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What happened? I've been riding 23mm since like 2002, and 25mm was for heavier people, now new Trek Bikes come with 28mm ?

What did I miss being out of touch for so long?

(2003 Trek Madone 5.2)
 

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I'm in the same boat as you are, man. I got into riding in 2002 and quickly got pretty seriously into it, but had to stop around 2008. Just now getting back into it and so much has changed. Don't worry too much about it, though- my old bike still does plenty fine. It's funny to take a bike currently valued at around $500 on a hilly century and finish over 2 hours in front of a guy about my same age on a $12,000 Pinarello. Don't believe all the new marketing hype, though some things are worth a try. Everything in moderation!
 

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It's very satisfying to take a bike currently valued at around $500 on a hilly century and finish over 2 hours in front of a guy about my same age on a $12,000 Pinarello.
Fixed.

I remember a couple of years ago, a delicious moment when I toasted a 30 something guy with $3,000 zip carbon wheels climbing this steep hill while I was on an entry level wheel set. He had a look on his face like "that old geezer passed me?!?!?!"

You can't buy speed. It's all in the engine.
 

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'brifter' is f'ing stupid
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What happened? I've been riding 23mm since like 2002, and 25mm was for heavier people, now new Trek Bikes come with 28mm ?

What did I miss being out of touch for so long?

(2003 Trek Madone 5.2)
We finally started paying attention to physics and facts.
 

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We finally started paying attention to physics and facts.
Don't forget the flood of marketing hype surrounding wide tires and wheels. The bike I am about to buy comes stock with 23mm internal width rims and 30mm tires. I'm basically stuck with 28mm tires or bigger until I get a different wheelset. Can't pass judgment on it though as I haven't ridden it yet.
 

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Don't forget the flood of marketing hype surrounding wide tires and wheels. The bike I am about to buy comes stock with 23mm internal width rims and 30mm tires. I'm basically stuck with 28mm tires or bigger until I get a different wheelset. Can't pass judgment on it though as I haven't ridden it yet.
Well let me put it this way. I have ridden 23mm, 25mm and 28mm tires. I notice no difference in speed or effort necessary on the bike. The only thing I notice is the 28mm tires ride the nicest/smoothest.

Bike makers convinced the consumer for years that they would go faster on the skinniest tires and rims pumped up to the highest pressure they could stand. Many bikes were made such that not much else would fit. Then, as CX put it, people finally started paying attention to physics and facts. Wheels and tires got wider. But of course, those bikes with narrow stays can't accommodate them. So that means another bike purchase. How clever!

But as with most trends, eventually we will reach a point of diminishing returns just like we did with skinny rims and tires. Wider rims and tires are nice. But how wide do we really need to go? I could feel the difference in stability when I went from 14mm to 15mm rims. I could feel the difference from 15 to 17. However, I felt no difference when I went from 17 to 18.


 

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Yeah, in any industry there always seems to be a case of some marketer or designer saying "well if a little is good, more must be better, and the most must be the best!" which often produces some silly products for a short time while a happy middle ground is found.
 

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Don't forget the flood of marketing hype surrounding wide tires and wheels. The bike I am about to buy comes stock with 23mm internal width rims and 30mm tires. I'm basically stuck with 28mm tires or bigger until I get a different wheelset. Can't pass judgment on it though as I haven't ridden it yet.
Trust me...wider (to the extent we're talking here) is better.


Really.
 

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Yeah, in any industry there always seems to be a case of some marketer or designer saying "well if a little is good, more must be better, and the most must be the best!"
Spot on!
 

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Trust me...wider (to the extent we're talking here) is better.


Really.
Yes, agreed. The new gravel bike I just bought has 23mm rims (internal) and 36mm tires. Took a test ride which lasted awhile because I didn't want to stop riding it! I was sold!

However, I have my doubts about going wider than this. Don't know what your opinion is of this, but I read an article recently (I think it was Slowtwitch) where they discussed rim sizes for gravel riding. They said they don't recommend rims wider than 21mm due to the increasing possibility of sidewall cuts.

While it's generally accepted that a tire shaped like a lightbulb isn't the best situation, it's probably not a great idea to have a tire shaped like a bell either.

I'd be interested to hear your take on this, CX.
 

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Yes, agreed. The new gravel bike I just bought has 23mm rims (internal) and 36mm tires. Took a test ride which lasted awhile because I didn't want to stop riding it! I was sold!

However, I have my doubts about going wider than this. Don't know what your opinion is of this, but I read an article recently (I think it was Slowtwitch) where they discussed rim sizes for gravel riding. They said they don't recommend rims wider than 21mm due to the increasing possibility of sidewall cuts.

While it's generally accepted that a tire shaped like a lightbulb isn't the best situation, it's probably not a great idea to have a tire shaped like a bell either.

I'd be interested to hear your take on this, CX.
The go-to reference on this is Bicycle Quarterly magazine. They have done a bunch of tests showing that what counts for speed is a very compliant casing (properly inflated) and NOT rock hard narrow tires. This is because high pressures result in a bouncing effect any time the tire contacts road surface imperfections and that energy is lost. A lower pressure tire is able to absorb that surface roughness and reduce those suspension losses. On perfectly smooth pavement (like a velodrome) high pressures make sense. On the road, wider tires at lower pressures mean more comfort, longer wear, better traction, and no loss in speed. Obviously there is a limit on "wider" but the general recommendation is that if you have to pump to over 100 psi/7 bar to prevent pinch flats then you need wider tires.
 

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The go-to reference on this is Bicycle Quarterly magazine. They have done a bunch of tests showing that what counts for speed is a very compliant casing (properly inflated) and NOT rock hard narrow tires. This is because high pressures result in a bouncing effect any time the tire contacts road surface imperfections and that energy is lost. A lower pressure tire is able to absorb that surface roughness and reduce those suspension losses. On perfectly smooth pavement (like a velodrome) high pressures make sense. On the road, wider tires at lower pressures mean more comfort, longer wear, better traction, and no loss in speed. Obviously there is a limit on "wider" but the general recommendation is that if you have to pump to over 100 psi/7 bar to prevent pinch flats then you need wider tires.
I agree with you completely here. Though more to my point was that is doesn't seem prudent to be running ultra-wide rims on the ultra-skinny tires of yesteryear. For example, on my Synapse, I am now running 18mm rims and 28mm tires. If I wanted to run wider rims like the HED Belgium+, which is 21mm, I would need to drop back down to 25mm tires in order for the tires to fit between my chain stays.

Old habits die hard. Most people I ride with still think more pressure will always make you faster. And I can assure you that is not the case with the condition of the roads in my area! As I have said before, there is a very good reason Mr. Dunlop invented the pneumatic tire and it's not so people could roll on rocks.
 

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It's funny to take a bike currently valued at around $500 on a hilly century and finish over 2 hours in front of a guy about my same age on a $12,000 Pinarello. Don't believe all the new marketing hype, though some things are worth a try. Everything in moderation!
What's really funny, in a sad sort of way, is getting chased down and passed by someone in an imaginary race with me.

I've passed very expensive bikes, cat 1 cyclists, and sports cars and been passed by grandmothers towing children, skate boarders and walmart mountain bikes. I wasn't racing any of them at the time so what does that mean? Nothing.
 

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I want to know what I'm doing wrong to NOT notice the difference in comfort between 23s and 28s. I will probably switch to 24s or 25s when I run through my current stock of tires but that will take up to a couple years...

I rode a bike over vacation that was meant to be an endurance frame... came with 28s on it. I did some rides with my own wheelset which had 23s and then also ran the 28s and could honestly not tell the difference one bit on some pretty bumpy roads. And to boot, overall the bike was no more comfortable than my usual ride which is "race geometry" etc.... at the end of the day there's a lot of marketing going on...
 

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If you don't notice anything right away, the difference in comfort will likely be noticed after many miles in the saddle on imperfect roads.

Or, you have too much air pressure in the larger tires which will significantly reduce the benefits of the larger tires.
 

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I want to know what I'm doing wrong to NOT notice the difference in comfort between 23s and 28s. I will probably switch to 24s or 25s when I run through my current stock of tires but that will take up to a couple years...

I rode a bike over vacation that was meant to be an endurance frame... came with 28s on it. I did some rides with my own wheelset which had 23s and then also ran the 28s and could honestly not tell the difference one bit on some pretty bumpy roads. And to boot, overall the bike was no more comfortable than my usual ride which is "race geometry" etc.... at the end of the day there's a lot of marketing going on...

Some of us are more or less sensitive to these things than others. And as Pete implied, if you are running the same high pressures in the wider tires that you're running in the narrower tires, you might not notice a difference.
 

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Since I have no way of measuring or interested in running accurate tests , I can't tell you if I'm truly faster or slower on 28/30s than I was on 23's. I can tell you it's more comfortable and after 3 years on bigger tires, I have no intention of going back. I get where I'm going at a speed that is dependant on my fitness and intent, and is more enjoyable. The biggest eye opener for me as far as tire pressure goes is when I was riding them at 85 psi when I first switched, neglected to check my pressure, went for a 75 mile ride with big climbs in the alps and realized the next morning that they had been in the 50's and hadn't felt low at all. Now I run my 30's at 50 up front and 55 in the back, I weigh 190.
 

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Some of us are more or less sensitive to these things than others. And as Pete implied, if you are running the same high pressures in the wider tires that you're running in the narrower tires, you might not notice a difference.
That difference is supposed to be on the rolling resistance.
 

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If you don't notice anything right away, the difference in comfort will likely be noticed after many miles in the saddle on imperfect roads.

Or, you have too much air pressure in the larger tires which will significantly reduce the benefits of the larger tires.
Also possible is that you're not comparing apples to apples. Going from 23mm Vit Corsa, for example, to 28mm isn't going to be an improvement with just any 28mm tire.
 

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Or, you have too much air pressure in the larger tires which will significantly reduce the benefits of the larger tires.
Yup. My take is that tire width is not the primary factor but tire pressure. When I switched to 25mm it felt the same as 23mm. When I dropped the pressure by 15psi or so it was an immediate revelation. Lower psi makes the difference, and wider tires make it safe.
 
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