A recent trend toward wider tires (cf Heine, "Performance of Tires") also led to wider rims and a closer match of rim and tire widths.

In the past it was considered that tires need to be considerably wider than their rims. For example, Sheldon Brown requires at least 40 mm nominal width in a 23 mm rim (measure between inner flanges). ISO 4210 (cf Mavic) requires at least a 37 mm tire on the same rim.

As a recent example, my new bike (2017 Merida CX 600) came with a 700x23C rim and 32-622 tires. Suggesting that is nonetheless a safe combination. The rim lacks hooks though (see below), which might make it comparable to a narrower specification.

New developments, such as tubeless, hook-less rims, and perhaps in tires beads might change this into a more complex question. Perhaps it even allows closer matched widths to be used safely.

What is the smallest width of a tire for a given rim width? (It might be convenient to consider different cases and technologies in separate answers.)

photo of the rim

  • So, what is your actual question? – Argenti Apparatus Aug 19 '17 at 13:08
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    @Paparazzi Sheldon has ridiculous values. When Sheldon lived people thought narow tires have lower rolling resistance. But please go ahead and edit it to narrow it down while keeping it abstract enough to be of any use. – gschenk Aug 19 '17 at 13:37
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    No thanks. I will hold with my vote to close. – paparazzo Aug 19 '17 at 13:40
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    @Paparazzi that is fair enough. However, should like to point out that your comment on a question that could be rephrased "SB is not right, what to do?" is "listen to SB". – gschenk Aug 19 '17 at 13:52
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    @Batman But the question is about putting narrow tyres on wide rims! – David Richerby Jan 30 at 10:51

I was googling a similar thing and stumbled across both this question, and an interesting article from mavic: https://engineerstalk.mavic.com/en/the-right-tyre-width-on-the-right-rim-width/

Towards the bottom of the article are some interesting tables for not only tyre size vs rim width (internal) but also pressure: enter image description here enter image description here

  • I read the very same article yesterday! – gschenk Jan 30 at 13:12
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    I was glad I found it, i'm considering getting some new wheels with 19mm internal, but not sure my frame (a 2011 Scott Addict) will give clearance for anything bigger than a 23c on a wide rim. The table makes me confident I'll be able to run a 23mm GP4000SII (which come up a little oversized) without problems. – Andy P Jan 30 at 13:29

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