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This is how wider tyres and rims can make you faster

EF Education-EasyPost sports director Andreas Klier explains the best rim-tyre set up for speed

September 2, 2022

Gone are the days when professional cyclists would roll out from the start of a bike race on 21-mm tyres pumped up to 8 bar.

Research shows that 25-mm or even 28-mm tyres can be faster. That’s not just due to the width of the tyres, though. Wider tyres are only faster on wider rims.

“Wide tyres only make you faster if you put them on the correct rim,” says Andreas Klier, EF Education-Easypost Sports Director and Technical Operations and Commercial Manager. “It’s the combination of the width of the rim and the width of the tyre that makes the difference.”

“Wide tyres only make you faster if you put them on the correct rim”

Andreas Klier

EF Education-Easypost’s performance staff consider two factors when they determine the ideal tyre and rim combination for speed: aerodynamics and rolling resistance. Those factors are always influenced by the rim and tyre in combination. The speed of a tyre is dependent on the rim it is mounted on, and the speed of a wheel is dependent on the tyre that makes contact with the road.

Rolling resistance is mainly caused by the friction produced when a wheel rolls over the road. A wider tyre has less rolling resistance than a narrow tyre, because the wider one has a shorter, wider, and thus rounder contact patch which rolls more easily than the longer, slimmer elliptical shape of a narrower tyre which deforms more as it rolls. Wider tyres can also be run with lower pressures, making them absorb bumps from the road without losing as much momentum. Those advantages will only make you faster if you get the benefits of running them on wider rims, though. To maximize speed and efficiency, a tyre needs to be mounted as firmly as possible on the rim. Otherwise, micromovements of the rubber on the rim can add up to significant energy losses. A 25-mm or 28-mm tyre will sit more firmly on a wider rim.

That rim-tyre combination is also more aerodynamically efficient. On a narrow rim, a 25-mm or 28-mm tyre will bulge out from the rim and produce a significant amount of turbulence when it spins through the air, especially as it wobbles slightly on the road. A wide tyre will sit firmly upright on the rim. The more vertical sidewalls make for a smaller frontal profile, which moves less from side to side as you pedal and is thus faster aerodynamically.

Our team uses Vision Metron 55 rims in combination with 28-mm Vittoria Corsa Graphene 2.0 28-mm tubeless tyres. Vision Metron 55 rims have a 19-mm inside width, which is several millimetres wider than traditional rims. As a result, riders can cut through the wind with maximum efficiency on firmly mounted tyres that soar over the tarmac.

“That adds a lot of comfort,” says EF Education-Easypost pro James Shaw. “With 28-mm tyres, we aren’t bouncing in the potholes any more. We can run a lower tyre pressure and be more aerodynamic using wider rims as well. I think it’s very important to have a lot of comfort when you ride 170 kilometres average for 21 days.”

At EF Education-EasyPost, we inflate our Vittoria Corsa Graphene 2.0 28-mm tubeless tyres to 5.5 bar in front and 6 bar on the back. Mechanic Fred Bassy suggests that you might even want to run yours a little softer for a bit more comfort and grip in the corners, especially when you are training. With Vision Metron 55 rims, you’ll have a WorldTour proven set up that will turn the energy you put into the pedals into speed.

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