, there’s been a lot of discussion in the cycling world (see here and here) challenging the notion that skinny high pressure slicks are necessarily the best or the fastest tires. Volume 5, Number 1 of the Bicycle Quarterly has a bunch of tire tests that further explore what factors affect rolling resistance.

Here are some interesting points:

  • The engine does matter— accounting for up to a 20% difference. It’s not about the bike indeed.
  • Tire pressure only makes a small difference— up to about 2%. On wider tires, that difference is even smaller.
  • Wide tires are just as good. At lower pressures, they can even roll faster than a narrower tire at higher pressure.

What’s really funny is that all of this confirms what Sheldon Brown wrote a long time ago. Supple and flexible is the way you want your tires. Don’t sweat the other details so much.