BikeParts Wiki

Question "I broke my elbow riding my road bike a few months ago. I hit some uneven pavement and the bike slipped. What I wonder is if I would have been less likely to slip if my bike were equipped with wider tires rather than my high performance road tires."

Answer "Probably" Tyres fall into 4 main categories: Fast road Offroad Utility Durable road

Fast road tyres will vary in width from 18 - 28mm, often have no tread ('slicks'), and need to be inflated to 90 - 120psi. They transmit every irregularity in the road through to the bike.

Offroad are usually knobbly, 1.75" - 3" in width. They are inflated to much lower pressures than the road tyres, around 40psi is common.

Utility are the type of tyres you see on kids bikes. They have some tread, are about 1 3/8" wide and inflate to lowish pressures.

Now we come to the really interesting category; durable road. Interesting, because the growth in commuting and on-road mtb riding has created an explosion in the designs of these tyres.

Broadly there are two types of durable road tyres. Many are heavy and wider versions of the road racing tyres. They are similar in handling to the fast road tyres, but heavier and wider. The increased width enables lower pressures, soaking up vibration. They come in widths from 28mm to 37mm, with small amounts of tread. The other type is the 'balloon slick'. These are very wide (2" is common) tyres designed to offer lower rolling resistance whilst coping with city potholes and surfaces. The most well known is the Schwalbe Big Apple. Such wide tyres can use lower inflation pressures, making them less susceptible to punctures and cuts.