Choosing Your Tires

From Jan Heine and Compass Tires
“A bike that absorbs [road/surface] shock better rolls faster. Narrow tires don’t have any speed advantage, and inflating your tires to the maximum often makes your bike slower.”

“wider simply is better. More grip, more comfort, same speed, fewer flats.”

Off The Beaten Path

We’ve experienced a profound revolution in road bikes in recent years: It used to be that to go fast, you rode narrow tires and pumped them up to the maximum pressure. If you wanted more comfort, you used wider tires and (maybe) lower pressures, but you knew that you’d be slower.

Now we know that comfort and speed aren’t opposed, but inextricably linked: A bike that absorbs shocks better rolls faster. Narrow tires don’t have any speed advantage, and inflating your tires to the maximum often makes your bike slower.

But what does this means in practical terms, when it comes to choosing new tires for your bike? Do you need to get a new bike with clearances for ultra-wide tires? Or is there a way to benefit from the “tire revolution” on your existing bike?

The simple guidelines below are based on more than a decade of research into…

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3 Responses to Choosing Your Tires

  1. bgddyjim says:

    Yeah, I’m not buying the “aerodynamic penalty isn’t that big a deal” argument. Shaving one’s legs is a proven big deal, so is a fat tire. I’ll stick with 24’s and 26’s, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Archetype says:

      Yeah, I think the gains are marginal Jim. And that for the average club cyclist and even cat 5-4, really no large gains to be made.

      TOO many variables in an on-road scenario. Wind, road surfaces, temperatures, debris, energy transfer/loss, glycogen levels, wattage that can varied due to physiological changing conditions…

      I would think in a wind tunnel, gains can be measured and proven, but on the road in real world conditions that are ever changing along with the human body ever changing minute by minuet hour buy hour… I believe it is fairly negligible.

      Liked by 1 person

      • bgddyjim says:

        Oh, no doubt, but there’s no way your going to sell me on a 40 being as fast as a 26, it’s simply too big of a stretch. Fortunately, 26 is as big as I can go – the frame limits me, so it’s a moot point.


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