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I am building up a Litespeed T-5 with 46 (possibly 48)/34 Ultegra drivetrain for some spirited riding on undulating and sometimes uneven roadways in Northern New England. I'd like to have the ability to run 700x28 tires hassle free.

I'm planning, at least initially, to run 6800 Ultegra calipers and something along the lines of Vittoria Open Pave 700x28 tyres.

I've narrowed fork options to the following and would appreciate hearing from anyone with real world experience of any of these fine forks with such an application:

  • Moots
  • Litespeed
  • Seven Cycles

The bike has a tapered 44 mm headtube.

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Yes, you can use 28mm tires with Shimano Ultegra 6800 calipers (or virtually any other road calipers).

The brands you mentioned produce a multitude of different forks. I am fairly sure that most all of them would also support 28mm tires.

However, all of this also depends on a factor you did not discuss: your wheels. If your rims are too narrow, it will be very inconvenient to remove and install the wheel with tire inflated. If your rims are too wide, you run a slightly higher risk of interference with the fork. This is because a "28mm" tire is not really standard or as precise as the label implies: it could be 25mm to 30mm depending on the brand, the model, and the rim's interior width.

And there is another potential problem: you have chip seal roads there, do you not? The chips sometimes get stuck to tires, and when that happens, you will not be rewarded for having the least possible fork crown clearance.

In summary: you'll have to try it out. You might be forced to buy 25/26mm tires, or a different brand, if your chosen 28mm ones run on the wide side, or you have unusual rims, or you have debris where you ride. Consider buying one 28mm tire first to try out, and use it in the back if it doesn't work in front.

  • Many thanks to you John for your erudite and incisive response. I have an Ultegra 6800 wheelset, new, which I plan to use. Neither terribly wide nor narrow. I believe the width is approx 20mm. I have a set of Clemente LGG Strada but have not been terribly impressed with the weight or ride quality, thus the plan to switch to the Vittoria Open Pave. No chip seal to speak of in these parts....... – David Geiss Jul 1 '16 at 13:15
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    20mm rims used to be fine for tires up to 35 mm. They still work as well as before, but manufacturers now have wider rims they need to sell. – ojs Jul 1 '16 at 15:27
  • @ojs: 35mm tires are not usable with the brakes we're talking about. However, note that even 28mm tires don't work well with narrow rims (e.g. 18mm internal) for the reason I mentioned--removing and installing the wheel with an inflated tire is difficult, because the caliper QR action is not long enough to clear the tire sidewalls when open. – John Zwinck Jul 1 '16 at 15:41
  • Pro tip: Many tires have valves, through which they can be deflated for installation. – ojs Jul 1 '16 at 21:23
  • The width of wheels isn't well defined, because there are a number of specific widths, and which one you use depends on the situation. You seem to mean rim width here, rather than flange spacing or hub width. Is that correct? – Móż Jul 2 '16 at 1:32

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