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Bike tyres - does it really matter?

Hello all,

I've always found the advice on this forum very helpful:
I ride a Giant SCR 1.0 which I bought in last year end of year sales - this is my first road bike, did 500-600km including three Sprint Tri's with it and haven't modified it at all apart from the pedals.

It came with a Kenda 700x26mm tyre which seems to be wider than the norm for road bikes. (Bike spec: http://www.paulscycles.co.uk/products.php?plid=m1b4s6p1661&rs=gb)

Does the width of the tyre really matter?
Would it be recommended to change to a more narrow tyre to improve my speed? If yes which one ?
Will a more narrow tyre be more susceptible to punctures?

questions, questions, questions...

Thanks for the advice


  • The thinner the tyre the less resistance and therefore the faster you go. The downside is that there is less rubber in contact with the road and so less grip. Tyre sizes can also affect clearances if you want to put on mudguards etc over winter.

    For tech info try:
  • ShaggyShaggy Posts: 140
    Rolling resistance and grip is not just about thick/thin, also about flexibility of the tyre material. That's normally indicated in the TPI figure, racing tyres have a more flexible carcass so less rolling resistance. They generally have less mass, so accelerate quicker and softer compound rubber on the edge for cornering grip.

    My advice - keep these tyres over the winter and next spring see what you can get a deal on. I use Michelin Pro 3 and like them (with latex tubes - whole new discussion) others rate Continental GP4000, Schwalbe Stelvio, Vittoria Corsa Open Pro, Vredestein Fortezza etc. etc. You will notice a difference swapping to race tyres and it will make you faster.

    BTW I tried 19mm and 23mm and 23mm is better. More comfort, no discernible speed difference.

  • huwdhuwd Posts: 228
    I changed my factory spec'd hutchinson equinox tyres for michelin pro 3 and i didn't really notice anything on the move but the lower friction on the centre section could be felt when sat static on the bike turning the front wheel from side to side - much less resistance to movement.

    Though I suspect that I might put the equinox back on once it gets slippery on the roads
  • Thanks everyone for the comments.

    So it looks that I will stick with the Kenda's 700x26 for the upcoming Winter months and come Spring change them to a narrower tyre.

    I recall from previous threads that the Continental Gator Ultra Duraskins are highly recommended and seem to get the thumbs up from the majority of people.
  • risris Posts: 1,002
    i put a pair of gp4000's on my bike over the weekend for a race (in place of the bog-standard spesh roubaix pro's that came with the bike a year ago). i thought i'd leave them on for a couple of commute days to see what the difference was by comparison. i took 20sec off my 19km commute time on monday (35mins dead), which even allowing for a little bit of traffic wasn't spectacular. i did notice i was a bit quicker on some uphill sections but saw little change on the downhill and flatter sections.

    i'll bung the roubaix's back on for the winter, no point in wasting expensive tyres in the cold and dark.
  • The one thing I have noticed between different tyres is comfort though...my Bonty race lite tyres are poor at grip and very stiff giving a very hard ride whereas the GP4000s are much better at gripping (probably due to the black chilli compound) but also hard. Without doubt the best tyres I have tried for racing are Schwalbe Utremo Rs which are amazing at ironing out bumps (making the ride uber comfy -even at 120PSI) but still manage to have really low rolling resistance...however....they have a REALLY soft outer compound so after this week's racing and one other race (plus some training total 150ish km) the outside layer is shredded on the rear tyre....

    Moral of the story: buy thecorrect one for the correct use - hard outer=winter/soft outer=racing (unless of course you have buckets of cash ultremos are £60 a go!!)
  • I use 19mm Tubular tyres..... Continental Competitions......
    They are the best tyres I have ever used.

    I have a pair of gold Continental GP4000 Clincher tyres unused and still in their box for sale if you want some.......
  • JPJPJPJP Posts: 3
    Yes it matters

    Try a ride you know well on a pair of Tufo C Elite Jet 160 tyres (tubular clinchers) and tell me you didn't notice anything different to those Kenda things
  • Without wishing to hijack the thread or appear too thick can someone explain the difference between Tubs and clinchers.

  • jonEjonE Posts: 1,113
    Tubulars or tubs,have inbuilt innertubes and are glued to the wheel.Clinchers have a small rim which clinches to the inside of the wheel.Each tyre requires a different type of wheel.Twenty odd years ago,tubs had a better rolling resistance than clinchers,and so were the prefered weapon of choice for racers,they can also be ridden on when a flat occurs.However with advances in rubber technology the difference between the two now is minimal.Tubs are more expensive,and depending how skilled you are can be changed quicker than a clincher should a puncture occurs.
    There are now available,tubeless clinchers,on the market,for about £140 you can modify your existing clincher wheels to take these marvels of technology.Hutchinson tyres manufacture some tyres that can be used.
  • A ha, perfect, thanks Jon, I've been wondering about that for ages.
  • Is there a tell tale sign which type of wheel/tyre a new bike has?!?

    I know nothing about road bike wheels and have a new bike ready and waiting for my cyclescheme voucher to land on the doormat. The bike isn't factory spec so not sure how else to tell other than taking the tyres off.
  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    Simondo: clinchers have a sidewall, of sorts. Tubs are, well, tubular. Your bike will have clinchers.

    One of the things that surprised me when going from economy tyre to race was the change in handling. My good tyres have a more triangular profile, so more contact in corners and the bike tips in very quickly. Also I run them at 140psi. I love them!
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