My heavy bike (~15 kg) has thick wheels, the rim width of each is about 3 cm. Accordingly, the tires are also thick (~4.5 cm). Unless the tires are fully pumped up, the bike is difficult to ride and is considerably slow (due to significant traction).

I am thinking of replacing the wheels with thinner ones. Is this possible in principle? If so, what issues have to be considered before doing that?

  • 1
    What size tires (27, 700c, 26x2.0, 26x1 3/8) are you currently using. It should be embossed in the side of the tire.
    – mikes
    Apr 16, 2013 at 21:51
  • 1
    I can read the following on both tires: 47 406 (20 x 1.75)
    – Orion
    Apr 16, 2013 at 22:10
  • Note that thinner tyres that aren't fully pumped up will still be slow, and will be more likely to pinch flat than soft fat tyres. Thinner tyres can be pumped up harder in the first place, but the smaller volume means that losing a certain amount of air will make more difference than it would to a fat tyre.
    – armb
    Apr 19, 2013 at 11:21

1 Answer 1


Your problem is that you're riding a BMX bike. While you can certainly go narrower than 1.75, you can't go much narrower -- maybe to 1.5" (3.8 cm) with the same ISO 406 wheels. You might be able to switch to a slightly larger ISO 451 rim and get down to 1-1/8" (2.8cm) width, but it would be quite expensive to swap the rims and spokes, and the tires might not fit your frame anyway.

If rolling friction is an issue for you you'd be advised to switch to an "adult" bike. Just about any "adult" bike, new or used, will roll significantly easier than the BMX bike -- they're designed for hot-dogging, not riding any distance.

  • Thank you for the answer. But it is certainly not a BMX bike, but a folding one.
    – Orion
    Apr 17, 2013 at 9:27
  • @Orion - It may be a folding bike, but it has BMX wheels and tires on it. Your best solution is to buy the thinnest tires you can find (probably 1.5) and get ones with minimal tread -- a heavy lugged tread increases rolling resistance more than anything. And run a "reasonable" pressure, above 50psi certainly. (Be sure any tires you buy have the "406" dimension, as that is the rim diameter.) Apr 17, 2013 at 10:42
  • You can certainly get 406 tyres narrower than 1.5, for example the Schwalbe Ultremo ZX 23-406.
    – armb
    Apr 19, 2013 at 11:11
  • Those are unlikely to fit his existing rims: sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html#width But since the question talks about replacing the wheels, not just the tyres, he can choose new wheels to suit.
    – armb
    Apr 19, 2013 at 11:15
  • The main issue with switching to 451 is likely to be that the brakes (probably V-brakes) would then be in the wrong place.
    – armb
    Apr 19, 2013 at 11:17

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