QUESTION: I have a 2019 Scott Addict 30 endurance bike that came with 700×32 tires. I just upgraded my wheel set and I want to switch to 700×25 tires. Is this a good move? I didn’t know if there was a “minimum” tire width for specific road bikes? – Chris
RBR REPLIES: There’s not really a minimum tire width for a road or gravel bike, but there could be a minimum tire width for a particular wheel set. There are some higher end wheel sets out there from brands like ENVE that require a minimum of a 28mm tire, because the wheels themselves are wider and you need a certain sized wheel to safely stay attached to the rim.
So the first thing I’d do is look up those exact wheels and see if they require wider tires, just in case. You could probably call Scott and they’d know if your bike shop doesn’t. If the wheels are not tubeless and are just regular hooked rims, then it’s a fairly safe bet the smaller tire will be fine. It’s typically just the expensive, wide hookless rims that have minimum tire size requirements.
The truth is though, that most road riders are trending toward riding with wider tires these days than narrower. In fact, many roadies would be jealous to hear that you can fit 32mm tires on your bike, because many older road frames are limited to 25mm as the maximum, and some are even limited to 23mm tires. That’s because 10 or 15 years ago, narrower tires were the trend and thought to be faster than wider tires.
Even the pros are riding 28mm tires sometimes today, because they’ve discovered that the extra air volume and contact patch from the wider tires provide more comfort and traction that is worth the slight weight and aerodynamic penalty.
If your current 32mm tires are a cheaper level tire, then they could be very heavy and slow. So you’ll probably ride faster with 25mm tires because they will be so much lighter. But many of the top level clincher tires like the Continental GP5000 go up in size to 30mm or even 32mm. So you’d get a light and fast tire that also has good air volume for comfort, and a big contact patch for cornering.
I personally ride GP5000 tires that are 32mm on one set of road wheels (which do not feel any slower on fast group rides), and ride 28mm tires on a different set. I don’t typically ride 25mm tires anymore.
Readers, what do you say? What would you do in his situation?