12 Myths in Cycling (1): Wider Tires Are Slower

Off The Beaten Path

When we started to publish Bicycle Quarterly 15 years ago, it seemed that most of the technical aspects of bicycles were well-established. And yet, as we tested many different bikes, we started to question many of the things we had accepted as ‘facts.’ To celebrate our 15th anniversary, we’ll look at some of these myths. We’ll explain why we (and everybody else) used to believe them, and how things really work. Let’s start this series with the biggest one:

Myth 1: Wider Tires Are Slower

For almost a century, cyclists ‘knew’ that narrower tires roll faster. Some people realized that in theory, wider tires are faster due to their shorter contact patch, which deforms less as they roll. But the thinking was that in practice, the lower pressure at which wider tires must run limited their performance. If you wanted to go fast, you chose narrow tires.

That is…

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One thought on “12 Myths in Cycling (1): Wider Tires Are Slower

  1. That post you linked to goes too far. Even 28’s “bounce” under a full sprint unless they’re inflated to a pressure that negates the use of a wider tire in the first place. The wider tires may work for slower riders but I’ll be sticking to 26mm tires for my Tuesday night club ride (22mph average, 30 miles).


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