Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Road Cycling
Reload this Page >

Optimum tire size?

Road Cycling It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle. -- Ernest Hemingway

Optimum tire size?

Old 05-14-19, 05:29 PM
Senior Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Hollister, CA (not the surf town)
Posts: 1,761

Bikes: 2019 Specialized Roubaix Comp Di2, 2009 Roubaix, early 90's Giant Iguana

Liked 1,604 Times in 571 Posts
Optimum tire size?

In the not too distant future I hope to start looking for a new road bike. One of my considerations is the ability to run bigger tires but not sure how big I would want to go. I don't plan on doing any serious gravel or dirt but do ride some really lousy pavement. My Roubaix had 23c tires on it when I got it and I noticed a big improvement going to 25c GP4000SII's. I don't think anything much bigger would fit.

I am definitely a recreational cyclist. No racing but do some long rides on the weekend and plan on doing a century here and there so want something that rolls pretty well.

I'm thinking the capability to run 32c tires would be enough. Any reason I would need anything bigger for my use?
Ogsarg is offline  
Old 05-14-19, 05:48 PM
Senior Member
surak's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: Seattle
Posts: 1,978

Bikes: Specialized Roubaix, Canyon Inflite AL SLX, Ibis Ripley AF, Priority Continuum Onyx, Santana Vision, Kent Dual-Drive Tandem

Liked 739 Times in 442 Posts
The pros mostly ride on 28mm tires for Paris-Roubaix at ludicrous speed over pave. I don't think you'll need anything wider than 32c, especially if you get another endurance bike like a newer Roubaix. Big difference in how (not) battered I feel after rides over 50 miles compared to my aluminum bike.
surak is offline  
Old 05-14-19, 06:39 PM
Senior Member
WhyFi's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: TC, MN
Posts: 39,520

Bikes: R3 Disc, Haanjo

Liked 9,456 Times in 4,672 Posts
Originally Posted by Ogsarg
Any reason I would need anything bigger for my use?
Not that I can think of, unless you're a really large/heavy person.

Personal experience - a couple years ago, I slapped some 30mm road tires on my gravel bike and I was hooked. As a relatively big guy, being able to run fast-rolling tires at 65-70psi made a huge difference in how beat up I'd feel at the end of 3 - 6 hours worth of riding, so I decided that I'd want at least that much clearance on any future road bike purchases. I don't know if road tires are going to trend even larger or not, but I don't really care - 30mm is a nice sweet spot for me. I'd say that I could probably even be happy with clearance for "just" 28s, but some of the new wheelsets at 30mm external width are looking compelling enough that I wouldn't want to rule them out.
WhyFi is offline  
Old 05-15-19, 12:20 PM
Have bike, will travel
Barrettscv's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Lake Geneva, WI
Posts: 12,284

Bikes: Ridley Helium SLX, Canyon Endurance SL, De Rosa Professional, Eddy Merckx Corsa Extra, Schwinn Paramount (1 painted, 1 chrome), Peugeot PX10, Serotta Nova X, Simoncini Cyclocross Special, Raleigh Roker, Pedal Force CG2 and CX2

Liked 288 Times in 158 Posts
I also like using tires in the 27-32mm wide range. These include 700x28 Continental 4000 II, 700x30 Schwable S-One, 700x28 Vittoria Corsa and 700x25 Michelin PRO4 Endurance.

Ive used smaller and larger tires, but the 27-32mm size range is fast on pavement and if the tire is robust, it can be used on firm & dry crushed limestone trails.
Barrettscv is offline  
Old 05-15-19, 12:45 PM
Senior Member
Seattle Forrest's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 23,208
Liked 10,646 Times in 6,054 Posts
28 to 32 mm feels like the sweet spot for me. Comfortable, versatile, and still light enough to feel snappy.
Seattle Forrest is offline  
Old 05-15-19, 12:50 PM
Senior Member
WhyFi's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: TC, MN
Posts: 39,520

Bikes: R3 Disc, Haanjo

Liked 9,456 Times in 4,672 Posts
Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest
...and still light enough to feel snappy.
A few weeks ago, my road bike was getting a spring cleaning so, in my hubris, I decided to take the gravel bike on the group ride. Fast-rolling 38s were just fine on the flat bits, but damn does the script flip when pointed uphill. There certainly is such a thing as too wide (any heavy!) when it comes to tires.
WhyFi is offline  
Old 05-15-19, 02:04 PM
Senior Member
Abe_Froman's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Chicago
Posts: 2,524

Bikes: Marin Four Corners, 1960's Schwinn Racer in middle of restoration, mid 70s Motobecane Grand Touring, various other heaps.

Liked 57 Times in 51 Posts
Originally Posted by WhyFi
A few weeks ago, my road bike was getting a spring cleaning so, in my hubris, I decided to take the gravel bike on the group ride. Fast-rolling 38s were just fine on the flat bits, but damn does the script flip when pointed uphill. There certainly is such a thing as too wide (any heavy!) when it comes to tires.
That sounds odd. I would think they would hurt you more on the flat, fast bits, than on a climb where they really shouldnt be a detriment at all.
Abe_Froman is offline  
Old 05-15-19, 03:27 PM
Senior Member
Dave Mayer's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 2,518
Liked 493 Times in 287 Posts
Originally Posted by Abe_Froman
That sounds odd. I would think they would hurt you more on the flat, fast bits, than on a climb where they really shouldnt be a detriment at all.
If you've ridden a 1,300 gram (or less) wheelset, you'll understand the huge effect of rotating mass on climbing and accelerating.

Anyway, I've been riding long distances on gravel lately, and decided to convert a bike with race wheels to something more robust; I swapped out 22mm for 25mm. The new wheels are mid-level Campagnolo clinchers. The previous wheels were irresponsibility light tubulars.

The bike now rides like a farm tractor relative to previous. The bike now tops 20 pounds, with all of the extra mass on the wheels. Hard to believe the transformation, from responsive to sluggish.
Dave Mayer is offline  
Old 05-16-19, 04:46 AM
Senior Member
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Ashton, MD USA
Posts: 1,299

Bikes: Trek Domane SL6 Disc, Jamis Renegade

Liked 305 Times in 217 Posts
I moved up to 32mm and they have worked great for road riding and for the crushed decent gravel road and limestone/packet surface rail trails. For my old beater bike that I use on rougher trails (like the C&O Canal Towpath with is dirt plus roots, potholes, rocks etc.) I'm using 35mm tires and I've tried 38mm that one and bigger is better on those surfaces.

But for the 95% of my riding which is mostly road and just a bit of gravel and those nicely packed rail trails, 32mm is perfect and I weigh 230 lbs. I run the tire pressure at 80 PSI, down from from what I used to run. No meaningful increase in rolling resistance and definitely a decrease in flats over smaller tires/higher pressure.
jpescatore is offline  
Likes For jpescatore:
Old 05-16-19, 05:32 PM
Senior Member
bruce19's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Lebanon (Liberty Hill), CT
Posts: 8,638

Bikes: CAAD 12, MASI Gran Criterium S, Colnago World Cup CX & Guru steel

Liked 1,355 Times in 789 Posts
As you are doing research consider tubeless. I recently switched to Mavic USTs and I have been amazed at how light, comfortable and smooth they are. According to testing they are also less rolling resistance than clinchers or tubular. I would not have believed it if I hadn't experienced it.
bruce19 is offline  
Old 05-16-19, 06:43 PM
Senior Member
tigat's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Colorado
Posts: 557

Bikes: 2021 Trek Checkpoint SL (GRX Di2), 2020 Domane SLR 9 (very green), 2016 Trek Emonda SL, 2009 Bianchi 928, 1972 Atala Record Pro

Likes: 0
Liked 143 Times in 55 Posts
Have to agree with Dave and WhyFi. I ride 28s on my Domane and 25s on the Emonda, both with superlight carbon wheels. Even with that minimal difference, accelerating out of sharp turns (like the bridges I cross on the MUP I commute on) and negotiating ramps over 10% feel totally different, and easier on the Emonda, to the point that I'm planning on putting 25s on the Domane for upcoming mountain rides.

On a previous generation Domane, I experimented with 32s, and the current model with discs can go to 35s. I can't imagine ever needing to do so except for the novelty of it or if I decided I wanted to be a gravel racer.
tigat is offline  
Old 05-16-19, 10:32 PM
Veteran, Pacifist
Wildwood's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Seattle area
Posts: 13,448

Bikes: Bikes??? Thought this was social media?!?

Liked 4,987 Times in 2,294 Posts
Width? Depends.
Long rides on weekends? Not race miles, more than a couple of stops in your century.
Comfort over Speed.

New road bike, I know more than a couple folks who would say buy a disk bike that will take 42s. Anything narrower is still possible (and 2nd wheelsets might transform your options).
Or, depending upon your frame size - 650b, might be your thing for recreational miles with a nice set of small bags/panniers.

Who can say?

I'm in the 28-32 on a standard road frame for road+light off-road riding. Preferably tubulars. Not a 650b guy for 60+cm frames. Others want more versatility for their personal adventure.

Vintage, modern, e-road. It is a big cycling universe.

Last edited by Wildwood; 05-16-19 at 10:41 PM.
Wildwood is offline  
Old 05-16-19, 11:59 PM
Senior Member
illdrag0n's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 322

Bikes: 2014 Focus Mares AX 2.0, 2019 Cube Litening C:62 Race Disc Teamline

Likes: 0
Liked 140 Times in 68 Posts
For what it's worth, i'm 149kg and can't tell the difference between 32c and 28c, but 28's look much nicer.

I reckon the 28s are even more comfortable actually (conti 4 seasons 32 vs Durano Plus 28c)
illdrag0n is offline  
Old 05-17-19, 12:23 AM
What happened?
Rollfast's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Around here somewhere
Posts: 7,927

Bikes: 3 Rollfasts, 3 Schwinns, a Shelby and a Higgins Flightliner in a pear tree!

Liked 292 Times in 255 Posts
Anything but flat and bent or wiggly is probably good.
I don't know nothing, and I memorized it in school and got this here paper I'm proud of to show it.
Rollfast is offline  
Old 05-17-19, 01:03 AM
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Salt Lake City, UT (Formerly Los Angeles, CA)
Posts: 1,145

Bikes: 2008 Cannondale Synapse -- 2014 Cannondale Quick CX

Likes: 0
Liked 83 Times in 54 Posts
Ive ridden 23mm, 25mm, 28mm, 32mm, and 38mm. For my pannier-toting hybrid 32mm is my preference. For my road bike, 28mm.
daoswald is offline  
Old 05-17-19, 01:09 AM
Me duelen las nalgas
canklecat's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Texas
Posts: 13,513

Bikes: Centurion Ironman, Trek 5900, Univega Via Carisma, Globe Carmel

Liked 2,807 Times in 1,803 Posts
I wouldn't buy another drop bar bike unless it was endurance oriented and would take tires up to 32, maybe even larger. Our roads are getting worse, due to neglect or that cheap and nasty solution, chipseal -- basically pouring goop over gravel and calling it pavement. Sometimes, maybe months later, they'll pour a smooth "fog coat" or asphalt, which is nice. But usually they just leave it at chipseal forever.

My old school steel bike can take up to 700x25, so that's what I use. It's tolerable, between the curved fork and somewhat wider, softer tires. I usually run 'em around 90 psi back, 75 front. (I weigh 150 lbs).

My early '90s Trek 5900 carbon wears 700x23. Larger tires are a marginal fit and there's some rub marks inside the chain stays from a previous owner attempting to use wider tires. That bike is not fun on bombed out roads or chipseal. Good bike but I wouldn't buy another road racing oriented bike. It's not practical for our roads or my age and condition.

My favorite rough pavement bike is an old Univega with flexy frame and fork and 700x42 tires. Doesn't really feel sluggish. I suspect the somewhat slower times are mostly due to the aero issues, not the bigger tires. The bike is set up with albatross bars set at saddle height, not quite upright but not as aero as drop bars.
canklecat is offline  
Related Topics
Thread Starter
Last Post
Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational)
04-22-19 12:11 PM
Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational)
10-22-18 12:15 PM
Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational)
04-11-17 06:14 PM
Bicycle Mechanics
04-23-15 01:19 PM
Singlespeed & Fixed Gear
05-03-10 09:02 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Your Privacy Choices -

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.