• hanoverbikes

I like big tires and I just can't lie!

When you get into a group of cyclists, especially mountain bikers and gravel cyclists, the topic of tires always come up. People always want to know about what psi you're at and what sealant you've got (if you're running tubeless). One thing thing that I've certainly noticed is that overall the trend in the past years has been that tires are getting wider and the pressures are going down, all across the board. When I started working on bikes in the dark ages of cycling, the common road bike tire was 20 mm wide and run at 120 PSI regardless of the size of the rider and the road condition. The MTB tire of the day was 26" x 2.25 and pumped up to a whopping 50-60 PSI. Nobody would even consider running a lower pressure because the myth of the day was "you get more flats with lower tire pressure." Not only were you susceptible to the "snake bite" (pinch flat), but people believed that the harder your tires were the harder they were to puncture.

When tubeless came on the scene and became widely adopted, it solved the problem of the pinch flat, as there was no inner tube to be caught between the tire bead and the rim of the tire. Suddenly people discovered that lower tire pressures would lead to more traction and a better ride. Following the natural progression of things, the limiting factor of how low you could go would be the width of the tire. More volume = lower pressure without bottoming out.

Regular tires with inner tubes became wider as well, and now it's very common to see a triathlon bike with traditionally close tire clearances running 28mm wide tires. You don't need to pump the 28mm tires all the way up to rock hard either, because the same principle of more volume= lower acceptable pressure still applies.

The money here is in tubeless though. The ability to really dial in your tire pressure down to +/- 1 psi, the lower propensity towards flats, and lighter weight is a winning combination.

If you want to improve the ride quality of your bike, I'd recommend trying some wider tires.* If you want improved flat protection and less rotational weight, go with tubeless if you've got compatible wheels.

* most rim brake road bicycles can not accept a tire bigger than 28 mm wide currently

Here is my favorite tubeless road tire- Continental GP5000 TL

Here us a second contender the Pirelli P Zero

My favorite Gravel tire currently, the Gravel King SK - in depth review coming soon

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