Tire width considerations

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by genedoc, Nov 21, 2006.

  1. genedoc

    genedoc New Member

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    I badly cut my rear Vittoria Open Corsa EVO tires on my Fuji Team Pro on a
    training ride and went to buy a replacement. The tires on the bike were 700x23, but the replacement the LBS had turned out to be 700x20. I didn't see that at the time and now I have one 23 on the front and one 20 on the rear. I can't say I've noticed any difference. What are the considerations for going with the narrower or wider tire. Does it really matter? I'm 6'2" and 180#, and I run them both with 120# (they're supposed to have 120-140#).
     
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  2. John M

    John M New Member

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    There probably won't be much of a difference in ride if you keep the tires properly inflated. The 23 will actually have a slightly lower rolling resistance than the 20 and may be more puncture resistant and more resistant to pinch flats.
     
  3. gclark8

    gclark8 New Member

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    Put the 20 on the front and the 23 on the rear.
     
  4. Strid

    Strid New Member

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    Yep, that would be the smart thing to do in this case!
     
  5. genedoc

    genedoc New Member

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    OK. How does a wider tire at the same pressure give less rolling resistance? Seems counter intuitive. Also, I can understand the pinch flat benefit, but why the puncture resistance?
     
  6. bobbyOCR

    bobbyOCR New Member

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    I do know that 23 will be more stable when cornering. Pinch flats are punctures as well. All I can think of is less surface area in contact with the ground. Also, a well designed 23c tyre can have a lower rolling resistance than a 20c tyre.

    But do put the 20 on the front, it would look better and also be more aero.
     
  7. genedoc

    genedoc New Member

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    No question about the 20 in front and 23 in the rear (if I don't buy another tire to match one or the other, which is sort of my plan), but I'm still confused by your reasoning and maybe I'm just missing something, but the 20 should have less surface in contact with the ground and therefore would have less rolling resistance. In this case we're talking about identical quality tires - just different diameters.
     
  8. Retro Grouch

    Retro Grouch New Member

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    Assuming that everything else is equal, at equal air pressure and load all tires will have the same contact patch area with the ground. Although the area will be equal, the shapes will differ. The narrower tire will have a longer and narrower contact patch. Now take a tire and try to flatten a portion of it with your hands. The effort that it takes to flatten the tire from it's normal round shape is the major component of rolling resistance. Since a narrower tire will have a longer contact patch, it has to be flattened more from it's normal round shape. Consequently it will have more rolling resistance.

    There are, however, some other factors that at least partially mitigate this advantage:

    First of all, most riders use more air pressure with narrower tires. This factor alone might be enough to equalize the shape of the contact patch and negate the whole rolling resistance argument. Harder tires may have some other drawbacks, but that's another whole issue.

    Narrower tires have less frontal area and consequently are more aero.

    Narrower tires will weigh less.

    Truthfully, all of these factors combined are still tiny. Compared with the effort that's required to push your torso through the air, everything else is small potatoes. If your goal is to ride faster, work on your position on the bike.
     
  9. DiabloScott

    DiabloScott New Member

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    The 20 should go in front but for another reason: it's new; you always want good tread on your front tire, that's why you shouldn't rotate them. Rears wear out faster so it's OK to put your front on the back and a new one in front.

    Contact patch is probably the same for a 20 and 23 on the same wheel at the same pressure, but contact patch in the rear is higher than the front because of the weight distribution.
     
  10. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    Because the narrow tire's casing has to deflect/deform more to form the contact patch. Rolling resistance is all about energy loss in tire flexion.
     
  11. John M

    John M New Member

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    It is counter intuitive. This subject has been debated alot and it has been scientifically studied. Do a google and you can find several discussions on this.
     
  12. bobbyOCR

    bobbyOCR New Member

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    That is what I had heard, just needed reminding (abut the equal contact, longer narrower etc.). Running to high a pressure in your tyres also increases rolling resistance on poor quality roads.
     
  13. Akadat

    Akadat New Member

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  14. Strid

    Strid New Member

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  15. Retro Grouch

    Retro Grouch New Member

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    Another interesting topic.

    Air pressure is constantly trying to blow your tires off of the rim. Air pressure is, of course, measured in pounds per square inch. Since a larger tire has more square inches of sidewall area there's more total force trying to push the beads sideways past the rim flanges.
     
  16. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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  17. threaded

    threaded New Member

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    Actually I'd leave the fat one on the front and the thinner one on the back, but that's 'cause my hands need the extra cushion, and I only use the seat to help keep the bike upright.
     
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