How Wide Is Too Wide For Road Bike Tyres?

How Wide Is Too Wide For Road Bike Tyres?

Over the last few years we have seen a trend towards increasingly wide tyres on road bikes. At the Tour de France, most teams were riding 28mm tyres but we have also seen riders on tyres as wide as 32mm. In our latest episode of GCN Does Science, Si and Alex test the new Vittoria Corsa N.EXT tyres to see which size road bike tyres are faster at different speeds.

In association with Vittoria 👉

0:00 Intro
1:20 Our Hypothesis
2:14 The Tyres
2:49 28mm Test
6:36 32mm Test
9:31 Results

6:18 331W for 28mm at 40 km/h
10:15 Should say 331W for 28mm at 40 km/h!

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Fat Tire – Roy Edwin Williams
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Photos: © Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images & © Bettiniphoto /

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  1. Andy Beech on October 5, 2022 at 5:04 am

    Hmmm have i missed something???? They say at 40 km/h the thinner tyres are 10 watts more efficient, but the powerpoint says they are EXACTLY the same for 28s and 32s – have I missed something or has someone dropped a bollock on the graphics???

  2. T Smith on October 5, 2022 at 5:04 am

    I’m just here for Si.

  3. Torsten Böttger on October 5, 2022 at 5:04 am

    Well, If you use 30mm tires you get the best of both worlds 😵‍💫

  4. Colin Broderick on October 5, 2022 at 5:05 am

    I’m currently riding 28 mm which is the thinnest I’ve ever ridden. Before that I was riding a hybrid bike with 35 mm. I was expecting the 28 mm to be a really rough ride, but actually have no problem with it at all. Find them perfectly comfortable. That’s probably because even when I was riding the 35 mm, I was doing so almost exclusively on the road, so they were always held at relatively high pressure, and so I’m already used to that feel.

  5. j k on October 5, 2022 at 5:06 am

    Someone should tell Alex that wearing a lab coat with legs exposed makes you look like some kind of pervert that’s about to flash an innocent bystander.

  6. Shaun Teo on October 5, 2022 at 5:07 am

    Hi, i’m a beginner rider and i’m using Parcours Strade wheelset which are aerodynamically optimised for 28mm tires..but the shop didn’t have the tires i wanted at 28mm so i went with 25mm instead. Would that be a big aero penalty for me? And i’m a heavy rider too at 92kg 😅 should i go wider than 28mm? Thanks

  7. E3kTheCat on October 5, 2022 at 5:07 am

    I can hear his disc brakes scraping

  8. peter willson on October 5, 2022 at 5:08 am

    Many people prefer wide COMFY tyres because someone suckered them into buying the wrong FRAME.. Marketing Marketing Marketing..

  9. Dr Niket Satapara on October 5, 2022 at 5:09 am

    Roads are too bad in my country, so I’m always prefer 45+mm tyres, right now using 53.3mm on my cycle…

  10. 王瀚扬 on October 5, 2022 at 5:09 am

    Still riding 25mm because my frame may not be suitable for widder.

  11. Gerard Quimbo on October 5, 2022 at 5:10 am

    Will 32’s fit my 2013 Cannondale Synapse?

  12. Dávid Jesenský on October 5, 2022 at 5:12 am

    How many cm is a large

  13. Dennis Bean-Larson on October 5, 2022 at 5:13 am

    I have Reynolds 54/62 and use Schwalbe G Speed 28mm front 30mm rear tubeless @30#. I’m 190# and riding Canyon Inflite CF8.0 for great road rides

  14. Global Cycling Network on October 5, 2022 at 5:13 am

    What size tyres do you use?

  15. emotioneering on October 5, 2022 at 5:17 am

    I’m riding a Topstone Carbon and switch out the wheels/tires when I’m going for a road ride. I get the vibration damping of a gravel bike with the rolling resistance of 28mm tires

  16. Vince Kerrigan on October 5, 2022 at 5:17 am

    I’m sorry to seem curmudgeonly again, but old geezers like me – I joined my first cycling club in 1948 – do rather tend to note that ‘what goes around, comes around’. On our club lightweights of the day we always rode on one and a quarter inch tyres, which would equate to 32 mm in todays money, so perhaps we weren’t so backward after all.

  17. Tyler Coote on October 5, 2022 at 5:18 am

    Did he smell his fingers at 9:10?

  18. Mark Schneider on October 5, 2022 at 5:19 am

    My custom Rando bike runs 650Bx42 and I’m faster on that than my old Masi running 26mm . The Masi does feel faster, but the computer gives me about 1KM/hour advantage to the rando frame with a large bag up front and a generator hub. Both bikes are steel framed.but the Masi is much lighter.

  19. Guilherme Lujan on October 5, 2022 at 5:20 am

    He, the data they show very fast for 32mm was 343.5W and for 28 343.0W at 40km/h, am I rihgt? Sounds like they all the same for me.

  20. New1888 on October 5, 2022 at 5:22 am

    23s ftw

  21. The Rantings of a Madman on October 5, 2022 at 5:22 am

    I’d rather see the difference between normal tires and the fat boys.

  22. TofuGuru on October 5, 2022 at 5:22 am

    I’m still running 23’s on narrow carbon 38mm wheels 🙁
    I’m 195cm tall and 81kg
    I use about 100-105psi front, 105-110psi rear.

    Thankfully where I ride, GP5000’s are just fine. They absorb what I need them to absorb, and they are hella fast and responsive.
    I can ride a 100-mile day, and my bum and hands are fine 😀

  23. Claude Bonneville on October 5, 2022 at 5:24 am

    I definitely prefer thinner tires such as 21c or 20c and still looking for 19c, maybe for their lookings or because I don’t have to run so fast as in TdF??

  24. Joshua Ford on October 5, 2022 at 5:24 am

    28s? 32s? What is this?? I am t
    Running 22mm tubulars at 180ps!!!

  25. Dave Morgan on October 5, 2022 at 5:26 am

    I run Hunt 48 Limitless (22.5mm Internal width) on my Synapse and went up from 28 GP5000s to 30 Pirelli Race as an experiment since I knew the overall wheel width would still be wider than the tire and therefore SHOULD still be very aero. Ear to ear grin improvement in comfort and handling IMO.

    On my TCR I run a Reserve 40/44 wheel set (25.5/25mm internal width), but they have a narrower overall width, so I ran 28’s for the 1st 2,000 miles. The it was coming time to replace the rear tire so I opted to try 30’s on the Reserve’s even though knew they’d be about the same width as the wheels external width (33 & 32). After two rides, I’m never going back on this set either. The amount of comfort and confidence alone is enough, but I’m hitting PR’s at lower speeds and my top speeds so far are the same.

    #GCN it would be interesting if you repeated your experiment but with a hybrid setup of 28 front and 30-32 rear to see if there’s a sweet spot btw the additional benefits of a lower frontal area in the front and lower rolling resistance in the rear. Also if it has an impact on handling IYO (I’ve run set-up’s like this in the past with no adverse effects also it’s how motorcycles are setup and they’re single track vehicles too 🤔).

    My stats BTW are 6’3", 215lbs… Let’s here it for us Clydes 👍🏽

  26. Brian Chibbaro on October 5, 2022 at 5:28 am

    : )

  27. Lee R on October 5, 2022 at 5:28 am

    Lets not forget fatigue from the road vibration slows riders down over longer distances. This is also why Pro teams are going for wider tires as real roads are not dead smooth as this video mentions and we all know. No doubt why the Trek Domane (32mm) and similar sell so well!

  28. peter willson on October 5, 2022 at 5:29 am

    Thus is why the tour de France guys ride 32s….

  29. ESM on October 5, 2022 at 5:30 am

    10W difference when the stated error on the first reading was +/- 7psi doesn’t really prove anything.

    If you want comfort buy a more compliant frame.

    I hate all this pseudo science paid for my advertising nonsense. At the risk of coming across all Hambini it makes my masters in Aerospace engineering hurt.

  30. Clint the Audio Guy on October 5, 2022 at 5:36 am

    I remember a day when I rode 18mm Conti’s in the front at 140 psi, and a 20mm in the back at about 120 psi. I got so many pinch flats especially on the front. Now I’ve got a Vittoria 25mm front and a 28 mm rear. My road machine is a bit vintage early 2000’s deal, so the 28mm rear is almost rubbing because they didn’t make frames to fit them back then. I wish I had clearance for 32’s because those would be sweet. My solution was to build a nice light gravel bike, and put a road worthy 40mm tire on it. Should be comfy now. Planning a lot of hill climb rides with it.

  31. Alastair Stedman on October 5, 2022 at 5:38 am

    Anything wider than 25mm is excessive. You start worsening your bikes aerodynamics by going wider as your stray from the ideal 1:4 width to chord ratio. There are better ways to improve your bikes comfort without worsening its aerodynamics and rolling resistance. Contact points for starters. 25mm is the perfect sweet spot. Wide enough to be comfortable. Narrow enough to be fast and aero.

  32. G on October 5, 2022 at 5:41 am

    Every year tires have "new rubber compound".. bike tires, motorcycle tires, car tires. How exactly does THAT wotk??

  33. clp91009 on October 5, 2022 at 5:41 am

    I run my 28c clinchers at 80 psi. Si is running 28c tubeless at 60 psi. That’s why I stick with clinchers and tubes because you can go to higher pressures without worrying about the tubeless (/hookless) tyre blowing off the rim.

  34. Ian Thompson on October 5, 2022 at 5:43 am

    I ride vintage race bikes a lot that only have room for 25c tires. Over the last few years I have gradually converted all of them from 23c to 25c, and lowered my pressure from 100 to 75 rear, 70 front. The rims are very narrow. I’m 5′-10", 165 lbs. My comfort on central CT’s choppy roads has increased with just these small changes. Bikes feel just as fast and Strava data supports that.

  35. Alex Doner on October 5, 2022 at 5:44 am

    Having the 28 mm on my Roti has been a really cool experience but I definitely see myself going to a 32 just to check it out

  36. Darren Adams on October 5, 2022 at 5:46 am

    Why would you use tubeless tires or disc brakes? They’re both unsafe

  37. trelosenario on October 5, 2022 at 5:47 am

    I am 81kg , I tried the classic 25mm , 28mm vittoria Rubino pro and Rubino control with tubes at pressures around 80-90psi . Found them hard and completely uncomfortable.
    Then decided to go 32mm and with a premium tyre as the Michelin Power Road 32mm tubeless at around 60psi according to online tyre pressure calculator. It felt as I had a tailwind constantly ! And the comfort….OMG.
    I believe the premium is the key as I I have tried 25 mm and had a good comfortable experience but 32mm are better

  38. Andy Moss on October 5, 2022 at 5:48 am

    I remember my 700c x 18mm at 140psi. Shudder…..

  39. Kevin Phillip on October 5, 2022 at 5:48 am

    K? Surely miles

  40. Pedro Resende on October 5, 2022 at 5:48 am

    Where are the numbers of 25??

  41. JK on October 5, 2022 at 5:49 am

    Thanks guys – very interesting. I’m going to be switching from 28mm to 32mm. I’d be very chuffed if I could average 30 kph let alone 40 kph.

  42. Nerdsofthefist on October 5, 2022 at 5:51 am

    Suddenly have the urge to buy vision wheels.

  43. Roger Partington on October 5, 2022 at 5:52 am

    Bla Bla Bla. Is there a table with the results?

  44. RobReports on October 5, 2022 at 5:53 am

    My SL4 can’t do more than 25

  45. Steven Goldberg on October 5, 2022 at 5:54 am

    My Serotta Custom Legend w/25 mm Continental 5000 tires, filled to 115 psi ridden on mostly smooth road rides,has never been anything but smooth doesn’t shake or vibrate at any speed. So, I’m sticking with my 25’s. My cross bike is fine with 32’s on gravel.

  46. John Wheat on October 5, 2022 at 5:56 am

    Cyclists have always been the most impressionable acolytes on the planet. Those of us, longer in the tooth, have seen more fads than we care to remember. This Fat tyre craze will pass, and before you know it, skinny tyres will be the best thing since sliced bread again.

  47. Alastair Dent on October 5, 2022 at 5:57 am

    A benefit of (much, over 32mm) wider tyres is that they deal with potholes and road cracks much, much better. A crack that can trap and tramline, say, a 25mm, will let a 35mm roll straight over it.

    This is a major factor in areas with poor surfaces.

  48. Phil Edwards on October 5, 2022 at 5:58 am

    Started riding on 19’s, 23 was considered huge! Progressed to 25’s some years ago and have always thought any wider should be confined to off road, however couple of new bikes later no ride 30’s which are just terrific, but this also comes with new bike technology of disc brakes etc.
    We must not forget the huge geometry advances on disc bikes. I don’t think a 20 year old frame would benefit from a 28mm tyre.

  49. Marty Ja on October 5, 2022 at 5:59 am

    I’m running 32mm there to big for my mud guards. Other than this there 👍

  50. lawrence wiles on October 5, 2022 at 5:59 am

    I’ve been riding on 32mm for years and have a friend that has been running 28mm for the last 20 years for the reasons you stated.