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The dominance of the narrow racing tire on bikes is over

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The dominance of the narrow racing tire on bikes is over

Old 08-13-22, 09:18 AM
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The dominance of the narrow racing tire on bikes is over

The dominance of narrow racing tires on bikes is over. Prior to the mid 1980ís, almost every bike could fit a tire wider than 700x25. The popularity of short reach caliper brakes since1980 made tires wider than 700x25 difficult to fit. Most drop bar road bikes with performance aspirations came with short reach caliper brakes and only touring and cyclocross bikes were sold with drop bars and wider tires. Most touring and Cyclocross bikes featured cantilever brakes to make the installation of wider tires feasible. Previous to 1985, the widespread availability of sports-touring models with medium reach caliper brakes could be found models in the showroom.

Disc brake bikes with drop handlebars allow the use of wider tires even on professional level completion models. Initially reserved for racing on cobbles, disc brake bikes with tires in the 25 to 32 range now dominate the peloton at all major races today.



Gravel bikes also require tires in the 700x38 to 700x45 range. High performance gravel bikes that combine disc brakes with good aerodynamics offer good all-road performance. The popularity of endurance models that fit tires as large as 700x35 provide the recreational rider with both high performance and all-day comfort on a wide range of paved roads or crushed limestone trails.



I still keep one lightweight professional-level bike with rim brakes, modern carbon rims and electronic shifting. It feels retro after riding my endurance or gravel bikes with disc brakes and wider tires. If I had to limit myself to one bike it would probably be a lightweight and aerodynamic gravel bike. I really don't need a bike that can only fit a 700x25 or smaller tire.
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Old 08-13-22, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
I really don't need a bike that can only fit a 700x25 or smaller tire.
Most bicyclists around the world have always known that; many "enthusiasts" and other niche riders are coming to the realization that they do not need to try and emulate professional road racers in their choice of bicycles to ride for pleasure.
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Old 08-13-22, 01:31 PM
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Seems you are 10 years or more late to the party!

Though for the very smooth asphalt I normally ride here, I still use a 25mm tire and have for at least 7 years though even 23mm tires aren't bad for my main route. Though when the Natchez trace which is only a portion of my routes had a stretch of chip seal, the 23mm were a annoyance to comfort and speed.

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Old 08-13-22, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
disc brake bikes with tires in the 25 to 32 range now dominate the peloton at all major races today.
It still is more like 25 for nearly all pro races. Roubaix saw more 28-32 as did the cobbles stretch on the TdF this year.

That said I totally agree that for the rest of us we don't need such narrow tires. I am on 30s now for road and 35 for light gravel. On my next bike I hope to fit 42s for gravel along with my 30s for road, but that is going to be a few years..
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Old 08-13-22, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Seems you are 10 years or more late to the party!
My reply;

A 1976 Motobecane Grand Record was the ideal sports touring and randonneuring bike. If fitted with a 700c wheel a 700x35 can be installed



A 1993 Italian cyclocross bike that easily fits a 700x32.



I've fitted a 700x40 front & rear and a 700x45 fits on the front of this 2016 Raleigh Roker




A 700x30 tire fits this 2017 Canyon Endurace. The Continental GP 4000 currently installed measure 31mm wide.


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Old 08-13-22, 01:39 PM
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Ok fine if these fat tires are matched with a frameset made of fat tubes. IMO, tires wider than 23 only matter much when you sit upright, primarily soft pedal or wheelsuck😉
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Old 08-13-22, 01:44 PM
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Were is the sailboat that goes with that mast in the first pic? Bikes I've seen a lot of lately. I miss my sailboat. But I got to the point where I couldn't Bring Out Another Thousand!
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Old 08-13-22, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Were is the sailboat that goes with that mast in the first pic? Bikes I've seen a lot of lately. I miss my sailboat. But I got to the point where I couldn't Bring Out Another Thousand!
My trailer sailer on a lake in Wisconsin has been affordable


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Old 08-13-22, 04:17 PM
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I must be stuck in the past. All my bikes have 23s on them except maybe 1 or 2 with 25s. I have tried going a little wider but not for long.
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Old 08-13-22, 05:48 PM
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I don't think that Raleigh is from 1976.
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Old 08-13-22, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
I don't think that Raleigh is from 1976.
Yes, it's been corrected to 2016
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Old 08-13-22, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by scottfsmith View Post
It still is more like 25 for nearly all pro races. Roubaix saw more 28-32 as did the cobbles stretch on the TdF this year.

That said I totally agree that for the rest of us we don't need such narrow tires. I am on 30s now for road and 35 for light gravel. On my next bike I hope to fit 42s for gravel along with my 30s for road, but that is going to be a few years..
Why don't "the rest of us" need narrow tires like the pros race on? Some of the rest of us like to ride fast, and a 25mm tire is fast. If they weren't fast, pros would use something else.
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Old 08-13-22, 08:24 PM
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I don't see me going bigger than 25s for road riding except in the winter when the roads here in central CT are crappy.
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Old 08-13-22, 10:09 PM
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Here in Tokyo we have no gravel except in playgrounds. The roads are flat, smooth, and well-maintained. I normally ride a 23mm tire, which I find a good balance between speed and comfort. In my racing days we rode 19mm tubulars in most cases, and 21mm on cobbles. Those were the days when 9 speed drivelines were just coming onto the market, and there were still some pro riders on steel frames. Oddly (or not), the stage records of today are only incrementally faster than those of 25 years ago despite the great improvements in cycling technology and training.

Pros don’t necessarily use what is faster, they often use what is more fashionable, and what their sponsors think will drive sales. No one would say that the baggy clothes worn by MTB and winter sports pros in the 90's were faster than tighter-fitting clothes with less wind resistance. Baggy clothes were significantly slower, but the pros wore them because that was the fashion of the time. Fat tires have been fashionable for the last few years. The current market for "fat bikes" is strong, but no one would argue that 5 inch wide tires are marketed for their superior performance.

Personally, I like the appearance of bigger tires, but I know from experience that bigger doesn’t necessarily mean faster.
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Old 08-13-22, 10:42 PM
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Originally Posted by 50PlusCycling View Post
Here in Tokyo we have no gravel except in playgrounds. The roads are flat, smooth, and well-maintained. I normally ride a 23mm tire, which I find a good balance between speed and comfort. In my racing days we rode 19mm tubulars in most cases, and 21mm on cobbles. Those were the days when 9 speed drivelines were just coming onto the market, and there were still some pro riders on steel frames. Oddly (or not), the stage records of today are only incrementally faster than those of 25 years ago despite the great improvements in cycling technology and training.

Pros donít necessarily use what is faster, they often use what is more fashionable, and what their sponsors think will drive sales. No one would say that the baggy clothes worn by MTB and winter sports pros in the 90's were faster than tighter-fitting clothes with less wind resistance. Baggy clothes were significantly slower, but the pros wore them because that was the fashion of the time. Fat tires have been fashionable for the last few years. The current market for "fat bikes" is strong, but no one would argue that 5 inch wide tires are marketed for their superior performance.

Personally, I like the appearance of bigger tires, but I know from experience that bigger doesnít necessarily mean faster.
What your insight indicates to me is that the advancements in technology including wider tires is equivalent to a sophisticated doping program.
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Old 08-13-22, 11:20 PM
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I just picked up a circa 1990 race bike. 25.3mm Vittoria rear (measured) fits with paper clearance at the brake bridge. (Thin cardboard? No way!) I'm running 24c front and rear. Super short Cyclone calipers with the pads pushed all the way up to center on Open Pro brake tracks. One, sweet, sweet ride! Love it! (It does have more room for fingers under the DT and behind the ST than the Fuji Pro I raced in the late '70s. Still, I've jammed my fingers several times reaching down to shift and so far have remembered to use my Fuji caution and reach for the seatstay first when I reach back to wipe the tire.)

And with that, I'll leave you all and go start building the sewup wheels that belong on it (and see if I can go 25c tubbie or if I have to stick to 23c, I think my old sewup standard though in those days, I never saw a tire width posted (on the tire, on the package or anywhere else. Pretty sure the Criterium Setas I raced were about 21c, but again, no documentation.
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Old 08-14-22, 03:37 AM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
I just picked up a circa 1990 race bike. 25.3mm Vittoria rear (measured) fits with paper clearance at the brake bridge. (Thin cardboard? No way!) I'm running 24c front and rear. Super short Cyclone calipers with the pads pushed all the way up to center on Open Pro brake tracks. One, sweet, sweet ride! Love it! (It does have more room for fingers under the DT and behind the ST than the Fuji Pro I raced in the late '70s. Still, I've jammed my fingers several times reaching down to shift and so far have remembered to use my Fuji caution and reach for the seatstay first when I reach back to wipe the tire.)

And with that, I'll leave you all and go start building the sewup wheels that belong on it (and see if I can go 25c tubbie or if I have to stick to 23c, I think my old sewup standard though in those days, I never saw a tire width posted (on the tire, on the package or anywhere else. Pretty sure the Criterium Setas I raced were about 21c, but again, no documentation.
I raced in the 1964 track nationals as a 13 year old from Connecticut, at the Kissena Park velodrome in Queens, on a Helyett Speciale track bike with 10-ounce Dunlop tubulars. When we all lined up for the scratch race, some of the kids from Chicago and California noticed my tires and sneered. They were all on Schwinn Paramounts with orange Criterium Setas.

That was a lifetime ago, but I still remember how humiliating it was. At least I got to race against and beat a guy in a national championship jersey the next year, at a road race in Hartford.

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Old 08-14-22, 05:36 AM
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The tire width question has been bounced back and forth like a tennis match. It’s up to the rider and the bike to determine. I have one of my old ten speeds that has wide tires , they measure 1.39” when inflated . I rode that bike the other day after riding some of my skinny tire bikes for a while and it was not unpleasant …just different. My favorite tire, unless an ultra smooth road , is 25-28c . That seems to be the best for me. I like to change up bikes from my stable and experience different road feel from time to time.
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Old 08-14-22, 05:55 AM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
Why don't "the rest of us" need narrow tires like the pros race on? Some of the rest of us like to ride fast, and a 25mm tire is fast. If they weren't fast, pros would use something else.
If you are racing sure. But the speed difference is so small that it really does not matter to anyone not racing. Pro races are also generally on good pavement, something us regular riders may not have much of. When the pavement gets worse the pros go bigger. I use the exact tire setup that won Paris-Roubaix this year (30c GP5000 S TR's) so it can't suck too much.

Anyway 25c is perfectly fine, go for it. These differences really don't matter so much in either direction. I recently spent a week riding in the north bay on 25c tires and had a blast. The patchwork back roads were a nightmare but I made it.

Hey I just noticed a recent GCN video on this.
They compared 28 vs 32 (no 25) on the same stretch of road going same speed. The 28 were a bit better at high speeds, same at standard speeds. But, Si had 45 psi in the 32s which seems too low. They also mentioned that many TdF teams this year were on 28s, that was news to me.

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Old 08-14-22, 07:40 AM
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I like a skinny tire on my older bikes mostly for the looks of them. BITD when I fell in love with bicycles, skinny, high pressure tires were what the cool kids seemed to want. So to me they look appropriate for my bike boom steel. My modern bike has 25s on it just because I wanted the Continental GP5Ks when they were only available in 25 to give it a retro vibe. They were actually a better ride IMHO than the Bontrager tires the bike was born with. But when the time comes, I will probably go back to a 32 in a better tire than what the stock Bontragers. Hopefully a better and wider tire will be an improvement still over the GP5Ks.
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Old 08-14-22, 08:59 AM
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Not sure about 'Dominance' for narrow racing tires....
BITD, even during the heyday of the 70's bike boom, majority of '10 spds' (and 12 spds) came with 27 x 1 1/4 = 32 mm
and before that the 'racing' peloton/crowd was a tiny segment of any riding - remembering the year I got my USCF license, my member # was just below 16000... (that's nation wide).
real 'touring' was even a smaller segment - but you could get 700c sewups to 32, no problem...
wonderfully, the universe continues to expand... pick your flavor...
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Old 08-14-22, 09:43 AM
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I’ve found tires from different manufacturers measure different widths on the same wheels when inflated to the same pressures. From memory Vittoria measured it’s nameplate width but Continentals were wider than specified. For me, 25s are usually an excellent width for my road bikes, both with rim and disc brakes. But I’m still trying to wear out some 23s I have left over as I tended to buy tires in bulk. I’ve put thousands of miles on 23’s and enjoyed how they performed. 25s give me a little more confidence on descents especially paired with some slightly wider rims which seem to be the norm anymore.
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Old 08-14-22, 10:10 AM
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What's next? The loss of dominance of CRTs and rotary dial phones?
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Old 08-14-22, 11:23 AM
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Folks in Fifty-Plus like narrow 25's even more than the C&V crowd!
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Old 08-14-22, 11:58 AM
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I run 23's on my Trek and 25's on the Canyon. Suits me just fine.
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