The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa

Tires 700 x 23 vs 700 x 25

I’m thinking about buying some 25 mm wide tires for the ride. I’m currently riding 23 gatorskins which are pretty tough but they are also hard. Does anyone know if the 25mm wide tire is more comfortable than the 23 mm? I’m thinking a little wider and a little less pressure may make for a softer ride. All comments welcome.

22 Replies

Profile photo of trek15rider
trek15rider, February 17, 2013 at 9:48 pm

I’ve ridden on 25’s for the past two seasons and have absolutely no complaints. For what it’s worth I also rode RAGBRAI last year with no problems on them. In my experience the 25’s did make the ride a little more comfortable without sacrificing much performance. Just my 2 cents 🙂

Good luck!



Profile photo of Dan in Iowa
Dan in Iowa, February 18, 2013 at 7:36 am

There may not enough difference to even notice. If you stay with the same brand and model, you might,but 2mm is a pretty darn small difference anyway. That’s about the width of 2 pencil leads in wooden pencils! Also the numbers on bike tires have no absolute standard. I’ve had some 25s that were identical to my 23s.



Profile photo of Iceman
Iceman, February 18, 2013 at 8:52 am

You should also look closely at reputable online reviews of the tires to check the true width.

For example, Hutchinson advertises their (very good – at least in my opinion)Intensive tubeless tire at 700 x 25 but they consistently (i.e., always) measure at 700 x 23 no matter what rim you use or how many of the Intensives you measure. That is disappointing to some buyers. Hutchinson ought to just advertise them as 23’s, same as their Hutchinson Fusion 3 tubeless tires. There are a few well known tubed tires that occasionally have the same problem.

Most of the road test websites use a micrometer and multiple rims – as well as multiple examples of the tested tire – to measure. Again, by way of example, a good test (some are not so thorough) often will use 4 or more examples of the tested tire and mount each of them on a different brand of rim to get the reading of the width. You will be surprised at the variations. Sometimes it’s just the particular batch of tires that’s not as wide or is more narrow than advertised, but sometimes (like the Intensives) it’s a consistent error.

If you really care, you’ll have to get your own micrometer and measure each new tire you buy. Good luck trying to return them to an internet retailer. I tend to agree with the prior poster that 2 mm of width difference is hard to notice.



Profile photo of KEn
KC, February 18, 2013 at 10:52 am

My limited (and let me stress “limited”) experience has been that the tire pressure has more to do with the comfort of the ride than 2 mm of tire width. I’ve been riding the front tire pressure a bit lower than the back tire and that seems to make for a bit more of a comfortable ride. Still, no substitute for seat time, I suppose.



Profile photo of Mike M. in Denver
Mike M. in Denver, February 18, 2013 at 12:02 pm

I just switched from 700×25 to 700×23 Rubino Pros. The main difference I’ve noticed is that the 23s aren’t as sure footed in gravel. I think tread and casing material make a bigger difference for comfort. For what it’s worth I’ve found Vittoria Zaffiros to be both very durable and comfortable. Rubinos are more comfortable and less durable.



Profile photo of RonB
RonB, February 18, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Yes, a 25 will be a little more comfortable than a 23, and can run at a slightly lower pressure if you desire. There are some studies that state that the 25 has less rolling resistance than the 23, but the details are over my head! And they should last a little longer as well. Get the 25s.



Profile photo of JoeB
JoeB, February 18, 2013 at 12:15 pm

23 to 25 is almost negligible. The difference in rolling resistance IMHO does not make up for the increased chance of a “snake bite” puncture with the lower pressures.



Profile photo of John
John Melville, February 18, 2013 at 1:46 pm

I’ve always liked Michelins. I rode their Pro4 Service Course 700×25 tires last year and they were great. They’re wide – almost really a 700×27. I had the pressure up pretty high due to my weight but still found them to give a really nice ride – even at 115psi. For a 25, I’d definitely look at the Michelins!



Profile photo of Iceman
Iceman, February 18, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Ok, once again. The tubeless clinchers can be run at lower pressure than can normal tubed-clinchers. For example, if you have been running tubed clinchers at 115 psi, more than likely you can run a tubeless clincher at 90 psi or even 80 psi, depending on your weight. MUCH more comfortable at 90 than 115.

And since tubeless clinchers have no tubes, a pinch flat is impossible, regardless of the weight.

Been using tubeless clinchers with sealant for two and one-half years now. Never had a flat.

If you can find a true 25 in a tubeless clincher, and if you really think you get more control than with a 23, then buy it.



Profile photo of Greg I-Fly-Sky
Greg I-Fly-Sky, February 18, 2013 at 4:01 pm

I’ve heard the same thing about 25’s having less rolling resistance than 23’s. I’ve rode both and can’t say that I could recognize the difference. One thing that I can for sure say is that Gatorskins are the roughest riding tire that I’ve EVER rode on! So if your goal is a smoother/softer ride, getting rid of those would be a major improvement. Gatorskins resist a lot of small punctures but the harsh ride is the negative of the trade-off. I ride Grand Prix 4000S tires and think they have good flat protection and ride better. I tried a Serfas Seca and the ride was good but I got lots of flats, gave that tire away after about 2 months.



Profile photo of James
SFC JKL2, February 18, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Thud, thud, thud, thud, thud, thud. That’s what it’s like riding across many sections of Iowa. I prefer 28’s myself.



Profile photo of TGIMerv
TGIMerv, February 18, 2013 at 7:27 pm

I ride 25’s, Conti-Gators. Love’em, maybe don’t know any better. I weigh 230, pump’em to 115 and off I go. Rode them like that in the 2006 and 2012 rides. As said above they are a little rougher at that psi, but man they are fast. Have never had a flat and get 3000+ miles out of them. Have no reason to change.



Profile photo of CyclingRoberto
CyclingRoberto, February 18, 2013 at 7:44 pm

The answer to your question is yes. A wider tire will be more comfortable. The price you pay in performance and rolling resistance will be of little consequence on RAGBRAI. Going up to a 28 might be an issue for your wheels. Check the specs before investing.



Profile photo of ts
ts, February 18, 2013 at 11:55 pm

I’ve used both 23 and 25 mm tires the same bike (and on RAGBRAI), and honestly I didn’t really notice much difference. I always advise people to not do anything different for RAGBRAI than what you do on your daily or weekend rides. It’s not RAAM – it’s just a leisurely few hundred miles.



Profile photo of Iceman
Iceman, February 19, 2013 at 12:00 pm

KC said, “My limited (and let me stress “limited”) experience has been that the tire pressure has more to do with the comfort of the ride than 2 mm of tire width. I’ve been riding the front tire pressure a bit lower than the back tire and that seems to make for a bit more of a comfortable ride. Still, no substitute for seat time, I suppose.”

KC, I would guess it would surprise most riders to find that some reduction in pressure in your tires can actually make rolling resistance less – or at least that is the case with tubeless clinchers versus tubed clinchers. The various tire manufacturers test labs & tracks have all concluded that not only can you run a tubeless clincher at, say, 85 or 90 psi whereas you would have to run – for the same rider – a tubed clincher at maybe 115 to 120 psi, but also the rolling resistance of the tubeless clincher at 85 psi is LESS than the rolling resistance of the tubed clincher at 115 psi (and it is certainly more comfortable and you have more control at 85 versus 115 psi). It has to do with the small (too small to see) impacts of the tire with the imperfections in the road. The higher pressured tubed clincher “bounces” more off each pebble, chip seal, etc. more than a lower pressured tubeless clincher, thereby losing contact with the road more often.

So, I’d just switch to tubeless clinchers (either 23 or 25)and enjoy the ride at 85 psi.




Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 22 total)

The forum ‘RAGBRAI XLI – 2013’ is closed to new topics and replies.








Clubs, Teams & Charters

Lost and Found


Gatherings & Meetings