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I'm buying a used Scattante 44cm w330 with starter components and I'm fairly new to biking/commuting by bike.

My commute to work is fairly short, but its through a busy downtown area. I'm not so comfortable balancing on these skinny tires, much less weaving my way through traffic on them (700x23)...

Would it be plausible/wise for me to place wider tires on this bike?

If so, what would you recommend?

Maybe distance tires? I hear they are wider...

Thanks in advance, (we were all noobs at one point, right?)

^.^

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Welcome to Bicycles! –  andy256 Aug 26 at 6:26
    
Thank you everyone for all your feedback! How do I "checkmark" all of them? :-) I'm buying this bike from a local bike shop and I'll try to have them measure some 28s+, and maybe they can move the brakes so as not create holes in my tires (eek!) –  Ariane Aug 28 at 1:32
    
Only one answer can get your "checkmark". You get to choose which one served you best. The one you choose is a good answer that covers the issues. Yes, do talk to your LBS about any concern that you have. A good relationship with a bike shop can be very rewarding :-) –  andy256 Aug 28 at 1:51

4 Answers 4

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Bigger tires means that you can run them at lower pressures while avoiding road hazard damage and increasing cushioning to give a better ride. They may be a bit less responsive or feel slower than some thinner tires, but this will not matter on a commute. Bigger tires also do better with heavier riders (23's require pretty high pressure for "heavy" riders to avoid pinch flats). The balancing on a thin tire is a non-issue -- what you're probably having trouble with is the twitchier steering of the bike you're using compared to what you're used to (which is a function of the geometry of the bike).

It would be a good idea to move up from 23's, but not all frames can clear decently large tires these days -- I suspect a lot of newer road frames can clear a 25, but a 28 may be a stretch. You need some clearance (at least 3 mm) from the frame/brake caliper to account for tire deflection and prevent rubbing of the tire on the frame. I doubt newer non-cross/touring bikes/commuter/etc. will have tire clearance for a 32. This is especially true if you have fenders on the bike (which most wet weather commuters will want, but most non-cross/touring/commuter bikes don't have room for). Note that also you don't want to put a narrow tire on a wide rim or vice versa, but this is likely something you won't encounter due to clearance issues.

Look for a tire with a kevlar belt for puncture protection, and read some reviews on comfort and durability. For road use, you don't really want tread patterns (you want a smooth tire). Either measure the actual size of the tire you have on now and then see if a 25 or 28 will likely clear the brakes, or better yet, go to a bike shop so you won't have to guess on what size tire will clear the brakes and you'll get a tire which works well for most people in the area. For the reason of clearance (and the fact that we generally don't do product recommendations on this site) which has to be measured, I don't want to recommend a specific tire.

Another issue is that tires are sometimes mislabeled in sizing (despite Sheldon's claims that this has abated, it is still there).

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Most road frames aren't going to take tires beyond 28mm. There are exceptions. Cyclocross bikes will take wider tires. A 'cross bike makes a good commuter if it has mount points for fenders and a rack.

Although tire width is a personal preference, the wider road tires are usually better for commuting on city streets. I run 35mm tires on my city bike.

The Scattante may end up being your fast bike. Then you can buy a commuter bike. Everyone should have more than one bike. :)

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Oh yeah, definitely put some 28s on there. They'll give you better traction, better handling ( especially on most commutes ), and more comfort. Go for a nice, durable city tire.

Whatever you do, don't try to save money on tires, spend a few extra dollars on high quality tires and you'll never look back. Nice tires will last longer, perform better, and save you time and money by preventing flats. If you buy cheap tires, you'll just end up spending even more money on tubes.

http://www.biketiresdirect.com/product/continental-sport-contact-tire-700c

Edit: Try to make sure the tire you choose fits your frame, your local bike shop shouldn't have any trouble helping you with this.

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I seriously doubt that frame can clear a 32, especially on a 44cm size. I'm not even sure it would clear a 28. –  Batman Aug 26 at 11:41

Basically, you can run any width of tire that can safely clear the brakes and frame and which is not "too wide" for the rim.

When considering brake/frame clearance you need to understand that a "wider" tire will not only be wider but "taller", so make sure that the outer circumference of the tire will not rub against the frame or the brake pivot (in the case of caliper brakes). And if the new tires have a deeper tread than the old ones, account for that as well.

What's "too wide" for a rim is hard to say -- there are no rigid rules. My rims are about 20mm, yet I run 45mm tires (and this is the way it came from the manufacturer). Your rims also look to be about 20mm, so rim width is likely not an issue for you -- you could easily run 35mm tires on them (if you have the frame clearance).

When you install wider tires, be sure to carefully check the brake pads to assure they do not rub against the side of the tire at all, when brakes are being applied (since this will eventually wear a hole in the tire -- ask me how I know). It may be necessary to move the brake pads a little lower (or have a bike shop do it) to eliminate potential rubbing.

I'd suggest seeing if a 28 or 32 will fit.

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