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Recently I bought a new MTB, a Frog Xtream Vantage.

After two days of riding I realized a 3" tire size is too heavy and slow to ride. So I thought to replace the 3" tires with 2.1" regular MTB tires.

Does that work? Will there be any damage to the rim?

Also, will it improve my speed?

  • Before repeating the meme about wider tires being faster, please read bicyclerollingresistance.com and compare results between fat bike tires and regular MTB tires. – ojs Feb 10 at 18:35
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    For readers the bike is $US200-$US250 bike. – mattnz Feb 11 at 0:06
  • @ojs You might find this an interesting read (I hope so because it took me ages to find it on google!). Its a research paper from Schwalbe about the research they supported into wider tyres before it became a 'thing'. forums.mtbr.com/attachments/wheels-tires/… – Andy P Feb 11 at 9:29
  • @AndyP it's not really anything new. Basically it says that in certain conditions wider (but below current fat bike standards) and low pressure has lower rolling resistance. Somehow it mutated into "wider and lower pressure is always better" we see here. – ojs Feb 11 at 11:05
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It mostly depends on the width of your rims. If, for example, your rims are 50 mm wide (internal bead distance), then 2.1" tires (nominally 53 mm wide) would sit very awkwardly on them. Instability at cornering and overall tire stability are likely to be problems. There are answers on this website about best tire width/rim width combinations, look them up if you are interested.

A better move would be to find tires which are just a bit narrower (2.8" or 2.6") and have lighter casing, or just plain lighter. The tires that you have right now may be just excessively heavy because they are cheap.

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Rolling resistance of MTB tyres is not necessarily related to either width or tread pattern. The quality of the casing and rubber compound have far more influence.

A high quality 3.0" tyre will be faster, grippier and more pleasant to ride than a cheap 2.1" tyre.

Changing to a much smaller tyre will also change some characteristics of the bike for the worse (for example lowering the bottom bracket and increasing the chance of pedal strikes).

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