the thorn would improve the efficacy of whatever breakers are under the tread of a given tire. The wider bit is obvious, but I was not sure that hitting more of the little ****ers would equate to more actual punctures. My materials science skillz are somewhat lacking.

Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets
As to price per tire, as long as these are $35 apiece, they'll be my go-to. https://www.westernbikeworks.com/pro...g-120-tpi-tire
I was looking at those. Good price.
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Old 08-03-15, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by justinzane
One concern I have with running wider tires is the importance of matching them with wider rims. Again, assuming that I have understood correctly, the ideal rim width is within a few millimeters of the tire width so as to improve airflow at the rim/tire interface
I think that only comes into play somewhere far above 20mph.

Now, in a perfect world, I'd probably just buy the Challenge Parigi-Roubaix; but at somewhere around 150.00 USD for a set, I'm not whipping out my card just yet.
I am a fan of pricy tires, they are where the rubber meets the road and they are a crucial part of the whole person-road interface.

- On any surfaces between perfect asphalt and that encountered in the spring classics, is there a speed or reliability advantage to going with ~32mm vs ~28mm tires?
For my own purposes I ditched 32s and my choice is between 28 and 35 past the golden middle of the weather spectrum.

- For non-professional purposes, how great a difference between tire width and rim width is ideal? Acceptable?
Sheldon Brown had a chart that has not steered me wrong. 12-30mm seems to be the answer.


- I'm riding Continental Gatorskins (23mm F / 25mm R) now to minimize goathead induced punctures. Even so, I still seem to get a thorn flat about every 350-500 miles. Are 28+mm tires more or less susceptible to punctures than the same make-and-model at 23mm?
Can't answer. I have been experimenting w/ narrower higher pressure tires and they have been doing better than I expected, puncture-wise. But my wider lower pressure ones are pricier, like I alluded to above, and they also do better w/ punctures than what I started out with.
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Old 08-03-15, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets
I ride 28mm tires on 20mm (outside) rims no problemo.
+1. Rims with 20mm outside width used to be the norm for everything.
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Old 08-03-15, 09:58 PM
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OP, first you have to know whether such wide rims and tires will fit your bike. That isn't a foregone conclusion. You had best check it out.

Second, the best aerodynamics seem to accrue from matching the outer width of the rim VERY closely to the width of the tire. So 23 mm tires on a 23 mm outer width rim is ideal. What you need to be aware of is that the wider rim effectively increases the size of the tire, so that a 23 mm tire on a 23 mm rim measures and rides quite like a 25 mm tire on a narrower (say 19 mm) rim. And the allowable minimum tire pressures (tubed clinchers) are also more like those for 25 mm tires on conventional rims than for 23 mm tires.

So if you wanted to go with 25 mm rims and tires, the combo would behave quite like a 28 mm tire on a narrower rim except as regards aerodynamics which would be much improved over that more conventional case.

Good luck with your quest.
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Old 08-03-15, 10:11 PM
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OP, the only kind of tire that goatheads won't kill are non-pneumatic solid rubber. Think it was 2 years ago the SAG for BRAN completely ran out of tires due to goatheads.

That being said, there's no need to worry about matching tire and rim size. That being said the wider rims like Belgium+ or the proprietary Ardennes(+) rims will handle a bit better in corning due to less light-bulbing of the tire....side effect of wider rims is that they effectively increase the size of the tire by one tire size. Hutchinson Sector 28mm tires for example on my Belgium+ rims measure 31mm IRL.
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Old 08-04-15, 03:05 AM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker
Second, the best aerodynamics seem to accrue from matching the outer width of the rim VERY closely to the width of the tire. So 23 mm tires on a 23 mm outer width rim is ideal.
Does that really matter ?? He's out riding, not going for TT record.
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Old 08-04-15, 04:21 AM
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How big a tire fits your frame?
my commuting/rain bike has continental grand prix 4000s, in 25/28c, but they actually measure close to 28/30mm wide. they are great at lower pressures.
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Old 08-04-15, 05:14 AM
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Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg
Sheldon Brown had a chart that has not steered me wrong. 12-30mm seems to be the answer.
Interesting chart, though perhaps a bit dated in its theory.. According to Sheldon's chart, eg. the OP's referenced Hed Ardennes Plus wheels, aren't safe unless you use a minimum of a 35mm tire.
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Old 08-04-15, 05:17 AM
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OP - First, going from Gatorskins to almost any other tire will yield an immediate increase in ride quality. They're great for flat protection and wear - period.

Second, you're not that heavy. Until you start racing, don't worry about rim width...unless you're looking for a new set of wheels just because, and then get the wide ones. I've ridden 28s on 19mm outside width rims with no problem, including a 106 mile race that features 20 miles of gravel and a bunch of really, really bad pavement; ditto with 25mm tires that measure 27+mm wide. No problems with pinch flats.

VeloNews ran a test of 28mm tires a couple of month back, and the Clément LGGs that LoP likes came out on top, narrowly beating my personal favorite Michelin Pro4 Endurance tires. They also gave good reviews to the Specialized Roubaix Pro, which is available at your local Specialized LBS for $40 MSRP. I work at a Specialized shop, so I'll go with the Roubaix Pros next, which I can get...way cheaper than you can.
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Old 08-04-15, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01
Does that really matter ?? He's out riding, not going for TT record.
It is basically a case of he asked and I answered. It certainly doesn't matter to me, but OP made some statements which were not exactly right. I thought it would be a good idea to provide him some knowledge base.

Think about it for a minute. Which is easier and more cost effective, to replace a pair of narrow rim wheels or to buy a slightly wider tire in order to get the main benefits of greater tire volume, greater comfort and avoidance of pinch flats? I would say it is to change the tires, but tons of folks are replacing perfectly serviceable wheels for the purpose of getting wider rims. It is one thing if new wheels or needed, but lots of the wider rims that are being bought are only to get that one improvement. So lots of folks, not me, but lots of folks, seem to be buying into the personal value of the other purported advantages, the aero and the cornering that you only get by matching the tire profile with the rim edge.

My point is that it can't hurt to give OP the full understanding of what is going on here. I don't care about it, but he may.
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Old 08-04-15, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene
Interesting chart, though perhaps a bit dated in its theory.. According to Sheldon's chart, eg. the OP's referenced Hed Ardennes Plus wheels, aren't safe unless you use a minimum of a 35mm tire.
Funny how things have turned around. Folks used to worry about putting too wide a tire on a narrow rim. Now they worry about putting too narrow a tire on a wide rim. I suspect that is the gist of the issue with that chart, the difference in purpose.
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Old 08-06-15, 11:46 PM
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+1 on the Clements - the tires feel great on the road and as for goatheads I've never found a tire that could withstand them.
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Old 08-07-15, 02:37 AM
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Been riding Conti 4000S's in 28mm on Belgium (non-Plus) rims for the last couple months (~1k mi), and with latex tubes at ~90psi they're magical on chipseal. Steel frame, carbon fork, 200lbs rider.

They seem as durable as the 4000S 23's and 25's, that is they seem to be wearing well but on any given ride there is a small % chance that I'll hit something that irreparably damages them. After a couple hundred miles I did get a gash in one (latex tube was deflated in two revs of the wheel), but was able to patch both tire and tube without problem.
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Old 08-07-15, 07:42 AM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker
OP, first you have to know whether such wide rims and tires will fit your bike. That isn't a foregone conclusion. You had best check it out.

Second, the best aerodynamics seem to accrue from matching the outer width of the rim VERY closely to the width of the tire. So 23 mm tires on a 23 mm outer width rim is ideal. What you need to be aware of is that the wider rim effectively increases the size of the tire, so that a 23 mm tire on a 23 mm rim measures and rides quite like a 25 mm tire on a narrower (say 19 mm) rim. And the allowable minimum tire pressures (tubed clinchers) are also more like those for 25 mm tires on conventional rims than for 23 mm tires.

So if you wanted to go with 25 mm rims and tires, the combo would behave quite like a 28 mm tire on a narrower rim except as regards aerodynamics which would be much improved over that more conventional case.

Good luck with your quest.
Holy cow, I agree with everything in this post.

I would also add that, as said before, no tire will offer 100% goathead protection. I'm going to go ahead and assume you don't want to go tubeless since you didn't mention it. But I would recommend getting a hold of some presta tubes with removable cores. You can add tubeless sealant for added puncture protection. I did this on a bike with 25mm Continental GP4000S tires and pretty much never got a flat for a whole summer that included about 200 miles a week with offroad excursions on my commute.

I rarely get flats as it is, but then again, I haven't put in many miles this year...
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Old 08-07-15, 08:05 AM
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My road bike has the ability to go to 33mm tires with clearance for full fenders so I have plenty of space to stick wide rubber on it. I have been running 25mm Conti 4000s this year on aluminium rims that are 22mm wide and the combination seems fast and stable for most of the roadways I ride. I also ride this bike on gravel and if I know I'm going to ride over gravel sections I switch to a wheelset that has 32mm Compass Stampede pass tires on 22mm wide rims. The comfort difference between the two tires on rough stuff is very noticeable and yes, I'm faster on the rough stuff with the wider tires compared with the narrower ones. The reason being is that I'm not getting so beat up and the traction is better, so I will push it more.
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Old 08-07-15, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by WalksOn2Wheels
Holy cow, I agree with everything in this post.

I would also add that, as said before, no tire will offer 100% goathead protection. I'm going to go ahead and assume you don't want to go tubeless since you didn't mention it. But I would recommend getting a hold of some presta tubes with removable cores. You can add tubeless sealant for added puncture protection. I did this on a bike with 25mm Continental GP4000S tires and pretty much never got a flat for a whole summer that included about 200 miles a week with offroad excursions on my commute.

I rarely get flats as it is, but then again, I haven't put in many miles this year...
Hey, stuff happens!

BTW how do you feel about carrying Vittoria Pit Stop or equivalent for tubed clinchers instead of pre-treating with standard sealant? How about for tubular quick repair on the road? #juswonderin
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Old 08-07-15, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker
Hey, stuff happens!

BTW how do you feel about carrying Vittoria Pit Stop or equivalent for tubed clinchers instead of pre-treating with standard sealant? How about for tubular quick repair on the road? #juswonderin
The thing about tubeless sealant is that it does "dry out" due to the fact that a tube and/or tire is not air tight and some drying will occur. Just google "Stans Ball" and you'll see what I'm talking about. For this reason, tubeless tires should generally be cleaned and get new sealant at least a couple of times a year. I've opened up some MTB tires where people just keep adding sealant and it's almost worst than if they had just put slime in there to begin with. So on a tubed tire, you could do the pretreatment with tubeless sealant, but expect the tube to be full of dried up sealant by the end of a year. But the Vittoria Pit Stop stuff is totally a viable alternative if you don't want to mess with the tubeless sealant or sourcing out tubes with removable cores.

Because tubeless sealant does dry up, I would recommend the Pit Stop stuff for on the road tubular repair if you have a set of wheels you rarely use, or are planing on getting 2 or 3 seasons out of them. But if you go through a set of tubulars in a season, you could probably get away with pretreating with tubeless sealant because by the time the sealant is done for, so is the tire.

As always, the answer is, "It depends."
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Old 08-07-15, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by WalksOn2Wheels
The thing about tubeless sealant is that it does "dry out" due to the fact that a tube and/or tire is not air tight and some drying will occur. Just google "Stans Ball" and you'll see what I'm talking about. For this reason, tubeless tires should generally be cleaned and get new sealant at least a couple of times a year. I've opened up some MTB tires where people just keep adding sealant and it's almost worst than if they had just put slime in there to begin with. So on a tubed tire, you could do the pretreatment with tubeless sealant, but expect the tube to be full of dried up sealant by the end of a year. But the Vittoria Pit Stop stuff is totally a viable alternative if you don't want to mess with the tubeless sealant or sourcing out tubes with removable cores.

Because tubeless sealant does dry up, I would recommend the Pit Stop stuff for on the road tubular repair if you have a set of wheels you rarely use, or are planing on getting 2 or 3 seasons out of them. But if you go through a set of tubulars in a season, you could probably get away with pretreating with tubeless sealant because by the time the sealant is done for, so is the tire.

As always, the answer is, "It depends."
Thanks. Good insights.
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Old 08-09-15, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg
I think that only comes into play somewhere far above 20mph.
I wish I had some idea how little or very little power it saves. I'm not fast, but I do typically ride lo......ong slopes that I do between 25 and 35mph for a couple of miles when moving with gravity. An extra 1.0 mph is fun enough to be worth a few bucks -- I'm currently picking a -35 degree stem so my elbow pads are more appropriately placed. An extra 0.1mph, on the other hand ain't enough to motivate me to do much of anything.

Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg
Sheldon Brown had a chart that has not steered me wrong. 12-30mm seems to be the answer.
I've consulted the inimitable Mr. Brown's site frequently; but it does seem to have some dated -- or just less trendy -- info. That is one of the reasons I asked in the first place -- the "pro hype marketing" seems to suggest that that chart is not ideal with modern rims and tires. Combined with the Rivendell "retro hype" that suggests the same, I'm confused as to the practical realities.

[QUOTE=HardyWeinberg;18041835But my wider lower pressure ones are pricier, like I alluded to above, and they also do better w/ punctures than what I started out with.[/QUOTE] Thanks. Seems that tires may be one item where price and quality may actually be synonymous.
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Old 08-09-15, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti
Think it was 2 years ago the SAG for BRAN completely ran out of tires due to goatheads.
Oy!

Last edited by justinzane; 08-09-15 at 01:17 PM.
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Old 08-09-15, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by bikebreak
How big a tire fits your frame?
my commuting/rain bike has continental grand prix 4000s, in 25/28c, but they actually measure close to 28/30mm wide. they are great at lower pressures.
I can squeeze 32mm tires on traditional narrow road rims in there. For ****s-and-giggles I tried some cheap "commuter" 32mm tires. They worked, but they were SO heavy that the feeling of rolling around on lead overwhelmed any improvement from the extra air. I'm sure that I can use just about anything labelled 28mm without issue and can probably fit 30 or 32mm road oriented tires.
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Old 08-09-15, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by revchuck
OP - First, going from Gatorskins to almost any other tire will yield an immediate increase in ride quality. They're great for flat protection and wear - period.
My home is literally surrounded by dozens of acres of fallow pasture that is predominantly covered with goatheads. I've flatted two small tractor tires with thorns just mowing my friggin' yard! Gators let me actually complete rides most of the time; and I absolutely need that level of puncture resistance. If I can find rubber that feels better with the same durability, I'm all in.

Originally Posted by revchuck
Second, you're not that heavy.
Awwww, schucks....
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Old 08-09-15, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by RJM
My road bike has the ability to go to 33mm tires with clearance for full fenders so I have plenty of space to stick wide rubber on it. I have been running 25mm Conti 4000s this year on aluminium rims that are 22mm wide and the combination seems fast and stable for most of the roadways I ride. I also ride this bike on gravel and if I know I'm going to ride over gravel sections I switch to a wheelset that has 32mm Compass Stampede pass tires on 22mm wide rims. The comfort difference between the two tires on rough stuff is very noticeable and yes, I'm faster on the rough stuff with the wider tires compared with the narrower ones. The reason being is that I'm not getting so beat up and the traction is better, so I will push it more.
Thanks! That is an excellent comparison of uses for me, personally.
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