Tire width and comfort (shoud I buy a cross bike)- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Tire width and comfort (shoud I buy a cross bike)

    I am debating selling my road bike and getting a cross bike for commuting and road riding. The reason for a cross bike is purely so that I can run fatter tires.

    Before I drop the coin on a cross bike I wanted to get some opinions on how noticeable the larger tires are. Current road bike has 25c which is also as large as the frame and brakes allow. How much of a difference would I notice between the 25's and jumping to 32's or 35's?

    Some background:
    I have a Bianchi Vigorelli, which is a steel frame with a carbon fork. I really don't ride the bike at all because it's too punishing. Seems like a waste to have a bike sitting there for no reason, but I would like to keep a road bike for the off occasions that I do a road ride with friends. Never do any racing and if I do road rides, they are usually pretty casual.

    What do you think? Would you sell the Bianchi and get a cross bike?

  2. #2
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    Why not check into a touring type bike? You can run sizes from 35 up to 47 on some of those.
    "Don't neever gave up..."

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireBallKY
    Why not check into a touring type bike? You can run sizes from 35 up to 47 on some of those.
    Good idea, I probably should also look around and see what brands/models have more tire clearance.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rock Climber
    What do you think? Would you sell the Bianchi and get a cross bike?
    Definitely. How about a Surly Crosscheck? A touring bike is a good idea, too.
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  5. #5
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    I also want a more appropriate commuter than my MTBs, and as I don't really go for all-out road riding (I find tarmac too dull for more than the occasional road ride) this was the solution i came up with.

    I'm still waiting for it to arrive though... Now 3 weeks late and counting.
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  6. #6
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    Do the bigger tires do a lot to increase comfort though? I am not sure it would be worth it to me if I didn't notice a major improvement (decrease the bone jarring aspect of a road bike).

  7. #7
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    If you want a smoother ride, I'd pick up an older steel mountain bike and slap some of Schwalbe's Big Apples on them. It is the smoothest ride you'll get without picking up suspension, they wear great and are fairly bullet proof. And you can still whip it. Worst case you buy an old mountain bike, replace wheels, a few parts, new tires and you are out 300 dollars.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rock Climber
    Do the bigger tires do a lot to increase comfort though? I am not sure it would be worth it to me if I didn't notice a major improvement (decrease the bone jarring aspect of a road bike).
    On my Surly Cross Check, I've run 700x38 and definitely felt a difference. Compared to 700x23, they did ease the jarring effect, but I think a lot of that had more to do with lower air pressures. I ran 38's at around 75ps and 23's at 110 psi. The 38's were also heavier and noticeably sluggish.

    I settled on 700x32 inflated to around 90psi, still more comfortable than 23, but much more acceptable performance than the 38.
    I'm gravity challenged, adrenaline deficient, and looking for that endorphine high. Shout out, I'll move out of the way. :-)

  9. #9
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    I agree, tire pressure is the key. 32c at 85 psi on my cross bike. Set up as a commuter / light touring rig, I don't worry about road condition and don't have a problem keeping up on road rides. It's heavy but great for my intended use. If you don't want to ride a beater around town, I think cross bikes make the best commuters.

  10. #10
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    Some of you guys are running crazy high pressures! 85psi in a 32mm is easily as unforgiving as 110 in a 25mm tire. I run between 40 and 50psi in my commuter 32mm tires (I'm about 190lbs with my pack), and around 35-40psi in my 35mm 'cross tires while racing. I would suggest trying 60psi at the most for a while and see if you have any problems. I'm guessing you won't, and the ride will be infinitly better.

    I agree with umarth. Big Apples rule. I have commuter tires on my 'cross bike (which I like a lot) but they don't hold a candle to my 29er with Big Apples as far as comfort, grip and fun.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by KeylessChuck

    I agree with umarth. Big Apples rule. I have commuter tires on my 'cross bike (which I like a lot) but they don't hold a candle to my 29er with Big Apples as far as comfort, grip and fun.
    I actually have an old hardtail that I have relegated to mostly commuter duties with 1.5 slicks. When they wear out big apples are on the list.

    My road bike is too harsh for me on anything other than perfectly smooth asphalt (which apparently does not exist anymore). I am going to check out a few shops around that have the Knoa Jake the Snake and the Surly Cross Check. Both of those look like good options

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by KeylessChuck
    Some of you guys are running crazy high pressures! _snip_ I run between 40 and 50psi in my commuter 32mm tires... around 35-40psi in my 35mm
    Might work for you, but I've gotten pinch flats at those lower pressures. At 90psi, I still get significantly noticeable improvement in ride comfort but with improved tire performance, but still can't keep up with the roadies.
    I'm gravity challenged, adrenaline deficient, and looking for that endorphine high. Shout out, I'll move out of the way. :-)

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rock Climber
    I have a Bianchi Vigorelli, which is a steel frame with a carbon fork.
    I think you guys have it all wrong. There is no reason a steel bike with a carbon fork and 25c tires should be punishing on the road.

    Sounds like you have a fit problem to me. Find a shop that can do a good quality professional bike fitting. $100 to $200 for a fitting is a lot less expensive than a bike. You'll be amazed at the problems it can solve.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by FishMan473
    I think you guys have it all wrong. There is no reason a steel bike with a carbon fork and 25c tires should be punishing on the road.

    Sounds like you have a fit problem to me. Find a shop that can do a good quality professional bike fitting. $100 to $200 for a fitting is a lot less expensive than a bike. You'll be amazed at the problems it can solve.
    You must have nice roads.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by FishMan473
    I think you guys have it all wrong. There is no reason a steel bike with a carbon fork and 25c tires should be punishing on the road.

    Sounds like you have a fit problem to me. Find a shop that can do a good quality professional bike fitting. $100 to $200 for a fitting is a lot less expensive than a bike. You'll be amazed at the problems it can solve.
    I will freely admit that a big part of it is me being a wimp, but I am okay with that. I did get it fitted when I bought it, and about 6 months ago. The bike fits fine and on nice roads I love it, but when the road gets rough as most of them do, it's just too harsh. My hardtail feels much better, but is too slow. Seems like a touring or cross bike would fit nicely in between the two I currently have (and I can dump two bikes to save some space and cash).

    On a side note, there is a fixed gear, SS, hippy shop close to downtown Seattle that carries Kona, Salsa, Surly and few custom frames. Not typically my kind of shop, but they'll know what I am looking for.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by FishMan473
    I think you guys have it all wrong. There is no reason a steel bike with a carbon fork and 25c tires should be punishing on the road.
    I don't really share the same sentiment. Some roads just are not that smooth - see pic below for a very weak example. There is nothing wrong with wanting more comfort than a nice road bike can offer. And, there is not need to tell us about what pros use to race the Paris-Roubaix. Ask them how their hands really feel at the end of that race.

    Personally, I've got 700x28s on my crosser right now, and at 60-70psi, they are not too bad. I've thought about going bigger, but road slicks take forever to wear out, so I'll be sticking with the 26s and 28s I have for a while.

    As for cross vs. touring, the bigger differences are often in weight, stock gearing, and rack/fender mounts. The last item may be of particular interest to you as a commuter.

    When under pressure, your level of performance will sink to your level of preparation.

  17. #17
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    Just a last pitch for a mountain bike- My favorite fairly quick and smooth commuter is my '89 Rockhopper and when I broke the wheelset, I replaced it with a 650b wheelset I found on craigslist for cheap and slapped the Fatty Rumpkins on it. Almost as smooth as the BAs but felt faster and 650b felt better on the road than 26" 2.0s. It did full fenders and a rack so easily and all told I spent less than 300 and as a SS/fixed I don't think it weighed much more than 27lbs.

  18. #18
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    I ride a kikapu to commute I had a road bike but it killed me. I would rather have a HT with rack and fenders someday though.

  19. #19
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    I'm with umarth...I think MTB's, SS or geared, 26 or 29, doesn't matter make the best commuters. I love the plushness of my 2.1" NanoRaptors on my D440 29er; makes for a very comfortable and enjoyable ride, whatever the purpose. (The roads I ride are very much like rjk's pic above; the difference being a lot are even worse.) I've ridden tour bikes with 700x35's, and they're nice. But if you're gonna be that slow, might as well be a fat tired MTB. Rack and fenders, panniers, you're good. The upright position is just way better for negotiating city traffic. Rock on....

  20. #20
    M_S
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    I find nanoraptors often more uncomfortable than even narrow slicks on the road dude to the buzzing that is transmitted to your hands when riding any knobby tire on pavement.

    OP: Yes, you will notice a difference. I think a sport touring/touring/cyclocross bike would be great for you. Avoid the real high end cross bikes though. Although you can fit wider tires, they are often very stiff and lack rack and fender mounts. If you don't mind the weight and stable (slow) handling and want to carry a large load, a touring bike would be perfect for you

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by umarth
    My favorite fairly quick and smooth commuter is my '89 Rockhopper and when I broke the wheelset, I replaced it with a 650b wheelset I found on craigslist for cheap and slapped the Fatty Rumpkins on it.
    Do you have a pic of the rockhopper you can post? How well do the 650b's fit? I wouldn't mind doing that to my hardtail for the rough commuting days, and the cyclocross/touring for smoother days. My hardtail is a 2000 stumpjumper.

    On a side note, I called a few shops around and nobody has anything larger than a 58cm built. I had the same issue when I bought my mountain bike last year and had to drive to Portland to get an XL. I see tall people in Seattle riding bikes so somebody must sell them.

  22. #22
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    I currently have 650b mountain bike tires on the Rockhopper, in which case the Nev 2.1 is about as big as you want on the front. I had a lot of room with the Rumpkins- fenders fit without a problem. No pictures though. I'll check, but no promises.

  23. #23
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    I run 32's on my CrossCheck and I'm considering stepping up the rear a bit for more cush and hauling support. I ride with about 220#'s..me and gear on a rear rack and notice significant ballooning under load from the rear tire. I can go up to 45 on the CrossCheck so now my choice comes down to what tire. I may be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure Surly give you the largest tire option among it's market. 45 is the max as stated by Surly, but then again, depending on the manufacture of the tire, that can vary.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by umarth
    I currently have 650b mountain bike tires on the Rockhopper, in which case the Nev 2.1 is about as big as you want on the front. I had a lot of room with the Rumpkins- fenders fit without a problem. No pictures though. I'll check, but no promises.
    Thanks! Also might be a noobish question, but were you able to use v-brakes with 650b in the rear, or did you have to go disc? If you went disc rear, I am assuming you had to use a brake therapy type adapter?

  25. #25
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    Linear brakes. You buy these or these.

  26. #26
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    On my Bianchi San Jose I am running Continental City Contact 700X42 tires. Those are the fattest slicks I was able to put on it sans fenders. You can put as fat a tire on a CX bike as you can get away with!

  27. #27
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    I'm running 700c x 38. It is more comfortable when u run over debris and minor kerb compare to 23c-25c tire.

  28. #28
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    700x35 Kenda Kwest....nice smooth ride.
    "You don't need a lighter bike, you need bigger muscles"

  29. #29
    jrm
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    double corss

    Im running 30c IRC tandem tires with 110psi. Great ride. I run 25c on my gunnar roadie and it rides great

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by NormanF
    On my Bianchi San Jose I am running Continental City Contact 700X42 tires. Those are the fattest slicks I was able to put on it sans fenders. You can put as fat a tire on a CX bike as you can get away with!
    Yow! and I thought 700x38 was fat.
    I'm gravity challenged, adrenaline deficient, and looking for that endorphine high. Shout out, I'll move out of the way. :-)

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by shimano4
    I'm running 700c x 38. It is more comfortable when u run over debris and minor kerb compare to 23c-25c tire.
    I have to agree Shimano4. My ride was definitely more comfortable on the bumpy stuff when I was riding 700x38, specially when I ran pressures at 70-75 psi. But when the 38's wore out, I dropped it down to 700x32 at 90psi, a compromise to get a little more performance from my ride.
    I'm gravity challenged, adrenaline deficient, and looking for that endorphine high. Shout out, I'll move out of the way. :-)

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