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I've got a performance hybrid I want to upgrade the wheelset for. I'm looking for narrow rims - I'd like to run 23c tires (so the "charts" suggest 15mm inner width) - with a 135mm (mountain bike) hub. It seems manufacturers focus on road bikes for the narrow performance rims, and mountain bikes for wide rims, and I can't seem to find the middle ground.

Do I have to custom build my wheel or is there a category of road-bike width hybrid bike hub wheels that I'm just not finding in my search?

  • If you have a hybrid with 135mm hub then why run 23c tires? – paparazzo Apr 17 '15 at 12:42
  • Yeah... Most people with hybrids run 30c on the low end. Its not like you're suddenly going to go faster if you drop the tire size -- you'll just be more uncomfortable. Depending on which hybrid you have anyway, you might just be better off selling it and buying a race bike which was designed for 23c tires. – Batman Apr 17 '15 at 12:48
  • @Tom, you can order custom wheelset at your local bike shop or wheel builder, if there's one. Alternatively, some online rim sellers offer complete custom wheelsets. I've got my 25mm wide road disc wheels this way. – Klaster_1 Apr 17 '15 at 14:20
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    It sounds like your primary concern is running narrow tires. If that's the case and it were me, I'd just throw some 23s on and see what happens before I spent a chunk of change on a new wheelset. As Sheldon notes, those charts are conservative. At worst, you start getting more pinch flats. But considering the cost of a wheelset, it's a cheap experiment. – jimchristie Apr 17 '15 at 15:06
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    @Blam I think with a performance hybrid, we can safely assume 700c rims running something like a 30-32mm tire width, not likely to have 25mm rims. – jimchristie Apr 17 '15 at 17:04
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Consider you are not finding what you are looking for for a reason.

A larger tire does not necessarily have a lower rolling resistance.
A the same pressure a larger tire actually has a lower rolling resistance.

Over city terrain I would take a 28 mm or 30 mm over a 23 mm for rolling resistance.

For ride and flat resistance I would definitely take a 28 mm + over a smaller tire.

Racers go with a narrow tires more for wind resistance. On a hybrid you don't have nearly the aerodynamics of a road bike - you are taller and wider. What you pick up on a small tire on hybrid is just not worth it. You already have the wider fork and rear hub. Putting smaller tires on it is just not going to change the aerodynamics much - especially on the rear.

I would stay in the right sizing for your rims and go with a low resistance road type tire.

You probably have like a 20 mm that will take 28 mm tire fine.
If you are bigger than 20 mm you can find CX 135mm wheels as low as 20 mm.

On the front you if you are dead set then you could find a road wheel for the front.
But I still don't think 23 mm is going to make you faster than a 28 mm on that bike.

If you really want speed then I would put that money into a road bike rather than a custom wheel build.

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  • You've pretty much nailed it. I'm looking for lower rolling resistance and i just immediately assumed that a narrower tire meant less road contact, which meant lower rolling resistance = a faster ride. From what you are saying, it sounds like that assumption is just wrong. – Tom Auger Apr 17 '15 at 17:02
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    Check this out schwalbetires.com/tech_info/rolling_resistance – paparazzo Apr 17 '15 at 17:03

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