I commute to work on a Marin San Rafael on roads over a mix of flat to steep roads. My bike came with "700 x 35c with Puncture Protection" semi-slick tires:

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In the bike shed at work I noticed another bike had slick tires, without any tread. After doing a little research online I found these tires:

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I'm wondering whether or not it's worth changed my existing tires for these. My main desire is faster, easier riding on the road. Will these (or similar) tires provide less rolling resistance over the default tires I already have?

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    Do you know what the specific model of tire you have now is? From what I could find looking online it looked like it might be the Vittoria Adventure 700x35, which really doesn't have much of a tread to it.
    – freiheit
    Commented Oct 31, 2010 at 1:21
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    but how much tread do your current tires actually have? Does it look more like knobs added on, or small grooves cut into the tire? Knowing those things helps to figure out how effective changing your tires out really would be. Does it look like this: vittoria.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/adventure.jpg ?
    – freiheit
    Commented Oct 31, 2010 at 18:55
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    @freiheit I've taken a photo of my current tires and added it to my original question Commented Nov 3, 2010 at 17:02
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    If you're commuting, Conti Gatorskins, Specialized Armadillos, Soma Everwears, et al. are a must, must must. I've gone car-free for periods of about a year, and blew at least a dozen tubes before riding sucking up the US$30/tire price of these, which have paid for themselves many times over.
    – Marc
    Commented Nov 8, 2010 at 2:08
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    @Marc, that really depends on your route. I haven't had a single flat during my commute in more than a year.
    – amcnabb
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 21:33

8 Answers 8


Yes, definitely -- if you're riding on mostly paved roads, switch to bald-ish tires. Rolling resistance is huge and equates directly to effort, though as you start going really fast it is dwarfed by air and gravity of course. Per the graph here:

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However, one caution: road tires tend to be skinny, and you probably want fat-but-bald tires instead. If you go from a 35mm wide treaded tire to a 25mm bald tire, you will feel a lot more bumps.

So in summary: bald, for sure, but don't sacrifice too much width/comfort in the process.

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    Good point about less width increasing harshness, but his Marin San Rafael is already on 700x35c tires, which are a good bit thinner than 2.2" or even 1.5" tires. Commented Oct 30, 2010 at 21:30
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    Note that a rim made for 35mm tires might not properly fit a 28mm tire; it will probably work but not well. Don't go too much below 35mm, in other words.
    – freiheit
    Commented Oct 31, 2010 at 1:58
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    I didn't figure you as much of a cyclist Jeff, perhaps that visit to Cambridge planted the desire! :) Commented Oct 31, 2010 at 10:50
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    Jeff Atwood is a cyclist? Who knew? :) Commented May 13, 2011 at 1:24
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    I'm a little confused by the graph, since there are a ton of important assumptions (such as the grade of the road) that aren't specified at all on the site linked to. So I like the idea of a graph, but I think this one leaves off too much to be really helpful.
    – amcnabb
    Commented Jul 8, 2012 at 23:11

Short answer: Yes.

You will notice a significant difference immediately by moving to a proper road tire. Unless you are doing significant amounts of riding of that bike on dirt or mud, you are better off going with the gators. Those tires are pretty tough and will do well even if you have some of your commute on gravel. (I have these on my commuter bike)

  • I spent some years using gatorskins, including their hardshell variant. Whilst it could well have been unlucky, I had more punctures using gatorskins than any other tyre. I put this down to the rubber compound attracting grit/flint fragments more than other tyres. Worth considering.
    – John Hunt
    Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 11:07
  • I ain't never had one single flat in 3+ years on my 37c Marathon Supremes (Tubeless, MicroSkin). Then again it's a disc CX so you don't get the V-brake wear.
    – Det
    Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 11:33

All the above answers are seriously off in their estimation of the effect it will have on your speed. Going from semi-slick tires, like the ones pictured, to even very narrow slick tires will not improve your averages by more than 1-2 km/h.

The effect of rolling resistance on pavement is not "huge", it's dwarfed by air resistance, especially at higher speeds (air resistance increases in proportion to the square of speed, while rolling resistance increases linearly).

You can try to plug different rolling resistances into this model to see how little effect it will have on your average speed (and since you are on a trekking bike, your position's frontal area will be definitely closer to 0.7 than 0.4): http://www.analyticcycling.com/ForcesSpeed_Page.html

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    You make some good points, but at commuter-bike speeds, the calculator you linked to shows that rolling resistance makes a huge difference. I set the frontal area to 0.7, slope to 0, and power to 100 watts. A coefficient of rolling resistance of 0.01 gave 14.1 miles per hour, while lowering it to 0.005 raised the speed to 15.7 miles per hour. That's a pretty big effect.
    – amcnabb
    Commented Jul 8, 2012 at 14:16
  • Now we are splitting hairs, but what do you exactly mean by commuter bike speeds? I see two different commuting approaches possible - either you absolutely avoid getting sweaty, and so you indeed ride at less than about 100 watts, or you don't, in which case you ride as fast as you can (probably about 160-200W for an untrained male in OK shape). In the former case it's true that rolling resistance is of relatively bigger importance. But as the OP cares about speed, I suspect we are rather talking about the latter approach.
    – ttarchala
    Commented Jul 9, 2012 at 20:19
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    I agree that this is an important distinction. But even at 200 watts, the change from 0.01 to 0.005 raised the speed from 19.3 mph to 20.5 mph. It may not be a huge difference, but reaching that speed on the slower tires would require increasing the power to 233 watts. The benefit would be enough for a rider to notice and appreciate.
    – amcnabb
    Commented Jul 9, 2012 at 20:51
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    I agree that for Opie to change tires would likely not be a big change. There is a major difference between knobby tires and road tires, but once you've switched to semi-slick, the main factor in tire resistance is the losses due to whatever puncture resistance scheme is used, plus losses due to low tire pressure. These are what you want to control first. Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 12:16

Yup. Go for it.

I recently changed from my hybrid's default 700x35 with some tread to a 700x32 slick. Since my avg. speed has gone up a couple mph I think it was worth the change from an "effort" perspective.

Granted, I wonder if going from 80 max psi on the factory tires to 110 max psi isn't the key factor here. But I like it!


This summer I switched from pretty nobby tires on my mountain bike to slicks. I was doing a longer overnight trip with a friend and wanted to put in a little less effort. I found that I could go so much faster with slicks that the gearing on my bike was bordering on being too slow. Just shows what a bit difference swapping out the tires does.

Here is one counter argument about swapping out your tires. After you switch to slick tires, going the same distance, you will exert much less energy. If you are cycling for exercise and only want to go a certain distance you will get a better workout with studdy tires.


I switched from 40mm semi knobby tyres to 32mm slicks . Replaced the original tubes too, which were very heavy, with lighter road tubes. The difference for commuting was wonderful.I could go about 15%-18% faster or the same speed with 15%-18% less effort(at normal 20-25kph speeds). Really noticeable into a head wind or up a slight grade.Should have done it years ago.The slicks were just cheap ones with very slight tread pattern.The tyres are quieter too!


Do it. I went from a commuter-friendly Schwalbe tyre to Specialized Fat Boys. The difference on my 6mile commute is palpable and has made my ride to work a lot more fun.

  • Do you mean the other way around? Going from a commuter-friendly to a non-commuter friendly should make your ride a lot less fun.
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 12:12
  • @RoboKaren I meant that the Scwalbes I was using were commuter-friendly MTBish tyres, knobbled on the edges but smooth in the middle of the tread. The Fat Boys are totally slick.
    – immutabl
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 21:26

You don't need to have the same tires on the front and rear. A high pressure slick on the rear will cut down friction, but you can keep a lower pressure one at the front for better grip and comfort.

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