Posted on July 19 2019
More and more, riders are discovering the benefits of wider road tires. Wider tires provide a larger air chamber between you and the road, which provides more cushion for improved comfort and performance.
Most road bikes have moved to carbon and aluminum frames and forks to create stiffer and lighter chassis and better energy transfer. These benefits come at the cost of more feedback from the road being transferred to the rider. Adding more cushion between the rider and the road by using larger volume tires directly combats this and greatly increases comfort. In fact, the origins of running wider tires started in the Peloton with most pro riders moving away from traditional 23c tires to larger 25c and 28c tires to improve comfort. They also identified other benefits came along with it.
One surprising discovery is wider tires roll faster. The science is in the tire’s deflection. Under the load of the rider, the tire is flattened against the road, creating the shape of the tire patch in contact with the terrain. Narrow tires have a long, skinny contact patch and as a tire gets bigger, the contact patch shortens and gets wider. The shorter, wider contact patch improves rolling resistance while actually offering better cornering traction. The trend of wider tires is taking advantage of these benefits.
In addition, you can run lower air pressure without running the risk of a pinch flat. The lower pressure increases the amount of cushioning you get from the tire, and can further improve ride comfort. However, there is a balance to consider when dropping tire pressure because lowering air pressure can sacrifice rolling speed. For many, the cost of a few watts in rolling resistance to improve comfort on rough road rides is an acceptable trade off while others like to maximize the energy they put in and keep the pressure high.
It’s important to note that to fully get the benefits of a wider tire, you need a wider rim. The inner rim width, where the tire is actually mounted to the rim, needs to match up with the tire width to give it the correct profile. Mounting a wide tire on a narrow rim squeezes the tire at the bead. This won’t provide the proper tire profile and changes the contact patch shape, negating the full benefits of a larger tire. Furthermore, the aerodynamics of the rim profile needs to blend with the tire so it’s imperative to have the correct rim geometry for wider tires.
The Evolution of AR
After decades of riders running skinny tires hoping to maximize their effort, Reynolds updated the Attack, Assault, and Strike wheels with shallower and wider rim designs in 2014 to improve performance. The new designs worked better with slightly wider tires and offered better features over previous models, departing from the hidden nipple designs of the past.
In 2018, Reynolds consolidated their road offerings, replacing the Attack, Assault, and Strike wheels with new AR and AR X wheel designs and introduced the high-end Blacklabel Aero series. The AR and AR X wheel options are differentiated by hub and spoke features but share the same rim designs while the Aero Blacklabel takes things a step further with a full top-shelf build with deeper rim options. The AR and AR X models offer 29mm and 41mm rim depths and the Aero Blacklabel series offers 46mm, 65mm and 80mm rim depths. All three wheel lines feature a tubeless-ready, 19mm inner rim bead. Not only are these new wheels designed with a wider profile perfect for modern road tires, they’re also available in rim or disc brake versions and multiple depths to fit your needs.