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  1. #1
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    Which came first, the rim or the tire?

    I have an ongoing debate with myself over buying carbon wheels later this year. What width the rims will be, debating the importance of weight, etc. Having to use my (narrower)spare rear wheel/tire combo for a bit only added to the controversy, and has me thinking of trying a couple other tires rather than automatically buying a wheelset as wide or wider than the Arch Mk3 rear/Flow Mk3 front I'm currently using.
    For instance, I would likely keep the same rim widths if I stick with Bontrager Team Issue tires, 2.2" XR3/2.4" XR4(not seeing a 2.3" of either, now), but am considering going 3mm narrower front and rear for both a lighter wheelset and tire combo if a seasonal swap between something like a 2.25" RoRo and NN rear paired with a 2.35" NN up front will work just as well for me.
    The Schwalbes seem to like a narrower rim than the Bontragers, and after using both, I don't really have a strong preference for where I ride.
    I really liked my 2.25" NN on the back for the current looser trail conditions, though, even on a 5mm narrower rim than my usual XR3.
    Part of me does say, "hey, you've been really happy with those Team Issues, overall, why change?'', but another part isn't going to let a bit of an attachment to a pair of $55 tires drive the purchase of a >$1k wheelset.
    I think more experimentation is in order to lessen the chance of any coulda, woulda, shouldas before taking the carbon plunge...

    Anyway, this got me thinking about the discussions I see here. On the surface it seems like a lot of people choose one or the other, and often go wide with rims, or bigger with tires, because it's the thing to do nowadays. Before we saw the first of them, I said that I felt 2.6" tires(and 30+mm rims) were where things were heading, but that my own riding didn't call for those things. I still feel that way, and have no desire to "go big", personally. That's just me, though.
    What I'm getting around to asking, via the scenic route, is: Did you buy tires to fit your rims, rims to fit your tires, or treat them as a system and specifically buy them to work together?

  2. #2
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    I used mk1 Flow/Arch combo for years with 2.4-2.5" tires and only noticed the lack of support when running less than 22lbs. At that point getting a rim strike became a concern. The difference between a 2.6 and 2.4 is marginal at best, other factors such as brand/model/casing material and tread patern play a much bigger roll in how a tire performs IMO. The general thinking of the hive mind is that 2.8-3" tires benifit the most from 30-40mm id rims and allow you to run lower PSI and still have well supported sidewalls. 30mm seems like a good comprimise if you are running 2.4-2.8" treads, long story short it is a system and "what pressure you run" determines the benefits/detriments you will get from the wider rims.
    The wheel is a extension of the foot

  3. #3
    mtbpete
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    I got big tires first, but that was because wide rims didn't exist at the time. Now I have both. Bigger tires are good at absorbing impacts and staying on top of terrain. They don't get stuck between roots and rocks as easily. Wider rims will allow you to lower the pressure a little while still having the same sidewall support. When tires get too big, given a particular tread pattern, they may not dig into loose soil as well as a narrower tire of the same tread so there is a balance there for the type of terrain you ride.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by OwenM View Post
    What I'm getting around to asking, via the scenic route, is: Did you buy tires to fit your rims, rims to fit your tires, or treat them as a system and specifically buy them to work together?
    I treat them as a system. After lots of time & experience, I have a general idea of what tires work well with the riding I do along with which rims survive the abuse I dish out on them. I find that once I get past 25mm or so on a rim, there's only marginal gains to be had in tire stability & retention given the higher pressures that I run in my tires so that I don't smash the rims into sharp rocks. Going wider doesn't really do anything except add weight to the system so I wound up with a lightweight trail wheelset and a more DH oriented wheelset that are both about 25mm wide.

    As for tires, I've gone through dozens of different ones, some I bought for myself, others I traded with my riding buddies, after a ton of trial & error I learned what worked and what didn't and saw some general similarities in the tires that I liked. There's definitely a size range (2.3-2.4) and casing type (strong!) that works for best for me and fortunately most of them work really well on a ~25mm rim. And since I have multiple wheelsets I also have several sets of tires to suit different conditions & types of riding.

    Personal thoughts. Try a bunch of tires first, they're cheap (comparatively speaking) and you go through a set or more every season anyway. I have my go-to tires that are known to work well for what I do, but I always try out something new every year in hopes of finding something better, and even if it isn't better it still adds to my knowledge on what makes tires work or not work.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by aerius View Post
    I treat them as a system. After lots of time & experience, I have a general idea of what tires work well with the riding I do along with which rims survive the abuse I dish out on them. I find that once I get past 25mm or so on a rim, there's only marginal gains to be had in tire stability & retention given the higher pressures that I run in my tires so that I don't smash the rims into sharp rocks. Going wider doesn't really do anything except add weight to the system so I wound up with a lightweight trail wheelset and a more DH oriented wheelset that are both about 25mm wide.

    As for tires, I've gone through dozens of different ones, some I bought for myself, others I traded with my riding buddies, after a ton of trial & error I learned what worked and what didn't and saw some general similarities in the tires that I liked. There's definitely a size range (2.3-2.4) and casing type (strong!) that works for best for me and fortunately most of them work really well on a ~25mm rim. And since I have multiple wheelsets I also have several sets of tires to suit different conditions & types of riding.

    Personal thoughts. Try a bunch of tires first, they're cheap (comparatively speaking) and you go through a set or more every season anyway. I have my go-to tires that are known to work well for what I do, but I always try out something new every year in hopes of finding something better, and even if it isn't better it still adds to my knowledge on what makes tires work or not work.
    Exactly this. Every word of it.
    "Things that are complex are not useful, Things that are useful are simple."
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