In the earliest days of road bikes, when road surfaces were poorer than they are today (hard to believe sometimes!) road bikes were fitted as standard with larger, fatter tyres. As advancements were made in both the road network and in road bike design and technology, the trend was for road bikes to use narrower tyres.
In recent years, this trend has been slowly and steadily changing - with many riders and bike manufacturers choosing to use wider road bike tyres - enjoying a whole host of benefits and advantages over skinny counterparts.
One of the best illustrations of the change is which tyres can be seen out riding today, with 30mm tyres being used running around 55psi - compared to what used to be a pretty standard setup of a 23mm tyre running 120psi.
Wide Road Bike Tyre Advantages & Disadvantages
One of the biggest advantages to anyone riding a road bike with wider tyres, is the increase in comfort which will be instantly enjoyed and felt. A larger pocket of air in the tyre between you and the road protects the rider from a lot of rough and uneven road surfaces, and also helps protect the rider from the impacts of potholes.
Lower tyre pressures can also be used in wider bike tyres, which again provides a greater level of comfort and absorption. Wider tyres also reduce the risk of a pinch flat.
Wider tyres have been proven to be quicker than narrower tyres in many studies, undertaken by race teams as well as tyre manufacturers. That’s because wider tyres provide a smaller footprint on the road than a narrower tyre - meaning that wider tyres roll better than narrower tyres.
Each tyre is flattened when ridden under a load, a wider tyre is flattened over a wider area which means it has a larger and longer contact area with the road - where a thinner tyre loses some of its roundness and deforms more. Wider tyres remain ‘rounder’ and therefore roll better.
Increased Weight & Drag
There are some disadvantages to using wider tyres, which will prevent elite racers choosing wider and wider tyres. The wider surface area of the tyre does mean there is increased wind resistance on the front of the tyre. Wider tyres also weigh more, with narrower tyres being the lighter choice.
Road Bike Tyres Online
At Westbrook Cycles, we stock and supply a complete range of road bike tyres, all of which have been handpicked from the world’s leading tyre brands. You can view the full range across our site, and as always - please get in touch if you have any questions about choosing a wider road tyre.