TCI Friday

You know how this works. Read. Comment. It’s an interactive thing, a give and take.

In my basement, in the rack I have there, the road bikes are on the left nearest the wall, the gravel bike is in the middle, and the fat tire bikes live on the right where there’s a bit more room for their handlebars to poke into the middle of the room. Over the last few seasons, I find myself drawing much more from the middle and right side than I used to, the average tire size I ride slowly but steadily rising, my shorts getting baggier and baggier.

I imagined that many other riders were on this same journey I was, that their investment in rubber had increased in the same way. And then I talked to my buddy Karl who said that most of his customers were riding 28mm road tires week in and week out (most of them inflated to max pressure), and that a lot of them were bummed out they needed to switch over to disc brakes. Could it be that coastal Connecticut is caught in some sort of cycling time warp, or am I too much a creature of an industry that maintains, at all times, a dominant narrative about what bike riders want?

Both might be true.

It’s important to remember that many bike riders, the ones who stick with it year-after-year, are really creatures of habit. They’re not looking for a newer, better experience. What they’ve been doing, the way they’ve been riding all along, suits them just fine. Outside attempts to convince them otherwise are probably both pointless and self-serving.

In fact, I wish I was so easily satisfied. I’m the restless sort. I need variety and change, and apparently, today, that means running a 40mm tire (a tire I didn’t know existed 15 years ago) most days, and a 2.6″ tire most other ones. I’m not doing it right, any more than anyone else is doing it wrong.

We’re all just doing it.

This week’s TCI Friday asks, what’s the smallest tire you still ride? What’s the largest? What size tire do you run on your go-to bike?

Join the conversation
  1. jlaudolff says

    28mm for summer road. Though I’d switch to 32mm if they fit my frame.
    38mm for gravel and commuting since those fit under my fenders. I’m pondering getting some 650b wheels for some chunky and sandy rides I have planned this summer. Those would have 50mm rubber I think.

    1. Jeff vdD says

      I have the Rene Herse Juniper Ridge 650b x 48mm for gringletrack, love that combo

  2. Jeff vdD says

    28mm on my singlespeed urban errand bike
    33mm on my CX bikes
    35mm slicks on my gravel bike’s road wheels
    It goes up from there to 4.8”

  3. tcfrog says

    28s on my road bike
    35 on my summer commuter
    42s on my gravel bike, though I also have a set of 32 slicks set up for it when I want to do a shoulder season road ride
    4.2″ on the fat bike, currently with studs for a safer commute
    I don’t really have a go-to bike. I ride a pretty good mix of road, gravel, and trail.

  4. khal spencer says

    I’m running 25’s and 28’s on the road bikes. Some of my wheelsets are so old that 28’s would make them look absurd, but the 28’s mounted on my Mavic Open Pro Rims fit just fine and give me a little more comfort on the abysmal roads in Santa Fe city and county. The mountain bike is an antique by modern marketing standards and is shod with 26×2.35’s. The Around Town bike is a Surly Long Haul Trucker shod with 26×1.5’s as it is a 52cm model. The new gravel grinder is set up with 700-38’s and the old cyclecross bike is now a do-it-all and is running on 700-40 Donnelly Xplor MSO’s. Sometimes it has lights and a rack on it. Sometimes I strip everything off and ride it on the trails down to Eldorado.

    I’m on my 70th lap around the sun, so probably will use those bikes until they break or I am pushing up daisies.

  5. albanybenn says

    32s on my road and commuter. 47s on the Orge, 52 on the Fargo and 4.0″ on the Muluk. The Orge gets the most seat time.

  6. bart says

    700 x 25 on my road bike. That’s the widest tire I can fit with the chain stays. Would love to go up to 28s if they would fit. This bike is 99% of the time on rollers in the basement.

    700 x 36 on my gravel/everything bike. That’s the widest tire that bike can fit. Would go wider if I could.

  7. Wyatt says

    Robot, your scenario and mine are virtual mirrors of each other. Road bikes on the left and mostly unused these days (is that because they have skinny tires???). The other, more modernly shod, choices see all the action these days—40’s on mixed surface and 2.4/2.5 trail bike. My fat bike is the only one I’ve gone narrower on having started on 5” and worked back to 4.6”. The evolution of my handlebars follows a similar arc from really narrow to super wide over last 30 years. 🤔

  8. trabri says

    My go-tos: 2.2 dually trail bike and fendered commuter, 38c all surface/ ex-CX bike.
    The extremes: 2.5 DH, 25c road bike (mostly indoor rollers).

  9. TominAlbany says

    25s on the 25 year old Serotta. Still rides so sweetly!
    45s came on the Breezer RADAR I bought second hand. So smooth on so much.
    2.6″ on the MTB I bought last year. Seem kinda wide but ride nicely
    The Blue CX has 33s for CX and 40s when I take it on the dirt/gravel rides
    And my beater MTB has 2.2 studded tires for winter fun.

  10. Jeff vdD says

    Bike order?

    Mine are in the basement. Only access via a bulkhead door. Bikes hang adjacent to that door. Ordered from least to most valuable moving away from the door. Except the fat bike, which only fits in the Slot of Maximum Value. First two unlocked. If someone breaks in, I hope they grab one of them.

  11. schlem says

    32’s. I’m a big boy, and my environ is all chipseal and broken glass. I should mention that I only ride the 32’s (kevlar Specialized somethings) during the dank, when teeny daggers of glass hydrologically adhere to my tires, just so the spinning tires can hammer said daggers into the pressurized volume of air inside the tire, the air that suspends me over the chipseal et al. The rest of the year, I find the wooden ride more daunting than a roadside flat repair. During the non-dank, my gravelthing is on 43mm rene herse big flat knobbies that are softer and faster than the kevlar shoes. My singlespeed runs the same thing in 55mm, and my Jones is pushing 29 x 3 (THREE INCHES), and it’s the most comfortable bike in the world. Still, I am a tire fetishist, and I have a six foot shelf piled with tires. none narrower than 32mm.

  12. Dan Murphy says

    The only bike I really use has road wheels with 28mm and gravel wheels with 40mm. The gravel wheels stay on all winter. If it’s a wet winter (not this year), I put the fenders on and switch to 35mm tires that fit with the fenders.
    I just don’t get that obsessed about having the perfect tire for a given situation/ride and just laugh at the pages of forum discussion about which tire to use for an event.

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