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Tires - The Short Version

  •  Ride the biggest one your bike will fit. If you’re a racer you aren’t reading this, and if you’re not, this is great advice. The greater volume of air more than makes up for the slight additional weight that comes from a fatter balloon.
  • Forget thin sidewalls. Don’t worry about supple sidewalls and any claimed (even if slightly real) reduction in rolling resistance they may provide. Listen: Flexy sidewalls fatigue more and get weak, and a blown sidewall is serious. Thick sidewalls last longer, are safer, and have the tiny remote once-in-a-lifetime advantage of being way easier to ride on when your tire is dead flat and you’ve got no tube. It’ll happen sometime.
  • Check sidewall wear often. In modern tires, the tread will far outlast the sidewalls, and this is especially true of tires with thin sidewalls.
  • A little tread seems to help on wet roads.
  • For recreational (not racing) riding on trails, volume trumps tread design. Go with the knobby, sure, unless the knobby is smaller than the fat barely-knobby. Ride within the tire’s limits, and learn what they are.